by VICTORIA HENLEY
One of Branson’s landmark destinations for world class entertainment, hearty down home cooking and action-packed fun to excite and delight everyone in the entire family, Grand Country is sure to offer something to thrill even the most hard -to- please person in your group.
Best described as a “cruise ship on land,” the Grand Country campus offers everything you’ll seek for high octane fun on your Branson vacation without ever having to leave the property, including Grand Country Music Hall (featuring variety shows, award-winning musical stylings within the genres of country, pop, gospel, and more, comedy improvisation, and a pet show), The Grand Country Buffet (filled with a plethora of stick to your ribs and made-from-scratch classics), Pappa Grand’s Pizza Buffet (serving up the most scrumptious pizza), Glenn’s Frozen Custard (the most delectable sweet treats you’ll find in town and best hospitality you’ll find in the state of Missouri), beautifully designed indoor and outdoor miniature golf courses, a full arcade, a soon-to be expanded waterpark and a go-cart track.
Backstage Pass on iHeart Radio and CTFashionMag.com received the incredible opportunity to return to one of our favorite destinations for fun and excitement in the city of Branson.
GRAND COUNTRY MUSIC HALL
One of the theater’s most widely acclaimed, largely attended, and most awarded productions, The Grand Jubilee features many of the best acts, routines, and moments from your favorite shows at the Grand Music Hall, all action packed within the span of a nonstop, high-octane two-hour extravaganza.
Starring headliners Jamie Haage (in character as “Jim Dandy”) and renowned Branson producer and host, Mike Patrick, the Grand Jubilee also features a stellar line up of top notch entertainment, including The Grand Country’s own legendary gospel quartet New South (who stole the show with their tight harmonies, palpable energy and uniquely stylized arrangements), “Band of the Year” award recipients The Rhinestone Mafia (who fill the theater with beautifully executed instrumental compositions, highlighting the talents of each musician beautifully), and Grand Gountry’s longtime principal female vocalist Jackie Brown.
Haage and Patrick have great chemistry and keep the show flowing with witty banter and non-stop jokes. Haage’s numerous characters (including the outrageous “Uncle Dudley” ) kept the audience in stitches.
“American Idol” fans will be delighted to see one of the popular reality show’s alumni, Luke Menard, featured as the tenor in New South, while the newly appointed “Male Vocalist of the Year” Barry Arwood, soars with great aplomb through the myriad of numbers performed by New South throughout the show, including stand outs, “16 Tons” (originally popularized by Tennessee Ernie Ford) and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
One of the funniest shows on the “Branson Strip,” Comedy Jamboree combines “Saturday Night Live”-style parodies, punchlines and one-liners with “Whose Line is it Anyway”-worthy improvisational bits. It’s all performed with pitch-perfect comedic timing by a stellar cast of comics: Applejack (portrayed by the inimitable Shannon Thomason ), Stretch McCord and Andy Parks.
Winner of “The Best Comedy Show in Branson,” Comedy Jamboree also features two extremely talented Jamboree singers, who perform beautifully choreographed routines while they croon some of the top hits of the 1970s and ‘
’80s, all the way to modern day tunes.
Numerous uproariously funny video packages are shown throughout this two-hour extravaganza, including a laugh-out-loud segment starring the “Cajun Weather Man” (who hosts a live weather broadcast amidst monsoon-inducing elements, whilst alligators are seen whirling around in the background and catfish smack him in the face) and a satirical promotional video for Pushing Up Daisies Retirement Home. Comedy Jamboree’s very own news broadcast entitled “Fake News Network” gives viewers the latest inside scoop in regards to outrageously fake current world events, all delivered with an air of diplomacy and seriousness that makes the punchline even funnier and a “Merman” segment starring Applejack and Andy Parks, which reduced the audiences to fits of laughter.
