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BRANSON NEWS: Amanda Taylor and her family traveled to Branson, Missouri, a family-friendly spot whether you have a day or a week to spend.“Branson is Vegas for families,” said Timothy Haygood, who performs with his family in “The Haygoods” show.“It’s a place where people can take their families and not worry about what they’re going to see,” said Jeff Johnson with Shepard of the Hills.“You take all the natural activities and put them right there in the Heart of America: The Ozarks,” said Brad Thomas, president of Silver Dollar City Attractions.But before you cross the state line to head to Branson, Missouri, we found a magical place to pop into in eastern Oklahoma. Clark May is the proprietor of the Rabbit and Hat Magic Shop. Five years ago. Clark came out of retirement from the aerospace industry to share his longtime hobby in the town of Locust Grove.“Most people respond that they can’t believe that something like this is in Locus Grove,” said May.Word’s spreading. He’s already getting out-of-state visitors. And he’s in the process of building the Magic Showplace Theater to host bigger illusion shows. He also plans to renovate a nearby building into a restaurant where magicians do magic at your table.Amanda and her crew then made their way to Missouri to one of Branson’s oldest attractions: Silver Dollar City.“Silver Dollar City has been a destination for families of multiple generations,” said Thomas. “So little kids can have a blast. The thrill-seeking teens can have a blast. Mom and Dad can have a blast, and so can Grandma and Grandpa. We try and create an experience the entire family can enjoy together.”The park’s president, by the way, has Oklahoma ties.“My dad was a Baptist minister, and actually in his early days of ministry, he was pastoring in Oklahoma, met my mom and I was actually born in Durant,” he said. “Over the years at Silver Dollar City, we have seen a growing, exponentially growing, number of folks from Oklahoma who come here. I always look out because I know some of them must be family.”And after a full day, this Oklahoma family is ready to call it a day.Branson has just about every sleeping option you can think of, from camping, to family resorts like WaterMill Cove. Where there’s plenty to keep the kids busy on site.And while in town, here are some of the newer attractions.FlyRide is a mix between a movie and a ride.You strap into a seat and find yourself in front of a four-story screen. The seats dip and turn while different smells and even mist fill the air to make you really feel like you’re really flying over 20 national landmarks.Another indoor spot that opened within the last year the Aquarium at the Boardwalk.“We’ve got several things that knock everyone’s socks off,” said Director of Husbandry Steve Bitter. “We’ve got our mermaid palace, which is a school of sardines. It’s just hypnotic watching them swim. Definitely a crowd pleaser.”Just a few miles away you can get on golf cars and drive through caverns.Or if golf is your game, you’ll want to check out Tiger Woods world class golf course. Then of course, on the strip: all the shows!“We do everything,” said Timothy Haygood. “We have 20 different instruments in the show, an amazing amount of special effects. We cover all kinds of different music. Here’s the amazing part. We’ve been performing in Branson for 29 years, since we were little kids.”The Haygoods currently have five brothers and one sister on stage and over the last three decades have performed more than 7,500 shows in Branson.“These shows are state-of-the-art. These are Vegas, Broadway-caliber productions,” said Haygood.His mom says this all started when he wanted to play violin when he was a little kid.All of this fun will work up one’s appetite.Sugar Leaf Bakery is a laid back spot with homemade bread and tasty desserts.Guy Fieri of Food Network fame just opened up a new place in town.And then off the beaten path, we found one of the most scenic places to grab a bite: Dogwood Canyon’s Mill and Canyon Grill Restaurant.Just outside is Dogwood Canyon Nature park, a 10,000-acre outdoor playground where you can hike, bike, or take a tram throughout.”It’s the best environment where you can be one-on-one with nature and see some of the incredible things mother nature can provide,” said our guide Mike Jones.And thanks to our fishing guides, we all managed to catch a rainbow trout.We left the fish behind, but took home a lot of memories from our trip on a tankful.
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