On a recent trip to Branson, exploring all the great activities I could pack in for families indoors and out, I couldn’t help but notice something unusual on my visit to the famous Dolly Parton’s Stampede dinner show, touted as the most visited dinner attraction in the world.
No, it wasn’t just the the wild west costumed characters, the buffalo stampede suddenly taking over the floor, the canine capers performed by adorable rescues, or the fact that the gynormous dinner was served without a single utensil (yep, get ready to roll up your sleeves–more below!), it was that there was a baby in pretty much any direction I looked upon my entrance through my exit.
There was a baby propped up right at the edge of the square stage during the pre-show. There was a baby at the changing station in the ladies room (there’s also one in the men’s room, fyi). There were three babies that I could see held on laps on the opposite side of the arena through the dinner show.
I passed babies on the way in and babies on the way out. And there were babies even looking at the star performers of the “Horsewalk” afterward. Yet I never heard a baby the whole way through!
So in a day when many people shudder at the thought of bringing a baby on an airplane–and even more shudder at the sight of a baby boarding a plane, I wondered, what is it about the Dolly Parton Stampede that makes it so baby-friendly that families want to bring their smallest members along? Here’s what I learned:
Baby-friendly and Toddler-friendly pricing.
Dolly Parton’s Stampede has no minimum age requirement to attend its shows. And all kids under 4 years old are free, provided they sit on an adult’s lap. Child discounts are available for those 4 years and up and anyone who would prefer to purchase a separate seat for their young child. For those who do purchase a separate seat (strongly recommended to do so in advance and not wait), toddler boosters or high chairs are available on request. (Text continues below photos.)
Dolly Parton’s Stampede offers weekend matinee showtimes as well as 3:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. showtimes depending on day of the week and season. To check showtimes during your Branson vacation, click here.
Dining etiquette made easy.
If the words “dinner theater” combined with “baby” or “toddler” leave you biting your nails, there’s no need here. Not only are you served four courses of ridiculously generous portions (like an entire cornish game hen and slab of brisket) of stick-to-your-ribs fare right at your seat, but you’ll be encouraged to eat the entire meal using just your hands. Well, not just encouraged. There is no silverware at Dolly Parton’s Stampede, which is one way to make sure everyone notices the food is finger-licking good.
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So relax, and let the kids and the kid in you dig in without worry of fork-knife coordination or even taking your eyes off the stunts and magic tricks performed on the floor before you.
Getting in on the act.
Not only is Dolly Parton’s Stampede a famly-inclusive venue, certain members of your family may even get to be included in the show. For example, a handful of kids in the audience from 4 to 8 years old can compete in the chicken chase during the current production. If you’d like to see your little star in the running, notify your server for his or her chance to be selected.
Diaper changes without discrimination.
Yes, have no fear, diaper changing tables are not only available–they are found in both the men’s and women’s restrooms. Did you catch that, Daddy? 😉
Now, just because Dolly Parton’s Stampede may be a good fit for families with babies and toddlers in tow doesn’t mean the entertainment is geared toward babies. Not at all–as you could probably tell from the show photos I included above, this is family-friendly entertainment with all generations in mind. That’s right–don’t be shocked by how many grandmas and grandpas you’ll likely see in the audience, too. 😉
If you want to get in on Branson’s world-famous entertainment without leaving baby behind, I say do not pass go and head directly to Dolly Parton’s Dinner Stampede. For more information and showtimes, click here. And to purchase tickets, head to www.dpstampede.com or call 1-800-520-5544 and tell them TRAVELS WITH BABY sent you!
Want more family-friendly recommendations for your visit to Branson with kids? See my latest feature for Family Travel 411: Bliss in the Ozarks: A Guide to Branson for Nature Lovers
Thanks so much to Explore Branson for providing the opportunity to review this show. All observations and opinions, as always, are my own.
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