Audience participation is a key element of the hilariously unique, high-energy brand-of-humor offered by an experience at the Comedy Jamboree, and several unsuspecting audience members are plucked from the crowd during certain segments of the show to be the “stars,” including a woman who became the recipient of an off-the-cuff song about her life story and a couple who became unwitting muses for a hilariously over the top reenactment of their first date (starring Applejack and Andy Parks).
World class, concert pianist Tracy Heaston performs outstanding classic and contemporary musical numbers throughout various portions of the show, beautifully exemplifying why he toured the world and has been featured on many international television broadcasts as one of the greatest piano players of his time.
Serving up non-stop laughs and smiles from start to finish, The Comedy Jamboree is the premiere destination for family friendly fun and feel -good vibes in the city of Branson.
DOWN HOME COUNTRY:
Featuring award-winning comic, Jarrett Dougherty, one of the most outrageously hilarious comics in town, emcee/featured vocalist Jamie Haage, Branson’s “Fiddle Player of the Year” Melody Hart (matriarch and star of the “Melody Hart Band”), Hart’s tremendously talented husband, Wayne Massengale (whose bubbly energy throughout his many performances on the Grand Country stage is both contagious and palpable), the acclaimed, award-winning Grand Country Band The Rhinestone Mafia (comprised of Larry Alred on bass, Rob Blackburn on drums, Chad Cathell on guitar, Greg Moody on steel guitar and musical director, Michael W. Davis on piano), Down Home Country is a non-stop celebration of down home country music and unpretentious and undeniably hilarious comedy.
Stand-out musical numbers include the iconic Kenny Rogers ballad, “The Gambler,” and toe-tapping tunes by Porter Wagoner. Headlining comedian Dougherty steals the spotlight portraying the wide variety of colorful and outlandish characters including the Southern Fried Preacher (during which he delivers an impassioned , wildly funny sermon in a hellfire and brimstone fashion) and Cam Pain, a hilarious, yet hapless, nit wit, promoting his upcoming run for presidential candidacy.
Featuring non-stop laughs and beautifully performed renditions of all the top country classics, Down Home Country simply cannot be missed by any fan of country music and comedy.
BRANSON COUNTRY USA
Also lovingly referred to as “The Late Show,” Branson Country USA is an action packed, one-hour music, comedy, and variety extravaganza, co-hosted by stars of the Grand Country stage, Mike Patrick and Jaime Haage.
Featuring many of the principal Grand Music Hall performers you have grown to know and love (including award winning Gospel Quartet, New South, The Rhinestone Mafia, and Female Vocalist, Jackie Brown), Branson Country USA remains Branson’s premiere late night show, recorded live in the theater at 10:30 pm each Friday night and broadcast into some 80 million homes worldwide.
This dynamic late night extravaganza features a rotating line up of guest stars each week ranging from the likes of the “Queen of Bluegrass” Rhonda Vincent to the Oak Ridge Boys to the legendary Mickey Gilley (who is, unfortunately, no longer with us) and an exciting roster of local favorites as well.
During our visit, internationally acclaimed Elvis tribute artist, Dean Z starred as the featured celebrity guest the evening of our attendance, and his immensely talented band (including drummer Matt Gumm, who headlines his own show at Clay Cooper Theater).
Additional stand out numbers include the relentlessly catchy “Little Liza Jane,” “Always Gonna be Someday,” “Back on My Mind Again” by Ronnie Milsap and “Tennessee Stud” performed in full cowboy themed regalia by Grand Country’s own acclaimed base singer, Mark.
Throughout the duration of our two week excursion to Branson, we attended the Branson Country Late Show twice, and local legend, Travis Scott, (a country crooner with a classic drawl and effortless stage presence), performed numerous covers of some of country music’s greatest classics.
The Branson Country USA should be firmly cemented on your Branson bucket list.
