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Old 07-21-2007, 07:36 PM   #16
christiejay
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Day 1 - Thursday, November 23, 2006

We woke up and took turns going down the hall to eat breakfast. My dad *LOVES* the waffle makers at the Comfort Inns and so he was excited about it! Joshua had a waffle, and I think I had a bagel - I'm not a big breakfast eater. After brushing our teeth we started packing back up our overnight bags and heading out to the van. I was so surprised to see that the ice in the cooler still had not melted! (Maybe I should have named this the turkey trip report!) I thought for sure we would need to add some more this morning, but I was wrong. We soon had everything loaded, and after picking out another movie for Joshua to watch on the DVD player we pulled out.

After about 45 minutes we came to Little Rock, and navigated Daddy through. I can't remember for sure, but the traffic didn't seem too bad. We made it safely through the construction zone and continued our journey along I-40. Soon we were coming into Conway, which is where Highway 65 branches off from the interstate once more and heads north toward Branson. We found our exit, and stopped for gas as usual at the Shell station, where we all piled out for a trip to the restroom. Then it was North through lots of small towns. I guess the DVD-watching finally got to Joshua, as he kept saying that he felt bad and that he thought he was going to throw up. Not wanting to take any chances, we pulled over at the general store in Western Grove and Jay took him in to the restroom. A few minutes later they came back. Nothing had happened, so we just kept on driving. Then we stopped at the scenic overlook just before coming into Marshall so my parents could take in the view. While there, my mom (accompanied by Joshua) power-walked through the parking lot to get her circulation going, and my dad called my grandmother to let her know how we were doing. They live across the street from each other, so my grandmother house- and dog-sits whenever they go anywhere. After a few minutes we were on the road again.

We had discussed where we should eat lunch, keeping in mind that this was Thanksgiving Day and we didn't know what would be open. I had suggested eating at the Bob Evans in Branson, but we also were open to eating at a Shoney's if we found one. We passed one, I think it was in Harrison, Arkansas, but the line to get in stretched all the way to the end of the building, so we didn't stop. We decided just to try for the Bob Evans, but after having seen all these other restaurants along the way that were closed, I was starting to feel that it would be closed too. Finally we arrived in Branson, and sure enough it was. We kept driving down the strip to see what our options would be, and quickly realized we would just have to take whatever was open. I understand wanting to let your employees spend time with their families, but it's tough to be in a major tourist area and have practically all the restaurants closed. Jay and I thought we should try for a Chinese buffet, so we stopped at Great Wall. This one has a wide variety of foods, so even my picky-eater dad found something. They had lots of seafood today, and other non-Chinese food to choose from. My mom went to pay for our lunch while we started out to the van, and she came out with two Chinese wall calendars - their Thanksgiving Day gift to us, I suppose.

Since it was too early to check into the resort, we just continued driving down the Strip so my parents could get an idea of what Branson has. We rode all the way out to the Scenic Overlook at the edge of town and stopped there. Jay, Joshua and my dad walked the short trail up to the observation tower to enjoy the view. Joshua and I had done this on our Spring trip, but it was new to Jay. My mom didn't want to go, so we stayed at the van. I walked down the sidewalk and back, then waited inside the van with my mom until the guys made it back. Next we drove down Highway 265 to Table Rock Dam. My idea was for us to go inside the visitor center, but we found that it was closed in the winter. We walked down to the water's edge for a good look around, then headed over to the Fish Hatchery at the base of the dam. The building was closed, so we just walked around back to see the fish. Since the last time we had been there, they had installed gates over the raceways. Joshua fed some food to the fish and we were just spending a few minutes walking around, when suddenly there was a lot of excitement! The feeding truck came around and started spraying *TONS* of fish food into each raceway, causing the fish to go absolutely nuts! This was so much fun, we stayed a lot longer than we had planned, walking behind the truck and throwing the extra food in.

Finally I noticed that it was late enough that we could go ahead and check in at the resort. Luckily it was right up the road so we didn't have far to drive. We said our goodbyes to the fish and loaded into the van one more time. We checked in at the Clubhouse, and also picked up a few travel brochures from the lounge area. My mom picked up double copies, as one of her teacher friends said her family might be coming up here around Christmas, and they were trying to figure out what to do once they arrived.

