Wheelchair Accessible Branson, MO Holiday
by Judy Schletty 2004

Judy Schletty shares her trip to the country music land of Branson, MO with her boyfriend and his friend, who both use wheelchairs.

My boyfriend uses a lightweight, manual wheelchair, which folds up neatly in most trunks, so I rented a car for our trip last April to Branson from Minneapolis to attend a sales tour. As a gift for attending the sales presentation, we received many gifts and discounts (discounted room rate, upgraded room, coupon book for entertainment, etc.) Received free tickets to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, which included a dinner, among other gifts.) Would really be nice to be able to go back to Branson every year!

The year before last, I had a telephone conversation with a young sales person in Branson to plan our trip. She suggested that my boyfriend bring his electric scooter. We brought it along; however, he never used it. The streets are hilly, and it looks like there are sidewalk curb cuts on only one side of the street. Because most of the entertainment along Hwy. 76, cars and motor coaches are constantly turning into driveways to attend the many theaters, so you have to be very careful walking and driving.

We had originally planned to spend a day at Silver Dollar City a couple years ago, and if we had gone there, then his electric scooter would have helped because it is quite hilly. Since there is no other motorized traffic on the grounds, it isn't difficult to drive your scooter here. Two years ago, they told us that disabled persons who use a wheelchair full time receive free admission, but I don't know whether this rule is still in effect. Check with Guest Services to find out what the rule is now.

All of the theaters we attended in Branson were accessible; however, because many of the theaters are now getting older, their restrooms often have only small accessible stalls and that, coupled with a crowd at intermission, gets to be kind of difficult for many people who use wheelchairs. We like accessible restrooms that have bars behind the stool and along the side. It is nice to find a separate (unisex) restroom, but I don't believe we saw many of them in Branson.

My boyfriend and I stayed at the Quality Inn on Shepherd of the Hills Pkwy, which wasn't far from Hwy 76. It was kind of nice to get away from the main entertainment area. We got an accessible room, which had a king-sized bed, and we asked for another roll-away bed. The bathroom had bars around the toilet and a wide door. However, even with bars in the bathtub, my boyfriend was afraid to use it. The stool didn't fit in the tub and the shower hose was fixed (he couldn't hold it in his hand).

When we checked out of our room, the person at the desk said we should have gotten an accessible room with a roll - in shower. We had that kind of room at a Super 8 in Clinton, Missouri, on our trip down and had no problem there. A great feature of our Quality Inn Motel in Branson, though, was their complementary continental breakfast every morning which included quite an assortment of food in a buffet style. That is helpful for wheelchair travelers because then you don't have to transfer out of your car again for breakfast. You just have to head right out to your first breakfast show, which begins at 10:00 a.m.

What really makes a trip to Branson delightful is all the family entertainment. Somebody at one of the local theaters said that you could take anybody, young or old, to any theater down  there, and you would not have to worry about getting offended.

We met so many friendly travelers. In fact, when we attended a show in Andy Williams' Moon River Theater, we went to the restroom at intermission. The line was long, and when my boyfriend was thinking about foregoing it, an older gentleman, (a tourist from Iowa), offered to help push his chair in the line.

Many of the theaters gave us front row seats for their shows, and we didn't buy our tickets until we arrived in town. Andy Williams and Ann Margaret's show was all sold out because it was opening night; however, their staff managed to find room for us and even gave my boyfriend a free ticket!

If anyone would like more information, send us an e-mail. My boyfriend and I come from musical families and love music. We've been to Branson, Missouri, two years in a row now--even though both of us traveled there with our families quite often years ago. We still haven't seen everything because there are so many shows, and then there is new entertainment every year, too. Last April we saw nine shows in four days!

Happy Trails to you!

Judy Schletty
jkschletty@usfamily.net

Read Judy Schletty's 2005 Branson, MO, report.

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