One of the longest running, and most critically acclaimed gospel shows in Branson, New South is comprised of the incomparably talented Luke Menard (tenor and finalist on the hit television competition series “American Idol”), Eric Dalton (a baritone, who joined the Grand Country team in 2020 and also runs his own hand made candle business), Barry Arwood (lead vocalist, the newest cast member who can be seen performing in headlining roles at top venues around town, recently receiving the high honor of “Best Male Vocalist”), Mark McCauley (bass, who is one of New South’s original cast members who has entertained and delighted Branson audiences with his rich bass voice for more than 30 years, and counting) and also stars Jamie Haage (who sings numerous uplifting traditional gospel classics and hymnals and who can be seen in numerous roles on the Grand Music Hall stage, including the iconic Jim Dandy), internationally renowned pianist Tracy Heaston, the fastest piano player in town, whose fingers have blazed across the ivories for more than 30 years), and female vocalist Jackie Brown.
Packed with edifying, inspiring and uplifting traditional chart topping gospel hits and toe-tapping spirituals, a New South show has built a solid reputation upon serving up high energy, tight harmonies, all done with absolutely impeccable style.
A few of the many standout numbers include the romping, rousing, “Shouting Ground,” the melodious “Peace in the Valley,” “Because He Lives,” and a touching testimony by Menard about his battle with leukemia and how he prevailed with not only treatment, but also unwavering prayer and faith.
Several tributes to traditional Convention Style Singing were beautifully performed and interesting factoids regarding the intriguing origins of the Gospel music genre were presented throughout the duration of the two-hour show.
One of the most uplifting, feel-good shows you’ll have the opportunity to experience in Branson, a New South performance will remain with you long after the curtain has drawn.
A grand hit with both the kids and kids of all ages, “Amazing Pets” stars a cast of unbelievably talented trained felines, canines and fowl performing incredible feats of focus, strength and agility right before your very eyes. Many of the show’s furry stars are rescue animals who each shine in their own respective areas of expertise in this relentlessly fun celebration of pets, including: a poodle who dances like a ballerina; “Bat-Dog,” a pint sized super hero; and several huskies in a highly entertaining Eskimo-themed skit during which the trainer dresses in Arctic themed regalia as the canines perform numerous leaping, jumping, and balancing stunts.
Performing magical tricks you must see to believe, the incredible cast of Amazing Pets Housecats flawlessly execute outstanding displays of talent focus, and acuity on the balance beams; and the dazzling exotic birds will thrill you with their beauty, grace, and vivid colors as they sail over your head during several portions of the show.
Applejack (portrayed by Shannon Thomason, who can also be seen starring in the award-winning “Comedy Jamboree”) emcees this relentlessly fun romp of a pet show and selects volunteers from the myriad of attending children during several portions of the show, as he maintains a wonderful, engaging rapport with the kids, in the usual warm, approachable manner for which he is beloved.
Animal lovers of all ages will delight in this display of exceptional talent, featuring a plethora of species in this action packed show.
GRAND COUNTRY BUFFET:
Featuring hundreds of made from scratch, hearty and incomparably delicious menu items, Grand Country Buffet is sure to claim a spot at the top of your list to satisfy all your cravings at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Featuring a country chic, down-home design aesthetic, a fully stocked adjacent gift shop, and unparalleled hospitality with a smile, Grand Country is sure to offer something to satisfy everyone in your entire party.
We visited the Grand Country Buffet to experience the legendary breakfast, lunch and dinner selections and chose some of the best of the best options from the bar which you absolutely must try during your upcoming visit.
Grand Country Breakfast:
One of the most popular and well-attended meal options offered at the Grand Country, the Grand Country breakfast buffet serves up a hearty selection of both healthy and savory breakfast fare, including a full omelet bar, thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, assortments of fresh fruits, yogurt, granola and cereals.
Guests may select their beverage of choice from a line-up of traditional breakfast beverages including regular milk, chocolate milk, orange juice, several other types of fruit juices, strong hot coffee, hot tea and a full roster of available sodas
Hearty Southern Grits
Thick cut bacon
Freshly made omelette from the onsite omelette bar, featuring fresh spinach, white and yellow cheeses, roasted onions, and diced mushrooms
Sweet sticky buns, topped with diced pecans.
Assortments of freshly baked muffins, scones, croissants, and pastries
Fresh cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon
And much, much more!
