The dirt on Branson
July 22, 2015 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Is Branson, Missouri worth a visit? The visitors in question are gay guys who would be flying in from all over the country.

A dozen or so friends are planning a get-together for next summer, and someone jokingly suggested Branson — but then we started to wonder if there's merit to the idea. Would adults enjoy a long weekend in Branson? We've looked at the online brochures, but it's hard to tell if it's a worthy destination or not. Also, is the area gay-friendly?
posted by roger ackroyd to Travel & Transportation around Branson, MO (21 answers total)
No, no, no, a thousand times no. It's designed for flag waving 80 year olds, despite what the ads say. Imagine every stereotype of a senior citizen from the South and multiply it by 10. Think electric wheelchair with 80 American flags and the person where a Marines or Navy baseball cap. Do yourselves a favor and go to gay friendly Eureka Springs, Arkansas instead.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 6:01 PM on July 22, 2015 [24 favorites]

Not unless they're big fans of kitsch or shows that would be camp anywhere else but are played straight there (no pun intended).

The area is not gay friendly. The county that Branson sits in voted 80% in favor of the 2004 anti-marriage equality amendment.

Branson isn't actively hostile to gay visitors, but it's not an actively pursued market, either. Consider how hard this 2011 Dallas Voice article had to strain to sell the idea of Branson as a gay destination. There's just not a lot there unless the people in question are unironically interested in straight-oriented Americana.
posted by jedicus at 6:20 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

The most I would do is an evening to sort of revel in the tackiness, but you probably would not want to spend a whole weekend there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:20 PM on July 22, 2015

Unless all the dudes in question are John Waters, this is a horrible idea. I beg you to consider some other getaway, perhaps one that can be enjoyed un-ironically.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 6:24 PM on July 22, 2015 [11 favorites]

I'd say no, along with others, just based on being from the general area BUT, I think your answer will depend on what you'd like to do.

Wanna see Dolly's show and some magic? Sure, go to Branson! Wanna be accepted? Um, no.

Maybe investigate rivers and museums and historic sites? There's PLENTY of that to do and frankly, Missouri is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS (and underrated for being as such, IMO).

If that's the kind of thing you seek, I'd say yeah, the Branson area is perfect. But if you're looking for things to do IN TOWN, I'd maybe head somewhere else :/.
posted by youandiandaflame at 6:26 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

No. Just no.
Branson takes itself very seriously. It may be kitch in the eyes of those who are not the target demographic, but there no sense or acknowledgement of said kitch there. Irony is lost on the place, as well.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:50 PM on July 22, 2015

Boring and depressing.
posted by francesca too at 7:21 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

This ex-Missourian dyke agrees with "only if they're all John Waters" and seconds the recommendation of Eureka Springs, which is legitimately awesome.
posted by thetortoise at 7:25 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Now hold on, everybody. The Southwest Missouri Ozark region is absolutely gorgeous. I spent every summer there as a kid. We would rent a cabin in Kimberling City, Missouri, which is on Table Rock Lake and a short drive from Branson, and spend most of the trip boating and hanging out and eating cheap fried food and BBQ. Once we rented a houseboat for the week, which was awesome as a kid and I imagine would also be pretty cool as an adult, especially with beer. There's an interesting fish hatchery you can go to nearby also. Gorgeous hiking all over the place. A hokey amusement park. And then for one day, we would drive into Branson and revel in the insanity. It's great. I would do it as an adult if it wasn't so hard to get to from where I live. I would definitely, definitely not get hotel rooms in Branson itself and spend the entire trip there. But as a one-day part of a larger trip to the region? Totally worth seeing.
posted by something something at 7:27 PM on July 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: This is very helpful. Thank you!
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:47 PM on July 22, 2015

I mean, if the allure of Branson is a carnival-like town that is centrally located for you and your friends and less pricey than Vegas, I would hesitantly suggest Galveston/Pigeon Forge, Tennessee as an alternative. Home of Dollywood, lots of options for somewhat kitschy shows/theater, and touristy shopping and Jersey-shore-like atmosphere with lots of free food and alcohol samples and live music. And, most importantly, it's right next to the glorious Smoky Mountains, which offer great day-trips, including nice swimholes if you are traveling in the summer.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:20 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Now I really want to see a pack of about a dozen John Waterses descend on Branson...
posted by Naberius at 8:20 PM on July 22, 2015 [13 favorites]

oops edit window closed but I meant Gatlinburg
posted by likeatoaster at 8:27 PM on July 22, 2015

Admittedly it's been awhile since I've been to Branson, but agree that it takes itself completely seriously, is horrible, and is useless for kitsch. Also agree that Dollywood/Pigeon Forge is miles better. I loved Dollywood.
posted by Mavri at 9:00 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

The most telling thing about Branson: Many theaters have 10 a.m. shows. Look, here's Branson fixture Yakov Smirnoff at 10 a.m. Wake up with Yakov!

Who the fuck is awake and interested in a 10 a.m. show?

Old people. Ollllllld people.

Tony Orlando often performs in Branson. He opens his show with "Tie a Yellow Ribbon." HE OPENS WITH IT.

"You're awake! And goddamnit, you want what you want, and you're going to get what you want, right off the fucking bat, no waiting!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:28 PM on July 22, 2015 [14 favorites]

I think you meant to ask about Dollywood.

Branson is for retirees and not active (and creepy) Viagra ad retirees. Also, it's pretty much the opposite of gay friendly.
posted by 26.2 at 10:04 PM on July 22, 2015

No, no, no.
And Eureka Springs is interesting, and Fayetteville has some good food, but neither are destinations worth traveling across the country for, IMO.
posted by wintersweet at 10:10 PM on July 22, 2015

Please don't spend your hard-earned money in Branson. That town is consistently on the shit list of the American Federation of Musicians for cheating performers out of union wages.
I don't want nice people adding to the coffers of this reactionary, union-hostile town.
posted by BostonTerrier at 5:42 AM on July 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

As noted by a couple folks above, the nature around Branson is very beautiful, but dear god is Branson and its environs a dull vacation for anything other than renting a house in the woods (not in the town) and sitting on the verandah with a jug of bourbon, unless you golf--then it's fabulous. The day we drove into Branson, all I saw was strip malls (even though I know there's a bunch of theatres and stuff) and an outlet mall the size of a small town.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:41 AM on July 23, 2015

eureka springs, ar or pigeon forge, tn would be much better destinations for this trip. branson is not what you're looking for.
posted by nadawi at 8:05 AM on July 24, 2015

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