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I became (somewhat) obsessed with Busch Gardens when it became my motivation for losing weight. I went from 320 lbs to 250 and losing!

An Off Season Day at the Busch Gardens Williamsburg

March 3rd, 2016

Matt and I drove up to Williamsburg on a chilly day to see what goes on at Busch Gardens in between seasons.  We met our contact who took us to their office, and then made the mistake of telling us to make ourselves at home.  They then left us there alone…unfortunately for us, we couldn’t find a folder or binder labeled “Project 2017”.  We did look.

We had a meeting set up at Tempesto, and after many detours on the golf cart due to construction and maintenance projects going on throughout the park, we made it by taking the long way around.  It was quite an adventure, and the conversation kept us going.  Many jokes were made, and we asked about the top secret happenings in every sneaky way we could think of, but they were ready.

Upon arriving at Tempesto we met Greg Thacker, the Director of Maintenance.  Greg has the all important job of making sure annual, monthly, weekly and daily inspections and maintenance are being handled, and to ensure the maintenance is top notch.  We immediately noticed the front and rear cars of Tempesto were on the tracks, but the middle car sat on blocks, awaiting to join the train.  The cars were stripped down to the steel, missing seat, leg restraint and comfort collar padding, plus all of the decorative pieces like side walls and the nose cone.  Greg and his crew began the task, and you can watch that in the video below.

We were told, after filming, that the comfort collar has been improved with new material inside the padding that is more durable.  This was a really cool experience that few outside of maintenance get to witness.

Upon leaving Tempesto, we grabbed our hard hats and began making our way on foot to catch some more footage.  A lot of work was going on from pouring concrete to painting and new construction.  Our edited walk through can be seen below.

IMG_20160303_134312410_WMNew paint around the park could be seen in the Pompeii pool, Apollo’s Chariot, and the area in San Marco where the eatery renovation is taking place.  Le Scoot also got some visible love, with an new sign painted above the drop, seen here.IMG_20160303_142756361_WM

All in all, we had such a good time conversing and joking with park staff.  It is odd walking through the park with no guests and no sounds of wheels on steel.  The testing of Mach Tower was a welcoming sound as we passed Pompeii.  Not too much longer before we can strap in and speed through the world’s most beautiful theme park.

Keep it positive, keep it fun, be excellent to each other!

Scotland - Loch Ness Monster - Roller Coaster - 2014

Pass Member Preview Day, Busch Gardens Williamsburg

As we learned earlier, Pass Member Preview day will be held on March 19th from 10am to 6pm.  This is good for season pass holders only.

As usual, the park will hold special announcements, plus some details about Project 2017, this time they will be held in the Abbey Stone Theater in Ireland, so seating is limited to 800.

Local favorite Irish Rock/Punk band, The Fighting Jamesons, will have three performances in the Abbey Stone throughout the day and you can get reserved seats at Castle O’Sullivan.

Special preview day offers include:

  • 40% off annual PhotoKey membership
  • Special discounts in all Ireland shops

Also there will be a special lunch picnic buffet in the Black Forest from Noon-1:30, by reservation only.

I know we are excited for the park to officially open, and we can’t wait to see you all there!

Keep it positive, keep it fun, be excellent to each other!

Is Busch Gardens getting a new coaster in 2017?!

Today, Busch Gardens Williamsburg released a video from Vice President of Marketing, Dan Dipiazzo, trying to find out the secret stuff going on in engineering and maintenance at the park:

So what could be going on?  We have some theories, but these are purely speculation.

In the video, Vice President of Engineering, Larry Giles, mentions clearing out an area and he also says something about where they are putting a drop.  These lead me to believe this is a coaster.  So there are a couple questions;

Where will a coaster fit?

First stop off the top is Festhaus Park, behind Verbolten, where Drachen Fire once sat.  Also, there is space between San Marco and Pompeii.  If rumors are true and Cut Throat Cove will not be returning, then it may have a place behind Roman Rapids.

What kind of coaster could it be?

Well, this one is tougher.  There are hundreds of styles of coasters, and it would be super hard to speculate on which they would choose, but the marketing team likes to throw in subtle hints to the videos they put out.  For years people have been asking for a wooden coaster, but due to noise restraints in the area, this was impossible.  New wooden coasters have lessened the noise and are also pretty cool.  In the video, there is a hammer on the table and at the end of the video the background is wood grain.  Again, this is all speculation.  Busch Gardens Tampa is building a spinning coaster called Cobra’s Curse, so I do not think BGW will follow suit with that.

