There was a new marketing campaign in Branson this year, with the theme that you could "See the world in Branson---no passport required!." If you have done any traveling outside the United States, or even applied for one of the new, higher priced passports recently, you can more fully appreciate the opportunity to sample various cultures outside our borders, WITHOUT having to go through the hassles of Customs Bureau Interrogations! Even though the slogan was new in 2010, the Silver Dollar City International Festival has been occurring every spring in Branson for over a decade. I was delighted to get to attend this year, as well as many past years, coming away amazed at the talent, artistry, and costuming that these performers from other countries bring with them during their short visit to the Ozarks each spring. Often I have stayed until closing time at Silver Dollar City, just to be able to participate in the closing ceremony for the International Festival each year. During that time, the park attendees and the foreign performers make a huge circle in the main street area of Silver Dollar City---it is done, so that the foreign performers are interspersed among the park attendees---and then an appropriate song is voiced by all present. It is a great feeling to be physically bonded with people from all over the world---sort of like the Coke TV commercial of the last century that showed people from all around the world holding hands! So get ready to launch your boat for the first bit of the journey!! My launch, on the ever-popular "Ride the Ducks" attraction charted a different course than previous Duck excursions I had been on which took the passengers out into Table Rock Lake. This time our "Duck" drove past Branson Landing, and directly into the chilly waters of Lake Taneycomo. This enabled me to see Branson Landing from its "waterfront" side, rather than its "street front" side. This ride would be especially scenic after dark, when the "Bellagio-style" fiery fountains of Branson landing, are doing their hourly shows.
Back in August, I was able to add some countries to my "passport", when I visited three venues that represented Great Britain. The first was the Titanic Museum. At this interactive museum you are given the boarding pass for someone who was really a passenger on the ill-fated Titanic voyage. You do not know until you get completely through the museum if the passenger you represent, lived or died the night the Titanic sank. One of the Titanic passengers had the same family name as my relatives---Parrish. So, of course, I was especially relieved when I found out that "Passenger Parrish did not perish", and in fact, went on to live a long and productive life following her rescue from the sinking ship. And who can think of the music of England, and not have that famous group, "The Beatles" come to mind? The sister of Beatles member, George Harrison, lives in Missouri, and developed a tribute show to the music of the Beatles, called "Louise Harrison's Liverpool Legends". It is a great romp through the history of their music, from their start in a Liverpool, England cellar, through their world tours, and later years. There are extensive video clips, costume and set changes by the four Beatles "look alikes", and plenty of opportunities to twist and shout, if you felt like it! The night I was there, Louise Harrison, actually came out on stage during intermission, and took questions from the audience, regarding her brother, and any other Beatle trivia that someone wanted to ask. I doubt that she is there every show, however, because she told the audience she was scheduled for a hip replacement the following week. One thing I found very interesting, since just this summer, I met a member of the Lambert family, after whom the St. Louis airport, Lambert Field, is named. One of the video clips tells that George Harrison actually came to the USA, years before the Beatles ever appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. The news reel says he flew into "Lambert Field" in St. Louis, to visit his sister, Louise, who lived near there! The third attraction, representative of Great Britain that I got to see, was the new exhibition of personal items and artifacts associated with Princess Diana. The exhibition takes you from her child hood home, her courtship, her royal wedding, and marriage. Several of her actual formal gowns are on display, along with the stories about when and where they were worn. I found the entire exhibition fascinating!
Moving eastward from Great Britain, my next stop was China. I had seen the Acrobats of China in Branson in previous years, so this time I wanted to see the "new kid in town" which is the show called "The Legend of Kung Fu". I have several friends and family members involved in martial arts, so I was intrigued by what the show would be like. Their advertisements said some of the performers had actually been part of that incredible opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, which I thought was totally awesome! In fact, the martial arts moves showcased in "The Legend of Kung Fu" were stunning, as was the artistry of the aerial performers. But be forewarned: There is a LIBERAL amount of Buddhist philosophy throughout the narrative parts of the show. It was quite the contrast to the respectful references to Jesus Christ, given during the The Baldknobbers show, that I had enjoyed the night before. You do not have to be concerned that one no longer can enjoy "American" music in Branson. In fact, it goes back to the native Americans, with the addition of "Brule", which is billed as a "native American rock opera", complete with authentic costumes, native American dances and drumming. My all-time favorite (non-floating) USA-style dinner show in Branson is the Dixie Stampeed. It goes through several eras of American history---much of it done on horseback in the big center arena---in such an entertaining way, you may forget that you are even getting a history lesson. I was especially interested in their portrayal of the Civil War, since there is a big promotion going on in my state for the Civil War Sesquicentennial, which will be 2011-2015 (http://www.arkansascivilwar150.com/). Of course, my favorite FLOATING dinner show is the Showboat Branson Belle, with its performers singing their hearts out telling about riverboat history of the 1800's. Another example of a non-USA country that I got to visit was the Butterfly Palace and Tropical Rainforest. There is even a coconut tree there for one to climb, if they felt so inclined to do so! Another representative of Europe, is the Stonehill Winery. The tasting rooms there are designed to look like German wine cellars, and the company, was indeed, started by German immigrants.
After attending the Moscow Circus performance, I can now say that it is my favorite (non-floating) "FOREIGN COUNTRY" dinner show. It was so much FUN!! Here's another warning, however: Watch out for flying beach balls overhead that start as the size of a cantaloupe, and progress to the size of a Volkswagen!! I had heard that they served a "boxed dinner", and I was having lots of trouble envisioning how that was going to be of much entertainment value---boy, was I wrong!! When it was meal time, the theater went totally black, then it went to "black light", so that some of your clothing glowed. Then these glow-in-the-dark, costumed GIANTS came down the aisles, pushing carts, with boxes on them that were also glowing in the dark. One color box was for grown-ups, and another color box for children. When you received your box, and opened it up, it was filled with individually packaged Russian-style foods, plus glow-in-the-dark eating utensils. It was really quite clever, the way it was done! The next day after the "glow in the dark" experience at the Moscow Circus, the Bible verse for my First Place 4 Health (http://www.firstplace4health.com/) lesson was from Isaiah 58:10. The Message paraphrase of the verse says that if we lived as God wanted us to live "Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness." I now have an image of that verse in my mind that I will never forget, thanks to the Moscow Circus!