Branson Dinner Shows: Lowdown on the Hoedown

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Branson Dinner Shows sign for the Showboat Branson Belle
Photo credit: Judy Antell

Branson Dinner Shows offer year round family fun. There are live music shows, magic shows, murder mystery dinner shows and just about every form of live entertainment.

Branson, in the Ozarks of Missouri, has plenty of country music, but you’ll also find pop, rock, Christmas shows and more.

Read More: Girlfriend Getaways Ideas in Missouri

Branson Dinner Shows stage for the Showboat Branson Belle dinner cruise.
The stage for the dinner cruise. Photo credit: Judy Antell

Showboat Branson Belle

The Showboat Branson Belle, a dinner show on Table Rock Lake is a combination of live music and magic show.

On the lunchtime cruise I took, the singers tackled music from the 1970s and 80s. There was a very entertaining sequence with quick costume changes and snippets of music from dozens of movies.

The magic show included audience participation. The magician was genuinely flummoxed when one audience member would not play along, insisting that his only leisure activity was going to church. (Not to state the obvious, but the audience member’s presence on the dinner cruise refuted that assertion.)

I would not say the dinner cruise had great food, but my three-course meal did end with a slice of delicious chocolate cake. You could also get a Missouri specialty: ooey gooey butter cake.

Branson Dinner Shows, the facade of Dolly Parton's Stampede Theater
Yee-haw: Dolly Parton’s Stampede theater. Photo credit: Judy Antell

Dolly Parton’s Stampede

Dolly Parton’s Stampede has 32 horses performing stunts. This is a great show for animal lovers. The Christmas show at Dolly Parton’s Stampede features a live nativity scene.

As you might expect, the dinner at Dolly Parton’s Stampede is over the top. This is a four-course meal and there are vegetarian and gluten-free options. You eat at your seat in the giant 35,000 square-foot arena, so keep that in mind if your kids get restless at meals.

Branson Dinner Shows carriage room and gift shop at Dolly Parton's Stampede Theater.
Get your cowboy hats at Dolly Parton’s Stampede. Photo credit: Judy Antell

SheBuysTravel Tip: a must see for the horse obsessed, the Horse Walk at Dolly Parton’s Stampede lets you meet the animals used in the show. This is an additional fee.

Branson Dinner Shows facade of the Branson Murder Mystery Theater
Branson Murder Mystery Theater. Photo credit: Judy Antell

Branson Murder Mystery

The Branson Murder Mystery includes a buffet dinner and audience participation. There is an annual Christmas show, “Murder by Eggnog,” and a new show each year. This year, the show, “Murder at the Audition,” promises lots of laughs.

Branson Dinner Shows entryway to the Branson Murder Mystery Theater.
It’s no mystery why the Branson Murder Mystery kept the historic elements in the theater. Photo credit: Judy Antell

The murder mystery dinner show is good for kids of all ages. And children under 3 are free. Dinner starts at 3:30 and the show is at 5, so kids don’t have to stay up late.

The Shepherd of the Hills

The seasonal outdoor theater, The Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama, is a show about life in the 1880s in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. Performed on a football-field-size stage, the show includes horses, sheep, mules and donkeys.

Theater tickets include mini golf, the petting zoo and farm.

The dinner theater aspect is optional. For an add-on fee, you can have the BBQ & Bluegrass Bash, with music and comedy.

The Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama runs from mid May to late October.

Year round, the Shepherd of the Hills has other dinner theater: Whodunnit Hoedown Murder Mystery Dinner Show, 1950s rock with the Million Dollar Quartet and The Funny Farm Dinner feud, which promises hillbilly humor and audience participation.There are also two Christmas shows.

Note: Vegetarians beware. From the FAQ: “Is there meat served with every meal? Yes, all dinners have meat.”

Branson Dinner Shows building hosting the Escape Reality Magic & Illusions Dinner Show.
Where the magic happens. Photo credit: Judy Antell

Escape Reality Magic & Illusions Dinner Show

The Escape Reality Magic & Illusions Dinner Show started in Las Vegas with the magicians Garry and Janine Carson. They produced the magic show in Branson, starring another magician. The magic show can be seen without the dinner.

Branson vs. Las Vegas Dinner Shows

Although the variety of live entertainment in Branson lends itself to comparisons with Las Vegas, Branson Dinner Shows are nothing like Las Vegas.

Every Branson show starts with the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, and begins or ends with a salute to veterans. There also may be prayer.

And the dinner show I attended, while filled with magic & illusions and beautiful harmonies by the singers, lacked something Vegas shows include: alcohol.

Branson shows don’t serve booze.

Where to Stay Near Branson, Missouri

There are lots of options for hotel stays near Branson, including vacation rentals. Use this interactive map to help you find a place to stay in the area.

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Judy Antell is an empty-nester mother of 3 who spends a lot of time visiting her daughters. Why don’t they live in Brooklyn? Judy and her husband love to travel, by bike, car, or plane, whether to see their kids or have friend or couple adventures, mostly centered around vegetarian food.
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