Whatever and wherever it is, I am always excited for something new.  BGW seems to be going through a time of renewal, with Tempesto being built last year, the new restaurant in Italy, the refurbishing of Le Scoot, and the new Three Musketeers show in the Royal Palace theater this season.  2016 and 2017 are shaping up to be fun seasons at BGW.  What are your thoughts on the video?

Keep it positive, keep it fun, be excellent to each other

Tempesto - Festa Italia - 2015

2015 Busch Gardens Williamsburg Year in Review

Well, 2016 is here my friends, so it is time to write about the year that was.  2015 was an exciting year for us here at BG Cabana.  We had some awesome things happen for us and it is you, our readers, along with the great people at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, that have made it all possible.  Let’s start at the beginning of the season.

March 21st

Passport Preview Day of BGW’s 40th anniversary was a bit of therapy for our staff, as we had been 80 days without a coaster.  The excitement58 was building around a little area next to Apollo’s Chariot where Tempesto was being built.  We met up with old friends and met some new ones as we made our way through our beloved park, riding rides and enjoying the food and company.   We were back in our happy place.  To add to our excitement, we were part of the hard hat tour of Tempesto, where we got to see a test launch and learn some great information from park president Carl Lum, vice president of operations, Mark Pauls and Vice president of engineering, Larry Giles.  We learned details of the coaster, plus some future plans for other rides around the park.  Check out the hard hat tour here:



April

Our April was highlighted with the Tempesto media day, complete with media exclusive rides and reverse angle videos that were provided by the park.  My reverse angle video was extra fun, as I was joined by a friend and former radio colleague, Bobby Hollywood, of Hot 100.5 in Virginia Beach.  On our first go around I thought Matt might cry like a girl, but he actually enjoyed it and we ended up riding somewhere around 8 times that day.

Bobby, on the other hand, did cry and I have video evidence!

The park also began it’s celebration of 40 Years of Fun with performers and decorations of yesteryear.

May

The Food and Wine Festival was another big hit this year, with 2 added booths, Asia and The French Quarter.  We were there for another media day that made it hard to ride anything after eating and drinking so much!  I think my favorite dish was the gumbo and I thoroughly enjoyed the Scotch tasting.

We also got to see the new show in Das Festhaus, Roll Out the Barrel, a celebration of 40 years of brewing in a small Bavarian town.  The show was a lot of fun and mixed the style of show that was Entwined with German song and dance.

June

11401520_838438106233779_2245180955595683806_nIn June we saw some odd things going on, such as a report of a digging incident behind the scenes of the park.  We soon found out that they were beginning marketing for what would be a historic Howl-O-Scream season.  This would mark the first time all three HOS parks (SeaWorld San Antonio and Busch Gardens Tampa) shared a common theme and haunted walk through.

July

We found out more about HOS while enjoying the park and more about what was being Unearthed.

August

We received some exclusive content on HOS and I also got to interview the man behind the theme, Robin Cowie, Executive producer of Blair Witch Project.  Here is that interview.

I would like to add that the 2015 regular season was awesome!  London Rocks! was revamped and I really enjoyed it, Celtic Fyre is always a favorite, Sunny Days Celebration is a blast for the kids and Mix-It-Up was spot on and funnier than ever.

September

Howl-O-Scream is here and it was the best HOS ever.  Unearthed was killer, as were Cornered and Lumberhack.  BGW had their most houses ever with 7, and they knocked it out of the park.

October

I spent October working at Haunted Hunt Club Farm, my blog for that can be found here.

November-December

ChristmasTown brought the same amazing shows, with a new addition, Twas That Night, an ice show starring Olympic Medalist Elvis Stojko.  The lights, vendors and entertainment were top notch as always!  Thank you BGW for another great ChristmasTown!

2016 looks to be another amazing year, with some updates to Le Scoot, a new restaurant in San Marco and a new Musketeer show in the Royal Palace Theater.  See you all in March!

Cody

 

ChristmasTown 2015: Opening Day

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ChristmasTown is here!

