Stay Cool!

July 22nd, 2014

Amy, a mom with the "inside track," and her daughters.

It really is incredible that it is toward the end of July, and I am just now feeling the need to share this information on the ‘ole blog.

Usually, this is one of the first topics on my mind because it is SO HOT OUTSIDE.

But this year . . . not so much.  With the exception of a few days here and there, it has been spring-like all summer.

However, July has now reared its head, and it is nice and warm outside.

Warm weather = the need to discuss cool off strategies

Obviously, one way to cool off is to go inside an air conditioned building.  Thankfully, The Track not only has air conditioned buildings, but air conditioned buildings full of fun!  Check out this post . . . and this one for a refresher on The Track’s indoor options!

OK, so there are the obvious cool off strategies, but what about the not-so-obvious one?  Let me tell you . . .

SUPERSOAKER BUMPER BOATS

Yes, The Track’s bumper boats come equipped with water cannons, so you don’t just get splashed when you bump up against another boat.  Nope.  Instead, those water cannons do their job.  You get SOAKED by all your fellow boat riders (but especially by your children!).  Now, this could be mildly (or greatly) irritating when the weather is a bit cool.  But on days like we’re having this week, this is the BEST way to cool off and stay cool during your time at The Track.  So, here’s what you do to ensure a “cool” time:

  1. Immediately after arriving at the Track (and getting your credits if you haven’t already), head to the bumper boats.  All Track locations have them, so there is no excuse here.
  2. If there are those in your group who do not want to ride the boats, don’t rebuke them . . . send them over to one of the outside-the-bumper-boat-pond water cannons.  Yes, along the edges are water cannons that will get the bumper boats riders extra wet (you want this, remember?!).  And, here’s the secret . . . you in the pond can get them wet too (hee hee!).
  3. Ride those boats!
  4. Take your wet selves over to the go-karts and experience the “built-in air conditioning” you’ve just created for yourself as you zip around that track!

Follow these instructions and you are sure to enjoy your time at The Track – even in the heat of the day!

Oh, and if you’re still in need of some cooling off, head on over to Andy’s Frozen Custard (at Track 4), and try this seasonal treat – the key lime pie concrete! Oh. My. Word.  I had one myself this past weekend, and it is not to be missed!  Enjoy!

Evening Fun Under the Sun (and Stars!)

July 17th, 2014

Amy, a mom with the "inside track," and her daughters.

I don’t know about you, but something happens to me on vacation.

My girls call me “Vacay Mom.”

According to them, this means that I am a lot more fun on vacation than at home.  Ok, that is probably true.

Vacay Mom is permissive.

She says yes to ice cream . . . every day.  She spends money on things she would never spend money on at home (anybody?).  She does not enforce bedtimes (she regrets this by the end of the vacation, but it sure is awesome for a while!).

When Vacay Mom is around, there is lots of time to have lots of fun!  Vacay Mom takes advantage of every opportunity to do something really cool (am I dating myself with this word?) with the kids.  Well, here are a couple of things that have this Vacay Mom’s seal of approval:

  • Night Water at White Water – Why is it so fun to be at a water park at night?  I’ll tell you why.  You don’t burn the first three layers of skin off your feet on the pavement :-)   And, pure and simple, it’s a party!  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights in July and August, White Water has a full lineup of fun until 10 p.m.  On Thursdays, you can enjoy Buck Night, where many of your favorite snacks are on sale for just $1 each! Friday night is Dive-In Movie night.  Click here for a list of showings. And, Saturday nights enjoy fireworks starting at 10 p.m.!  Also, if you dare, check out the new KaPau Plummet. The after-5 p.m. cost is $25/ticket.
  • Silver Dollar City’s Moonlight Madness – The park is staying open until 10:00 p.m. from July 19 – August 3.  That’s pretty fun (especially with all of the after 5:00 specials they have on food and merchandise!), but do you know what is even more fun? Staying at the park until midnight!  Yes, you can do this on either July 26 (that’s next weekend!) or August 2.  We did it last year, and the girls couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was to ride the roller coasters in the dark.  Yikes!  There is also a great line-up of live entertainment throughout the park.  After-5 p.m. cost is $30/ticket.

Yes, I’m pretty sure that if you did one or both of these activities on your visit to Branson, the kids would be singing your praises!  So, come on, Vacay Mom . . . show ‘em what you’re made of!

