If you only see one show in Branson…..I highly suggest: JONAH

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If you have followed my blog the past few years, you know that I love theater. I have seen 4 shows on Broadway, many at the Saenger and several at smaller local theaters. I LOVE it.

So, when I tell you that Jonah, the stage performance that we saw in Branson last month, was in the top 3 shows I have ever seen…..well, you know it was something spectacular.

Sight Sound Theater

I love when there are hidden meanings and clever little twists all woven through the show. You have to be a little obsessed to dig for YouTube videos and watch backstage interviews to learn of all of these hidden treasures.

JONAH did not disappoint in that department. The ship that Jonah took to Tarshish when he was supposed to be going to Ninevah looks like a whale from the side. Him being inside that ship was symbolic foreshadowing of his being swallowed later. His costume is all black and white while the other characters were brilliant colors. This was symbolic of the extreme opposites that Jonah goes through.

All of that intrigues me, and I find it simply genius that the writers think to add that to a script.  But, above and beyond all of the clever twists, the entire show was just fabulous.

My hubby is very much into the tech side of things. (He counted the mics on the stage ~ I never saw any mics) He was amazed at the entire production, too. The costumes were gorgeous, the set was very high-tech (with symbolism all hidden throughout), the special effects were awesome, the sound was crystal clear, the talent…….just, wow! Especially the children.

There is one scene where Jonah is in the woods and a group of children find him. The children are running and playing and laughing. I remember thinking that these kids seemed so genuine and authentic. Their laughter was so real! In the same scene, the trees in the forest also made me take a second look, because I thought they were real.

The theater itself (pictured above) is a massive and spectacular building. Beautiful both inside and outside. It was so crowded that I couldn’t get any good shots, but it was very large and very elegant.

There is so much that I could say, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. Just take my word for it…you will LOVE it! Every aspect of the show, and in a production this size, there are many, many aspects, each one was far above my expectations. If we go back to Branson this year, this may be worthy of a repeat performance.

Sight Sound Theater statue
Lion and Lamb Statue in front of Sight and Sound Theater

JONAH can be seen Tuesday through Saturday through the December 31, 2014. Sight and Sound Theater is located at 1001 Shepherd of the Hills Expressway – Branson, MO.

Ticket prices are: ADULT $43.00 ~ TEEN $25.00 ~  CHILD $18.00

The show is 2 hours and 20 minutes with a short intermission.

Find more info on their website HERE.

Loved by this theater buff, a techie man, an 8 yr old and a grumpy 4 yr old (except he said he didn’t like the storm scene.)

The Baldknobbers ~ Branson’s 1st Music Show

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When I was little, we travelled to Branson quite a bit. I remember eating breakfast at Sadie’s Sideboard and staying at a motel next door that had a guitar shaped swimming pool.  Across the street from these two icons of their day, was a music show called THE BALDKNOBBERS.

Photo from my Instagram
Photo from my Instagram

If you have been to music shows in Branson or even the Pigeon Forge area, then you know what I am talking about. Lots of great music, lots of patriotism and there is always the house comedian.

I remember The Baldknobbers because that is where we went EVERY visit. Also, their comedian had a rather unique name: Droopy Drawers! Yes – Droopy. Drawers.  He played a washboard and had, well….droopy, saggy pants.

So, when we decided to take the boys to Branson for their first time, I knew we had to see the Baldknobbers show.

Baldknobbers logo

The Baldknobbers, Branson’s first show started in 1959. Today the 2nd & 3rd generations carry on the family tradition of delivering everything from today’s #1 hits, great country music, and lots of hilarious side-splitting comedy. Both longtime Baldknobbers’ fans and new fans alike love the Baldknobbers all –new show each year and appreciate the Baldknobbers’ family traditions that have made this show popular from generation to generation. Don’t miss the show that started it all,  The Baldknobbers Jamboree

When the curtain went up and the music started to play, a spotlight went to the back of the theater and I almost fell out of my chair! Mike Ito, a fantastic violinist walked down the aisle in the spotlight playing his instrument. Then, they announced that this was his THIRTY-FIFTH season with the show! Amazing!!!

