BRANSON, Mo., Sept. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The true story of a modern-day princess, the legend of an ancient warrior, and zip lines all over the Ozark hillsides are just a tiny bit of what's new this fall in Branson, America's Live Music Show Capital.
A sumptuous display, "Diana: The People's Princess" graces the Branson Exhibition Center with dignity and beauty now through 2011. An eye-popping spectacle, "The Legend of Kung Fu," is playing at the White House Theatre. And for those who like to combine something old with something new, two Branson institutions—Silver Dollar City and Shepherd of the Hills—are both celebrating 50th anniversaries this year. Silver Dollar City hosts the National Harvest Festival in September and October, and Shepherd of the Hills celebrates its 50th anniversary with a brand-new Vigilante Extreme ZipRider adventure. Plus Branson favorite, Ray Stevens is returning to town!
DIANA: THE PEOPLE'S PRINCESS
In July of 1981, the wedding of England's Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer was a worldwide phenomenon. Diana quickly became the most popular member of the British Royal Family and has been described as "the most photographed woman in the world."
Diana's untimely death in 1997 ended her too-short life, but her popularity endures. Now, in a beautifully elegant, understated show in Branson, fans of The People's Princess can get a glimpse into her life, both as a person and as an icon.
Among the most popular exhibits in the show are several of Diana's gowns. These beautiful dresses appear in glass cases and are accompanied by photographs of the Princess when she wore them. In addition to the gowns, some 6,000 pieces of Diana-related materials are also on display – everything from tea towels and plates commissioned for Charles and Diana's wedding to an actual piece of their wedding cake.
THE LEGEND OF KUNG FU
Long ago, the story goes, a small boy left his mother to live at a sacred temple, where he studied the art of Kung Fu. The boy, named Chun Yi, underwent rigorous training and was rewarded by becoming a warrior monk.
This universal tale of growth and understanding is brought to life at Branson's White House Theatre in a new show, straight from China, "The Legend of Kung Fu." The production, filled with elaborate sets, exciting music and fabulous acrobatics, transports its audiences back to ancient China.
"The Legend of Kung Fu," which has been performed more than 3000 times throughout the world, including at the Beijing Olympics, now has a permanent home in Branson.
ZIPLINES AND CANOPY TOURS
"With the 50th anniversary of Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama this season, what better way to celebrate than with the addition of the Vigilante ZipRider," said Gary Snadon, owner of the Shepherd of the Hills Historic Homestead and Inspiration Tower. "Guests travel up the glass elevators to the top of the tower. There, four zip lines are waiting to whisk brave riders on an adrenaline-pumping 50 mph downhill ride over the 160-acre historic homestead."
Another zip line is conveniently located in the heart of Branson, just minutes from most of the hotels, shows, and attractions. Adventure Ziplines of Branson is the latest addition to the tourism industry. Your heart will leap as you zip through the air on solid steel construction zip lines at speeds up to 50 mph with a beautiful view of this wonderful area known as the Ozarks, from an angle that usually is only seen by birds and other treetop dwellers.
The Branson Zipline & Canopy Tours at Wolfe Creek Preserve, just seven miles north of Branson, offers visitors of all ages authentic eco-adventures of the Ozark Mountains. The range of thrilling options includes a variety of guided canopy tours with treks across numerous zip lines, sky bridges, and platforms. Guided excursions include information about topographical, ecological and historical features. Guests can choose from four different canopy tours or take the Blue Streak Fast Line with Freefall Xpress – a thrilling zip from the top of the property back to the base with a 100-ft. freefall at the end.
SILVER DOLLAR CITY
For the past half century, Silver Dollar City has been famous for providing its visitors with a glimpse into the past, and this year, that Past is better than ever. All year long in 2010, Silver Dollar City, one of the nation's favorite theme parks, is celebrating its 50th birthday with new elements in each of the six world-class festivals.
The National Harvest Festival gets back to the park's roots, showcasing the talent and creativity of America's finest craftsmen. Recently proclaimed "The Home of American Craftsmanship" by the U.S. Congress, there are always working craftsmen at the park, but from mid-September through October, veteran artists such as Peter Engler, Lee Robertson and Jesse Barnes will return for a craftsmen's reunion.
There's also an exhibit entitled "Craft in America," which features works by 50 of America's top artists who were originally part of a Peabody award-winning documentary series on the Public Broadcasting System. And if that's not enough, check out an additional exhibition featuring work by some of the best Caricature Carvers of America.
Add to that a chance to take a turn on the floor at Missouri's Largest Barn Dance, and the opportunity to see the work of the state's top craftsmen in the juried "Best of Missouri Hands" exhibit, and your day at Silver Dollar City could already be a full one, but there's more if you want it. Rides, shows and great food fare have always been staples of The City, and they're still there, bigger and better than ever.
SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS
When Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama began 50 years ago, it probably never occurred to Old Matt and Molly that one day visitors to the homestead would be riding glass elevators to the top of Inspiration Tower for a spectacular view of the beautiful Ozark Mountains.
But even if that thought did cross their minds, it's certain that neither of them ever considered the possibility that those same visitors would be racing to the bottom of the homestead from the top of Inspiration Tower, not on the elevators, but on the area's longest zip line!
The Vigilante Extreme ZipRider is one of only 10 in the world, and at 70 feet, it boasts the highest ZipRider launch point anywhere in the world. Riders can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour on the half mile ride down, but with automatic braking and speed controls, the ride is only as thrilling as individual patrons want it to be.
For those who want to keep things a little calmer, there are plenty of other activities at Shepherd of the Hills Homestead, including the world-famous drama, based on Harold Bell Wright's timeless novel. It is performed on an outdoor stage during Branson's still-warm autumn evenings. Folks still get plenty riled up, and the cabin still catches fire, but common sense always triumphs and the boy gets the girl night after night in one of Branson's most well-known attractions.
Branson Favorite, Ray Stevens Returning this Fall
Finally, Branson is, and always will be, home to hundreds of outstanding musicians and entertainers, from traditional country and bluegrass to oldies, rock 'n' roll, Broadway and much, much more!
Ray Stevens says, "I'm really looking forward to coming back to Branson this Fall at the Welk Theatre. Autumn in the Ozarks is not to be missed. I'm excited about doing my new show and seeing my old friends. I can almost smell the hickory smoke and feel the crisp, cool breeze already. I hope lots of good folks come enjoy it with me."
So, hop in the car for an easy, scenic drive or catch a low-cost flight to Branson's new airport (BKG), and come see everything that Fall in the Ozarks has to offer—all at wonderfully-affordable prices!
For additional information about Branson's more than 100+ live shows, theme parks, lakes, golf courses, family attractions, shopping and other features, or to order a free Branson Vacation Guide, call the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-214-3661 or visit our website at ExploreBranson.com.
SOURCE Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau