Kenny Rogers is coming to Branson, Missouri for the official grand opening celebration of the Toy Shoppe Express Train at the Branson Landing.  The train is sponsored by the Starlite Theatre this Christmas season in conjunction with the Branson debut of the Broadway musical – The Toy Shoppe presented by Kenny Rogers.

Rogers will be at the Landing at 11:45am on November 1, 2013.  In addition, Toy Shoppe star Billy Dean will make a special guest appearance.

The Toy Shoppe Express Train adds an extra dose of holiday cheer to your time at the Branson Landing.  Train cars festively decorated for the holiday season make several trips around the giant Branson Landing Christmas tree.  Then, it makes a stop at Santa’s Treehouse where you can have your picture taken with Santa Claus for a memorable holiday keepsake. 

If you attend the grand opening celebration you will be treated to a complimentary ride aboard The Toy Shoppe Express.  Afterwards, be sure to take in the all-new show at the Starlite Theatre. The music and story of The Toy Shoppe were written and arranged by Kenny Rogers, along with producer Kelly Junkerman.  During the show, you’ll go on a journey with Billy Dean, appearing as “Hank Longley,” at his magical Toy Shoppe where toys come to life and children gather to her magical stories.  The show is full of old-fashioned values and is great entertainment for the entire family.

The Toy Shoppe will be performed November 1 through December 21, 2013.

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Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, touring Branson to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know. Before you pack your bags, get the latest scoop on Branson vacations from Ashley.

The Presley Family is set to perform at Fantastic Caverns for the first time in nearly 50 years.  Responsible for the first show on The Strip in Branson, Missouri, The Presley’s return to their roots and take the stage at one of the their first venues – Fantastic Caverns.  The show, which is a special fundraiser, will take place at the Auditorium Room inside Fantastic Caverns on November 17 at 7:30pm.

Performing inside Fantastic Caverns, and The Auditorium Room specifically, holds special meaning to The Presley’s.  Before they opened their theater in 1967, the family would hold shows inside the cave.  Seem like a strange place to perform?  Actually, The Auditorium Room inside the cave is a natural underground theater that’s played host to events ranging from country music shows to live operas and even weddings. 

Attendees to this special event will be treated to The Presley’s Jubilee Show similar to what they perform on stage six days a week.  A mix of country, gospel, bluegrass, and comedy will fill the cavern.  One of the highlights, of course, will be the surrounding caverns, stalactites and stalagmites.  Can’t make the show?  The event will be televised on RFD-TV and Family Net. 

Tickets are $30 for adults, and $15 for children age2-12.  Please call 1-800-335-4874 to place your order. 

All proceeds from the show benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ozarks. 

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Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Branson to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know. Before you pack your bags, get the latest scoop on Branson vacations from Ashley.

When you vacation in the Ozarks stay at hotels in Branson with free parking.  You’ll avoid those pesky parking fees that can quickly add up and be able to save your money for something you’ll actually enjoy.  We know what it’s like to have to pay to park, so we’re big fans of resorts that offer free parking.

Grand Plaza Hotel

A few Branson hotels with free parking include:

  • Castle Rock Resort
  • Still Waters Resort
  • Grand Plaza Hotel
  • Welk Resort Hotel
  • Lodges at Timber Ridge

To see a full list of Branson hotels with free parking, browse the selection available on Reserve Branson.

Hot_Air_Balloons_iStock_000009931941XSmallGet ready to go up, up and way at the Branson Balloon Festival.  The skies over Branson, Missouri will be filled with balloons of all shapes and sizes 3rd Annual Branson Balloon Festival lifts off at its new location, the Branson RecPlex.  The event begins at 5pm Friday, October 18, and will run through 9am Sunday, October 20.