Special thanks to servers Wanda and Rae for outstanding service.
GRAND COUNTRY LUNCH:
Available during standard lunch hours, the epic Grand Country lunch buffet offers a staggering array of succulent meats, fresh vegetables, stick-to-ribs pot pie, a full salad bar, satisfying soups, an assortment of breads, and beautifully prepared desserts to help wrap up your experience on the sweet side.
Salad: Featuring iceberg and spring mix lettuce, eggs, shredded carrots and cheese, thick cut bacon bits, seafood salad, potato salad and pasta salad on the side.
Scrumptious Parmesan encrusted tilapia
Crispy Pork egg roll
Fresh green beans
Shout out to Kristin and Becky for the exemplary hospitality they displayed throughout our visit.
GRAND COUNTRY DINNER:
Serving up a wildly expansive smorgasbord of delectable menu items, the Grand Country Dinner Buffet offers one of the largest selections of food you’ll find in the city of Branson, transporting you back through time on a nostalgic visit to Grandma’s house or Thanksgiving dinner with your family.
The dinner buffet features prime quality, exquisitely prepared menu items, including scrumptious pork tenderloin, a variety of crispy fried and tender baked chicken (selection of breasts, thighs and legs are available), as well as all the vegetables, hearty pot pies, soups, and other side items (crisp fried okra, savory fried corn nuggets and more).
A few of our many favorite items were:
Salad bar: Featuring a staggering array of toppings that you can mix, match and customize to create the perfect salad of your dreams.
Creamy potato salad
Flavorful pasta salad
Seafood salad, featuring shell pasta and fresh seafood
Thick cut applewood smoked bacon bits and croutons.
Chicken pot pie with a crispy, flaky crust, garden peas, tender chicken and diced carrots.
Cookies (chocolate chip and peanut butter)
Cherry strudel pastry
Grand Country’s signature bread pudding with sweet vanilla sauce
Vanilla Ice cream
Freshly prepared, delectable home-style cuisine cooked up in a scratch kitchen, down home hospitality, and a casually elegant, relaxed environment are just a few of the many elements which make Grand Country Buffet the ultimate family dining destination of the Ozarks.
PAPPA GRAND’S PIZZA
Offering a plethora of high quality, handmade pizzas in a scratch kitchen, Pappa Grand’s Pizza serves up delicious fun daily for the entire family. Featuring a convenient location (nestled within the Grand Country Fun Spot) and late night hours, Pappa Grand’s Pizza is guaranteed to serve up just the right pie to whet every craving for every possible occasion, whether you’re celebrating a birthday or enjoying a casual outing with your family.
Featuring some of the most amicable and accommodating managers and servers you’ll meet, Pappa Grand’s Pizza has built a solid reputation for serving up not only some of the freshest and best pizza, but also offering good vibes and friendly service that will undoubtedly put a smile on your face.
Pappa Grand’s changes and updates their line-up of pizza regularly throughout the day, and while they keep a rotating line up of delicious pies readily available for their beloved customers, guests are welcome to make special requests to the kitchen staff for any pizza they desire, which may not be on display at the time of their visit.
A few of our favorite items are:
Supreme Pizza: Featuring melted mozzarella cheese, olives, onions and green peppers.
Chicken Alfredo Pizza: Tender grilled chicken topped with creamy Alfredo sauce and melted mozzarella cheese)
Pepperoni pizza: Wonderfully fresh tomato sauce, and a crispy thin crust cooked to perfection give this pizza a fresh twist on a traditional pizza parlor classic.
Cheese pizza: Numerous types of cheeses are melted and blended together, creating a culinary haven of flavors that is somehow complex in all of its simplicity.
Cheese sticks: Featuring melted mozzarella cheese and thick dough, Pappa Grand’s Cheese sticks are perfect for dunking in soup or enjoying all by themselves.
Pappa Grand’s wholesome and hearty chunky potato soup perfectly suited the crisp fall weather and we customized our bowls by adding crackers, shredded cheese, bacon bits and croutons to our liking.