Because Discounts Are Fun!

July 15th, 2014

Amy, a mom with the "inside track," and her daughters.

Every mom has her own style, her own idea of a fun time, and her own level of tolerance for chaos (mine is very low, by the way!).

But there is one thing that all moms can agree on . . . we like discounts!

I have already told you about one of the greatest discount opportunities you can get at The Track.  Do you remember?

The Go Card!

This card give you loads of discounts.  Let’s look at a few of them:

  • When you purchase the Go-Card online, it is loaded with 170 credits (if purchased at The Track, it has 160 credits) for the price of 130!  That’s a lot of FREE credits!
  • The Go-Card  gives you half-price buying power for the rest of 2014.  So, whether you need more credits on this visit or when you come back to Branson later this year (there’s just so much to do!), you will still be able to buy half-price credits!
  • You receive 1 FREE Pizza World Buffet at Track 4 ($9.00 value) and 1 FREE One-Topping Sundae from Andy’s Frozen Custard® at Track 4 ($4.00 value).  If you’ve never tried Pizza World or Andy’s Frozen Custard, you are in for a real treat!  You also receive one FREE round of batting cage pitches at Track 5 ($4.00 value).
  • The Go-Card gives you lots of DISCOUNTS to other great family-friendly attractions, shows, lodging, and restaurants in the area.  Click here for a full list!

So, moms, embrace your love of discounts and get the Go-Card!  You’ll be glad that you did!

Height . . . It Matters!

July 11th, 2014

Amy, a mom with the "inside track," and her daughters.

A couple of weeks ago, I played a little numbers game in this post and promised that I would explain the measuring system used at The Track.  Well, today is the day!

It is true that The Track has something for just about everyone.  But, it is also true that how tall your kids are makes a big difference in exactly what they will be able to enjoy at The Track.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have these things in mind NOW and not LATER (like after you’ve promised your child he can drive the rookie carts and he finds out he can’t – oops).

Are you ready?

Before I get into the particulars, I need to share with you a few general things about The Track’s measuring system:

  1. The Track follows the manufacturer height and age requirements for safety and liability reasons . . . your child’s SAFETY is a top priority.
  2. The Track’s goal is to verify the height / age of guests at the sales counter so that they will only have to be measured one time instead of at each ride.
  3. The height that the Track worker measures your child on the day of your visit is the “official” height that will be used to determine which attractions your child can drive/ride that day.  Therefore . . .
  4. Shoes matter – the type of shoes, that is.  Sometimes the difference between whether your child will measure tall enough to ride is the difference between tennis shoes and flip flops.  So, by all means, where the tennis shoes if need be!!

So, this is what happens when you arrive at the sales counter . . . once you purchase your Go-Card (remember, it’s the best deal!) :-) , the sales associate will ask to measure anyone in your party who is not visibly taller that the height-measuring sign:

There is a handy-dandy measuring device that rests on top of the head so that the attendant can accurately measure your child’s height.  Based on height, your child will receive a colored arm band that signifies to you – and the ride attendants – which rides your child is tall enough to enjoy!

It’s that easy.

Something else to know . . . For any little ones in your group who are measured under 36″ (which means they can’t ride as a passenger on the go-karts, bumper boats, etc), they will receive a “Future Driver’s License” which entitles them to a free ride once they are tall enough.  Nice!!  By the way, remember that even though these littlest ones can’t do a lot of things at The Track, they CAN ride the Rio Grande Train and the Spinning Tea Cups with a parent at Kids Kountry.

If you need a refresher on “how tall you have to be to ride certain rides,” check out this post for help.  Now, bring out the whole family and have a GREAT time at The Track!

Best-Kept Secret

July 9th, 2014

Amy, a mom with the "inside track," and her daughters.

Today I’m going to let you in on one of The Track’s best-kept secrets!

We spend a lot of time talking about the high rise tracks and other attractions at the big facilities, but what hardly gets mentioned is the little gem I am about to tell you about . . .

The Track at Pirates’ Cove

Unlike the other properties, this one is not on the strip . . . but it is close!  And, unlike the other properties, it only has one classic go-kart track.  That’s it. So, why would you take the time to come over here to this track?

Because it is the best-kept secret!!

Last week, I took the girls to The Track at Pirates’ Cove.  Though we had heard about how much fun this go-kart track is, they had never ridden it.  Well, that was about to change.  Here they are all ready to go!

