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Incredible Artifacts and Interactive Fun at Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO

Incredible Artifacts and Interactive Fun at Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO

Located at the Branson Landing, the brand new Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO just had its official ribbon cutting ceremony last Thursday. This interactive treasure museum is filled with fascinating artifacts recovered from miles beneath the ocean’s surface!

 

Branson shipwrecked treasure museum

 

I received complimentary museum admission to facilitate my review.

Whether you’re a history buff, a pirate enthusiast, a rare coin collector, or just a fan of visiting museums while on vacation, Shipwrecked Treasure Museum offers something for everyone. I loved learning the stories behind each exhibit, and it’s crazy to look at artifacts like a piece of pottery that was literally underwater for thousands of years!

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Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, MO

Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, MO

 

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, MO and wanted to share my experience with you guys!

 

Hollywood Wax Museum Branson MO

I received complimentary admission in exchange for an honest review.

 

I recruited my friend Debbie to come with me – this kind of attraction is best with a friend who is totally ready to take a bunch of silly photos with you. It’s a great rainy-day activity, and will appeal to a pretty wide range of ages. (I don’t think small children would get much out of the experience, but kids old enough to recognize the celebrities and enjoy getting their photo taken will probably enjoy it.)

 

It’s almost impossible to miss the Hollywood Wax Museum as you’re driving down Highway 76 in Branson, which is the main street where most of the live music shows are located. In addition to the eye-catching King Kong above, the exterior features a Mt. Rushmore-style sculpture featuring classic stars:

 

rushmore faces on branson 76

 

There are a few different ticket options available. You can buy a ticket for just the Wax Museum, which at the time of posting is $22.99 ($12.99 for kids), or you can purchase an All Access Pass that also includes admission to Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors, the Castle of Chaos 5-D ride/game experience, and Shoot for the Stars Mini Golf, all of which are on-site and range from $13-16 each if purchased separately. The All Access Pass is currently $29.99 ($19.99 for kids), so you get a lot of extra entertainment for just a few dollars more! I even have a Branson Hollywood Wax Museum coupon that you guys can print out – it gets you $2 off each All Access Pass for up to six people! Score!

 

Castle of Chaos Branson MO

 

We went fairly late in the evening and wound up spending about two hours in just the Hollywood Wax Museum, but hopefully I can return at another time and write about the other three attractions. They all get good reviews on TripAdvisor, and your pass is good all day so you can always do one attraction in the morning, come back for another in the afternoon, and two more in the evening.

 

 

The Hollywood Wax Museum has exhibits spread out across two floors. (You can choose stairs or elevator to access the upper level.) Most rooms feature celebrities that all fit a certain theme, from classic Hollywood with Audrey Hepburn and Judy Garland to country music superstars including Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. I like that they offer wax figures from a pretty wide range of eras and genres, so your teens can get just as excited about Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift as grandma does about taking a photo with Frank Sinatra. (Or hey, maybe it’s Grandma who’s the Bieber super-fan and your 10th grader is into Old Blue Eyes. You get the idea!)

 

A few more classic stars:

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Step Into History at the Titanic Museum in Branson

Step Into History at the Titanic Museum in Branson

 

If you’ve ever driven down Highway 76 in Branson, Missouri (something I do several times a week), you’ll know it’s impossible to miss the Titanic Museum Attraction as you pass.

 

Branson Titanic Museum

 

I visited once waaaaay back when it first opened (about 10 years ago, I think?) and then again recently. They’ve definitely added a lot to their collection since my first visit, and a few things have changed. I’ll fill you in on all of it!

 

One note before we begin – Photos and videos are not allowed inside the attraction, so pardon the lack of photos taken by me in this post. (I have borrowed a few from the media section of their website so that you will have some visuals!) They said that it’s for copyright reasons, and it does preserve the reverent atmosphere, but it did lessen my enjoyment a little bit. There are a few spots that would be fantastic for a photo (the Grand Staircase and Captain’s Wheel, for example), so I wish that they at least allowed photos in select spots. If you’re a curious sort like me, you may want to bring a pen and paper along. Since I couldn’t take photos of things and people I wanted to look up more info on, I jotted down notes instead.

 

 

Titanic museum branson grand staircase
Image via the Titanic Museum Attraction media page.

 

(As a side note, I think the no photography rule is a newer one, since I remember being able to take photos the first time I visited. There are quite a few photos on TripAdvisor, but I’m a rule follower so I didn’t take any during my visit.)

 

 

Upon entering, you receive a boarding pass (Mine is above) with the name and brief story of a real passenger, as well as a listening device for the audio tour. As you tour the museum, you can keep an eye out for photos and stories about your passenger, and find their name on the memorial wall at the end to see if they survived or not. For the audio tour, most exhibits have a number that can be typed into your device to play information. The audio content expands on the written descriptions, and sometimes includes stories from survivors. Some exhibits and artifacts have a second number, which is for the kid’s version of the audio tour.

Most of the exhibits are permanent, but they also have temporary ones that last for a few months. During my visit, there was a collection of fashion designed by Lady Duff Gordon, one of the first class passengers.

