Monday, December 17, 2018
Have you ever thought about ringing in the New Year in Branson? This year (2018), New Year's Eve is on a Monday so you could take a nice four day trip to Branson to close out the Old Year and bring in the New Year. Since this is the quiet season, hotel rates are cheaper now.
Silver Dollar City will still be celebrating an Old Time Christmas until December 30 so if you didn't get to visit SDC during Christmas season, you still have a chance to see all the beautiful Christmas lights and shows. If you didn't get what you wanted for Christmas, there will be after Christmas sales at the outlet malls and other shops.
On New Year's Eve, there are several special New Year's Eve shows for you to choose from. These shows are listed below, and if you double click on the title of the show, you will be taken to that show's website. Since New Year's Eve is only 2 weeks away, you may want to call the theater directly to make sure that there are still seats available. Most shows start later in the evening so you can enjoy a New Year's Eve dinner before the show.
Legends in Concert - Send out the Old Year in style with performances from your favorite tribute artists. Most tickets come with a box lunch and the VIP experience features a steak and lobster meal.
All-Star New Year's Eve Show at the Americana - This show comes with a Big D's BBQ dinner, one of the best BBQ places in Branson. I couldn't tell from the website who will be performing that night, however.
Showboat Branson Belle - Cruise on Table Rock Lake on the Showboat Branson Belle and bring in the New Year with a dinner and a show.
Silver Dollar City New Year's Celebration - SDC rings in the New Year with a radio show production, a dance party and an appearance by the Cleverlys. Plus, all of the Christmas lights will still be up, adding to the festive atmosphere.
Motown Downtown - Ring out the Old Year and celebrate the 60th anniversary of Motown with this show. It's over by 9:00 PM, so you could go to another show after this one or go out for a New Year's Eve dinner.
Hughes Brothers - The Hughes Brothers put on some spectacular shows and New Year's Eve is no exception. You get your choice of either a box dinner or fine dining.
Clay Cooper-Haygoods - You get 2 shows for the price of one at this New Year's Eve show, plus snacks and a balloon drop at midnight. There is also a cash bar for those who would like a little stronger drink.
Hamners' New Year Eve Fiesta Party - This family-friendly event features the Hamners Unbelievable Variety show and Mexican food to nosh on. You can't go wrong with that.
Chateau on the Lake New Year's Eve Celebration - For a classy New Year's Eve, visit the Chateau on the Lake's New Year's Eve party with a cocktail party, dinner and dancing, and a champagne toast at midnight, along with fireworks.
Thanks as always for reading! I'm wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year (and many trips to Branson!
Thursday, November 29, 2018
There was a snowstorm in the St. Louis area the day before we were scheduled to leave on vacation. The city we live in received 3.5” of snow. By Friday morning, however, the highways were clear. We ran into some rush hour traffic on Hwy. 270, but Hwy. 44 was easy to drive.
We had lunch at Steak & Shake in Lebanon, MO. It’s right off of Hwy. 44, so it was easy to get back on the highway. We had great service and good food. We stopped at the welcome center outside of Conway to use the restroom and to pick up a Sunny Day Guide and a Best Read Guide, along with other Branson brochures.
Our first stop in Branson was at the Branson Travel Group headquarters at Green Mountain Drive and Wildwood Road to redeem our Groupon for our hotel stay. We used this Groupon last summer for our annual Branson trip. This Groupon was only available in February, so we snapped it up quickly for our Christmas trip. This Groupon came with two tickets to a show at the Jim Stafford Theater and a game of mini-golf for two at Wildwood Miniature Golf. We did have to buy an extra show ticket/mini-golf ticket for our son.
We then proceeded to the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center to redeem our Groupon for that night’s show. The Groupon description said that I needed to redeem the voucher at the ticket office on the day of the show, but the lady at the ticket window said that we could have made advance reservations. I wish I had known that beforehand; I would have called ahead and obtained better seats.
We then went to the hotel (Stone Castle Hotel and Conference Center) to check in. The lobby was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Check in was quick and easy. We were given a map of the property with our room highlighted. Stone Castle was completely booked on Saturday and Sunday, so breakfast was served in both buildings 1 and 2, and then only in building 2 on Monday and Tuesday of our stay. We enjoy staying at Stone Castle because it has indoor corridors, a great breakfast buffet, and it has a close proximity to all Branson activities. The rooms are clean and there are a refrigerator and an ironing board and iron for guests to use. Plus, I also like that the vanity is located outside the bathroom. It is more efficient to get ready that way.
After unloading and unpacking all our gear, it was time to relax for a while. Dinner on Friday evening was at Florentina’s Italian Restaurant. We had a voucher from KY3/Half Price Ozarks for $20.00 of food for $12.00. Our server was very attentive and brought me a drink refill before I even asked for it. He took our voucher right away too. Our meal was delicious and hubby and I agreed that Florentina’s food is much better than Olive Garden’s.
We went back to the hotel and got ready for the Andy Williams Ozark Mountain Christmas Show. The doors opened at 7:30 PM for the 8:00 show; however, there were a few bus tours there and it took a while to get everyone checked in, get their photo taken, etc. The doors should have opened at 7 PM in order to get everyone seated before the show started.
The show itself was very good. Jimmy Osmond (who now owns the PAC) was the host. He still sings well, even though his jokes were corny. Jimmy dedicated the Christmas version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to Roy Clark, who had died the previous week. AYO – Voices of Glory was awesome. The young lady who sings with them was excellent. It’s hard to believe she’s only 19 years old.
