Man planning new Branson, Mo. duck boat tour business details safety measures

Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 9:34 PM CST
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - A new duck boat tour company is in the works for Branson, Mo. The operating manager explained what plans are in place for the new business, including a supposedly safer vessel.

“I wouldn’t want to ride on one of those WWII-style ducks. I wouldn’t take myself on it, my family, my friends,” said Jaredan Braal.

That was Braal’s first thought when he saw what happened in the summer of 2018 on Table Rock Lake. Seventeen people drowned when a Ride the Ducks vehicle sank in a storm. Now, Braal might be bringing a different kind of duck boat back to Branson.

“We are heartbroken about the tragedy that happened there in the past. As we’re bringing this new company, we’re a safety first organization,” Braal said.

He’s calling it Branson Duck Tours. He said he has no connections to Branson, or even the state of Missouri, but saw the area as an opportunity.

“We looked around and Branson with its history of having duck rides in the past seemed like the perfect place we could possibly do this,” Braal said.

Braal said his business will use a different type of vehicle, called the “Hydra-Terra.” It’s considered to be an amphibious tour bus. He said it’s aluminum and its hull is filled with foam. The manufacturing company’s website claims the vehicle is “unsinkable” and has been Coast Guard approved.

“Testing where they have taken the drain plugs out, had weight representing what a fully loaded vehicle would be plus 1,000 pounds, showing that the vehicle won’t sink. When they did that testing, the passengers feet would still remain eight inches above the water line,” Braal said.

KY3 News reached out to the Coast Guard, which is now looking into the Hydra-Terra vessel. A spokesperson remembers the horrible scene in Branson and said over the phone, ”Our job is to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Braal said the Hydra-Terra is used in other cities for tourist attractions. He said those companies still use “duck” in their names and he will too.

“With that, we will have to deal with people understanding the differences,” he said.

Braal said he’s scouted the area and will take tourists on a similar route that Ride The Ducks did. He said he’s still searching for a main building spot.

“We don’t have a specific location nailed down yet, but we will be operating along Highway 76, the main strip there,” he said.

The City of Branson wouldn’t do an interview about the new company, but did say there have been no business license applications from “Branson Duck Tours LLC.” A spokesperson said no entity with that name reached out to any Departments at the City of Branson.

“We’re currently working on that,” Braal said.

Braal said he will bring three vehicles to Branson and start operating this spring. He said he’s hiring tour guides and captains.

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