When Ashlie Beede, director of marketing for Explore Branson, organized for Disability and Mental Health Advocate Aspen Baxter to visit Branson, Mo., she didn’t know what to expect. “It was an experiment,” Beede admits. “Thankfully, it was a great experience.”

Baxter, who has relied upon a wheelchair since 2021, was impressed with how easily she and her family could maneuver around Branson.

Score one for Branson’s general sense of hospitality. Add points to the Branson Area Lakes CVB for its willingness to see how it measured up, regardless of the potential for a critical report.

Branson Accessibility<br />

A type 1 diabetic, Beede empathizes with travelers who need special assistance–whether it’s for a physical challenge, sensory issues, or dietary restrictions. “It’s something we need to embrace,” said Beede.

The first step was for Branson to get an honest account of where it stands regarding accessibility. In many ways, this proved harder than providing purposeful inclusive options.

Despite accessibility becoming a concentration point for the travel industry, much of the efforts thus are grassroots. There is not a single resource for individuals with special needs to visit before choosing a destination or to do pre-trip research. Likewise, there isn’t a source for destinations like Branson to find an influencer who can provide a genuine first-hand account of a city.

Good old-fashion social media sleuthing led Beede to Baxter, who also lives with Autism and Celiac disease. Her family and service dog JoJo made the trip from Oklahoma, a drive-market for Branson. Having their own car proved a major advantage given that Branson does not have much in the way of public transportation except for its popular trolley.

Branson accessibility

Hotel accommodations and local attractions like Branson Landing and Aquarium at the Boardwalk received Beed’s seal of approval.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Beede now admits.

With a few pointers for improvements, Branson is now even better prepared to welcome all travelers, and is developing a growing list of fully accessible stops in town.

Photos courtesy of Explore Branson

Have a story idea or want to be featured? Email Matt Swenson at [email protected].

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