Mike Ito
Japanese Violinist Mike Ito

Because “a few” years have passed since my childhood visits, Droopy Drawers has retired, but Droop, Jr. was there, along with another comedian called Hargus Marcel.  They are an absolute riot.

But, aside from the comedians and the great music, this is a family show. It is the epitome of the cliche’ good, clean fun. The Mabe family has been doing this long enough to know what works. Their show is lots of fun for all ages.

While my 4 yr old slept through the entire show (he had a long day, and usually sleeps through anything after 7pm), it made me smile to hear my 8 year old laughing outloud and slapping his knee at the jokes the comedians were making. He is finally old enough to “get it” and to enjoy this type of entertainment. I would like to think that he will remember his trip to Branson and first visit to The Baldknobbers just like I do!

Evan and Hargus

In addition to the theater, the Baldknobbers also have a restaurant and a “Motor Inn” on the property these days. They host “Ice Cream Socials” after the show and have a great deal on a breakfast buffet in the mornings. See their website and the SPECIALS tab for some great deals on combo packages with accommodations and show tickets.

Disclosure: My family and I were given complimentary tickets to see the show in exchange for sharing our experience with you. No monetary compensation was given for this post. All opinions and photos are my own.

When in Branson – Ride the Ducks! #sponsored

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The first thing we did when we arrived in Branson…..well, after eating, was ….

RIDE THE DUCKS!

Ducks

Disclosure – My family and I were given complimentary passes to the Ducks in exchange for my sharing our experience with you. All opinions and photos are my own.

I remember doing this tour as a child. I haven’t been to Branson in probably 25 years until last week. But, that is one of the most vivid memories from those early vacations.

If you aren’t familiar, DUCKS are amphibious touring vehicles and quite possibly, the best way to see Branson and learn about the history and culture of the area.

The ride is about 90 minutes and takes you around Branson, then over the dam at Lake Taneycomo. You will drive through some mountainous terrain and then emerge at a military vehicle “museum”. You can see several older military vehicles on display and see how the DUCKS came to be!  They are built on old military vehicles themselves!

ducks mil veh 2 ducks Mil veh museum

Your Captain will narrate the entire trip while pointing out many landmarks and points of interest, all while keeping you in stitches with his slapstick humor.  We had a guy named Captain Crunch and he was a riot!

After you have driven around for a bit, you will actually head off into the lake at full speed! (Here’s a little tip: There are no seat belts and the entry to the lake is a bit abrupt. Hold onto the little ones with one arm and brace yourself with the other. You will both need it. Not kidding.) Once in the water, you will float around the lake for about 30 minutes and all the kids on board get a chance to drive the boat! They even get a certificate when the tour is over.

Noah and Crunch
Capt. Crunch was telling Noah to press that button and Daddy’s seat will fly out the back window!

My kids (4, 8) absolutely loved this activity and laughed the entire time! (Except for the entry to the lake. Seriously…brace your little ones!)

The Branson Ducks have offered one lucky reader two passes to RIDE THE DUCKS!!  Just fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember, if you earn entries for liking, following, posting, etc…be sure you do it. False entries will be deleted before the winners are chosen.

 

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Welcome to #Branson! ICEBERG, RIGHT AHEAD! Win 4 tickets to visit TITANIC in Branson or Pigeon Forge! #giveaway #sponsored

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When you arrive in the beautiful Ozark mountains, exit Hwy 65 and head down the 76 strip, you expect to see Country Music shows, hotels, motels, restaurants, mini-golf and more.  What you may not expect to see is this:

Titanic

But, there she is…right in the midst of all the Branson action: TITANIC.

Disclosure: My family and I were given complimentary passes and listening devices in exchange for sharing this post with you. All opinions are my own. Photography is not allowed inside Titanic, so I was given access and permission to use their gallery photos.