The Lennon Sisters still sound great after all these years. They had some of their granddaughters on stage with them. And the ice skaters added a wintery touch to the show. There were lots of videos of the Osmonds on the Andy Williams Show in the 1960s.
We stayed after the show so I could get my photo taken with Jimmy. I also purchased a CD of songs by Jimmy to give to my friend Lisa, who’s a huge Osmonds fan. I had Jimmy autograph it for her. I mentioned to Jimmy that she was a big Osmonds fan and he cracked that that made two of them.
Saturday started with breakfast. Hubby and I left the son at the hotel and ran some errands. We went to the Jim Stafford Theater to pick up our tickets for the 3 PM Taylor Reed show. We then went to Walmart to pick up lunch supplies and some other items we needed. I’m so thankful there are stores we can purchase items at in case we forget or need something.
After lunch, the son and I headed over to the Tanger Outlet Mall to do some shopping. We dropped off our coupon from Travelhost at the customer service office and received a little red coupon book and some 20% off coupons. I was searching for a new pair of athletic shoes. I wear an 8W and it is really hard to find good shoes in that size at a reasonable price. I figured that since Tanger was an outlet mall, the selection might be better. I went to the Nike store, the ASICS store and Famous Footwear but couldn’t find a pair I liked. I did score a really cute red purse at the Vera Bradley Outlet store. It was on the clearance rack for 70% off and I was able to use one of my 20% off coupons, so I purchased a $98.00 purse for $18.00. Now that’s a deal!
The son and I returned back to the hotel to pick up hubby and we then went to Andy’s for frozen custard. The temperature was 60 degrees on that Saturday, so it was warm enough to eat custard. We then went to the 3 PM Taylor Reed show at the Jim Stafford Theatre. I noticed at the concession stand that they now sell alcohol, probably because of the Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville tribute show there on Friday nights.
We had seen the Taylor Reed show several years ago, but it was the only show at the Jim Stafford Theater that fit our schedule and we didn’t want to waste the free tickets that came with our Groupon deal for the hotel. Taylor has a good rapport with the kids, but he can be a little snarky sometimes. The illusions were very good, however. It wasn’t the worse way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
After the show, we went to McFarland’s Restaurant in the Branson IMAX complex for dinner. The store area/lobby for the movie theater was beautifully decorated with a large Christmas tree and other Christmas lights. We once again had a voucher from KY3/Half Price Ozarks for $20.00 of food for $12.00. Our server was good and the food was great, as it always is. McFarland’s is one of our favorite places to eat in Branson.
We went back to the hotel to get ready for the Tony Orlando Great American Christmas show. Tony only had two Christmas shows scheduled in Branson this year (for the first time in 5 years) and as luck would have it, they were both on the weekend that we were there, so of course, we had to go. These tickets are the only ones I paid full price for, because I wanted to make sure we actually could get tickets to the show (since there were only two of them) and because I wanted to select specific seats, because of my husband’s knee problems. I went to the Mansion’s website and bought our tickets there.
In all the years we have been visiting Branson, we had never been to a show at the Mansion Theater. The theater is very big and beautifully appointed. The concession area needs some work, however. It needs to be bigger and there needs to be more than one. The line at the concession stand was long, although it moved fairly quickly. The seats are probably the original ones too – they were faded, narrow, and the seat was lumpy. I have lots of junk in the trunk, but the seat was still uncomfortable. The handicapped ramp to the lower level needs to be better marked as well.
The show was excellent. Even our 22-year-old son enjoyed it. It was an hour and a half long, with no intermission. Tony started with a few Christmas songs. Then he sang some of his hits from the 1970s. Finally, Santa showed up on the stage. Santa scolded Tony for not having a Nativity scene on stage. Tony and Santa talked about Tony’s childhood and about the true meaning of Christmas. There was a series of songs from 1950’s artists played by actors with large plastic heads that represented each artist. I think this segment of the show could have been cut and replaced with something else and no one would have probably missed it.
Tony’s band was excellent – you could tell they had played together for quite some time. At the end of the show, Tony introduced Mickey Gilley and Barbara Fairchild, who were in the audience. Tony’s show really emphasized the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. It really helped put me in the Christmas spirit. We took a wrong turn coming out of the Mansion parking lot, however. We drove on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway by Sight and Sound Theater and got a great view of the Branson Gift of Lights drive-through light show. We ended up on Roark Valley Road (the blue route) which we followed to Hwy. 76. All roads in Branson lead somewhere; you just have to follow the road until you get to another road and then you’ll get your bearings. That’s what I told my hubby, although I don’t think he believed me.
Stone Castle offered a special Christmas story with guest readers from the Clay Cooper Theater and other shows on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights at 10:15 PM in the lobby of building 3. Hot wassail and Christmas cookies were served; sadly, however, we didn’t get back home from either weekend show in time to participate.
Sunday was the day we went to Silver Dollar City (and my birthday). In the morning, we watched our church’s Sunday morning worship service on a live stream. We ate an early lunch and headed out to SDC.
The park opens at 12 PM, but the chains at the main square that lead to the other parts of the parks didn’t come down until 1 PM. It was a cold, rainy day that Sunday, but there were lots of people in the park. We admired the huge Christmas tree in the town square. We nosed around in the general store and sat in the Wilderness Chapel to warm up until the chains were removed.
We decided we wanted to see the 2:00 PM showing of “Dickens’ A Christmas Carol” at the Opera House, and so did a lot of other people. The line snaked all the way back to the entrance to Wildfire.
