We were excited about our planned Hawaiian vacation this year, looking forward to beaches, waves, exotic food and luaus and getting leied.
Yep, it was going to be the summer of fun.
Then gas started getting super expensive. Airfares followed. Airlines started sticking it to customers, then started going out of business. So, we opted to go with Vacation Plan B - Branson, Mo.
I couldn't help but be a underwhelmed. I mean, I'd never been to Branson, so I didn't want to completely write it off. But the shift in expectations was a little disappointing.
But when you only get one real vacation a year, you gotta make it count. So I determined to go "Las Vegas, if it were fun by Ned Flanders” with a positive attitude.
So how'd it go? Oh, thanks for asking. Here are a few thoughts...
Overall, it's a pretty good family destination. There's plenty to do. My daughter especially liked the dinosaur-themed minigolf course where we saw actual, live dinosaurs (well, okay, they were tiny little collared lizards, but a reptile is a reptile, right?).
Another big hit was the bumper boats. It's fun for parents and kids alike. We went back a couple of times to ride the boats and soak each other with the water cannons. I can't believe KC doesn't have something like this downtown or maybe out at the Speedway. Note to self, this is a possible franchise opportunity.
So there was plenty to do. Unfortunately much of it was pretty expensive. Any show you go to is going to set you back $50 bucks a head or more. Same with any of the boat tours, and Silver Dollar City (although, in the case of Silver Dollar City, I'd say it's worth the price of admission).
But it was kind of sad to see the random development that has taken place in the hills around Branson. At one time, this area had a lot of natural beauty (it still does in some areas).
But it was clear driving around the area that the developers and entertainment syndicates have run roughshod over whatever development and zoning regulations may have been in place. The area gets more than six million tourists a year, and it’s clear that the 6,000 residents of Branson had no chance against that much money.
Sadly, Missouri's love of tacky billboards spewed a full-on ad-gasm all over the Ozarks.
That said, there are still areas where you can still see the appeal of living in the more pristine areas of the Ozark hills. We spent one evening on a dinner cruise on Lake Taneycomo, floating by houses up on the bluffs overlooking the White River and imagining what the view must be like from up there.
So, in the final analysis, I'd say that although I probably wouldn't make Branson a future vacation destination, it wasn't horrible. It wasn't Hawaii, but it was better than I expected.
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