They look happy, right?  Well, you should have seen their faces AFTER they finished riding!  They were bouncing off the walls saying things like, “That’s the best track we’ve ridden on!” and, “It seems like you’re going a lot faster than other tracks!”

I’d say that’s an endorsement!

Come try it!  And remember, any Track playcard (I hope you have the Go Card!) will work here just like it does at every other Track location.  Have fun!

Fun Times for the Fourth!

July 3rd, 2014

Amy, a mom with the "inside track," and her daughters.

The Fourth of July Weekend is here!

It is shaping up to be a fantastic few days in Branson!  For one, could the weather be any more beautiful?

No.  The answer is “No!”

I cannot remember a Fourth of July with such an amazing forecast.  Highs in the mid 80s and no rain.  We’ll take it!

Branson does a great job of honoring America all year long.  A Fourth of July weekend in Branson is like the icing on the cake!

If you are in town this weekend, consider checking out one of these great events:

  • Thursday, July 3rd – TONIGHT! – 7th Annual Liberty Light Up Fireworks Show with Journey Resurrection – Live in Concert at Branson Landing!  This is a GREAT show starting at 8:00 with a concert by the fountains.  Yes, it is a Journey cover band.  Yes, they are awesome!  Then, keep your seat . . . you will see an amazing fireworks show right by the fountains.  A few tips . . . get to the Landing very early, especially if you plan to eat dinner.  It will be busy.  It will be crowded.  But, it will be worth it!
  • Friday, July 4th – Chateau on the Lake 4th of July Celebration. You don’t have to be staying at the Chateau to enjoy this fireworks show.  In fact, if you are willing to brave the busy lake, rent a boat from State Park Marina (and get a free tube or ski rental with your Track Go Card!) and watch the fireworks from the water.  We got to do this one year, and it was one of my favorite 4th of July memories to date!  Even if you don’t choose to get on the water, you can watch this show from a variety of vantage points near the lake.  Try the area by the Dewey Short Visitor Center (which is a cool place to visit anyway) or, for a litter more distant view, try the scenic overlook on Highway 165.
  • Friday, July 4th – Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks at Big Cedar Lodge. If you’d like to make a day and night of it, this might be a fun option for your family.  Starting at 3:00 you can come on down to the Swimmin’ Hole Lawn for fun kids’ activities ($30 all-day fun wristbands) and delicious BBQ.  Then, the Clay Self Band will perform (FREE!) at 7:00 before the fantastic fireworks show starts!

After all of that fun, don’t forget to come by The Track for some late-night go-karts.  Remember, there are no bedtimes on vacation!

Track Fun for the . . . Side-Liners!

June 26th, 2014

Amy, a mom with the "inside track," and her daughters.

Well, we’ve reached the end of my “Track Fun for the . . . ” series.  You may be wondering what else I could possibly say.

Well, there is one more very important group of people who I believe deserve a little attention . . .

The Side-liners . . . the Observers.

Most families have at least one, and there are different reasons for their status as such.  It really doesn’t matter why . . . but it really does matter that they understand their various roles while at The Track.  In fact, very often they have to fulfill more than one role at once.  This is a multitasking kind of situation.  I know because I have definitely been the Side-liner in my family.  So, without further ado, here are the various roles the Side-liner should be ready to play at The Track:

  1. Bag Lady, Coat Rack, or Pack Mule – whichever title you prefer.  The fact is that if you are the Side-liner in your family, you will be carrying everyone else’s purses, cameras, cell phones, drinks, etc, etc, etc.  This is in addition to anything you choose to bring on park, so you may consider packing light (or, instead, “borrowing” from your family’s belongings that are now in your possession).  Thankfully, there are many benches (most of them shaded) at all of the Track facilities where you can take a load off for a few minutes.
  2. Photographer.  You are in a unique position to get some great photos of your family having fun.  Most of the rides at The Track have several places where you can get relatively close to the ride for optimal picture-taking.  There is a special observation area at the Heavy Metal High Rise that gives you the best shot of those karts zooming down the huge hill.  It is located behind the Track 4 building and, as I’ve already mentioned, gives you a great view of the most thrilling part of the Heavy Metal High Rise ride!
  3. Sharp-Shooter.  Yes, you read that right.  Did you know that next to all of the Bumper Boat ponds at The Track there are water canons that are designed specially for you to soak your family from the sideline?  That’s right.  These coin-operated water canons are a really fun addition to a family’s experience on the Bumper Boats.  In fact, they often spark an all-out battle between land and sea!  Fair warning – you will get wet.  So, you will need to relinquish your other aforementioned Side-liner duties before you provoke your family to attack!

