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Silver Dollar City and the Branson Belle gear up for Christmas

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

Silver Dollar City debuts the all-new musical show “It’s a Wonderful Life,” an original production from Silver Dollar City’s award-winning show producers, created for the park’s brightest season and one of the most acclaimed holiday festivals in America, An Old Time Christmas. The festival is presented Nov. 3 – Dec. 30 at the Branson theme park.

“It’s a Wonderful Life,” adapted from the Frank Capra classic, presents a new, musical interpretation of the inspirational story that is a worldwide Christmas favorite, voted the No. 1 Inspirational Film of All Time by the American Film Institute. “‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is real Americana, a story many people already love, but our production takes the audience through it in unexpected ways,” said writer/producer Brad Schroeder, Silver Dollar City’s Director of Entertainment and Events. “Telling this classic story with music adds a new connection, making it even more emotional and impactful.”

The show also features unique special effects and a talented cast of 14 singer/actors. The new production joins Silver Dollar City’s acclaimed Broadway-style production, “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol,” another original musical adaptation of a famous classic which is also featured during the festival. “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol” includes elaborate sets and visual effects, flying spirits, pyrotechnic special effects and a talented cast of 15, accompanied by a live band.

An Old Time Christmas transforms the 1880s-style park into an evening wonderland, featuring the Christmas on Main Street light and sound show, 1,000 decorated Christmas trees, a Holiday Light Parade, the two Broadway-style productions, festive holiday foods and over four million lights — and rides too. In temperatures down to 42 degrees, guests can soar into the night while viewing the park’s lights from above. The five-story special effects Christmas tree is the park centerpiece, a towering visual icon that comes to life at dusk each evening when the Christmas on Main Street shows begin.

During the shows, the massive tree blazes in synchronization to the musical movements of Christmas songs — up to 100 light changes per second — while lights on buildings, in hanging canopies over Main Street and on Christmas trees around the Square flash along with it, accompanied by surround-sound, immersing guests in the experience. While technologically incredible, the tree is “green” too, operating with energy-saving LED lights. Since its debut more than two decades ago, Silver Dollar City’s “An Old Time Christmas” has become one of the country’s most recognized events for spectacular lighting and world-class entertainment. Profiled as one of the nation’s top holiday celebrations by USA Today, CNN Travel, The Travel Channel, Good Morning America, AOL Travel, Yahoo Travel and MSNcom, the festival features dazzling elements throughout the 100-acre park. The colorful Holiday Light Parade, with musical floats covered in lights, winds through the streets of the City each evening as costumed characters interact with guests along the parade route. Additional shows include a musical presentation of the Living Nativity and the interactive show “Frosty,” which invites kids to help bring the legendary snowman to life. Fine craftsmanship is also showcased, as the park’s 100 demonstrating craftsmen create one-of-a-kind handmade holiday items, from blown glass ornaments, angels and snowmen to pottery dessert platters and scotch-pine scented candles. Guests sing Christmas carols as they ride the Silver Dollar Steam Train and for nighttime thrills, most of the rides and the park’s five roller coasters are open after dark with great views of the lights from above.

Silver Dollar City presents the Midwest Living Culinary & Craft School, offering classes on holiday specialties. The tastes of the season are in abundance throughout the park, including a prime-rib buffet and traditional favorites such as turkey with apple-raisin dressing. Festive holiday treats from apple dumplings to hot wassail can be found throughout the park, and the bakery cooks up homemade fruitcakes, cookies and breads. For kids, there’s a lunch with Santa, available weekends throughout the festival. During An Old Time Christmas, Silver Dollar City is open Thursdays through Sundays through December 23, plus Wednesday, November 21, closed Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and open daily December 26-30. Hours are 1 to 9 p.m. most days, with extended hours on Saturdays — check the website for exact schedules. Information: 800-83l-4FUN(386) or visit An Old Time Christmas is presented by Humana.

Sail into the season on the Branson Belle

The Showboat Branson Belle kicks off the holiday season with a new Christmas experience. “Made in the USA,” the world-class headliner production show, presents classic Christmas carols, holiday favorites and a patriotic finale, plus a one-of-a-kind performance of The Nutcracker Suite by violin-playing aerialist Janice Martin.

The Showboat departs from White River Landing decorated with Christmas lights and guests can view holiday lights along the shore as the ship cruises Table Rock Lake. Following a three-course meal, the stage comes to life as the vocal group The ShowMen performs Christmas favorites including “Carol of the Bells,” “Let it Snow” and “Do You Hear What I Hear.” The sounds of the season fill the stage with powerful harmonies and standout solos of the talented vocalists.

Janice Martin, the world’s only violin-playing aerialist, takes the stage with an original performance of “The Nutcracker Suite.” The artistry of this world-class violinist, vocalist, acrobat and multi-instrument musician has been heralded worldwide following performances on four continents, on stages from Carnegie Hall to the White House. The show is emceed by ultrasharp, uber-funny comedian and magician Christopher James backed by Showboat’s signature live band Rockin’ Dockers for a totally live entertainment experience.

Noon and Sunday cruises feature the vocals of the female quartet The ShowBelles, fiddler Dean Church, piano virtuoso Julie McClarey and the comedy of David Hirschi as Slim Chance through Nov. 18.

Each cruise features a three-course meal from the Showboat’s Chef Larry, including slow-simmered beef roast and honey-Dijon glazed chicken topped off with the chefs own Golden Brittle Lemon-Berry Torte. All meals are prepared onboard in the ship’s galley and served in the three-story atrium dining theater. Specialty dining options include the Paddle Wheel Club Room and Captain’s Row.

Christmas cruises run Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, with a special New Year’s Eve cruise at 8 p.m. Dec. 31. For cruise times and ticket information: or 1-800-775-BOAT(2628).

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