The production of “Dickens’ A Christmas Carol” was excellent. It contained many songs from the Kelsey Grammar version of “A Christmas Carol” and the “Thank You Very Much” song from Albert Finney’s “Scrooge.” I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when Tiny Tim sang.
We were hoping to catch the 3 PM showing of the saloon Christmas show, but when we got there at 2:45 PM, the sign was up stating that the theater was full. We never did get back to see the saloon show. The saloon show will be our first stop the next time we make a trip to Silver Dollar City during the Christmas season.
We went to the Carousel Barn and saw Rudolph, Clarice and the Bumble, and some elves. You could have your photo taken with the characters (for a fee). There were t-shirts and souvenirs available for purchase.
We made our way to the Riverfront Playhouse to see the Living Nativity show. By this time, the son and I were pretty cold, so we went to a nearby vendor and used our refillable mugs to buy hot chocolate and a pretzel to eat while we waited to enter the theater. The Living Nativity show was narrated by an angel. It was only about 15 minutes long. The acting was good and there were a few musical numbers.
The hubby wanted to eat an early dinner (like at 4 PM), so we headed to the Lucky Silver Mine Christmas Buffet to eat dinner. Our waitress used our refillable mugs for drinks. When I mentioned to our waitress that it was my birthday, she wished me a happy birthday and told me I should go to the General Store and tell them that it was my birthday. I would then get a list of special deals for my birthday. We went back to the general store to look around some more, but I forgot about speaking to someone about my birthday specials.
I then went into the Christmas in Midtown area to take lots of photos. I have never seen so many Christmas lights in one place in my life! After I was done taking photos, I met up with hubby and son.
We decided to wait for Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Parade. Tracy Heaston played piano in the gazebo before the parade started. Despite the fact that it was cold and damp, Tracy played magnificently, even without gloves. There’s no way I could play piano outside in the cold and damp.
We found a good place to stand right at the edge of the marked strip for the parade. Rudolph led the way in a lit up car. There were nine floats, which included Santa and Mrs. Claus, and finally, a stained glass Nativity float. The parade was about 15 minutes long.
I asked hubby if perhaps we could try to catch the saloon show or the “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but he said that his knee was hurting badly and we needed to go back to the hotel. We stopped in the Hospitality House and we each bought a sweatshirt. We then caught the bus back to the parking lot and drove back to the hotel. The next time that we visit SDC during Christmas season, hopefully, hubby’s knee will be better and we can stay at the park longer. We also missed going on the train.
On Monday morning, we went to Branson Landing. The shops don’t open until 10 AM, but the 5 and 10 cents store next to Bass Pro Shops opens at 9:30 AM. So we looked around in that store to warm up until Bass Pro opened. Hubby bought a hooded sweatshirt, but I could not find one in my size, so I settled for a new plastic coffee mug with a lid.
We then looked around several of the stores at the Landing. We bought some things at the Cardinals Clubhouse since they had a great sale of buy 2, get one 1 free (of equal or lesser value). We then went to Branson’s Festival of Trees, which was located in a store across from H & M, to see all of the beautiful Christmas trees and wreaths. There was even a tree decorated like the Bumble.
We went back to the hotel to eat lunch. After lunch, we went to the Grand Village shopping center. I was on the hunt for a commemorative Christmas tree ornament to mark our first visit to Branson during Christmas season. I couldn’t find anything suitable at Silver Dollar City, or maybe I just didn’t look in the right place. I found some ornaments at Dickens’ Christmas Store that could be personalized, so I bought one with three figures in a car and had the lady at Dickens personalize it for us.
We went to dinner that night at Montana Mike’s, with yet another voucher from KY3/Half Price Ozarks for $20.00 of food for $12.00. The waitress was very sweet and very efficient. Our food was served quickly and it was hot. My steak was done just the way I ordered it. It was an enjoyable meal.
It was dark by the time we were finished with our dinner, so we went to our last activity, the Let There Be Lights drive-thru trail at Promised Land Zoo. We had vouchers from KY3/Half Price Ozarks for $5.00 each (the deal is still available as of this writing). There were lots of lovely animated lights, including a lighted up version of the 12 Days of Christmas. Some of the real animals were still outside and we could see them in the fenced areas. At the end of the trail, you could get out of your vehicle and have hot chocolate and visit with Santa.
Hubby’s knee was bothering him again, so we decided to just drive back to the hotel. We spent the rest of the evening hanging out in the hotel room and packing our suitcases so we could leave the next morning.
If you have never been to Branson during the Christmas season, I highly recommend it. There is Christmas all around in Branson – the lights, the shows, the Christmas trees. And the real reason for the season – the birth of Jesus Christ – is emphasized. Thanks as always for reading and I wish for you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Sunday, July 15, 2018
We left home on Sunday morning. Traffic on Hwy. 44 was light, probably because it was a Sunday. We stopped in Pacific for breakfast sandwiches, since we ate a light breakfast to avoid doing dishes. We stopped in Lebanon for lunch at Burger King, which is close to the interstate exit.
I used the GasBuddy app on my phone to report gas prices and to check on gas prices. This is a very handy app to have whether you're on vacation or not. Thanks to the wonderful gas mileage that my new vehicle gets, we didn't need to fill up the gas tank until we got to Casey's in Ozark.