See?  This is a pretty important group of people.  Remember to thank your Side-liners for coming along.  My guess is that even though they aren’t right in the thick of the action (with the one exception of the water battle), they are pretty glad they are getting to spend time watching their family have a great time.  And I think that’s pretty special.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the “How to ‘Do the Track’” series.  Stay tuned for more great insider tips and testimonials about The Track and other Branson fun!

Track Fun for the . . . Really Big Kids!

June 24th, 2014

Amy, a mom with the "inside track," and her daughters.

Welcome to the latest installment of “Track Fun for the . . . ‘”!

Today, I’m going to focus on the licensed drivers in the family.  For the purpose of this post, these licensed drivers will from now on be called, “Really Big Kids.”

These “Really Big Kids” can certainly do everything I’ve already discussed in my earlier posts – both here and here . . . well, almost everything.  They can’t drive the Kiddie Go-Karts (I’m really hoping they wouldn’t want to), but other than that, they have free reign to experience everything that the younger ones can.

But, they do have a couple of privileges that the younger ones don’t:

1) Really Big Kids are the only ones who can drive a passenger on the go-karts.  This is a high calling.  I mean, how fun is it to be the one to take a child on his or her first go-kart ride?!  This is a big deal.  You just can’t beat getting a front row seat to the joy that most kids express on their inaugural ride . . . even if “joy” isn’t the primary emotion (let’s be honest, sometimes other emotions rise to the surface!), it is still a great place to be.

2)   They can drive the Sprint Track at Track 3!

The Sprint Track is located next to Kids Kountry. Upon first glance, some people think that it is a kids’ ride.  Why?  Well, it is a smaller track similar to the famous tri-oval tracks (that’s for all of you Nascar fans!) all over the country.  But, in this case, smaller does not equal slower! On the contrary!  The Sprint Track is fast!  In fact, it is so fast that you must be a licensed driver (and at least 54″ tall) to ride it!

Really Big Kids . . . this is just for you.

And, unlike most of the other rides at The Track, you can’t take a passenger on this one . . . for this one ride, you have been officially relieved of your aforementioned Really Big Kid duties to drive passengers who are too short to drive themselves.  Oh, the freedom!!

So, Really Big Kids, come on out to Track 3, and give the Sprint Track a try . . . you’ll be glad you did!

Track Fun for the . . . Big Kids!

June 19th, 2014

Amy, a mom with the "inside track," and her daughters.

Today, I will be continuing the blog series, “Track Fun for the . . . ” Earlier this week, I discussed how to navigate The Track with the littlest ones in the family.  Today I am moving on to those bigger kids . . . not quite the ones who have their drivers’ licenses, but the ones in between.

Yes, there is a wide range between preschool kids and those sixteen-year-olds, but in terms of fun to be had at The Track, everyone in this age group can enjoy most of the same things.

What things? you may ask.

Well, here a a few numbers that will help you determine what fun your big kid can have at The Track:

  • 36 . . . If you read my earlier post, you should know the significance of this number.  Anyone?  Yes, that’s right.  Kids who are 36″ tall can ride all the kiddie amusement rides and as passengers on grown-up go-karts, bumper boats, and bumper cars when they are accompanied by a licensed driver.
  • 42 . . . Believe it or not, 42″ allows your kids to ride the Skycoaster.  Yes, this is a thrill ride, and yes, I have allowed my own children to ride this.  No, I have not ridden it myself.  I am a complete wimp – and absolutely fine with that!  Guess what?  My kids LOVE this.  Here they are smiling at 100 feet (at least the most daring of the bunch is)!

  • 44 + 6 . . . In this case, this does not equal 50.  No, this mean when your child is 44″ AND 6 years old, they can ride the Bumper Boats on their own!  I’ll discuss this fine ride in more detail later, but you should be warned – you will get soaked!  My dad found this out the hard way:

  • 48 . . . This is quite a right of passage.  When kids are 48″ they can drive the Rookie Go-Karts!  The rookie carts are a great training ground for those grown-up go-karts they will ride in a few short years!
  • 54 . . . Kids who reach 54″ can drive the Bumper Cars and also graduate to the Classic Go-Kart and Road Course tracks!  Remember, though, that just because they can drive these go-karts, it does not mean they can carry passengers.  Only a licensed driver can carry a passenger!
  • 58 . . . this is the magic number, really.  Being 58″ tall allows you to drive the High Rise Tracks – Wild Woody, Heavy Metal High Rise, and the LumberJack.  They are each unique and are all a blast to ride!

