It has been announced that as we speak a famous Ferris Wheel is being dismantled in Chicago and will soon be moving to Branson. It is so big and exciting that Branson City Council had to approve it's height of 150 feet. This Ferris Wheel was designed after a 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition.
It has 40 gondolas that each hold each holding 6 passengers for a total of 240 passengers and it is illuminated by 16,000 lights.
Now I can almost hear you saying it is just another thing going up at Silver Dollar City but you would be wrong. This Ferris Wheel will be going up in a smaller park called The Track Family Fun Park located at 3345 Hwy. 76 across from Ripley's Believe It Or Not.
It is a $2.5 million Dollar investment as part of the company's 35th anniversary.
Well it's early summer 2016 and you may be wondering what is going on in Branson and the Ozark Mountain Country. Old things come down a lot faster than new things go up and with that in mind as we travel down 76 Country Blvd. we see one vacant lot where a motel that partially burnt has been torn down. Across the street there is a huge open lot a block long where a strip mall was located and after the tornado a few years ago it was condemned and torn down.
After a disaster it takes a long time to get new businesses in those empty spots and after the real estate collapse a couple years ago it is taking even longer to get new developments going as lenders are very timid and demand a lot of pre planning before they are willing to let any new loans. The subdivisions that were partially built have now gone back to work to finish them up. New developments are still not showing up in any number.
The Board of Alderman have been really busy in planning sessions to see what can be done to make Branson the great attraction that they and us would like to see. They have approved a complete overhaul of the 76 Country BLVD. to make it more scenic and convenient to our visitors. The project was divided up into 3 phases and phase one is well under way and phase two just starting and phase 3 still in the planning stage. From what I understand they are asking the shop and land owners to turn the area in front of their lots over to the city and they are even helping to finance the improvements there. They are moving the utilities underground where possible and putting in wider sidewalks, new handicap corner sidewalk ramps to the cross street levels and putting in new landscape items such as trees, raised flower beds, ornaments and even a statue or two.
Being the 76 Highway was built so long ago they then they made streets as narrow as possible at that time and now there is problem in order to keep traffic moving and make it scenic and convenient for pedestrians. There are still some long range plans to add elevated gondolas that would travel on cables above the businesses and have stops where folks could enter or exit the system and they hope that it would relieve some traffic on the highway.
Phase one starts about at the corner of Gretna and Hiway 76 and goes east for a couple of miles then phase starts there and goes east to the overpass over highway 65 and phase 3 would be old downtown Branson. It is really taking a lot of planning and they have the best available in order to try to aleviate the traffic congestion there and still keep the original downtown feeling and make it convenient to all travelers, pedistrations and sight seers. This is really the most crouded area in the region and millions of visitors visit it every year.
Now getting off the Hiway 76 subject lets see what else is going on in town or should I say in the area as in Hollister there are two new businesses going up and they are a new full size Menards Building Supply Store and it is now closed in and the interior work is under way and they are grading and getting the parking lots black topped. When we first moved to the Branson area Lowes was still new and only one other smaller lumber yard were in the area. Then all the business started building along Bee Creek and that development has a Home Depot Store and now we will have a Menards Wow aint that exciting.
Just a block away from the Menards Store is a brand new La Quinta Hotel now open for business. Downtown Hollister is still planning how they can keep the area from flooding out as it has about 3 times now about 10 years apart. They are closing the Turkey Creek Trailer Park as it has flooded several times. As far as that goes Branson Landing has flooded a couple of times also and so has the camping area just south of Branson Landing under the highway bridge.
To the west is a new attraction and that is the new ferris wheel located just west of gretna road on highway 76. It is at the amusement park across from Ripley's Believe it or Not. The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel has gotten from Chicago to Branson with the help of 26 semi trucks and $4 million. I have same pictures of it here when the wheel was up but the chairs were not installed yet and they were still pouring cement to anchor it in place. They had to get a special variance permit because it was over the height limit for structures in Branson. I believe it is 150 feet tall. The ferris wheel was disassembled from the water front in Chicago and moved to Branson and reassembled. It can hold 240 passengers at a time.
If you haven't heard at Silver Dollar City last year they opened a brand new all wood roller coaster at it is a gem. I don't know how many roller coasters they have but it must be at least 6 and you can ride them all as well as the other rides free with your admittance.
All the new shows in town can be checked out on the Entertainent Page.