Only 35 years ago Branson, Mo. was much like Payson -- a small town in the beautiful Ozarks. Today, it is known as the live Entertainment Capital of the World. It offers more than 100 different shows in 52 state-of-the-art theaters from intimate 50-seat venues to 4,000-seat theaters. Branson attracts people from all over the United States who come to enjoy the array of live performance shows, some of which begin in the morning and play into the evening.
The variety of entertainment includes pop, country, rock 'n' roll, gospel, patriotic, Broadway, Western, Big Band, swing, bluegrass, jazz, classical and more. Some big names from the past currently perform here and have done so for some years. For example, visitors can enjoy live performances by Andy Williams, Ann-Margret, Tony Orlando, Joe Diffie, the Righteous Brothers, Bobby Vinton, Fabian, Mickey Gilley, the Osmonds, the Gatlin Brothers, Pam and Mel Tillis, Moe Bandy, the Oak Ridge Boys and many more.
The big production shows include Broadway, the Twelve Irish Tenors, Celebrate America, Spirit of Dance, Doino Kartsonakis and magic shows such as Kirby VanBurch, the Hamner Barber Variety Show and on and on. There are tributes to great entertainer shows such as Elvis, Red Skelton and Bob Anderson's world-class impersonations among many outstanding shows.
Laughter is available with headliners Jim Stafford, Yakov Smirnoff, the Comedy Jubilee, Pierce Arrow, Baldknobbers Jamboree and the Mickey Gilley Show.
International shows are also on the scene with the New Shanghai Circus, Shoji Tabuchi, Daniel O'Donnel and others for a flair of culture.
Popular morning shows include Roy Rogers Jr., the Circle B. Chuckwagon Show, Doug Gabriel, the Lowe Family, Buck Trent, Yakov Smirnoff and still more between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.
The area surrounding Branson is beautiful, as is the Ozarks region in general. Lakes, rivers, hills and trees make it an ideal location. The weather is cool to cold in winter and warm and humid in summer. The best time to visit is spring and fall.
When you are not enjoying the theater, there is a fine selection of other attractions. There are some 30 thrilling rides along with tire-works shows, a scenic railway line, a showboat, a marina, yacht cruises, a Tall Timber lumberjack show, horseback rides, fishing, golfing, and camping.
Always popular is the Lawrence Welk Christmas Show.
Andy Williams performs with Ann-Margaret at the Moon River Theatre June 5-July 26. With more than 50 theaters in town, you can literally see several shows each day. Prices range from $25 to $45 per performance. There are discounts available for some shows and these can be viewed at www. bransontourismcenter.com and pull up the show schedule. This same site will give you much information on the area, attractions, lodging, and other useful information.
Branson is some 1,300 miles from Payson with good roads all the way. If you fly, you book a flight to Springfield, Mo. and Branson is 52 miles from there.
It would be best to rent a car in Springfield and then you can be independent while in the Branson area. Branson is currently constructing its own airport, which will be open in the spring of 2009.
There are some 200 lodging locations from deluxe to moderate in pricing, with some located on the nearby lake for great scenery and relaxation. RV parks are also available and you'll find more than 400 restaurants to try.
There is abundant shopping available while not in a theater and the beautiful scenery surrounding the town is very special. The Branson Scenic Railway takes passengers on a narrated trip through rugged countryside into Arkansas or north to Galena, Mo. You'll ride aboard restored 1940s dome cars.
On the water Branson is uniquely situated just minutes from three pristine lakes. A ride on a 1880s paddlewheel boat can be fun and perfect for great shots with your camera.
Branson is for the entire family, something for everyone -- good clean fun and entertainment. Have a ball!
Before you go, you can book your vacation by calling (877) 368-3824, or visit www.branson.com on the Web.