As someone who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, I couldn’t go to Dallas without a trip to Southfork, home to TV’s Ewing family!
Several people warned me that I would be disappointed. “It’s much smaller than it looks on TV” and “It’s not what you’ll want to see,” they cautioned. But just like my appreciation for the show “Dallas,” I embraced the cheesiness, campiness and slight ridiculousness that is the Southfork Ranch!
With my expectations in check, I will say that, yes, it is much smaller than it is on TV, and it’s really close to the main road (we learned that some trick photography made the ranch look much bigger). Also, it’s much farther outside Dallas than I would have expected (who knew the Ewings had to drive so far after drinking and carrying on at events like the Cattle Barons’ ball!)
Part of the fun of Southfork is the cross between fantasy and reality. Our guide, a lovely Southern women in a sparkly, sequined shirt who spoke very, very slowly, referred to the characters as if they were real people. “Miss Ellie’s second husband was Clayton Farlow,” she explained very politely (as if we didn’t know that!). After a while though, I seriously wondered if she knew it was just a TV show.
My brother graciously indulged me by going to Southfork. He had been there before, and my mom and sister-in-law decided to stay at the hotel that day. It was a very cold, windy December morning, and we were the only ones on our tour of this piece of American pop culture. (To give you some context on my brother’s view of cheesy Americana, he scoffed a bit at Disneyworld when I asked if he was enjoying the experience saying, “a man in yellow-and-white striped shorts just told me to have a magical day.” How appropriate that there’s a yellow-and-white striped awnings in the photo with him! )
Our Southfork guide really, really knew her spiel about how the ranch was selected, what kinds of scenes were filmed there, etc. However, if I asked a question that wasn’t on her script (and you might suspect that I would have questions), she seemed to acknowledge the question (politely and slowly) and then bridge back to what she wanted to say. A perfect Southern lady putting me in my place!
There was also some excitement because filming of the updated version of Dallas had recently wrapped, so we got to hear some behind-the-scenes information on that, but I suspect nothing that wasn’t on the guide’s script. The show should be on the air in summer 2012.
Before we went to the house, we went to visitor’s center/gift shop. Along with being a tourist attraction, Southfork is now used a conference/event center. The story of Southfork itself is a bit of saga.
After purchasing your ticket, you tour the Dallas museum. It starts with giant neon letters spelling out “Dallas” where you can pose with cowboy hats for a souvenir photo and frame, for purchase. There are also cast pictures and directors chairs to see. (You can’t take pictures in the museum).
The museum has lots of great photos, interviews, video and Dallas memorabilia, including Lucy’s wedding dress and the gun used to shoot J.R.! What a piece of Americana that is!
Next post – inside Southfork!