We were so happy to be invited to another Thrill Chaser event at Busch Gardens Williamsburg for opening day of ChristmasTown on November 27th. Earlier in the week the park announced that Alpengeist would be open, though the usual coaster to be open, Verbolten, would not be.  After entering the park we learned that Verbolten had some technical difficulties (no we do not know specifics) and the maintenance and mechanical crew work their tails off to get Alpengeist ready and running for this weekend.  They are hoping for a return of Verbolten by December 4th.

Of course, since we haven’t been in the park awhile, we began with Alpengeist.  Always one of our favorites, early on it was walk-on.  We would have loved to ride it more, but the amount of shows and the anticipation of a packed park had us on our way to cover the shows this season.

Gloria

DSC_5517We hightailed it from Rhinefeld to Ireland and the Abbey Stone Theater for Gloria.  Gloria follows the Nativity, the story of the birth of Christ, using great renditions of classic Christmas songs.  This years cast was very good, and the special effects are awesome.  They use layered effects with shear curtains, light and shadow.  The show is beautiful, no matter your faith, for those who appreciate amazing vocals from a cast that brings traditional choral and pop gospel together.  Let us not forget the orchestra!  So good to hear live music playing in a theme park show, and this group was exceptional.

Click here to visit the Gloria Tour Page for more pictures and video

 

Scrooge No More!

Due to the packed Festhaus, we decided to head to DSC_6191dinner for a special event (See below) and forgo Deck the Halls.  We left Black Forest Park for England’s Globe Theater to see Scrooge No More!  This show has impressed me since last season, and has a few returning cast members.  The cast was great.  They have taken Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and crammed into a 25 minute show without it feeling rushed.  The story was just dark enough to make the end result lift your heart.

Click here to visit the Scrooge No More! Tour Page for more pictures

 

Miracles

DSC_6579San Marco Theater in Italy is home once again to Miracles. This show incorporates beautiful dance with powerful vocals that makes your spirit soar as you follow a young ladies journey of spirituality.  modern dance, ballet and interpretive dance combine in stunning visuals as the four female vocalists join forces in an amazing unity of harmony.

 

Click here to visit the Miracles Tour Page for more pictures and video

 

Twas That Night

ChristmasTown’s newest addition this season is TwasDSC_6985 That Night, starring 2 time Olympic silver medalist, and 3 time world champion figure skater Elvis Stojko, in the Royal Palace Theater in France.  As a kid who grew up watching the olympics, I was personally excited to see his performance.  I want to make it known that this is not just the Elvis Stojko show, the cast of skaters they have assembled keeps the audience in awe.  Elvis himself is an exceptional skater, and the whole cast made it look easy on a rather small pond.  The show follows the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as The Night Before Christmas.  The children’s dream sequence was very entertaining, including solos from many of the skaters.  Santa, complete with a sleigh, and his eight reindeer made and appearance to remember.  A great new show with an awesome cast, complete with some fireworks, made a great ending for our night.

Click here to visit the Twas That Night Tour Page for more pictures

 

The Hamlets

England

IMG_20151127_132613105_HDREngland has become Victorian London, including Scrooge and Marley’s, carolers, and Mr. Fezziwig himself walking around greeting guests.  Union Snacks has become a S’mores station and Frippery and Feathery has items for embroidery, including stockings.

 

 

Scotland

The blue of the Scottish flag shines bright in the lightsIMG_20151127_221228574 of the pine trees, causing a hauntingly beautiful glow.  There is a photo op with a carriage and clydesdale at the Highland Stables.

 

Ireland

IMG_20151127_140326400Killarney becomes Douglas O’Firs tree plot.  Stop in to Auntie Anne’s for a Peppermint Mocha or Santa’s Fireside Feast for a story from Big Red himself.

 

France

Twelve large silver trees, adorned with pink, blue and purpleIMG_20151127_220218469 lights, count the twelve days of Christmas.  Get your photo taken with Frosty at Griffon Gifts.  This is one of the most beautiful sections of ChristmasTown.

 

New France

IMG_20151127_210154202Have a country Christmas, complete with food from the World Famous Trapper’s Smokehouse, including Trapper’s Smoked Chili and turkey legs.  Visiting the shops throughout the hamlet is always a must, and when you stop in the candle carver shop, tell Mike BG Cabana sent you!

 

Rhinefeld

Rhinefeld becomes The North Pole where you can visit with Santa, ride the carousel and play in the snow.  So colorful and fun for the kids!

