For more than 20 years, pilot Rodney Williams has shuttled guests on breathtaking excursions into the clouds aboard the gently swaying baskets of Branson Balloon's hot-air-propelled vessels. As balloons rise slowly into the stratosphere, passengers can enjoy views of the trees, valleys, lakes, and Sasquatch dwellings of the Ozarks stretch out underfoot. After the sojourn into the skies, Rodney leads clients through a post-flight champagne toast and the Balloonist's Prayer—ceremonial pleasantries that have helped Rodney maintain a perfect safety record throughout his entire career as a pilot.
A replica of Mount Rushmore reigns over the Hollywood Wax Museum—but instead of bearing faces of American presidents, the mugs of John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis welcome visitors into the museum's collection of celebrity wax figures. Each lifelike figure is meticulously crafted over the course of three months, resulting in uncanny stand-ins for stars such as Lucille Ball, Samuel L. Jackson, Willie Nelson, and Will Smith. Counter to the velvet ropes and glass cases of most museums, guests of the Hollywood Wax Museum can walk right up and touch their favorite figures, getting a taste of fame as they share the spotlight with them for unique photo ops. Celebrity trivia accompanies each figure across the two-level, multi-million-dollar facility, such as stars' accomplishments, the names of their pets, or which moon of Jupiter they own a resort on. After patrons max out on wax, they can head next door to Hannah's Maze of Mirrors, where reflective surfaces obfuscate players' paths as they rescue Princess Hannah from a wicked spell.
Outside the World’s Largest Toy Museum, two larger-than-life toy soldiers flank the entranceway, which leads to a collection of more than one million toys from the 19th century to today. The proprietors have neatly organized their eclectic memorabilia on wooden and glass shelving, and bigger items hang from the ceilings. Visitors experience fascination and nostalgia while browsing antique tin fire trucks, a 1959 British Embassy Rolls-Royce, superhero action figures, and retro lunchboxes, a more compact version of the dinner trays kids used to carry to school.
The Harold Bell Wright Museum is a special area of the World’s Largest Toy Museum dedicated to a local hero and scribe. Learn about the author’s life and dedication to penning articles, screenplays, and novels, including 1907’s The Shepherd of the Hills. This story, which was once a staple of required classroom reading, helped make Branson, Missouri, a popular spot for tourists.
With 3,400 square feet devoted to the fine art of mud molding, Springfield Pottery hosts the works of well-known clayshapers from across the country. Stop in and peruse a selection of tumblers ($18–$28) and pick up spoons to show babies how to fling caviar with gusto ($5–$42). Purchase a pottery mug from Justin Rothshank ($39) or stock up on wooden bowls from Brad McCullum and outfit miniature dollhouses with makeshift hot tubs ($60–$90).
MoMak's, voted 19th best burger in Texas in 2009 by Texas Monthly magazine, quells carnivorous cravings with its bucket of mini burgers and other selections from its extensive menu. The Mo mushroom swiss burger nestles under a blanket of ranch, melty swiss cheese, and sautéed mushrooms ($6.99), and Mo's ground turkey burger, dressed with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and creamy cranberry mayo dressing, delivers a taste of Thanksgiving in burger format ($6.49). Pay homage to the eponymous earl with the philly steak sub ($8.99), or buffalo chicken kaiser sandwich ($7.99), or douse hunger fires with bucketfuls of fries and onion rings ($3.99–$8.99).