Branson, Missouri Celebrates 100 Years by Bonnie and Bill Neely

Branson, Missouri, is celebrating its 100th anniversary as one of the most popular and beloved vacation spots in the USA. Situated across the mountain top of the Ozarks, this amazing little town has squeezed into a small area some of the largest and most enticing theaters for fabulous shows and almost every kind of fun entertainment attraction and museum you could ever imagine for clean family fun and enjoyment. The problem is, you have to choose from about 140 different attractions! What a wonderful holiday spot for your time off, whether you have a day or a week, to enjoy with all ages.
From the scores of extravaganza theater shows, we selected the Legends of KungFu at the White House Theatre, which was one the Best New Shows in 2010 and in 2011 was awarded the Production Show of the Year Award. We enjoyed a delicious Chinese style dinner in the theatre for a nominal price an hour before the evening show. The gift shop was like our trip to China with beautiful treasures for quite reasonable prices.
The KungFu production was magnificent, reminiscent of the designate show of the 2008 Beijing Olympics which had the world in awe. The group selected from that performance has brought a smaller version of that show to many countries with over 2 million people enjoying it and now has its permanent home in Branson. The dramatic story is of a little boy who is dedicated by his mother to a life of service as a KungFu warrior monk.

His training and courage are demonstrated through powerfully beautiful and stylized ballet and acrobatics by a mostly male cast. Their agility and skill kept us breathless, and the staging and music were exquisite. This is certainly the show to see if you can only see one during your stay in Branson. Afterwards the cast came out to sign autographs and pose with guests for photos.
Most theaters have shows at 3 in the afternoon and around 7 or 8 in the evenings, with a few having morning or late night shows, so you can manage to squeeze a lot of shows into a weekend stay. Be sure to include the inspiring Shepherd of the Hills, which was written by Harold Bell Wright and was the first theater here. His book by the same name inspired many tourists to come see his beloved Ozarks during the early part of the 20th century, and his many novels continue to be best sellers. Setting the tone of Branson for clean entertainment with the flavor of the Ozark Hillbillies, this first show pioneered the way and showed visitors what life here was all about. Now the entertainment often keeps the country and Christian and American pride flavor.
We decided to spend the hot summer afternoon at museums instead of the great shopping outlets. We visited the Titanic Museum because not only Branson is celebrating its centennial but also it is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the famous ship.

The visit here is an awe-inspiring experience, extremely well-done memorial to those who died. This museum documents the whole Titanic ship from its conception and building to the excitement of the noteworthy voyage to the tragic sinking. The displays show great detail through photos, models, and the actual voices of some of the people on board. The artifacts which were personal possessions of some of the passengers create a poignant experience for the viewer. You will see the reconstruction of the actual grand staircase and dome of the ship with its glass ceiling. Each visitor to the museum is given a hand-held audio tour to explain each of the hundreds of exhibits. You can enter the number of each display and listen to a commentary about it. It was frightening to put our hands into the 28 degree water, which is the temperature of the water in which the victims perished.
There is a special exhibit dedicated to Molly Brown, one of the famous wealthy passengers, who was a hero during the rescue of women and was the focus of the film The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Costumed docents throughout the museum enact the part of the Titanic crew members, so you feel as if you are actually aboard the grand ship. This is a must-see, awesome experience of living history, and a show “A Night To Remember” is also available.
The World’s Largest Toy Museum is fun for every age, not just children. Over a million toys from 1800’s until present are displayed in many cases which will bring joy to your hearts and perhaps a tear to your eyes as you reminisce your childhood, seeing your beloved doll or favorite toy car.
You could never imagine how many different kinds of toys have entertained children through the ages, many of them mimicking adult passtimes and professions, so the child could identify in play with the parent’s work. From John Deere toy tractors to cooking and clothes washing implements in doll houses, children could use their imaginations to believe they were performing the same activities they saw adults doing. Of course, there are scores of the character toys from beloved movies and TV shows: Howdy Doody, Lone Ranger, Davey Crockett, Mickey Mouse and all his friends, Popeye, Betty Boop and hundreds of others. The Barbie collection must be complete.
You name it and it is there, whether your grandmother or your own child played with it. The nostalgia includes bicycles, horses to ride at the grocery store for a quarter, toy circuses, and so much more. Train sets are too numerous to count, and every imaginable collectible toy car, all the Star Wars figures, books, records. The experience requires your camera to take home all the special memories to pull out anytime you wish to remember or to show young people today what fascinated you as a child.
We also enjoyed the recreation of the home and office of Harold Bell Wright, the author of The Shepherd of the Hills play. The film here tells how he was the one who made this area of the Ozarks a favorite tourist spot with his novels and his play, which is still performed here each night and was the first theater production in Branson. We loved this museum.