So, what is the moral of the story for enjoying The Track with those in-between kids?  How tall your child is determines what they can do on their own.  It is a great idea to have these magic numbers in mind before arriving at The Track so that you know what limitations there may be on what your kids can do at The Track.  It is much better to find out at home that your child may not be tall enough to drive the Wild Woody than it is at the ticket counter . . . if you know what I mean!

Another thing you should know . . . The Track has a measuring system that they use to determine what rides your child is tall enough to ride.  Another day, I will explain that in more detail, but for now, you need to know that how ever tall they measure your child on that day of your visit to The Track is what goes.  It does not matter how tall the doctor said he was at last month’s checkup or how high the pencil mark is on your door jamb at home!  What matters is how tall your child is measured at The Track that day!

So, come ready to enjoy The Track with those in-between kids. They are going to love it!

Track Fun for the . . . Littlest Kids!

June 17th, 2014

Amy, a mom with the "inside track," and her daughters.

It seems like I’m always talking about how there is something for everyone at The Track.  While I’m sure that you could scour the website to figure out your options, I thought I would take some time over the next week or two to discuss just what I mean.

Over the years, I have “done The Track” with kids of all ages.  My oldest was a baby when we moved to Branson, and now she is going to be a freshman in high school – yikes!  So, I’ve been that mom with kids in strollers, kids on foot, and kids on phones (wait, what?!).

Today, I’m going to discuss what The Track has in store for the littlest kids.  Don’t worry . . . even though my own kids are far from this stage, I have young nephews who have kept my knowledge of this realm of The Track up to snuff.  We always make coming to The Track a priority when they are in town to visit.

Want picture proof?  Actually, I am just dying to share this picture . . . isn’t he the cutest little conductor you’ve ever seen (I do realize you won’t think he’s as cute as your own kids, but please humor me :-) )

OK, I can’t resist this one . . . here is a picture of my girls with my other nephew a long while ago.  It goes by fast, doesn’t it?!

Anyway, here are some suggestions for how to make your visit to The Track the very best for the littlest ones in your group:

  • Start at Kids Kountry at Track 3. This is where there are the largest number of rides designed especially for the little ones!  Kids must be 36″ tall to ride the Frog Hopper or the Swinging Pirate Ship.  What if they are under 36″?  You are still in luck.  Kids under 36″ tall can ride the Rio Grande Train and the Spinning Tea Cups with a parent.  This is good news!  This means that every little one in your family is able to ride something at Kids Kountry.  So, head on over there!
  • Check out the Kiddie Go-Karts at Kids Kountry (Track 3) and Track 4.  Now these have a few more stipulations, so listen up . . . your child must be 4 years old (not just look 4 years old!) AND be 38″ tall to drive the Kiddie Go-Karts.  This is for everyone’s safety – including your child – so please wait until your child is 4 before trying to put them on these go-carts.
  • Let your preschooler (who is 36″ or taller!) ride as a passenger on one of the other “Grown Up” Go-Kart tracks – the Classic Track (Tracks 3, 4, 5, and Track at Pirate’s Cove), Road Course Track (Track 3), Wild Woody (Track 3), Heavy Metal High Rise (Track 4), LumberJack (Track 5).  This just might be the highlight of their visit!  Oh, and one other thing to keep in mind – only licensed drivers are allowed to transport passengers on any Track ride.  Again, this is for everyone’s safety!
  • Encourage some good ole’ fashioned bumping . . . Bumper Boats (Track 3, 4, 5) and Bumper Cars (Track 4), that is!  The same rules apply to these rides as on the “Grown Up” Go-Karts.  Passengers must be 36″ tall and drivers must be licensed.
  • Play some preschool-friendly arcade games.  All Track arcades have some games that are geared toward little ones, but I would say that the arcade at Track 5 has the most.  A few preschool favorites . . . Spider Stomp, Feed Big Bertha, and Buzzy Buzzy Bee.

Most of all, have fun . . . and take lots of pictures!!