 

 

The second one from the left reminded me a lot of this dress from the Titanic movie:

Not the same cut, obviously, but similar colors and the same thick ribbon empire waist. I’d guess that the movie’s costume department took a lot of inspiration from Lady Duff Gordon’s designs! You can check the Titanic Museum Attraction’s website to see what the current rotating exhibit is before visiting.

Touring the museum takes about 90 minutes for the average visitor – someone who stops to read a fair amount of the info and examine the exhibits and artifacts, but not to read and listen to every word. You’ll find life-size recreations of the accommodations, including a third class cabin with tiny little bunk beds, authentic recovered artifacts including life jackets, and an interesting display that shows the difference between the first, second, an third-class dinnerware and menus.

 

Image courtesy of the Titanic Museum’s media page.

 

Image via Titanic Branson’s media page.

 

In addition to the artifacts, you’ll find some interactive exhibits. In one area, you can try to balance on the sloping surface of the deck as the ship tilted to steeper angles while sinking, while another spot offers the opportunity to see how long you can hold your hand in 28-degree water, which is the temperature the water was when the ship sank.

 

Sloping Deck at Branson Titanic Museum
Image via the Titanic Museum Attraction media page.

 

As you exit the museum, you’ll find a small gift shop with an array of memorabilia and an impressive selection of Titanic-related books.

Books about the Titanic in the Titanic Museum the gift shop

 

A few cool notes about the Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson:

*They offer early admission for guests with autism once a week so that they can have a more comfortable touring experience.

*There’s an education guide on their website with ways to incorporate lessons in almost every subject around the Titanic. It would be a fantastic resource for home schoolers! There’s also a scavenger hunt you can print out so kids can search for the answers as you explore.

*They just started a podcast that tells the stories of the passengers.

*While most of the museum is kept at a comfortable temperature, when you walk across the starlit promenade deck outside of the captain’s quarters, you’ll notice a distinct chill in the air. I noticed that a nearby thermostat was set to 52 degrees to create the feeling of actually being out at sea on a cold night without making visitors uncomfortably cold. Just a cool example of attention to detail.

*I was surprised to learn that a lot of the crew members were very young – like 14 or 15. Makes sense since this was long before labor laws, but that’s definitely not how I’ve ever pictured the crew.

 

 

Be sure to take a moment to pose for some photos outside of the museum before you leave! It’s built to scale and looks so realistic that you can almost forget you’re right in the middle of the Branson 76 Strip.

 

Overall, this is a sort of difficult experience to describe. I can’t call it “fun” given the tragedy that it comes from, but it is definitely interesting and worth doing. To learn more, visit the Titanic Branson website or visit the Titanic Museum Attraction Facebook page, which posts the latest info and photos from both the Branson and Pigeon Forge museums.

 

Chihuly at Crystal Bridges

Chihuly at Crystal Bridges

 

Last Friday I got the opportunity to check out the brand new Chihuly exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. I’d visited the museum once before, about three years ago, but I was excited to return to check out the new additions. Before this trip, all I really knew about Dale Chihuly was that he created the gorgeous glass chandeliers that used to hang in the atriums of the Disney Magic and Wonder cruise ships. Seeing more of his work up close and in a very different environment was awesome and gave me a whole new appreciation for him as an artist! If you live near NW Arkansas or will be visiting the area soon (it’s only about 2 hour drive from Branson!) I highly recommend heading over to Crystal Bridges to check out the exhibition! The gallery exhibit runs through August 14th, but the outdoor pieces will be on display until mid-November.

 

 

I visited the museum as part of a group of influencers treated to a special sneak peek of the brand new exhibition in partnership with Crystal Bridges. We started our evening with a cocktails at Eleven Restaurant and a trio of tasting menu dishes inspired by the works of art on display. The food was just as colorful and intricate as the art:

 

Crystal Bridges Chihuly Exhibition Tasting Menu Salad

 

Each dish is inspired by a specific piece or collection in the exhibit.

 

Crystal Bridges Chihuly Exhibition Tasting Menu

 

The Connecticut Bluepoint Oysters with pickled apple batons and chile oil spears were inspired by the Fiori Boat pictured below them. The menu also includes a Beet Caprese (pictured above the oysters) inspired by Chihuly’s Red Reeds, and a Sesame Seed Encrusted Ahi Tuna inspired by the Fire Orange Baskets I’ve included photos of further down this post.

 

 

Just for you guys and for the sake of thorough research, I also sampled the Eleven Martini, which includes peach vodka, ginger liqueur, and fresh lime. It was way more citrus-y than I expected, but a great palate cleanser between the tasting menu dishes and quite good!

We began our curator-led museum tour with the gallery portion of the exhibition. There are over 300 pieces on display all together, including the 14 works in the gallery and 10 outdoor installations. Several pieces were created just for the Crystal Bridges exhibition, so this is the first time they’ve been displayed.

 

Chihuly Persians Crystal Bridges

The artist created this new “marigold” color and this collection of objects just for this exhibition! The pattern reminds me of a lionfish.

