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!
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!
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, MO and wanted to share my experience with you guys!
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:
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!
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!)
You guys know that I’m a hotel nerd. I write about hotels for a living, I’ve worked front desk and concierge, and my absolute favorite thing to do on my blog is to stay somewhere cool and share all of the details with you guys so that you can make informed choices when you’re travel. (Or just add a cool place to your wanderlust wish list!)
This is a sponsored post brought to you by Fish & Tips. I thought their website was so interesting that my fellow travel fans would want to check it out, too!
This week, I was introduced to a cool website called Fish & Tips. It’s a Japanese hotel review site, but all of their content is available in English. When you’re booking a trip to a place as far away as Tokyo or Okinawa, it’s super helpful to be able to see a lot of photos and info before making your decision!
While they focus on hotels in Japan, they do also offer a limited number of reviews of hotels in international destinations including Singapore, the USA, and Canada. I was super excited to see that one of the USA hotels that was reviewed was Disney’s All Star Sports Resort. I’ve worked there!
Each hotel on Fish & Tips is reviewed by an individual person who stayed there following a specific format (see above), and has SO MUCH INFO. I was so impressed when the first one I looked at listed out all of the toiletries and such that were supplied in the bathroom.
Given that some reviews appear to be written by people fluent in English and others are translated from Japanese, there is the occasional head-scratcher where something got lost in translation (among the list of bath products in one post was “milky lottery” – I still haven’t figured out what that could be!) but for the most part the reviews are easy to understand. Definitely better than my Japanese!
I’m instantly a fan of any hotel where I get to relax while someone brings me drinks!
As a lover of details, the amount of work that goes into the hotel reviews gets a big thumbs-up from me. They start with the exterior, show you the lobby and check-in, give a tour of the room they stayed in, show other amenities and restaurants on-site, etc. From the kind of products available in the gift shop to whether or not your room’s fridge is stocked with free drinks, they cover everything!
Unlike a lot of other review sites, these reviews mostly stick to being informative rather than being rants or raves. They do offer some opinions, like “It was nice to be able to see the ocean from the balcony,” and thoughts like “There was plenty of room to stretch my legs in the bathtub.” or “The meal was very filling.” That said, they do still point out flaws – I saw one review that said, “The room was beautiful except for the white carpet that was a little dirty.” It’s a nice alternative to sites that are purely informative and those where random travelers complain about every little detail.
I liked that each review also offers notes on the staff and guests, including if it seems like mostly families, couples, or business travelers. That kind of info can be hard to figure out just looking at a regular hotel booking site. Another thing I really liked is that each reviewer include why they picked that particular hotel to stay at. An example:
Even if you’re not currently planning a trip, it’s fun to look at the hotels if you’re a travel nerd like I am. I found it interesting just to see how different things like the coffee makers were, and how some of the rooms came with things I’ve never seen in the US, like pajamas provided on the bed or a “beach robe”. (Basically a waffle weave bath robe but designed to be used as a beach cover-up. Can we get those in Florida hotels, please and thanks?) Just browsing the reviews definitely stirred my wanderlust! To be totally honest they only requested that I write at least 150 words about the website, but I wound up looking at cool hotels for about two hours. Am I the only one who finds that kind of thing really fun?
Have you ever visited Japan? What kind of info do you like to know about a hotel before you book a stay there?
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
As a huge travel nerd, I would definitely take a week-long vacation several times a year if I could. Long trips aren’t always practical, but one night away can feel incredibly refreshing, so that’s what I did this summer!
I wanted to spend a night somewhere that wasn’t too far from home, but far enough away that it felt like a little getaway. This little overnight trip came together perfectly!
One of my writing jobs is doing hotel and suite descriptions for Suiteness.com I recently wrote descriptions for something like 50 different Home2Suites hotels and started thinking that it would be interesting to check one out in person to improve my writing. I mentioned it to the Suiteness team, and they hooked me up with a free night! It was perfect timing because I wanted to spend some time car shopping in Springfield, so spending the night there would make it easy to test drive a bunch of cars in one trip.
Home2 Suites is a chain by Hilton that offers all-suite accommodations that are pet-friendly and perfect for extended stays. Having researched so many for my writing, I can tell you that they all have a few things in common. At every Home2Suites property (they’re all over the country!), you’ll find a complimentary breakfast buffet, a combination fitness and laundry center called Spin2Cycle, a patio area to relax on, and either an indoor or outdoor pool. In short, all of the basics for a nice stay! While I can only speak personally about the one I stayed at, this post should give you a pretty good idea about the brand in general.