 

Oktoberfest

O’Tannenbaum takes center stage as ChristmasTownIMG_20151127_174800127 puts on a spectacular tree lighting ceremony every 30 minutes.  Mistletoe Market is full of local vendors selling their goods just in time for the holidays.  Come out and support these great small businesses.

 

Italy

IMG_20151127_175248921Yellow and white lights make this one of the brightest areas in the park.  Da Vinci’s garden has the flat rides available for the kids and kids at heart.

 

Festa Italia

IMG_20151127_175939996Festa becomes Holiday Hills, a classic American Christmas,
with Coca-Cola Santa billboards and a photo op with a couple of precocious penguins.  Take a ride on the Peppermint Twist and hop on the Jingle Junction train.

 

Pompeii

Pompeii cools it’s flame to become Polar Pathways.IMG_20151127_194456313  One million of ChristmasTown’s eight million lights adorn the structure and surrounding trees in white, blue, purple and green.

 

Black Forest Buffet

IMG_20151127_170646468Behind Das Festhaus there is a buffet.  Ham, turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, mac n cheese, veggies, salad, Trapper’s Smokehouse chili, french onion soup, chicken nuggets, cookies, chocolate and red velvet cake, drinks and cocoa with fixins’.  Our experience in the buffet was with our fellow Thrill Chasers and our BGW family, including Marketing Vice President Dan Dipiazzo, Director of Communications Kevin Crossett, and Associate Manager of Communications Emily Phillips.  We had a blast having this family meal and catching up.  The crew at BGW makes us feel at home when we are there in a professional capacity.  We would mostly like to thank Kevin and Emily for everything this season.  You guys have helped make BGC what it is today!

 

Do not forget to send us your Busch Gardens pictures of you and/or your family from throughout the year to help us put together a BG Cabana family slideshow and enter a drawing for a $20 Visa Gift Card.  You can send your pictures to our Facebook Page via messenger or to [email protected]  Thank you for following along in our adventures this year and Happy Holidays from all of us here!

Haunted Hunt Club Farm 2015 – A scare actors fun

IMG_20151021_183750158

I spent another awesome season as an actor at Haunted Hunt Club Farm’s original Haunted Hayride.  We got off to a pretty depressing start, as our first two weeks were marred by rain, causing us to open two weeks late.

October 9th we opened to a very ready crowd with our new theme Louisiana Voodoo and Freak Show!  You would enter Papa Voodoo’s bayou through his graveyard,  Passing Marie Laveau’s temple, into Gator’s swamp, a gypsy reads your fortune while a witch doctor tells you of your fate, torture and the freaky peddlers precede the freak show, and into the finale, or so you think, where you are told, “None of you will ever be free”!

This season I will go scene by scene for the hayride and follow up with my overall views of the Field of Screams and Village of the Dead.

Mama/Papa Voodoo

IMG_20151009_181024025Opening night, Kirsten took the first stage as Mama12189858_10206267925671604_2033357194796123632_n Voodoo.  You may remember her as the Jester on the same stage the year before.  She was great, as always, but was working a limited schedule this season.  On the second night, Steve took over as Papa Voodoo.  Steve is an imposing figure and has a great booming voice to tell a story, and give a warning.

Graveyard

Our graveyard saw a lot of actors coming through, such as Taylor, Braden, Nick, JD, Talyn, Natalie, Charlotte, Ryan, Eric and Baileigh.  The two mainstays were Tom and Kat.  I was so happy to be in the same zone as Tom this year, as we had a lot of fun last year between wagons.  #lordamercy

Riff Raff

My character this season was that of the body part stealing mortician, IMG_20151030_200217215Riff Raff.  If you rode through, or watched the video, I am the fat guy…with only one eye…with an annoying little freak talking about voodoo being doo doo.  That freak is the ever famous Paul, who has been a “rail runner” for the past 22 years on the hayride, but unfortunately broke his leg on our second night.  A rail runner is one of those guys who do the crazy stuff, like jumping into the wagon.  I enjoyed having him join me at my stage, it was a lot of fun, but he belongs jumping the wagons.

 

 

Marie Laveau

The v12065659_10206175547722213_7894250628985212006_noodoo queen of New Orleans was played by the ever loud and always fun Dani.  She is a constant joy to have around between wagons, because some of our conversations, that will not be told here, can go crazy!

