Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction has been a long-time family vacation staple in Branson, Missouri. My parents first took me when I was an awkward pre-teen. I remember the first glimpse of the arena. I remember wanting a T-shirt from the gift shop. I remember secretly hoping Dolly would make a surprise appearance in the show.
Between you and me, I still had that secret hope when I brought my family to a Stampede show in this spring.
Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets as a guest of Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction. This post may contain affiliate links. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
What exactly is the Stampede?
The Stampede is part rodeo, part Branson music show, and part dinner. It’s a show and a meal all for one ticket.
What I mean by Branson music show is that the songs are crowd-pleasers and non-offensive. Wholesome, if you will. There’s dancing, bison roaming, magic tricks, and pyrotechnics. And there’s the goofy hillbilly character that is a staple of Branson shows.
Having attended more than my fair share of Branson shows since the 1990s, it’s like Branson music shows but it is definitely in a class of its own when it comes to experiences.
The competition pits one side of the arena against the other side, and in the case of the Stampede, it’s the North vs. the South. It’s awkward initially, since you’re encouraged to jeer at the other side, and I just want to stand up and ask “Can’t we all just get along?” (and then I’d have to dodge biscuits getting thrown at me). In the end, yes, it turns out, we can all just get along.
But, not before one side beats the other for winning the most games and races. Our side one, incidentally. I won’t tell you if I was North or South, though.
For the Christmas show, by the way, it’s North Pole vs. South Pole. It feels much less political.
When’s the best time to see the horses?
There are 32 horses in the show performing stunts and tricks. Give yourself time to stroll along the Horse Walk to see the horses before the show.
It’s recommended to arrive about 30 minutes before the show if you do want to see them.
It’s also suggested you don’t reach out to pet them. Obvs. (If you want to pet an animal, go to Promised Land Zoo in Branson, instead).
Fun fact: Dolly’s Stampede goes through more than 1,152 horseshoes a year.
Is there a menu to order from?
No. Everyone person, adult and child, is served the same four-course meal. Included in the meal:
- Homemade biscuit
- Creamy vegetable soup
- Rotisserie chicken…an entire rotisserie chicken
- Hickory-smoked barbecue pork loin
- Corn on the cob
- Herb-basted potatoes
- Dessert (ours was an apple turnover)
You have the option of turning down any of the items as they’re brought to your table. You can also get a box for your leftovers.
A vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free meal is available upon request.
Tip: Bring cash to tip your server at the end of the show.
What drinks are included?
Your ticket includes a choice of beverage: Ice or hot tea, Coke products, coffee, or water. There are free refills.
Is alcohol served?
Most, if not all, Branson shows don’t serve alcohol.
Should I worry about the sand in the arena while eating my dinner?
The sand used on the arena floor actually means there is no dust or dirt getting kicked up during the show. So, no worries.
Fun fact: 200 tons of white sand is brought in for the arena floor each year.
Where are the best seats in the house?
The arena is huge – 35,000 square feet. Getting seated at the middle of the arena is a lot like sitting on the 50-yard line of a football game – you get the best view of things. And like 50-yard-line seats, these tickets may be a little more than the regular ticket price.
VIP seats are the first couple of rows in the middle of the arena.
How long is Dolly’s Stampede?
The show is 90 minutes, and you will be eating while the show is going on. What I liked about the combo: There was no late night!
Is this show good for kids?
Absolutely. My 10-year-old was the most vocal one in our group, cheering on our side in the competitions.
Related post: 15+ fun things to do in Branson
There’s enough action and production number changes that it will hold their interest for the entire show. Favorite moments for my kids included the dog races and pig races, which didn’t surprise me for a second.
If your child is under 2, you don’t need to purchase a ticket if he or she is going to be on your lap. However, if your child is going to eat or wants a seat, that’s when you’ll need to buy them a kid’s ticket.
Tip: Strollers are not allowed in the arena area, so leave it at the hotel.
Do they really bring people from the audience into the show?
Yes, but you need to arrive early for the possibility of being asked to be in the show. It happened to me one year! I raced a stick horse around the arena.
The show we attended in March had kids chasing chickens, adults throwing toilet seats like horseshoes, and a hilarious relay among some couples.
Is there a pre-show?
There is a space for a pre-show called the Carriage Room. For whatever reason, there was no pre-show during the early March 2022 show we attended. So, yes, there might be a pre-show.
The pre-show does not take place in the arena. There are non-alcoholic drinks and snacks available for purchase. You may see people wandering around with boot-shaped cups. Those are the souvenir mugs from the pre-show concession stand.
Honestly, though, your dinner that’s included with your ticket will be more than enough food for you.
Where to stay near Dolly Parton’s Stampede?
There are a lot of options for hotels, motels and vacation homes in Branson. I recommend browsing hotels on Booking.com first, since you can lock in a great rate and not worry about a cancellation fee with most rooms.
Renting a vacation home or condo is also a good option, especially for bigger families or longer stays.
There aren’t a lot of RV sites within Branson, but there are a few nearby RV/campgrounds (one even has a pool!).