Next we drove down to our building. We were on the first floor, but because the building sits on the hillside, we had to go down stairs to reach it. We all pitched in unloading the van one time, then my mom and I stayed in the room with Joshua while Jay and my dad brought the rest of the stuff in. My parents were staying on the Studio side of the unit. It had a queen-size bed, sleeper sofa, table and two chairs and a small kitchen area outside the bathroom. Having the sofa was nice for them to sit and watch TV, but if anybody was sleeping on it, there would have been no way to walk to the bathroom the space was so tight. I don't think they originally were intended to have sleeper sofas in there. We took the one-bedroom side, which by contrast had tons of floor space, even if the sleeper sofa were to be left open. The kitchen was nice and open, and Jay was impressed with the big-screen TV and surround sound system. The two units shared a common foyer where the washer and dryer were located, and also had connecting doors on the inside. If you want to see some pictures, go to Welcome to Bluegreen Online , click on explore the site (you don't have to log in), then look up Falls Village Resort in Branson, Missouri. You can see pictures as well as the floorplan.

As the guys brought things in from the van, my mom and I started putting them away. Eventually everything had its temporary home and I started a pan of cornbread cooking while I put all the ingredients together for vegetable soup. That didn't take too long and soon we were enjoying a nice hot supper. We cleaned up after our meal and watched a little TV. Joshua played for a while, and I got to work organizing all our papers and brochures. Soon it was time for bed and we all settled in for a good night's sleep.

Next up: Day 2 - We Have Thanksgiving Dinner a Day Late
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Old 07-21-2007, 09:04 PM   #17
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Great start. DH and I visited Branson once but not Silver Dollar City so I'll be interested to hear all about it.
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Old 07-22-2007, 03:29 AM   #18
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It sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving and I'm glad you were able to find somewhere to eat.
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Old 07-22-2007, 12:23 PM   #19
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Glad you made it to Branson! Your room arrangement sounds perfect for the 5 of you. Looking forward to hearing more.
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Old 07-22-2007, 02:20 PM   #20
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Another great update Christie Glad you made it to the hotel. More please
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Old 07-23-2007, 05:34 PM   #21
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Day 2 - Thursday, November 24

Our first morning in Branson, and as usual my memory is very fuzzy. I have no idea what we had for breakfast, although I'm pretty sure it was something light like cereal or poptarts, since we had the big lunch to look forward to. After we cleaned up from breakfast and all got dressed, Jay, Joshua and my dad walked up to the clubhouse building to look around, and they also played a round of miniature golf. Meanwhile, I put together our lunch. The turkey went into the oven, and I cooked another pan of cornbread to put in the dressing. After a while, I mixed up the dressing and put it in the oven, along with the frozen broccoli and cheese casserole and rolls. Jay had made some tea last night. Oh and I almost forgot the pecan pie. It was my first time and as it started to cook over the pie crust, I realized I should have used a deep-dish pie crust, or either used two regular pie crusts. Oops! Well, next time I will know better.

We called the boys on the radio and they made their way back to the room. We all sat down for lunch, and it was okay. The dressing doesn't taste like my grandmother's but it was still good. I didn't have any broccoli casserole, but I was told that it was good. The pecan pie was okay. It would have been much better if it hadn't cooked over - as it was, it was a little too candied for my taste. We cleaned up and got on the road by about 11:30, to make it to Silver Dollar City which opened today at 12:00.

Since our resort was so close, we decided to just drive straight out the Strip to get there. Everything went fine until we topped the hill in front of Shepherd of the Hills and hit a traffic jam. Absolute standstill. I was so confused, as I knew the SDC entrance was still a ways up the road. So I assumed the traffic was backed up due to a wreck. But as we inched our way along and never saw a wreck site, I slowly came to realize that this was the line for SDC! I apologized to my dad, as I knew he hates sitting in traffic, but there was nothing I could do. The only thing I could think of was that they didn't open their parking lots early enough, and people were left to sit in the road until the parking lots were opened. Eventually we got to the turn for Silver Dollar City and headed to the parking lot. We had intended to park in the pay lot, which is right by the front gate, but we were waved past that entrance. So we kept going to one of the regular lots and caught the tram back up to the gate.