Gator’s Swamp

Francine as the Spider Queen, Richard as Gator, Drake as Gator Boy and Travis as the jumping Lizard Boy.  Francine had a great backdrop of a very large spider web, with some creepy lines.  Richard was the loud, cajun type, announcing the arrival of “supper”.  Travis is always a source of comedy when it is needed on the wagons.  “Gimme your nose”.  The other rail runner, DJ (whose character I named creeper on a whim one night), killed it as usual, causing screams from the most stoic guests.

 

Gypsy

Tammi was back on her old stage (Baker last year) to play the12187835_730497873752752_1196994956921036817_n gypsy this season.  I had fun running guests names to her so she could bellow, “My crystal ball will never lie, tonight ____ will die”.

Witch Doctor

IMG_20151009_181950312Michael was the black light enhanced Witch Doctor who mixed his potions from the parts of all sorts of beasts…and humans.  Our old friend Chris (last years blacksmith) returned for our final night to take his stage back!

The Square

The “big turn” on the hayride was full of freaks!  Sissy, Fred, Endi, Cameron, Raven, Sarah, Amanda, Kelsey, Michelle and Gordon were all there to create chaos before your trip to the show!

 

The Freak Show

As you enter our famous tunnel you are greeted by the barker, played by Jack Jr. who introduces Two Face (Nate), The Human Leach (Gaylord) and She Wolf (Holly, Baileigh, Kaitlyn and Sarah).  It was a lot of fun going through there, both as a guest and following the last wagon of each night.

The Finale

Tyler, Robby, Darrell, Branden, and Patrick were causing heart failure as the wagon left the tunnel, leading you to where Chyna took her place upon the hill to give you the final warning before Jack Sr. and Goat attacked with chainsaws, terrorizing guests before the quick escape.

The Crew

12196113_1020737921321973_2620646100990303779_nFirst and foremost, we must mention the Mother of the hayride, Kathy, who keeps us in check and makes some awesome chicken and dumplins.  Without her, there would be more chaos than usual.  We love you Mama!

 

 

Terry, Kathy’s husband, is a ninja on the hayride, putting out fires (metaphorically), and sometimes starting them!

John is always checking on us and making sure everybody has what they need, be it water or blood.

Kaitlyn came in as an intern, after being a performer last year, working as a “manager in training” so to speak.

Steve, Terry, Jack, Chewie, John, Sissy, Kathy, Mike, Jimmy, Elisa and a host of helpers made this years hayride look amazing!

The crew from Kronos Productions were rocking makeup, as well as doing their own.

Also I have to give props to many of our actors who did their own makeup nightly

And how can I forget 😉 the tractor drivers that make the hayride possible: Mary, Robert, Evan, Nate, Buckshot, and Jason

Plus, the monitors who help the story and keep unruly guests in check:  Anne, Trish, Eileen, Kathy, Tereasa, Tri, Elizabeth, and Chaez

To add an extra personal note, what we do out there is dangerous.  There are moving vehicles carrying a lot of people through tight spaces, while we climb these wagons in order to entertain and scare.  Please, when you visit next year, when they tell you to put your cell phones away, don’t throw hay, sit down, etc, listen to them.  These rules are there for both the guests and the actors safety.

On October 10th I took the night off and brought my family to experience the farm.

Field of Screams

The field is run by Russ and Bonnie, who do a great job every year.  Bonnie starts you off with the rules and sends you on your way through the maze of maize.  The field is more than a maze though, it is complete with indoor walk throughs with everything from smoke to strobes and complete darkness, not to mention the detailed scenes set up throughout.  I had a blast walking through, as did my family.

Village of the Dead

Rhonda and Jason took the village out west this year, complete with a train station, a house of ill repute (not congress) and a hangin’.  In my opinion, it was the best village I have been through.  Getting to walk through as media in the daylight and ads a guest at night really brings the details into perspective.  The spinning tunnel is back this year, which is always good for disorienting guests.  Great job to the cast!

This season overall was great!  To add to the fun here is the press release from Haunted Attractions Association, where they named us one of the 17 Top Haunted Attractions across the country:

 

HAUNTED ATTRACTION ASSOCIATION DESIGNATES “TOP HAUNTED ATTRACTIONS” ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Association Recognizes Best in the Business for Safety and Programming

 

WINNETKA, Ill., Oct. 20, 2015 – The Haunted Attraction Association (HAA), the only official association in the haunt industry, has certified 17 haunts across the country as official “Top Haunted Attractions.” To be certified, attractions must meet designated criteria that include, among other things, having completed 10 years in business as a haunted attraction, having an annual attendance of 10,000 or more, being fully insured and having completed HAA’s own specially designed safety program or comparable state safety program.

