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Opinion: Reinvented Branson Belle reaches beyond blue-hairs

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I sincerely hope the fine folks at Herschend Family Entertainment meant specifically to lower their age demographic for the Branson Belle by at least 20 years. Because if not, I’m officially old.

You know what I mean – the Belle, like much of Branson, has had the reputation of being for blue-hairs. And that’s not the same thing as teal blue, bright stripes or even the new feathers sprouting up in today’s styles. The show of the past appeared to be aimed at those who wanted to cruise but were afraid to go too far.

Well, whether the grounding of the boat was a wake up call, or simply an opportunity to rethink it from top to bottom, they’ve done a good job in making sure the Belle is ready to sing and dance. The music from the ShowMen includes (gasp) tunes from the Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Beatles and a medley that included a few Steely Dan songs. And let’s just say that if there is something Janice Martin can’t do, it wasn’t obvious from her versatile stage performance the night we were there.

The Belle management has rethought the food, too, with a definite nod to food trends obvious in their chicken skewers, sweet potato puree and artisan breads made at Silver Dollar City. The staff still makes a show out of the food, with waiters waltzing in carrying trays of food above their heads, and the delivery is just part of the fun.

Kudos to the Belle, too, for what it offers in the way of high school proms. After the boat returns to dock and all the regular guests disembark, they open up the floor for dancing and music for the prom groups – a great way to provide a contained, safe environment with quite a bit of romance. One beautifully gowned young lady was overheard saying, “We are so lucky – isn’t this great? I could just live here!”

If the teenagers like it, and the boomers like it, then somehow the Belle has hit on a magic formula. I may, of course, be the “new old,” but I’m hoping it was a deliberate shift.

Either way, I’m going back. And I’ll be taking a few boomer friends.

—Kay Logsdon, The Food Channel, editor[[In-content Ad]]

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