We stopped at the nice rest stop outside of Conway. There is a room in the rest stop with brochures, catalogs, etc. and a lady that tries to steer you to a timeshare place in Branson to purchase show tickets, but it was closed since it was Sunday. It must have been one of ex-Governor Greitens' budget cuts.
We decided that we wanted to stay on Indian Point this year. It had been 10 years since we had stayed on the Point, due to financial issues. We chose to stay at Golden Arrow Resort. It had lots of great reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp. And the price was right - we reserved online and only had to pay the first night's rent as a deposit. July 4th week is one of the most popular summer weeks to vacation in Branson, so I like to get our reservations in early. I made our reservations in February.
We arrived at Golden Arrow at 1 PM, which was earlier than the normal check-in time. There was a phone set up on the porch with a number to call to check in. The owner's wife came when I called and she checked us in. She went over the resort rules and gave us the wi-fi ID and password. We had real door keys since this is an older resort.
We put everything away and although there were some plates and pots and pans, I realized we had forgotten to purchase plastic silverware. There was also no serving utensils, such as spatulas and serving spoons. I told hubby that we needed plastic silverware and he said that he didn't want to drive back to Walmart. There are a couple of convenience marts on the Point. The closest one was at the Cottage Resort, but they were out of plastic silverware. So I drove up to the Deer Run convenience store. Thankfully, they had plastic silverware. There were also 2 dogs behind the counter, which I found interesting. Since I had no serving utensils, I improvised by using two plastic knives to turn the bratwurst patties I was cooking for supper.
Monday was our day to pick up tickets/vouchers for tickets and make some other stops. I had made reservations for the Presleys a couple of weeks before, so we stopped there first to pick up our tickets. Our next stop was the Walmart on Hwy. 76 to pick up serving utensils and a plastic measuring cup so I could make mac and cheese.
Our next stop was Branson 2 for 1 Tickets to pick up vouchers for Pierce Arrow Decades. After that, we went to Branson Landing. We went to Bass Pro Shops and several of the other stores. We ate lunch at Garfield's.
Our next stop was the Pierce Arrow Theatre to get tickets for Wednesday afternoon's show. After that, we went back to Golden Arrow to cool off and rest for the rest of the day.
On Tuesday, we stayed at Golden Arrow until after lunch. We had a Groupon deal for Wild Wood Miniature Golf. We played there for about an hour. It looks like an easy course, but it wasn't. Wild Wood is an indoor golf course, so it was a good way to keep cool.
We had an hour to kill until we could go to the Branson Famous Theater to see Reza: Edge of Illusion, so we went to the Grand Village shopping center. We visited several stores, but the one we enjoyed the most was the Dickens Christmas Store.
Reza's show was very enjoyable. He was very down to earth and performed some spectacular illusions. He was friendly and worked well with the children selected to perform with him. This was our first visit to the Branson Famous Theater but it was obvious that it was an older theater. The seats are narrow and not very comfortable. The theater was about half full for a Tuesday afternoon, probably due to the KY3 deal (which we used) and the Groupon deal. When we came out of the theater, we discovered that it was raining, with some pea size hail. After we left the theater, we went back to Golden Arrow for the evening. I went to the pool and the hot tub to relax after supper.
After we left the Shrine, we visited Andy's Frozen Custard for some yummy frozen custard. We then walked over to the Tracks, where we went to the arcade and blew $30. All we had to show from all of our tickets was a travel dominos game. I think that was the last time we will visit the arcade for a while.
After our visit to the Tracks, we had some time to kill before the show, so we went to Tanger Outlet Mall. There are a lot of stores in that mall. You could probably spend a whole day shopping there. We visited several of the stores and then left for the Pierce Arrow Theater.
The show we attended that afternoon was Pierce Arrow Decades. It was an excellent show, covering music from the 1960s through the 1980s. You could tell that this quartet had sung together for a long time - their voices blended very well and they had a great chemistry. The comedian, James Sibley, was hilarious. Our son (age 21) was one of the youngest at the show and Sibley had a great time picking on him, but the son was a good sport about it and shook his hand after the show. It was a well-paced show. We are discussing seeing the regular Pierce Arrow show next year. The Pierce Arrow Theater is a very nice theater with comfortable seats and very nice restrooms.
After the show, we went to McFarland's Family Restaurant in the Branson IMAX complex for dinner. We had 2 $10 certificates from Half Price Ozarks and surprisingly, they took both of the vouchers. That cut some money off our bill. We had great food and great service. We then visited a couple of shops in the IMAX complex and then went back to Golden Arrow.
We were hoping to see the fireworks display at Chateau on the Lake from Golden Arrow. There was a small clearing facing Table Rock Lake across from our room, so after it got dark, we carried our lawn chairs over to it and saw not only the Chateau on the Lake display but the Hughes Brothers' display, the Hollister display, and (I think) the Branson Belle or the Top of the Rock display as well. And we didn't have to fight traffic either. We met our Golden Arrow neighbors and found out they were Kansas City Royals fans, so we discussed baseball for a while. Here was our view, daytime version (ignore the large sign, this was taken from across the street):
On Thursday morning, we went to the IMAX theater to see "Ozarks Legacy and Legend" for free using a coupon I picked up at Branson 2 for 1 Tickets. The theater was nice and cool and the seats were comfy, which made me sleepy. The movie was okay, for a freebie. It was shown in the IMAX theater, and I remarked that Jurassic World would have looked really scary on that big screen. After the movie, we went to Steak 'n Shake for lunch, at the location near what used to be Celebration City. We had great service and got our food and shakes promptly, unlike the service we've received at other Steak 'n Shakes as of late.
