Branson, Missouri

My husband knows how much I love Christmas lights. He did some research and found out that Branson has some of the best lights in the U.S. so we made plans to visit. We live near an airport with Allegiant and the non stop flights were much cheaper than any other we could find. I love a nonstop flight. We were confined to certain days, so we chose a Thursday to Sunday trip. Our car rental at the airport was also a good deal. It turned out to be a pretty cheap trip, even though we had to change our Air BnB room on the second night.

The drive from the airport to Branson is about an hour. We bought timed tickets to the Titanic museum for 10am. We were a little late due to our flight delay (computers were not working), but we went right in. They give you a card when you arrive with the name and background information about a passenger on the ship. You can find out what happened to your person at the end of the self tour of the museum. They also give you an audio tour and you can type in the numbers you see on displays to hear more information about it. The most talked about exhibit is the grand staircase.

There are a few interactive displays in which you can shovel coal into the engine, put your hand in water that is the same temperature as when the Titanic sank, climb up the different slopes of the ship while it sank, and sit in the actual size of the life boat. The displays are well done and I liked being able to listen to more information from the audio, if I wanted. There was a bit of controversy with some exhibits highlighting Jewish people and the Holocaust. At first, we didn’t think it was a big deal because it linked some passengers with other family members and then with Anne Frank, but then it continued later in the museum excessively and didn’t say anything new. I found it odd that they needed to crowbar more references to it later.

The room above was a re-creation of the most expensive suite on the ship. I appreciated how they showed all the different classes in terms of where they were located, what their rooms looked like, and even menus to show what they ate while on board. At the end of the tour, there is a wall and it shows the survivors from each class. Sadly, my passenger died along with her four sons and husband. She was in third class, so I didn’t think she had much of a chance, but it was even sadder to find out no one in her family survived.

We had a delicious lunch at Local Flavor of homemade chicken salad and homemade chips. I loved the chicken salad. I asked what was in it and they told me it had relish and mustard, I was hesitant, it was different, but yummy. After lunch, we went to a Christmas show. I chose this show because I was not interested in country music or a religious show. In the show, they managed to put in two songs about America though, which was interesting. I was not a big fan of this show. They had a background soundtrack (which makes sense because the dancers would be out of breath), but it was distracting. I think they relied on it too much and we didn’t hear actual singing enough. The costume changes, various scenes, and quick transitions were well done, but I don’t think it was worth even the Groupon price that we paid for it. I do have a background in theater, so I was expecting more for a place known for shows.

We had a ridiculous amount of BBQ for dinner at Danna’s BBQ and Burger shop. We enjoyed every bite. The next day we planned on spending at Silver Dollar City. It didn’t open until 1pm, so we went try one of the two mountain coasters. We watched a video of one and it didn’t look exciting so we tried the Runaway Mountain Coaster. I get nervous when I go too fast, so I like that I have control of the brakes. This coaster went so fast that I felt like it was going to go flying off the rails. My husband loves going fast and he agreed with me when we both finished the run. He actually had to slow down and he never uses the brakes. We packed up our belongings to move to a motel after visiting the park. We tried to have lunch at a diner, but it was so busy we ended up eating fast food.

The line to get to Silver Dollar City started miles ahead of the entrance. We couldn’t believe the number of people trying to enter the park. Parking there is free, but you can pay for preferred. We parked in.a free spot and they had buses and trolleys that would take you to the entrance. The line for the bus was so long that we decided to walk. It only took us 10 minutes and we definitely got there before the bus. The line to get in was not terrible. We beelined it to see the show, A Christmas Carol, which was halfway through the park. It seemed rather quiet in that sections, but the theater was almost full when we got our seats. The show was amazing! They had all kinds of neat props, trap doors, covering smoke, and amazing costumes. It was the musical version and the actors were excellent. Even my husband really enjoyed it and he doesn’t like musicals.

