If you’re going to Branson, you have to take part in Dolly Parton’s Stampede, right?
Believe it or not, my wife and I actually enjoyed Stampede in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, long before our children were born. Because we had some experience with it, we knew our kids would love the show.
We also knew they’d hate the food …
When you first enter the Branson Stampede building, you’ll have a family photograph taken once submitting your tickets and then everyone is funneled through a gift shop area and into a large room with a bar and a stage–this is called the Carriage Room. Before too long, live entertainers by the name of the White River Wranglers appear. They’re a talented group specializing in a mix of country and bluegrass. They also took a shot at some modern day hits while cracking joke after joke. My kids thoroughly enjoyed watching them.
Once they finished, we were ushered into the arena. I have to be honest, this was not a pleasant experience. Because your section is reserved, you might be better off to stay back until most of the people are through. They have one set of doors for hundreds of people to siphon through, and we noticed quite a bit of pushing and shoving.
After that, though, everything went very well.
We were quickly seated in the front row. I bought our tickets online and early in order to guarantee this spot. I wanted my daughters to have a great view.
Our server immediately introduced himself while establishing the fact that he had a fun sense of humor. He was truly a delight throughout the show. I don’t think the man ever stopped moving.
Soon enough, both the food and the show started. I’ll begin by talking about the food …
Be aware that there is not any silverware or utensils of any sort. You’re also not ordering anything–you pretty much take what you’re given. (I believe you can choose a vegetarian or a gluten-free option when ordering tickets.) You’ll first have a cup of soup, then a plate with a chicken, a pork loin, corn on the cob, half of a potato, and a biscuit. At the end they will give you a dessert which is basically an apple fritter. I thoroughly enjoyed my entire meal. My daughters … not so much. Fortunately, our server gave us take-home bags, so my wife and I had delicious leftovers the next day.
The show is very impressive as well. Of course, they have all kinds of horses racing across the course. Some of the horses perform tricks with some of the riders executing stunts. At one point they even had bison milling around, which was very cool. I can’t claim to see bison all that often. There are also lots of fireballs, flashes of light, fog, and music. It’s pretty much nonstop action with some magic, some comedy, and even live singing. We were most certainly entertained, and though my kids didn’t like the food, they loved the show.
I could not have been happier with our seats, but be aware: if you sit in the front row, you run the risk of sand getting kicked up on you. Those horse are moving fast, and when they change direction it only stands to reason that they are going to displace a bit of sand. I actually had some land on my plate at one point. It wasn’t a big deal. I wiped it off the food and kept eating. Luckily it was just me–my wife and daughters didn’t have to deal with it. The little girl sitting on my other side did, though, but she handled it like a champ. She just cleaned her meat and then kept eating, too. I liked that kid.
If you’ve never been to Dolly Parton’s Stampede, I highly recommend it. It’s definitely something everyone should experience at least once.
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