After our lunch, we visited Curling Vine Winery for the wine tasting. We went to the wine tasting there several years ago (when it was Stone Hill Winery), but our son wasn't old enough for wine tasting. He is now, so we decided it was time to revisit. The films at the beginning were dated - in fact, they were the same ones we saw the last time we were there. We then went into the wine tasting room. The young man in charge of the wine tasting was very knowledgeable, however, and was able to answer any questions asked of him. After the tour, we went back to the cabin to rest up and refresh ourselves for the evening's activities.
We went to dinner at Montana Mike's. There was a photographer there who wanted to take our photo, but we told her no. The restaurant is much bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. The service was prompt and the food was great. We had $20 certificates from Half Price Ozarks and like at McFarland's, both certificates were accepted. We would come here again.
We drove around the parking lot of the Best Western next door to get turned around to go back on Hwy/ 76 and I noticed that there were two parking spots where you could plug in an electric car to charge it up. This was the first time that I have seen electric vehicle charging spots in Branson. I'm sure there are more. If you know where are vehicle charging parking spots in Branson, please comment below.
Our show for Thursday evening was Presleys' Country Jubilee. We saw this show 2 years ago and really enjoyed it, so we thought we'd see it again. I found no ticket deals for the Presleys, but their prices are reasonable. We went to the 7:15 PM singalong with Clayton, which is held in the balcony upstairs. Clayton is an excellent pianist and he knows how to work a crowd.
The Presleys' show is a great mix of music and comedy. The musicians and vocalists are extremely talented and the music is great without being slick. Herkimer and Cecil were hilarious, as always. It started to rain and storm heavily during a Herkimer/Cecil routine and Cecil said, "I didn't call for any sound effects!" He didn't miss a beat. The house was packed for a Thursday evening. We enjoyed the show and were glad we went.
After the show, we went back to Golden Arrow and caught some of the Cardinals game on TV while packing up some of our belongings for the trip home the next day.
We left Golden Arrow for home on Friday morning. I left behind the serving utensils for the next guests since we didn't need them at home. If we stay at Golden Arrow next year, I'll make sure we bring serving utensils and measuring cups.
Traffic was once again light on Hwy. 44 on our return home. We had a great time in Branson and we'll do it again next year!
Thanks for reading! See you next time!
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Silver Dollar City goes all out for the Christmas season with a festival called An Old Time Christmas.There are 6.5 million lights and a 5-story special effects Christmas tree. There are 5 different Christmas themed shows, including a living Nativity scene (it's the real meaning of Christmas, after all) and a presentation of "It's a Wonderful Life." There is special food at Molly's Mill, Reunion Hall and the Lucky Silver Mine. You can do some of your Christmas shopping at SDC as well. And don't miss the Christmas parade with Rudolph and his shiny nose leading the way!
Speaking of Christmas parades, Branson has 2 Christmas parades. The first parade, the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Parade, takes place the first Saturday morning in November at Branson Landing. after the parade, there are live performances by Branson stars in front of the Branson Landing fountains.
The second parade is the Adoration Parade, which takes place on the first Sunday evening in December. This parade honors the true meaning of Christmas with bands, floats and caroling. A giant Nativity scene is lit up on top of Mount Branson, which is across Lake Taneycomo from Branson Landing.
There are several drive-through Christmas light displays in Branson. The Branson Gift of Lights display has over a mile of LED light displays including a Nativity scene, Noah's Ark, and the 12 Days of Christmas. The Trail of Lights, is located at the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead and is a 2 1/2 mile drive through all 160 acres of the complex. Admission to Inspiration Tower and hot cocoa is included. Branson's Promised Land Zoo features the Let There Be Lights! display, which is a 2 mile drive through display where you can see a living Nativity with animals you can pet, and Santa and his baby reindeer.
There are many Christmas shows in Branson, from performers with regular shows in Branson and special Christmas shows. Andy Williams' nickname was "Mr. Christmas,"and the Christmas show at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center and Theater (that's a mouthful!) bears the grand name of "Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza." It's a variety show with music, magic and ventriloquism. The Haygoods and the Hughes Brothers have an all-Christmas show. There are also special engagements that play in Branson only during the Christmas season.
Are Christmas trees one of your favorite things about Christmas? There are Christmas trees at many locations in Branson - too many to list here, but you can go to the link here to see a list of all the decorated Christmas trees. Don't forget your camera!
If you're looking for the perfect Christmas gift for that special someone, you're sure to find it in Branson. There are many places to go Christmas shopping, including Branson Landing, old Downtown Branson, and Branson Hills. Don't forget the gift shops at attractions and the craftspersons at Silver Dollar City!
I hope I have given you an idea of all the wonderful things that happen in Branson during the most wonderful time of the year, which is Christmas time, of course! November is right around the corner, so start planning your Christmas visit to Branson soon!
Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!
Monday, July 17, 2017
We made our annual trip to Branson recently. This was our fifteenth yearly visit to Branson. We did some familiar things and tried some new things. As usual, we had a great vacation. My summary of our trip is below. If you click on the links, you will be taken to the website in a new window.
We left for Branson on Sunday morning. The traffic on Hwy. 44 was fairly light. Everyone was already out of town for the 4th of July weekend. We ate lunch at Hardees' at the truck stop in Strafford this trip since we were running really early. We usually stop in Lebanon for lunch.
