The Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum and Happy Trails Theater is currently closed.
For years Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr. has gotten letters from people in the nation's heartland saying how much they would love to visit the Roy Rogers- Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, Calif.
"But it was a little too far for them," Rogers said. "So now that it's here in the Midwest, we hope that the folks will really show up. And I think they will."The museum left California in April and wasscheduled to open this Memorial Day weekend, across the street from Celebration City, a new evening-oriented amusement park devoted to 20th Century pop culture.
The expanded 29,000-square-foot Rogers-Evans facility will include the 325-seat Happy Trails Theater--the first permanent home for Rogers and his five-piece country-and-western band, the High Riders. Rogers' twice daily shows will fondly recall the music and memory of his renowned parents.
"The most fun I'll get is just sitting and visiting and fielding questions," he said.
In the 1940s and '50s, Roy Rogers, the "King of the Cowboys," and Dale Evans, the "Queen of the West," were household names in movies, radio and television. Their images became ubiquitous on countless licensed products, including toys and comic books. Roy's image alone appeared on 2.5 billion boxes of Post cereals.
Examples of that and much more will be on display at the family-owned archive, where visitors can activate voice recordings of the late couple reminiscing about the good old days.
"A lot of folks want to get closer to the roots, and grandparents and parents take the kids," he said.
"Yeah, they dress up cowboy and come in. I had a little 3-year-old walk in one day and put her hands on her hips and say, `Where's Woy?'" he says.
Kiddie attractions at the relocated museum will include a Roy and Dale laser shooting gallery and a hands-on "discovery area" where little ones can rope pretend steers, ride stick horses, play with Lincoln Logs and create stone rubbings.
The museum's move to Branson can be traced to Dale's wish to someday live in the area. Although she didn't make it, her husband's famously stuffed horse, Trigger, will be a major draw.
Other than his father's boots and "his very first gun belt," Rogers said Trigger remains the most prized possession in the family.
"Dad always used to kid us," Rogers remembered. "He used to always say, `Dusty, when I die, just skin me and put me up on top of him. I'll be happy.' Which he probably would have been."
Rogers didn't do that, though.
"No," he said. "I think there's laws against it."
IF YOU GO
The Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum and Happy Trails Theater is located at 3950 Green Mountain Drive (at Missouri Highway 376) in Branson.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Combination museum/theater tickets cost $31.98 for adults and $21.97 for ages 6 to 12. Separate museum and theater admission is available. 866-ROY-ROGERS (769-7643); www.royrogers.com.