 

“These attractions are setting an industry standard with their commitment to safety and professionalism, while still providing the bone-chilling scares the consumer is seeking,” said HAA President John Eslich. “The recognition is a testament to our members that are going the extra mile for the guest experience.”

 

The following is a list of the official HAA “Top Haunted Attractions”:

  • 13th Door Haunted House – Portland, OR – Rotting zombies and rabid dogs are just some of the demented creatures and spirits that follow guests throughout the dark endless hallways at 13th Door Haunted House. Haunting takes place throughout the nearly 10,000 square feet of space.
  • 13th Gate – Baton Rouge, LA – The 13th Gate is known for its extreme ultra-realism and is one of the most detailed haunted houses in the country. Guests are invited to journey through 13 nightmare realms where their worst fears await them. The attraction features a real snake-infested Louisiana swamp, nightly voodoo shows, claustrophobic cellars, hidden passages and a prehistoric ice cave.
  • Castle Blood Pittsburgh, PA – Castle Blood blends classic American Halloween with a participatory theatrical performance in which vampires and monsters wait to tempt, help or hinder anyone who enters. New for 2015 is Crowhaven, an area packed with Denizens waiting to scare participants.
  • Creepy Hollow Haunted House – Rosharon, TX – Creepy Hollow Haunted House is known as one of the scariest haunted attractions in Texas, featuring three terrifying attractions in one. The 288 Scare Factory is the mobile viral genetic research facility of Nouveau Genesis Corporation gone awry. Guests are invited into the corporation where the laws of science have been manipulated and decayed.
  • Dark Hour Haunted House – Plano, TX – Dark Hour is one of the Dallas/Fort-Worth area’s premier haunted attraction celebrating its third season in 2015. The attraction provides over 30,000 square feet of terror broken into three distinct sections – the Dominion of the Dead, Coven Manor and Voodoo Vengeance. New shows are produced monthly, creating an expanded exploration of fear throughout the year for visitors.
  • Factory of Terror Canton, OH Victims are invited into the 160,000 square foot abandoned factory occupied by ghouls, devils and other creatures and filled with blood, guts and gore. The journey begins in the Asylum, containing the first mirror maze constructed for the Halloween season in the United States. If the mirrors decide to savor the visitor’s mind, they’ll have to survive the Industrial Nightmare, Labyrinth of Darkness, Massacre of Mahoning and House of Nightmares.
  • Field of Screams Lancaster County, PA Located on a 35-acre family farm in Mountville, Field of Screams is a one-stop shop to satisfy the craving for fear while experiencing high impact attractions. Offerings include the Haunted Hayride, the Den of Darkness Haunted Mansion, the Frightmare Asylum Haunted Hospital and the Nocturnal Wasteland Haunted Trail.
  • Ghoul Mansion Sharon, PA – Ghoul Mansion has been terrifying the small of town of Sharon now for 20 years. Guests from all over come to see what is lurking in the old multi-level buildings and journey through the two haunts bringing all the fears to life. Visitors will drop down into the headmaster’s dungeon and then venture upstairs where they will stumble upon past employees and tortured family members.
  • Haunted Hillside – Mt. Pleasant, PA – Visitors can visit Haunted Hillside to get a taste of what it feels like to be a part of a scary movie. This haunted attraction is entirely outdoors and starts and ends with a hayride with a mile long hike through the supernatural in between. Throughout the hike, visitors will journey through the Quarantine zone, Salvage Yard, Forest of the Forgotten, Scarecrow Alley and finally Helltown to visit the killbillies.
  • Hobb’s Grove – Sanger, CA – Creepy and mysterious yet frighteningly fun, Hobb’s Grove blends the old-time feel of warm fire pits and peddlers with modern day scares through a number of attractions. Hobb’s Grove ticketed attractions include the Hollows Haunted Forest, the haunted hayride into Shadow’s Keep and the Hobb Home Haunted House, where patrons tour the home and must pass through the eerie family graveyard.
  • Hunt Club Farm Haunted Hayride – Virginia Beach, VA – The Hunt Farm’s festival most-feared attraction, the Haunted Hayride, takes visitors on a bumpy ride through the deep, dark woods of Haunted Hunt Club Farm. Visitors who climb aboard will experience a chilling look at the farm’s own freak show as dozens of diabolical creatures showcase their voodoo and black magic on the visitors riding in the tractor.
  • Night Terrors Haunted Farm Albany, NY Located just a short drive from Albany, guests can anticipate a full night of fear at Night Terrors Haunted Farm. The Haunted Hayride drives through oversized buildings and wooded scenes that will make guests feel like their nightmares have come true. The Haunted Corn Maze leads guests through detailed sets and across a suspension bridge that leads straight to a clown-filled freak show. Zombie Attack, a new attraction for 2015, puts visitors into a military exercise where they will battle zombies and become part of the “show.”
  • Ruby Falls Haunted Cavern – Chattanooga, TN – Nightmares return to Lookout Mountain for the 12th year as Ruby Falls hosts the annual Haunted Cavern, this year offering a double feature with two distinct themes. Located 26 floors underground in a cave crawling with terrifying monsters, one house takes guests inside the mind of a mad man while the other brings visitors up-close and personal with deadly creatures of the night.
  • Saint Lucifer’s Haunted Asylum – Flint, MI – Saint Lucifer’s features two separate full-sized theatrical haunted attractions, the Haunted Asylum and 13 Feet Under. Visitors can also participate in Zombie Killerz Black Ops Paintball where they shoot at real zombies on the eight player turret style paintball gun setup.
  • Shocktoberfest – Reading, PA Shocktober, Pennyslvania’s Premier Haunted Scream Park features some of the most amazing and unique haunted experiences in the industry such as the Prison of the Dead, a horrifying 50,000 square foot indoor and outdoor condemned prison compound; the Zombie Revenge Haunted Hayride including the Zombie Paintball Hayride where visitors can shoot real Zombies; the Unknown 2.0 phobia haunted house, which uses cinematic 3D effects; Club Shock, a haunted night club for private parties; The Zombie Experiences where visitors are transformed into a Zombie; the Zombie Night Run where visitors will run for their life from the blood thirsty Zombies; the “almost” Naked and Scared Challenge where guests can go through the haunted house in nothing but underwear offering almost zero protection and finally the Monster Midway, complete with scare zones, shows, bands, games and food.
  • Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary Philadelphia, PA – Terror Behinds the Walls is a massive haunted house featuring six attractions inside a real abandoned prison. To celebrate its 25th season of scare, Terror Behind the Walls unveiled the most ambitious redesign in the history of the event with two groundbreaking new attractions, including Quarantine 4D and Break Out.
  • Wisconsin Fear Grounds Waukesha, Wisconsin – Wisconsin Fear Grounds are comprised of three separate Haunted Houses, in addition to the new escape room, Morgana’s Escape. Each house has its own theme, from a den of Horror to a CarnEvil of Torment. In the escape room, guests must search for three keys which will open the locks to freedom.