 

Crystal Bridges Chihuly Fire Red Bowls

 

Glass blown art is so cool. Some of the promotional materials describe Chihuly’s works as “Born of fire, forged with breath, and filled with light”, and I think the Fire Red Baskets above really capture all of that! (I posted a video of these baskets on Facebook if you want to see the full collection!)

 

 

Chihuly lives in the Pacific NW, so there’s a lot of Native American influence in his works. How cool are the woven blanket patterns in the glass?

 

Chihuly Crystal Bridges Glass

 

Because he lost an eye in a motorcycle accident in the 70s, Chihuly has some problems with depth perception. That can be a challenge when your entire career involves creating something 3D, so he started making “drawings” (technically paintings) that show his vision for the glass pieces he wants to create, and his team helps bring them to life.

 

My favorite drawing involved some blow torch action.

 

One of his newer endeavors involves painting on glass, then layering multiple pieces on top of each other to create really cool images like the one below:

 

Chihuly glass paintings

 

 

This display was definitely a crowd favorite:

 

It was originally commissioned as a holiday window display for Barney’s New York. You can’t hear it in the video, but it uses Clair de Lune as background music.

 

 

 

It’s all clear glass, but the lighting display totally changes the vibe from moment to moment.

 

There are a couple of pieces on display that you can see even without a ticket to the special exhibition. One is this amazing chandelier, which is located in the main part of the museum:

 

Chihuly Chandelier Crystal Bridges

 

 

After the gallery portion of the exhibition, we made our way to the newly remodeled North Forest area outside for “Chihuly in the Forest”.

 

 

The first piece you encounter outside is a collection of neon “tumbleweeds”. As you can imagine, all of the outdoor pieces look completely different a the light changes throughout the day!

 

 

Just a note: Although there are also awesome hiking-style trails around Crystal Bridges, the path the Chihuly exhibition is set along is paved and pretty flat, and thus totally wheelchair and stroller friendly.

 

 

I love how these pieces look in the natural setting! It turns it into some kind of magical fairytale forest.

Can you imagine how nerve-wracking it must be to be in charge of an exhibition where the pieces you’re putting outdoors are all made of glass? There was a hail storm shortly after these went up, but thankfully none were damaged!

 

The Sun is just absurdly cool.

 

There are Chihuly Saurday Nights events with live music going on through August that sound really cool, so I’m hoping I can fit in another visit to Bentonville soon to check them out!

Admission to Crystal Bridges Museum is free, but the Chihuly exhibition is $20 unless you have a museum membership. (Which I do now! Woohoo! Members get early access to temporary exhibitions like this one, too.)

You can learn more about the artist and exhibition on the Crystal Bridges website, and check out the #CBChihuly hashtag on Instagram to see more photos from other visitors. There are some REALLY cool ones in there!

Thanks so much to Crystal Bridges for inviting me out to check out the new exhibition before it even opened to the general public, and for making this post possible. wait to visit again next time I’m in Bentonville!

Exploring Skeletons: Animals Unveiled – A Totally Unique Orlando Attraction!

Exploring Skeletons: Animals Unveiled – A Totally Unique Orlando Attraction!

 

A huge thank you to Skeletons: Animals Unveiled museum in Orlando for helping me share their awesome attraction with you by providing tickets for us! 

 

Skeletons Animals Unveiled museum attraction in Orlando FL

 

Orlando has grown quite a bit since I last lived there 6 years ago. We have SunRail now, our own MLS team (#GoCity!), and quite a few new attractions. One area I really wanted to check out while I was in town was the new (to me! It’s been there over a year now) I-Drive 360 group of attractions that includes the Orlando Eye (kinda like the London Eye, but more Orlando-y), an aquarium, a Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, some cool looking restaurants and bars, and a really unique attraction called Skeletons: Animals Unveiled. I only got around to visiting the last one on that list this time, but hopefully I’ll get to visit the others soon after I move back to FL!

 

Entrance to Skeletons Animals Unveiled museum at idrive 360 in Orlando

 

As you might guess from the name (Clever girl!), this is a museum that features a whole lot of animal skeletons. It’s fascinating if you’re interested in science-y things, and definitely educational. I can see a lot of kids LOVING this place, but if you’re not sure if your kids will be into it or freaked out,  I suggest a stop in the gift shop first, since they have a few skeletons on display there and you can see how the kids react.

 

elephant-skull

Just chillin’ with a former elephant.

One note before we get started – I was a little worried at first about how the skeletons used in the museum were obtained.  (I think we’ve all heard the creepy rumors about the sources for the human bodies used in human anatomy exhibits). I was relieved to learn that the Skeletons museum isn’t out hunting hippos and giraffes for their skeletons – all of the bones on display were donated by zoos and rescues after the animals died natural deaths. Kinda like humans donating their bodies to science, I guess? Good to know! (The museum contains a few human skeletons, which I’m guessing WERE donated to science, rather than maybe coming from a zoo with a really terrible retirement plan.)

 

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