Visiting the Heart of the Midwest

Over 40 Chinese acrobats can be seen in New Shanghai Circus 2013.

Branson, Missouri, is a wonderful place for a family vacation. I had the pleasure of going this summer with my family and they’ve already asked about going back!

Getting there’s a 9-10 hour drive depending on where you live in the Chicago area. Carefully packing for our four kids (ages 8,7. 5 and 4), our babysitter, my husband and myself, we all loaded up and got ready for the long drive.

We were fortunate to have plenty of space in the back of our 2013 Buick Enclave. We’ve never really been a mini-van family, although I’ve had one before, and I’m proud to say we still make it work with seven people in an SUV. The seating arrangement, DVD player and XM radio make driving a breeze with everyone buckled up and ready to go.

Our drive was smooth mainly because we left early in the morning while the girls were still half asleep. My youngest did say, “Are we almost there?” 15 minutes into the trip, but then she feel fast asleep and we had a quiet ride for a few hours.

We stopped once for gas. The Enclave gets pretty good gas mileage, and compared to many vehicles in the Enclaves class, the seating arrangement is much like a mini-van with two captains chairs and a third row seat that comfortably seats three. The seven-passenger SUV also has decent cargo space and room inside to put a cooler for drinks and sandwiches along with bottled water and other ‘road trip essentials.’ I’ve driven the 2011 and 2012 Enclave and the 2013 has enhanced its GPS, stereo and and cooling controls. It definitely got us to Branson in comfort and style.

We made it to the resort pool in time to play and burn off energy before lunch. We then researched a few must-see shows and attractions prior to our trip with the help of the Branson Tourism Center. They helped shed light on why people – young and old – flock to Branson year after year. “Branson is known for its hospitality and natural beauty. We are the heart of the Midwest – patriotism, family values, and quality entertainment,” says Tiffany Isnard, director of marketing and communications for the Branson Tourism Center. “Branson is the ‘live entertainment capitol of the world,’ and we’re honored to be able to provide an outstanding destination for visitors to travel to. At Branson Tourism Center we feel grateful to be a part of this amazing community and its commitment to each and every guest.” And they do an excellent job.

Our first live show experience in Branson was the New Shanghai Circus. We weren’t sure what to expect but were blown away by this show. My 7-year-old daughter turned to me about midway through the first act and said, “Mom, this is cool.” That’s what a parent wants to hear while on vacation, after selecting activities for the family to enjoy and keeping your fingers crossed that the kids will sit through a show and enjoy it!

We were all amazed. The show demonstrated strength, flexibility and exceptional choreography. I was on the edge of my seat watching the acrobats stack over 10 chairs, climbing to the top and performing with such balance and risk. The costumes and stage lighting also made for a wonderful show. One of our other favorite acts was when over a dozen men were on stage dancing and juggling hats, the music and movements were incredible. “Over 40 Acrobats of China bring the Orient to Branson,” says the emcee at the beginning of the show, as she explains that new performers come from China every 10 months or so. They incorporated elegant eastern dance, acrobatics, magic, music and much more.

We particularly enjoyed the chair balancing act, the classic Chinese dance and the hoop-diving and trapeze acts. We were all at the edge of our seats watching with anticipation being more and more amazed with each act. As we were leaving the theater, my second oldest daughter caught a glimpse in the bag room window and pointed out that the Chinese Acrobats were playing pool. We had to explain that they likely have to keep themselves entertained while they wait to go on, and this was something she got a kick out of. So after every show she kept trying to see what others did back stage.

“Branson prides itself on wholesome, quality, family entertainment. There is every genre of music and entertainment available to visiting families provided by entertainers of all ages,” shares Ms. Isnard, who helped select shows for our family with group ranging from 40s, 30s, 20s down to the girls ages 8 and under. This week I’ll be posting all about the entertainment, river boat rides and theme parks. Before you know it, you’ll be adding Branson to your list for family vacations.



Christine Bachman

About Christine Bachman

Christine Bachman is founder and president of Plan It PR, a public relations and marketing firm. The mother of five shares tips and survival stories in “Play Dates and Power Lunches.” Ms. Bachman started working public relations after a long career in broadcast journalism, which included work as a television anchor, reporter and producer.