The Times, They are a-Changin’
The entertainment scene in Branson is evolving. Theaters drew media attention and initially prospered by featuring nationally known entertainers such as Andy Williams, Roy Clark, Ray Stevens, Bobby Vinton, Wayne Newton, and Elvis Presley — just kidding about Elvis although the town has seen many Elvis impersonators. Entertainment is now mainly provided by local and regional artists. The entertainers have generally grown younger (Andy Williams who died in 2012 was still performing here in his 80s) but are quite talented and present energetic shows.
Branson’s city fathers understand that change is a necessity in order to attract new visitors and to keep current visitors coming back. Additional activities and attractions tempt current visitors to stay longer and at the same time they will attract vacationers who want to do something more than attend two or three theater shows each day. Thus, the area has become home to some activities and attractions that may surprise you, especially if you haven’t visited for a number of years.
Silver Dollar City
This popular 1880s theme park offers entertainment, craftsmen, cave tours, restaurants, shops, and rides including Outlaw Run, a $10 million wood coaster with an initial drop of 16 stories at 81 degrees. The park presents a series of special programs throughout the year that in 2013 included bluegrass music, gospel performances, a salute to cowboys, international entertainers, and a Christmas festival. The park also offers a cooking school.
Downtown Branson experienced a major boost with the development of 95 acres along the lakefront. The $420 million project includes a five-block-long promenade flanked with stores anchored by Belk and Bass Pro. It includes restaurants, an upscale Hilton Hotel, condominiums, parking garages, and marinas. Music and flames accompany periodic water shows from the fountains located next to the lake. The Landing’s dock is home to the Lake Queen, a paddlewheel that offers two-hour sightseeing cruises; and the Landing Princess, an enclosed cabin cruiser that provides two-hour dinner cruises. A river walk begins at the north end of the promenade.