Let’s consider your ideas about Branson for a moment. Unless you have been there very recently, you’ll be surprised. Not that the stereotype — country music shows, family entertainment, lots of folks enjoying the Ozark Mountains — is off base. In fact, “faith, flag and family” remain Branson visitor staples.
It’s just that this image only tells a fraction of the story. Many visit for the live entertainment shows — from the Presleys’ family theatre, which celebrates 50 years in 2017, to the huge hit, “Million Dollar Quartet,” which is signed to a five-year run at Welk Resorts.
But a surprising number come for other reasons, such as the array of outdoor activities, or the Titanic Museum, which drew 350,000 visitors last year, and in 2017 pays tribute to James Cameron’s movie, “Titanic,” on its 20th anniversary, with an exhibit of costumes from the movie.
But as the saying goes, if you’re not moving forward in business, you’re moving backward. Hence, Branson has invested $100 million in enhancing the main route through the entertainment district with more pedestrian friendly walkways, burying power lines, and completing beautification projects.
Likewise, more and different attractions have opened, including:
- An iconic 15-story Ferris wheel, formerly featured at Chicago’s Navy Pier, is the newest attraction to Branson – think light show, music and fun
- Fritz’s Adventure is 80,000 square feet of indoor climbing, tunneling, sliding, swinging and zip line thrills
- Ballparks of America, featuring three-quarter scale replicas of iconic professional baseball parks draws hundreds of teams for tournaments annually
And then there is the golf — Branson is arguably the fastest growing golf destination in America, having built four courses in four years — the golf development equivalent of driving a car 100 m.p.h. plus on a highway. Johnny Morris is the founder of the Bass Pro Shops chain — there’s a big one in Branson — and he also owns an exceptional golf complex here. It includes gorgeous courses that overlook Table Rock Lake, sprawl across the Ozark countryside with a buffalo herd ranging adjacent, and generally astound with their beauty and high quality. They’re so good that two of them – Buffalo Ridge and Top of the Rock — are played annually as part of the PGA TOUR Champions Legends of Golf each spring.
Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw and dozens more players flock to the area and sing the praises of their quality. “The best par three course in the world,” says World Golf Hall of Fame member Gary Player about Top of the Rock, which includes Arnie’s Barn Restaurant, gardens, waterfalls, the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum and the Lost Canyon Cave — a tour of which is included in the greens fee. There is no other golf resort like it in the world.
The fishing is so good — world-class bass fishing tournaments are held on the gorgeous, teeming lakes here — that the three pristine lakes of this destination are regularly featured on TV shows.
When you combine live entertainment, outdoor adventure and family fun, it is the confluence of positive factors powering Branson’s vacation destination draw.