The Groupon lodging deal we purchased was administrated by Branson Travel Group, so before we could go to the hotel, we had to go to BTG to pick up the voucher to take to the hotel. The Groupon deal also included 2 tickets to any show at the Jim Stafford Theater. We selected the Billy Dean and Steel Horses show since we had seen the other two shows playing at Jim Stafford last year.
The building also contained an indoor miniature golf course. The gentleman who took care of us at Branson Travel Group was very nice. He asked if we needed any other tickets and we said no. He wasn't pushy, which was nice.
Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center. We arrived at the hotel around 1:00 PM. We discovered, however, that check-in didn't start until 3 PM. We offered to just hang out in the lobby until 3 PM, but the front desk clerks did some juggling and found us an open room. The room was in Building 2, which was the building with the breakfast room, and the breakfast room was even on the same floor where our room was. Score! There was also an indoor pool and a hot tub as well as a small video arcade on the first floor of Building 2. Stone Castle is huge - there are 3 buildings in the complex. The breakfast is awesome - there was plenty of variety with the food and the staff was very nice and friendly. The coffee is very strong though - whoa!
We went to Florentina's Restaurant for dinner Sunday evening. We had a certificate from Half Price Ozarks/KY3 to help with the cost (which is no longer available). The food was great and the location was only a couple blocks from the hotel. The decor is beautiful - the restaurant looks like your Italian grandma's house. Florentina's is now on our list of favorite Branson restaurants.
The show we went to Sunday evening was Billy Dean and the Steel Horses.We had another Groupon deal for my son's ticket, It was a very nice show. Billy is a talented singer and songwriter and he was very entertaining. His daughter played keyboards for him. The theater was about half full, which is good for a Sunday evening. I recognized several of the songs. Billy has aged well - here's a photo of Billy with my son:
On Monday morning, we drove down to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery. We took the plastic cups from the hotel room because the fish food is smelly. We enjoyed all of the exhibits, but our favorite part is feeding the fish. We enjoy seeing all those little fish coming up to the surface with their mouths open looking for food.
We then took a drive over the spillway and went to the Dewey Short Center. We had not been there since it opened. The beach that was once there is now gone. All of the exhibits that we had seen previously were still there. It was a nice place to get out of the heat for a while, though. We went back to the hotel to eat lunch. After lunch, my son and I went down to the pool and the hot tub to cool off for a while.
That evening's agenda was a trip to Branson Landing for dinner and to nose around in the stores. We were then going to stay for the concert and fireworks display. We got to the Landing around 4 PM and it was packed - we had to park about half a mile away, behind the strip mall north of the Landing.
It had been a while since we had eaten at Garfield's. We had a certificate that ended up covering all of the cost of dinner - that's really nice when that happens (this certificate is still available - click here to purchase). Garfield's has an Applebee's type menu, so if you like Applebee's, you'll like Garfield's. They are located across the "street" from Bass Pro Shops so you can park in their lot if you don't want to walk too far.
We walked around and visited some of the stores, but when hubby saw crowded it was going to be for the concert and fireworks, he decided we should go back to the hotel. He doesn't do well with crowds. The son and I went to the pool/hot tub for a while until bedtime.
On Tuesday morning, we woke up and it was raining. We decided that it was a good time to use our Groupon (no longer available) for the Wildwood Miniature Golf Course that we saw on Sunday. This is a fun little 18 hole golf course. There were a few challenging holes. It took the three of us about an hour and a half to complete the course. We then went back to the hotel for lunch.
On Tuesday afternoon, we went to the Janice Martin Cirque Show. Janice used to perform on the Showboat Branson Belle. She now has her own show at the Americana Theater. She is known for playing the violin while hanging on the curtains and while that in itself would make a great show, that's not the entire show. Janice performs as various characters and showcases her many talents. She plays many different instruments and even performs some magic. We really enjoyed this show. We had Groupons for tickets to this show. Kids are free at the Americana so this would be a great show for the family.
We then went to McFarlain's Restaurant for dinner. We had a certificate from Half Price Ozarks/KY3, which is no longer available. The food and the service were good as always. We then nosed around some of the shops in the IMAX complex before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the evening's show.
That evening, we went to see the Haygoods. We have seen them at the Americana, the RFD Theater, and now at the Clay Cooper Theater. This year is the Haygoods' 25th anniversary (and me and my husband's 25th wedding anniversary as well), so we wanted to celebrate with them. This was by far the best show we saw this trip. The Haygoods are so musically talented it would take more than a blog post to describe their show. The show has great music, great lighting effects, and great music. We bought the DVD of this show so we can watch it in the winter when we miss Branson. We bought our vouchers for this show at Branson 2 for 1 Tickets.
When we got to the parking lot, we discovered that some beautiful fireworks were being shot off across the street from the theater. We stood there and watched them for a while and then went back to the hotel, where we could still see the fireworks from our hotel room window.
On Wednesday morning, we visited the National Tiger Sanctuary for the first time. I had wanted to visit the NTS for a long time, but couldn't find a good deal until I won an auction on the KKOZ website (no longer available).I have always wanted to see the big kitties. NTS is located in Saddlebrooke, Missouri, which is about a half hour north of Branson.
There are 3 types of tours offered, with different prices: the Awareness tour, the Feeding tour and the You Feed tour. Our voucher was for the Feeding tour. There are other, more expensive tours offered as well. Ryan was our guide and he knew all sorts of information about every cat he fed and what their habits were. He was very good at answering any question posed to him. The tour ran for about an hour and a half. Here's some photos of the big kitties:
On Wednesday afternoon, we hung out at the hotel and went swimming. I found a 2 for $20 deal for Lone Star Restaurant like the one at Applebee's for dinner that evening. The food and the service was fine and it was close to the hotel. On Wednesday evening, we went to Andy's for frozen custard and we played a few games at the Tracks.