The schedule of events for the Branson Balloon Festival:

Friday, October 18, 2013
5:00pm: Opening Ceremony
5:00pm – 9:00pm: Live entertainment, food, vendors, tethered balloon rides for $10, Balloon Glow

Saturday, October 19, 2013
7:00am – 9:00am:  Hot air balloon flights and competition
9:00am – 5:00pm:  Powered parachutes, ultralight aircraft , remote control planes, food, vendors, and live entertainment
5:00pm– 9:00pm:   Tethered hot air balloon rides for $10, live entertainment, food, vendors, and Balloon Glow

Sunday, October 20, 2013
7:00am – 9:00am  Hot air balloon flights and competition

A balloon flight normally lasts about 30 minutes to an hour in the air. During this time, you will be surrounded by the beauty of the other balloons and the colors of the leaves in the fall. The Ozarks are gorgeous this time of year! Not only will you get the opportunity to fly, but you will get to watch the pilot and crew inflate the balloon.  It is best to reserve your balloon flight in advance.  Cost is $275 per person.

Even if you’re not planning on riding in a hot air balloon, you should still attend this event for all of the activities available – including the balloon glow.  Around dusk, you’ll see all of the hot balloons illuminating like candles.  It’s a gorgeous sight and, for us, is the highlight of the event.

The Branson Balloon Festival is free to the public.

There’s no stuttering about it – Mel Tillis is live in Branson this fall. The award-winning country music star is perfroming select dates now through December 9, 2013. This is the second season Tillis has joined the line-up at the Clay Cooper Theater for special shows featuring his trademark songs.

Grand Ole Opry member and Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee, Mel Tillis has made his mark as an entertainer as well as a song writer. He has had more than 60 songs on the charts. His many hits include “Detroit City,” “Ruby,” “Coca Cola Cowboy,” “Send Me Down to Tuscon,” and “Good Woman Blues.”

Visitors who purchase tickets to see Mel Tillis can expect to hear a variety of songs from his over 36 top ten singles as well as hear some of Tillis’ signature humor. Tickets are less than $36 and will sell quickly. Get your Mel Tillis tickets today to ensure you get the best seats available.

New Shanghai Theatre in Branson, Missouri will host the 1st Annual Shanghai Cultural Festival from October 8 through October 11, 2013. Visitors will enjoy special performances by guest artists from Shanghai, China during the Acrobats of China featuring the New Shanghai Circus regular performances at 8:00pm on October 8th and 3:00 & 8:00pm on October 9, 10, and 11, 2013.

During these special shows performers from Shanghai will demonstrate ancient arts that delight today’s modern audiences. From the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe artists Liu Tao and Lu Lin will showcase their respective roles as the Marshal and female warrior in what is traditionally known as the Beijing Opera. Also making appearances are Suo Na player Mi Songjie and Erhu player Deng Yuemei from the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra. Suo Na is a Han Chinese shawm (oboe). It has a distinctively loud and high-pitched sound, and is used frequently in Chinese traditional music ensembles, particularly those that perform outdoors. Erhu is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument, and is sometimes known in the Western world as the “Chinese violin”. It is used as a solo instrument in small ensembles and large orchestras. A very versatile instrument, Erhu is used in both traditional and contemporary music arrangements, such as in pop, rock, jazz, etc.

In 2009 the Chinese Acrobatic Association called New Shanghai Circus CEO & President Mr Lizhi Zhao a leader in creating Cultural Exchange between China and the United States and proclaimed the New Shanghai Theatre & Circus an International Cultural Exchange Foundation. At that time the Taney County Commission issued a proclamation congratulating the Acrobats of China featuring the New Shanghai Circus for its success in Branson, Missouri as well as its contributions to the community.

In keeping with that spirit of creating unique experiences for our guests, the Acrobats of China featuring the New Shanghai Theatre will offer a Shanghai Cultural Festival each year. The 2nd Annual Shanghai Cultural Festival is scheduled for June 10-13, 2014, and will be in conjunction with our Annual Reunion for Families with Adopted Chinese Children that is held on Friday, June 13, 2014. Opening ceremonies in 2014 will be held on June 10 at 8:00pm.

RD-CalendarMark your calendars for these Branson events happening November 2013:

November 1 – December 31: The Trail of Lights
The Trail of Lights opens November 1. Festive holiday music plays as you make your way through the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead, decorated with millions of Christmas lights. Open 7 nights a week from dusk until the end of the shows.