A delightful chili, perfect for those chilly fall and winter days, was available on the salad bar as well.
Each buffet at Pappa Grand’s offers full access to the salad bar, serving up fresh leafy greens and a variety of toppings (such as diced hard boiled eggs, fresh tomatoes, shredded cheese, cucumbers, onions, sunflower seeds, raisins and an astounding assortment of additional options), for a superb accompaniment to your pizza dinner, or perhaps as a meal to enjoy by itself.
All included in the shockingly affordable buffet price, Pappa Grand’s Pizza also offers a pasta bar serving up numerous varieties of pasta, a delicious array of sauces (including tomato and Alfredo sauces, flavorful pesto, and more), as well as toppings including olives, mushrooms and onions, for a delectable Italian feast.
Pappa Grand’s Pizza offers a beautifully presented and artfully made line up of dessert pizzas, featuring sweet pies in the flavors of cherry, apple cinnamon, chocolate chip cookie, and cheese Danish crumble, each which satisfy even the most intense sweet tooth and create a stellar ending for a dining experience to remember.
GLENN’S FROZEN CUSTARD
Adjacent to the delightful Pappa Grand’s Pizza Buffet, Glenn’s Frozen Custard serves up delectable frozen sweet treats ranging from banana splits to chocolate sundaes, all wonderfully unique in that they are created with custard, which is made using eggs in addition to cream and sugar.
A tasty and unexpected alternative to ice cream, frozen custard offers a flavor and texture that has taken the dessert world by storm and is dominating some of the most popular recipes by your favorite chefs and foodies.
One of the highest ranked establishments you can visit to enjoy this incomparable sweet treat in the city of Branson, Glenn’s Frozen Custard not only affords guests the opportunity to savor traditional classic desserts, but also to build their own customized custard cups, cones and sundaes, with a wide range of mixable, matchable toppings including peanuts, pecans, Reese’s cups, cookie dough, chocolate and caramel sauces.
Some of our favorite sweet treats are:
Chocolate turtle: Comprised of Oreos, chopped nuts, cookie dough, and fudge and caramel sauce.
Banana split: Featuring fresh bananas, whipped cream, chopped pecans, cherry, sweet pineapple topped with a light dusting of peanuts.
We also ordered two customized ice cream cups, featuring peanuts, fresh, diced pineapple, and Reese’s Cup pieces topped with delectable chocolate drizzles and fresh whipped cream.
The staff at Glenn’s Frozen Custard is just as sweet as the treats they serve, always going out of their way to accommodate guests, ensuring a customized, top quality, and undeniably fun dessert outing for everyone in your family!
GRAND COUNTRY INDOOR AND OUTDOOR GOLF:
The Grand Country campus offers a myriad of course opportunities for miniature golf enthusiasts, including two indoor courses (complete with lush tropical greenery, viscerally stunning decorative light fixtures, rustic, yet elegant, country chic decor, and a Thunder/ lightning storm which activates every hour), an upstairs glow in the dark course, complete with realistic sound effects, hand-painted art work, and a country-western themed outdoor course, complete with lifelike statues of barnyard animals and other decorum filling the expanse of the 18 hole course.
During our Grand Country visit, we were afforded the opportunity to experience all 36 holes of the indoor course, and each course offered the opportunity to enjoy different and unique scenery, including miniature waterfalls, a replica of a nostalgic farm house, a beautifully designed windmill and an undeniable sense of peace and relaxation. The indoor courses, located conveniently beside the Grand Country buffet within the complex feature long hours, easy accessibility and non-stop fun.
Special thanks to the outstanding Grand Country staff (including managers, servers, supervisors, box office attendants and the rest of the incredible team ) for an excellent experience, and we would like to offer utmost gratitude to Andy Holloway and Travis Howard for their exceptional facilitation’s of our Music Hall and Restaurant/Entertainment experiences respectively.
PHONE NUMBER: (888) 514-1088