On Thursday morning, we went to Branson 2 for 1. We were going to get tickets for Raiding the Rock Vault, which was opening that night. When we discovered that the price for 3 tickets was going to be $91.00, we decided to pass. We wanted to see another show since it was our last night in Branson, so we got tickets for Rick Thomas.
We then went to visit Promised Land Zoo. We had a voucher from Half Price Ozarks/KY3 for buy one get one free (no longer available, but check Groupon for a similar deal). There are VIP activities available if you want to pay extra. We have been to PLZ before and enjoyed it, so we decided to visit again. We enjoy seeing all of the animals and attending the show. PLZ is expanding and will open a drive-thru section of the park later this month. We will have to visit next year to enjoy that part of the park. We then went to Cici's Pizza for lunch and enjoyed their buffet.
We went to Danna's BBQ for dinner on Thursday evening. The food and the service was excellent, as always.
We then went to see Rick Thomas, who was performing at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center. We really enjoyed this show. Not only is Rick a great magician, he has a comic touch as well. His beautiful Great Pyrenees dogs were brought out to the lobby after the show for everyone to pet. If you want to see an illusionist on your Branson trip, I highly recommend seeing Rick's show.
We left on Friday morning to go home. I always hate going home. Someday, I want to move to Branson permanently. Now that my husband has retired, we may be able to visit Branson during the Christmas season to see the shows and visit Silver Dollar City.
Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Silver Dollar City's Wilderness - The Wilderness is owned and run by Silver Dollar City. There are tent campsites, RV sites, and cabin rental. If you have a season pass to SDC, you can save money on your stay. There is also a shuttle from the Wilderness to SDC. The Wilderness also has free wi-fi and a swimming pool.
Branson Lakeside RV Park - This lovely RV park is located on Lake Taneycomo next door to Branson Landing. There is a shuttle to Branson Landing. The park offers free cable TV and free wifi. If you are a member of the Good Sam RV club, you will get a discount. There is a marina, and you can fish off of the dock. You can also bring your dog - this park is pet-friendly.
Branson KOA & Convention Center - The Branson KOA offers no only RV site, but there are cabins, cottages, and lodges for rent. The park offers all the amenities of a KOA and you can also purchase discount show tickets. If you are having a family reunion or a club meeting, a convention center is available. There is also a fitness center and a freshwater pool. Your dog is welcome at the Branson KOA as well.
Musicland Kampground - This is the closest campground to Hwy. 76 (a/k/a "the Strip"). It is located directly north of the Titanic museum. You could park your car/RV here and walk to many of the shows and attractions on the Strip. The campground offers a swimming pool and free wifi and cable TV. Every campsite has a picnic table and there is also a laundromat. Veterans and active military members get a discount here.
Oak Grove RV Park - This RV park is located right on Hwy. 165 three-quarters of a mile from the Strip. It has all the usual amenities and has beautiful landscaping. There is also a child play area and a meeting room.
This is just a sample of all of the RV parks/campgrounds in Branson. If you want to find out about other campgrounds in Branson, click here.
Our Branson trip is coming up soon, and we're starting to get excited! Don't forget to follow this blog's Facebook page for discounts and other interesting articles about Branson. See you next time!
Sunday, July 17, 2016
We drove to Branson on July 2. It took longer than normal to get there since we ran into several rainstorms as we were driving on Hwy. 44. Plus, I guided hubby to the wrong exit to get to the restaurants in Lebanon for lunch and we had to backtrack.
Holiday Hills has a giant indoor pool and hot tub. The registration area was tastefully decorated in a rustic style. There was a workout room in the registration building and a counter where you could purchase show tickets. There was an activity center with a snack bar, an arcade, pool tables, and a ping pong table. There were games, DVD players, and movies that you could check out. There was also a small movie theater and three movies were shown per day.
Ticket deal: KKOZ radio voucher; bought extra ticket at theater ($3.00 off coupon in Travelhost magazine)
July 5th was a slow day. We hung around at the condo all day until it was time to go to our show for the evening, which was Presleys' Country Jubilee. We had always wanted to see this show, but could never find a voucher or coupon deal, until someone on the 1Branson.com forum posted about a radio station that had vouchers for Dixie Stampede. That was sold out by the time I could make a purchase, but they had a voucher for Presleys' so we decided to purchase it. When I called to make our reservation for the show, Melanie told me to come early for the 7:15 gospel sing-along in the balcony. Our 19 year old grumbled about attending, but we made him go anyway. Big Clayton played the piano wonderfully, sang well, and entertained us all. The balcony was full.
The show itself was excellent. The Presleys are very talented musicians and vocalists, and you could tell that they really enjoyed performing. Herkimer and Cecil were very funny, especially the routine where Herkimer came out on a Segway with a podium on it, on which was a U.S Presidential seal. Herkimer announced that he was running for president and Cecil was his VP candidate. I told hubby they missed a great marketing opportunity - there should have been Herkimer/Cecil 2016 t-shirts available for purchase in the gift shop. They would have probably sold out. But what party would they be candidates for? Ah, the Odd Fellows Party!