The trams let you out in a courtyard-like area. Jay went up to the ticket windows to exchange our discount vouchers for tickets while we took some pictures and visited the restroom. Joshua, after last year's disappointment at not being old enough to have his own ticket, was finally able to use a ticket this time around. We made it through the gates with no problem and walked up to the Hospitality House which is the main entrance to the park, a gift shop, and the entrance to the Marvel Cave tour. We didn't get to tour the cave last year but since I wasn't sure my mom would be able to handle all the stairs, we decided to wait and try to do it when we came back tomorrow. (My mom had told me that tomorrow, they might just drop us off at the gate, go do some shopping, then come back and pick us up later that evening.)

We didn't want to do any shopping first thing, so we exited the Hospitality House into the Main Street area. This is where their main Christmas tree is set up, so we had to stop for a few minutes and admire it, although it doesn't look as beautiful during the day - it's the lights on it at night that really make it special. Then we grouped up again and walked down the hill for our first ride of the day, Thunderation. My parents kept up with Joshua and they walked through some shops while Jay and I rode. We immediately noticed a difference in crowds by being here on Friday, as opposed to being here on a Sunday last year. There was a line this time, maybe about 15 minutes as opposed to no line last time. This is a mine-train type coaster, but much bigger in scale than Thunder Mountain, and this year they had a couple of cars turned backwards. There were signs hanging up over the waiting area so you could tell which one you were getting in line for. We opted for a forward-facing car. My favorite part was the downward corkscrew spiral, you really pulled some G's there!

After a fun ride, we found the others and walked down to ride The Flooded Mine. Joshua was looking forward to this ride, as he remembered it from our last visit. It's a slow-moving boat ride, with laser guns attached by cables to each seat. When you hit each target, something funny happens, kind of like at the Frontierland Shootin' Arcarde. A nice calm ride that we all enjoyed, but don't ask me how our scores were, as I have absolutely no idea! Although I'm pretty sure Joshua didn't do very good, as I seem to remember a lot of whining from him.

Our next stop was the new section of the park called the Grand Exposition. It's a collection of carnival rides and games. We rode the Royal Tea Party (think Mad Tea Party), then Jay took Joshua on the Elephant March (Dumbo). While waiting, my parents went their own way to see one of the shows around the corner - I think it was the Cumberland Quartet. We agreed on when and where to meet up, then I took a turn riding Racing Regatta (think a super-fast Dumbo, but in pirate ships that don't go up and down, just around an oval-shaped track really, really fast), and Jay rode the Mighty Galleon (Pirate Ship).

Around the corner we went, into the toddler ride section. Joshua rode The Ladybugs (around in circles very slowly), then he and Jay both rode Happy Frogs. Hard to explain that one. The frogs go around in a circle. At one point, your frog jumps up high and back down, then as you go around your jumps get smaller and smaller until you make it all the way around and again get another giant bounce. Jay, being 6'2", barely squeezed into the back seat of the frog. Lastly, Joshua rode Wings of Wonder (Dumbo, but with bugs) by himself. They had a swing ride here, and this one had a few 2-seater swings, but I couldn't get Joshua to agree to ride. Plus it was time to meet my parents so we left this area.

Next up: More of Day 2 at Silver Dollar City


Note: the cool thing about SDC, besides its beautiful natural setting is that no matter what time of year you go, they are always having some type of Festival:

2007 for an example:
March 15 - April 1 - Family Spring Break Days
April 5 - May 6 - World Fest
May 12 - June 3 - Bluegrass & BBQ
June 9 - Aug 12 - National Kids' Fest
Aug 30 - Sept 9 - Southern Gospel Picnic
Sept 13 - Oct 27 - American Music & Crafts
Nov 3 - Dec 30 - Old Time Christmas
Special guests and musical performances themed to each festival, sometimes even special food!
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Old 07-23-2007, 06:10 PM   #22
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Great update Christie Glad you enjoyed your Thanksgiving dinner (well, lunch) but sorry about the crowds at SDC Sounds like you're having a great time on all the rides !! More please
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Old 07-23-2007, 09:32 PM   #23
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Christie - What a great time you're having at SDC! Can't wait to hear more.
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:45 AM   #24
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It sounds like you're having a great time at SDC, despite the crowds!
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Old 07-26-2007, 05:54 PM   #25
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More of Day 2 at Silver Dollar City