 

 

About The Haunted Attraction Association

The Haunted Attraction Association, the only official association in the haunt industry, serves as the voice of the haunted attraction industry.  The mission is to promote the worldwide network of haunted attractions including Haunted Houses, Haunted Hayrides, Scream Parks, Mega-Haunts, Halloween Festivals, Haunted Outdoor Trails, Corn Mazes, and Amusement Park Halloween Events. In addition, HAA’s goal is to protect customers through education and support networking for members.  Visit www.hauntedattractionassociation.com or call 888-320-8494.  Like the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hauntedattractionassociation and follow HAA on Twitter to see the Official Halloween Countdown athttps://twitter.com/HAAHaunts.

 

 

I hope to see everybody come through next year, Who knows what we may have in store!

 

Pictures by BG Cabana, Nate Reep, Katherine Marinier, Holly Chapman, Terry Parsons, Jack Chapman Jr., Richard Bergstresser and Baileigh Williams.

Videos by BG Cabana’s Matt Conkle.

Use of pictures and videos without permission of the photographer is strictly prohibited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Howl-O-Scream 2015 Opening Day Review

The BG Cabana crew were on hand for opening day at IMG_20150925_140706603_HDRBusch Gardens Williamsburg for Howl-O-Scream.  It was a drizzly, cool day and we were ready to go when the gates opened.  Myself (Cody), my wife Amanda, Matt and our good friend Scott, entered the park with a mission of rides and shows before the 5:30 media check in.  After riding Alpengeist, DarKastle and Verbolten, we settled in with some lunch to see Night Beats.