November 1 – December 31: Titanic Christmas and Winter Celebration
The Titanic Museum will be transformed during the holiday season with Christmas decorations and lights. Stop by to see the festive sights and meet the Titanic Fantasy Princess.

November 1 – January 2: Branson Area Festival of Lights
Branson lights up for the holidays. The one-mile drive is illuminated with over 175 displays and is located off Shepherd of the Hills Expressway and Roark Valley Road. Open daily from dusk until 11pm.

November 2 – December 30: An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City
Named one of the top 5 holiday events in the country by Good Morning America, An Old Time Christmas features 4 million lights, a 5-story special effects Christmas tree, a holiday lights parade, plus holiday shows and treats.

November 5-11: Veterans Homecoming Week
This seven day tribute to veterans includes many special events throughout Branson. Many are free to veterans. See the complete schedule of events online.

November 8: Charlie Daniels
Charlie Daniels is set to perform at 8pm at The Oak Ridge Boys Theatre.

November 11: Veteran’s Day Parade
The 79th annual Branson Veteran’s Day parade will make its way through Historic Downtown Branson at 11am.

November 15-16: Johnny Mathis
Both shows will be performed at 8pm at The Oaky Ridge Boys Theatre.

November 29: Branson Landing’s Black Friday Blowout
Get the best black Friday deals at stores throughout the Branson Landing.

Update: The Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama continued for a 55th season in 2014, and is expected to return in 2015.

After 54 years of entertainment, the Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama in Branson, Missouri will ends it outdoor drama with a final performance on October 19, 2013. 

Started in 1960, the Shepherd of the Hills play was one of the early attractions on which Branson began its tourism industry.  The outdoor drama is based on the book of the same name, published in 1907 and written by Harold Bell Wright.  His visit to the Branson area became the inspiration for his novel, which went on to become the first book in the United States to sell more than one million copies.
In a statement released Wednesday, owners expressed heartfelt gratitude and sadness regarding the shows closure.  “It is with great soul searching and sorrow that we have come to the conclusion that after 54 years in production, we must bring this spectacular presentation of Branson’s history to a final curtain call with the closing night of this year’s season.  We are so thankful for all of you who have shared your talents and your lives with us and all our guests through the years in helping to preserve the legend of the Shepherd of the Hills.  The statement also cited the rising costs of insurance, production, and declining crowds as reasons for the show ending. 

The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead will be preserved and maintained as a historical landmark and tours of Old Matt’s Cabin, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, will still be available during the summer months.  Inspiration Tower and the Vigilante Extreme ZipRider will be open year-round. During November and December, the Trail of Lights Drive-Thru and the Christmas on the Trail Chuckwagon Dinner Show will still operate normally.

If you’d like to see the one of the final performance of Shepherd of the Hills, tickets can still be purchased online or by calling 1-800-590-0155.

The Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri is bringing new holiday magic to the Ozarks in the form of the Titanic Fantasy Princess. 

Titanic Museum Attraction will bring an enchanted forest to life with help from a mystical Fantasy Princess.  The magic begins Thanksgiving weekend, November 28, and continues every Wednesday through Sunday to December 29. The Titanic Fantasy Princess will be on hand from 10am-5pm. 

According to a press release, “Our Fantasy Princess will be here to greet little girls and boys and help make their holiday dreams come true,” announces John Joslyn, expedition leader of the first private exploration dive to Titanic and owner of the Titanic Museum Attraction.  “She will embody the holiday season’s magic and mystery shared by children of 1912 and today.”

The Titanic Fantasy Princess is this year’s beautiful addition to the annual Titanic Christmas Winter Wonderland, which features thousands of holiday lights, Edwardian-style decorations, costumed merry-makers and a Gift Shoppe brimming with one-of-a-kind selections.  Also available is a magical photo op with the princess herself.

Purchase your Titanic Museum tickets today to experience the holidays aboard this famous, recreated ship. The museum is open daily at 9am and reservations are recommended.