Once you enter this massive replica of TITANIC, you tend to forget how out of place you are in a huge ship sitting in the middle of the Ozarks. You may also forget who you are. This is aided by the fact that each guest is given a profile of an actual TITANIC passenger! You see their name, age, maybe their occupation and what class of passenger they were.

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Then, as you begin to tour the ship and read the stories, see the models and the authentic memorabilia, you tend to take on your alter-ego. We found ourselves saying “This would be my bunk room.” or “That’s the size your bed would be.”  You get to see where they/you would have slept and dined. You get a sense of the difference between the classes of passengers and you fully take on your new identity! Once you are through the entire tour, you enter the Memorial Room and find your name on the wall. It is here that you finally learn your fate.

We all survived this visit! Last year, hubby was a crewmember and he perished. When he received his card and saw that he was crew again, he said he had a bit of a “sinking feeling”!

As you walk through the museum, each exhibit has a number code. Well, two, actually. You see, the tour is totally a different experience for a child than it is for an adult. We had hand-held listening devices that looked like remote controls. As you approach a new exhibit, you dial up its corresponding code on the device and listen to a narrative about that particular topic. But, the kids had their own code to dial up and listen to the information from a kid’s point of view. My oldest LOVED this. At 8, the thought of having his own buttons to press, and the freedom to roam each room at his own pace was very liberating. The 4 yr old, he just liked to push the buttons. But, he was happy, none the less.

As you get toward the end of the tour, you can stand at the wheel on the Captain’s bridge and “steer” the ship into the darkness. You can see the iceberg outside and get a feel for what it must have been like to peer into the darkness that cold night. After that, you can exit that room into the night. You are actually walking the deck that is around the Captain’s Bridge that I just described and it is so very cold. There is a small “trough” of water at 28 degrees. You can stick your finger in that frigid water and move it around to simulate “swimming” and get a feel for just how cold it must have been for those poor people. Time yourself and see how long you can stand it! You’d be surprised how quickly you have to pull that one finger out of that water!

photo credit: titanicbranson.com
photo credit: titanicbranson.com

There are many other rooms that I was fascinated by, such as the Gallery of Father Browne’s photos. His are the only authentic photographs of the ship. He was on one leg of the Titanic’s voyage and got off before she started across the Atlantic. He began to tour and lecture about the ship and her sister “Olympic”. White Star Line, the ship builders, sent him a letter requesting that he only lecture about the “Olympic”, but “not mention Titanic as we do not want anyone to memorialize such a calamity.” The actual letter is on display with his photographs at the Pigeon Forge location.

AILLC-PF-Titanic05-FatherBrowne-08
photo credit: www.titanicpigeonforge.com

While this may not be the BEST attraction for the little ones, the bigger kids seem to be more into it. It’s fascinating, interactive and it’s all true. So many things that my kids are impressed by, I have to tell them that it was all fiction. So, my oldest especially, is very interested in the whole thing because he knew ahead of time that it was all real. Real people were on that REAL boat, and they REALLY died.

For the little kids, they do have a pair of puppies that are the mascots of the Branson location. They were not out the day we visited, but there is a lot of history about the dogs that were on board. So, the puppies are not out of place here at all.  There are also some activities for the kids like shoveling coal to the steam engine. All simulated, of course.  But, just know that there is a lot of reading and a lot of priceless artifacts. Also, it could easily take you 2 hours to complete the entire exhibit. So, keep that in mind if you have toddlers. This is definitely geared more for the older kids and adults, as well as history buffs!

If you want to smuggle in some education and history while on vacation, this is the place to go!

And…one of you will be able to do so FREE! The lovely folks at TITANIC have offered one lucky reader a Family 4 pack to visit their choice of Pigeon Forge or Branson’s museum.  Complete the Rafflecopter form below to be entered. Giveaway will end Saturday,  May 3, 2014. Winner has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Tickets will be a “will call” situation as your name will be added to their system.

**Remember, if you fill out in Rafflecopter that you like, follow, post, etc….be sure you do it. Entries that are false will be removed before winner is chosen.  GOOD LUCK!!

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