My parents were just ahead in front of one of the theaters. We used the restrooms here, then decided to watch the Talking Christmas Tree show since we missed it last year. There were no seats left as the show was about to start when we arrived, so we just stood at the back of the theater (it was just a covered pavilion-type theater). While waiting, my parents munched on the kettle corn they had bought, and Jay went right behind us and made his own S'Mores to eat. The show was cute, but Joshua wasn't really getting into it. Maybe if we had been able to set close he would have enjoyed it better.

After the show we were getting hungry and started walking around trying to decide where to eat. We didn't all want fish, so we bypassed the Fish House and checked out the menu at the Ribhouse. They had other things besides ribs, but we decided we might have better luck pleasing everybody at Aunt Polly's. We checked their menu and decided to eat there. I ended up having either a fish or chicken basket, and I remember that Joshua had a corndog. While eating we were entertained by the squirrels running around (we were eating at the picnic tables outside), and also by the train going by.

After our supper we rode the carousel next, and the balloon ride. Well, me, Jay and Joshua did, while my parents waited for us and took pictures from the sidelines. We started looking for a place to watch the first light parade of the evening. We ended up in the back corner of the park, at the bottom of a big hill. It was neat to look up the hill while we were waiting, and see all the lit-up snowflakes hanging from the tree branches. Since this was the end of the parade route, we had a bit of a wait, then we could see the parade coming down the hill toward us. There were a few floats with lights on them that were Christmas themed, such as a stack of toys, a train, a snowglobe, and the nativity scene which was on the last float. I can't remember what the other floats were. In between the floats were some costumed characters such as toy soldiers, reindeer and snowmen.

After the parade passed we made our way over to the opposite back corner of the park to see the Living Nativity show. They were advertising it as being all new, although I believe they used the same sets as last year. The main difference I noted was that instead of a taped narration there was an angel character (dressed in a white dress suit) that provided the narration and sang. The actor did a wonderful job. Comparing the show listings from the two years, it also appears this year's show had been expanded by five minutes. We got to the theater a little late and had to split up - Jay and I sat a few rows behind Joshua and my parents. But other than that we all enjoyed the show.

When it was over it was almost closing time, so we made our way back toward the exit. We had to exit back through the Hospitality House where we entered, and then on to the next phase of the exit, which was through another gift shop! I don't think any of us bought any souvenirs tonight. After finally reaching the (real) exit we waited on a tram to go back to the parking lot. The crowd wasn't too bad for our parking lot's tram, I think we managed to get on the very next one. We loaded up in the van and drove back to the resort.

Finally we arrived back at our room and got ready for bed. I think (I hope) that everybody had a good time today. Silver Dollar City is a beautiful theme park. I had enjoyed myself, and was so excited that we got to go back again tomorrow!

Next up: Day 3, We Take My Parents Around Town
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Old 07-26-2007, 06:50 PM   #26
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What a great night at SDC Christie Glad you enjoyed all the shows
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Old 07-27-2007, 01:42 AM   #27
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Sounds like you had a great evening!
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Old 07-27-2007, 09:10 AM   #28
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Sounds like fun!
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Old 07-27-2007, 02:44 PM   #29
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I am all caught up and it sounds like you guys are having such a fun time!! Can't wait for more!!
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Old 07-30-2007, 05:59 PM   #30
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Sorry about the delays, everyone, but shocker of all shockers, Jay woke up Saturday morning and said "I think I'll work on those pictures from the trip".

Don't know where that came from, but thank you!!!

So now I just need to upload them to Imagestation, and figure out how to add photos to trip reports on this message board setup. I had just gotten it all figured out, and they go and change it up on me!

I'll be back in a few days with pictures from the days I've already reported on; then I'll continue the report and add the other photos as I go.

Thanks for your patience!!!
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