Of all the shows we attended, the Presleys' show was my favorite. You can see why they have been one of the top shows in Branson all these years. We went on a Tuesday evening, and the theater was at least three-quarters of the way full. That's pretty good for a Tuesday evening.
Ticket deal: KTTN radio voucher (this deal is still available, as of this writing), extra ticket purchased at the theater ($3.00 coupon in Travelhost magazine)
July 6th was another laid back day at the condo until it was time for dinner. We had a Groupon deal for Little Hacienda and the Rock and Roll Revival show at the Jim Stafford Theater. You could select between Little Hacienda or La Piazza for the dinner portion; we thought our voucher would go further at Little Hacienda. We were going to use the voucher at Little Hacienda first, then pick up our tickets at the theater. The food at Little Hacienda was very good and the service was excellent. The only problem came when it came time to pay - they wanted to keep my voucher, even though I needed it for the theater. I ended up having to download the Groupon app on my phone so I could redeem the theater part of the voucher. If I had known, I would have printed two vouchers instead of one.
We had time to kill before going to the theater. We parked at the theater. and then went to Andy's Frozen Custard for some yummy ice cream. After that, we walked over to the arcade at the Tracks and played some games. We stood and watched the Branson Ferris Wheel (photo above).
We then went over to the theater to get our tickets. I had made reservations for this show since I had an extra Groupon for the extra ticket. We were in the fifth row, and it was really close to the stage. I had to look up to see the show. The Jim Stafford Theater has been remodeled since the last time we were there. It looks much classier, but the seats could have been a little wider. Maybe I'm getting old, but the music was very loud.
The music was classic rock from the 1960's and 1970's. The Lionel Richie aspect of the show puzzled me, however, since I thought Lionel was R&B and not rock. The guy who did Jerry Lee Lewis (who looked amazingly like Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, except this guy's hair was shorter) was amazing. If you like classic rock, you will enjoy this show.
Ticket deal: Groupon (the deal is still running as of this writing)
On the morning of July 7th, we decided to use our Groupon voucher for Branson's Wild World. We decided to get there when they opened so it wouldn't be as crowded. The building that BWW is in didn't look all that big on the outside, but there were lots of animals to see on the inside. The gator on the left looks like he's used to posing for photos. There were stingrays, small sharks and plenty of snakes and lizards. There were even some wolves and singing dogs. The black light golf course was part of the Groupon deal, so we played the 9 hole course.
I enjoyed seeing the animals, but the facility was dark and needed some fresh paint in parts. I would not pay full price for this attraction if at all possible.
Ticket deal: Groupon (the deal is still running as of this writing); extra ticket at facility
After we left Wild World, we then decided to go to Cici's for lunch. Cici's is a new pizza restaurant and arcade on the 76 Strip near the Jim Stafford Theater. They had a nice buffet of salad, soup, pasta, pizza and dessert, and the price was reasonable.
We then went back to the condo for a little while until it was time to go to McFarland's Family Restaurant in the Branson IMAX complex. The food and the service were great, as usual. We had a voucher from Half Price Ozarks that we paid $10.00 for $20.00 of food. That put a nice dent in our bill.
We then wandered through the many stores in the IMAX complex. I picked up our tickets for Smoke on the Mountain at the box office. We had heard good things about this show for many years, so when I found a good deal, we decided to go. The Little Opry Theater is a small, intimate theater. Even if you were sitting up on the top row, you would still be able to see the show quite well. We were sitting in the third row on the aisle. We thoroughly enjoyed this show, with its mixture of gospel music and comedy. June was my favorite character. She reminded me of myself when I was younger.
Ticket deal: KKOZ radio voucher, Branson 2 for 1 for the extra ticket
On July 8th, we went to Branson Landing and to Bass Pro Shop and the Cardinals Clubhouse. On our way back to the condo, the low tire light came on the dashboard. We got to the grocery store across the street from the condo and saw that the tire on the front passenger side was low. We decided to drive to the Conoco station. While attempting to fill the tire, the sensor came off the valve stem. Thankfully, there was a tire store right next door to the gas station. The owner brought the jack over to the car,took off the tire, took it to the tire store, repaired the tire (there was a rock in it), and brought the tire back to the car. He only charged us $10.00, but hubby gave him an extra $5.00 for curbside service.
We then hung out at the condo until it was time to go to town to see The Magic and Comedy of Taylor Reed. A sudden downpour of rain fouled up the traffic on Branson Landing Boulevard, so we backtracked into old downtown Branson and got on Main Street/76, went around on Gretna Road and then reconnected with Hwy. 76 at the intersection with Titanic. We made it to the Jim Stafford Theater in the nick of time, at 2:50 PM, and the show started at 3 PM. We got our tickets at the box office, purchased refreshments, then got to our seats just in time for the show to begin.
Taylor was a finalist on America's Got Talent. He made a helicopter appear on AGT, which he recreated during the show. Taylor was very entertaining. His illusions were very good. I enjoyed how he pulled some kids on stage to perform with him. This is a good show to take your kids to if they like magic, especially since if you purchase an adult ticket, you can get 2 children's (age 2-10) tickets free. Taylor signed autographs and conversed with everyone who attended the show. He was very personable. His Texan accent was charming.
Ticket deal: Ozarks Auction via Half Price Ozarks; Branson 2 for 1 for the extra ticket.
We left Branson on Saturday and went back home. We made many new memories. I am looking forward to next year's trip.
Sorry to take so long to write this - there was a bad storm last Wednesday and the electricity was out for a couple of days. Thanks for reading - see you next time!