After the show, we walked to a section that had fewer people. We found a Barn Swing. It was basically a giant swing that fit about eight people on each side and took you up high enough that you were facing the ground at a parallel angle. We waited for about 15 minutes and I started to get nervous, but it was really fun. At the end of the area we were in there was a wooden roller coaster called Outlaw Run. Jef loves roller coasters and there was less than a five minute wait. He said it was amazing. He didn’t think it would go upside down and it did. He loved it. We had to find the next theater because the show was going to start in about half an hour. It’s a good think we went early. The line snaked so far around the park that I thought we wouldn’t get in! There is no one working there to tell you where the line begins or ends or looks out for people jumping the line. I thought it was pretty disorganized. We found good seats to the show, which was basically Christmas songs. This show was so much better than the one we saw in Branson. There was no background track, they sang the whole time and they tried to turn all the songs into a theme of people getting together for the holidays. I really enjoyed it.

After this show ended, it was starting to get dark enough for the lights to go on. I was awestruck by the number of lights that they had on all the buildings. We walked to the central square because there was going to be a light show, but when we realized that it would happen every fifteen minutes, we decided to go eat dinner while everyone was watching it. We saw quite a bit from the windows of Miss Molly Mill’s Restaurant. It was buffet style and had all kinds of homemade goodies. I found it interesting that it started with dessert (pumpkin and apple pie and some kind of pudding), but it was delicious. I mostly ate vegetables, but my husband enjoyed the fried chicken. The homemade rolls were soft pillows of dough. You can had get some quick before they ran out. The servers brought you your drinks with free refills. We ate way too much, but it was a good meal for a theme park.

During the light show in the square, this tree lit up with angels, reindeer, and quite a few other holiday symbols that danced around to the music. It was beautiful. We spend most of the evening wandering around looking at the lights. We did check out two attractions. One was Grandfather’s Mansion, which was like a fun house. It made me a little motion sick because your mind can’t compute that your body is at an angle when your eyes tell you that you’re not.. It was interesting. The other was the Flooded Mine. I got into the line not really sure what it was. You get in these boats and float through a flooded mine, but while you are doing that you can shoot at things and get points. The ride is over 30 years old, so it’s not very high tech, but when you shoot something there is usually some reaction. A bird will tweet, a light will go on, a man will move, which makes it more fun because you know you hit the target. I ALWAYS beat my husband in an embarrassing way when we play shooting games at theme parks. It drives him crazy. This ride was no exception.

We originally planned to explore the Marvel cave, watch the parade, and see another show, but the number of people in the park made it impossible. I was upset that they closed most of Homestead Ridge after dark, so I also missed checking out those buildings. It would have been nice to ride a few other rides as well, but we were there for the lights and they were spectacular. I would definitely go there again at Christmas, but during the middle of the week to beat the crowds.

The next day, I wanted to go to the largest toy museum in the world. It was so big that we had to take a lunch break in order to see it all. The amount of stuff they had was staggering. There was a large section dedicated to toy guns including BB guns and I thought most of them looked like real guns. There was also a section in which they were given most if not all the dolls from the largest doll collection. (A good number of those dolls were very creepy.) I took a few pictures for my nephews, but it’s difficult to explain how much stuff they had in their displays. I enjoyed it because I love looking at old toys, but by the end it got overwhelming.

As I mentioned, we took a break in the middle of browsing the toy collection for lunch. We went to the Pickin Porch Grill at the Branson Craft Mall. You order at the counter and they bring you your food. I really enjoyed my TBA, which was a Turkey, Bacon, and Avocado sandwich. The fries that come with it are also delicious. After eating, we wandered around the craft mall, which was bigger than we expected. After finishing our tour of the Toy Museum, we stopped for the second time at this drive through coffee shop called Expresso Branson. They had a specialty hot chocolate with all three chocolates (milk, dark, and white) mixed together with peppermint. Delicious. That evening for dinner we finally got a table at Billy Gail’s Cafe. We had breakfast for dinner. I didn’t realize how big my pancake was going to be. Sadly, it was not as good as it looked.

I was pleasantly surprised at how successful our trip to Branson turned out. The food was especially good and I loved the lights at Silver Dollar City. I would definitely go again during the holiday season. I think I will skip the shows in Branson though. They were not for me.

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