Branson, Missouri: Pride of the Ozarks

 
 

Elizabeth Hey
Published October 01, 2017

Millions of people visit Branson, Missouri, each year, and for good reason. This Ozark mecca caters to groups with a variety of interests and tastes, from upscale to casual, country to contemporary. Situated in the rolling hills near the Missouri-Arkansas border, Branson Airport offers nonstops to five major cities, and there’s also easy access by major interstates.

Branson has live theater and entertainment throughout the year. The Branson/Lakes Area boasts more theater seats than Broadway, with 47 theaters, 150 shows and more than 60,000 seats. Most productions take a few weeks off at various times during the calendar year to plan new additions and musical numbers. In addition to entertainment, there’s first-rate dining, off-site venues and outdoor diversions that cater to all types of groups.

“We’re the fastest-growing golf destination in North America,” said Lynn Berry, director of communications for the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). “Three courses have opened in the last four years, and another three are slated to open in the next two years. According to Golfweek magazine’s ranking of ‘America’s Best Courses You Can Play,’ Branson is home to Missouri’s two top-rated golf courses, which are Branson Hills and Buffalo Ridge Springs.”

Buzzing with activity, Branson Landing, along Lake Taneycomo, provides plentiful shopping, dining and nightlife. The $7.5 million Branson Landing Fountains dance to a synchronized water, light, sound and fire show throughout the day and evening. Up the hill from the Landing in Branson’s historic downtown, visitors will find an old-fashioned five-and-dime, galleries and cafes.

Just a stone’s throw away, the Branson Convention Center, managed by SMG, is connected by a glass walkway to the 12-story Hilton Convention Center Hotel. The convention center offers the latest technology and abundant natural light, which attendees appreciate. Another unusual lighting feature, the ballroom’s fixtures resemble birds and can be synchronized to music for a custom light show during an event.

“We receive great feedback from planners about the food and beverage throughout all of our properties,” said Deborah Cohen, director of meeting and convention sales at the Branson CVB. “Many people have often thought of Branson as a place that their grandma came to visit, but we want groups to know that we’re a great location for meetings and conventions with a variety of attractions and amenities for all ages.”

What’s New

Branson reinvents itself year after year, so there’s always something new to experience. The biggest new development for 2018 is the debut of the biblical epic “Samson” at Sight and Sound Theatre. A large cast, live animals, an original score, elaborate costuming and cutting-edge special effects bring this musical to life. A backstage tour before the show for up to 200 people gives a snapshot of how this elaborate production comes to life.

Opened last September at Big Cedar Lodge, the Mountain Top Golf Course was designed by golf Hall of Famer Gary Player. Also under development is an 18-hole course designed by Coore and Crenshaw, as well as Tiger Woods’ first 18-hole public course. To be named Payne’s Valley, it will honor Missouri native Payne Stewart. Top of the Rock, known as the first-ever par-3 course to be included in a professional championship, boasts the Arnold Palmer Practice Facility, which offers a driving range that lights up at night.

Also at Big Cedar, Fun Mountain is a 50,000-square-foot indoor adventure complex with a digitally augmented climbing wall, a high-tech 60-game arcade, 360-degree bumper cars, themed bowling and laser tag.

For more thrills, the Branson Jet Boat zips up the Taneycomo River taking in the Ozark scenery. Passengers experience 360-degree spinouts, power stops and slides executed by experienced captains. Indoor events at Fritz’s Adventure feature rock climbing, slides, a ropes course and zip lining.

Attendees with a need for speed will gravitate to the Runaway Mountain Coaster at Branson Mountain Adventure Park. On North America’s first double-alpine coaster, riders can control the speed up to 30 miles per hour. Debuting next spring at Silver Dollar City, Time Traveler will be the 1880s-style theme park’s biggest attraction to date and the only triple-inversion spinning coaster in the world. It begins with a 10-story, 90-degree drop straight down a mountainside with top speeds of over 50 miles per hour.

Midwestern Hospitality

Branson’s 16,000 hotel rooms range from high-end resorts to rustic cabins. The CVB can assist groups that need to secure room blocks at several hotels. Citywide convention shuttle service coordination is available for groups who use multiple hotels.

Some properties are tucked into the rolling hills; others are along the main drag. On Highway 76, the centrally located, 472-room Radisson Hotel features 15,000 square feet of meeting space. This property lies within walking distance of several theaters, restaurants and attractions.

Near Branson Landing, the Branson Convention Center offers 220,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including a 47,000-square-foot exhibit hall and a 23,000-square-foot ballroom. The center is connected to the 293-room Hilton Convention Center Hotel. Across the street, the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing offers 242 rooms.

Branson’s AAA Four Diamond resort, Chateau on the Lake Resort, Spa and Convention Center, features 43,500 square feet of meeting space, including an elegant 32,000-square-foot ballroom. The hotel’s 301 guest rooms boast panoramic views of Table Rock Lake and recently underwent extensive renovations. The hotel’s Spa Chateau offers 10 treatment rooms, exotic European therapies and yoga.

Ten miles south of town on Table Rock Lake, Big Cedar Lodge is tucked into the wooded hillsides and offers panoramic views, lake access, a full marina and championship golf. The resort has 250 accommodations, ranging from rooms to upscale cabins. On property, the Grandview Conference Center comprises 19,427 square feet of meeting space.

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