Shows

Night Beats

DSC_4869Ulrich and Beatrice have left for a new life in sunny California, so Lucian has bought the club and brought along his girl Frida.  Some new costumes and tweaks here and there with the song arrangements made for a good show.  Lucian has a very smooth baritone that showed some good range, and Frida is a powerhouse vocalist.  It was the first show of the season, so there were some nerves.  The dancers were tight and the Creeps (the band) had a couple of familiar faces in there, including a certain accordian playing trombonist on the keyboard (read that part slowly).  All together I enjoyed the show, as always.  We left Das Festhaus and booked it down to England to see Monster Stomp on Ripper Row.

Monster Stomp on Ripper Row

DSC_4909Small changes in this show, but a big return, with the same cast member playing Mary Jane as last year.  The new Jack was phenomenal, he pulled off the rap from Monster (Eminem) perfectly and his singing vocals were on point.  The dancers were great and the drummers, of course, killed it.  All of the blood and intensity are back from last year.  My favorite show of HOS by far.  The Globe theater now behind us, we decided to enter Dr. Freakensteins lab.

Fiends

Did somebody say “bite me”?  The nurses, hunchback, vampire,DSC_5247 werewolf and Swampy are all back in Abbey Stone theater for Fiends.  Same show we love, with some new lines added in.  The all around vocals were very good, dancing was great and they even added a contortionist nurse…yes, I said contortionist, as if the nurses weren’t naughty enough.  This show is a lot of fun, it’s like we’re in a theme park or something.  We followed up Fiends with rides on Tempesto and Apollo’s Chariot, and continued on to Ireland for media check in.

Media Day

IMG_20150925_194047934Unfortunately, due to rain, we were unable to catch the new version of Blood Banquet, starring Igor (the returning actor from last seasons Fright Feast) but we were able to sample the fare.  The best buffet the park has done, in my opinion.  Carved turkey and roast beef, baked potato bar, chili, pasta, pork loin, chicken parmesan, and assorted desserts.  Igor himself came over and chatted with us to make our evening even better.  So what do a ghost and… nevermind, this is a family site.

Terror-tories

Vampire PointIMG_20150925_103954555

Didn’t spend much time here, but it seemed a slight understaffed.

Ripper Row

IMG_20150925_101152856_HDRAlways my favorite Terror-tory.  So much fun to sit and watch in this area.

 

Demon StreetIMG_20150925_102705719

Rockin’ with the Demon DJ and chainsaw demons is always a good time.

Ports ‘o Skull

New makeup this season, much better!  Very well staffed and they used teamwork!

Wendigo Woods

The scientists and military have everything under control…just stay out!  I love the theme here, so much fun.

Haunted Mazes

Cornered

IMG_20150925_110555851 One of the three new mazes this season, Cornered is a 1970’s style horror maze about a corn farmer who is hiding bodies and torturing IMG_20150925_175820640people in his mill.  This maze is very well built and had some good looking masks and makeup.  It is outdoors, thus it is a better after dark maze, and it definitely gives off the 70’s slasher vibe.  It has some cool effects and disorienting sections that will keep you on your toes and running from Jasper McCobb.

Lumberhack 

IMG_20150925_182242820Silly campers.  A group of young campers comes across an old logging area, only to find the inhabitants are the undead.  IMG_20150925_182358537Zombie lumberjacks attack any would be campers, and make them join the crew.  Really fun and another good night maze, Lumberhack takes you through the woods behind Festhaus Park, this maze is a nod to classic horror set in the woods.

Bitten

Not much has changed in this Vampire themed maze.  Disturbing scenes of feedings and a lot of pop scares through this den of bloodsuckers.

Catacombs

Well staffed and about the same as last year.  Solid house as always, taking a tour through the catacombs beneath Paris.

Cutthroat Cove

The pirates are antsy for a fight.  Stroll through this pirate village at your own peril, because some of these scurvy mates are out for blood.  Good house and well staffed.

Deadline

Same house as always, but I love the theme and detail.  This one may disturb you in some places.

Unearthed: Scarlett’s Revenge

IMG_20150925_205355088So amazingly detailed.  This is my favorite of all 7.  Since it is new, I will not give any spoilers (Except what you see in the videos we will post).  The demons, minions and Scarlett were on point…as were the victims.

 

 

Overall, Howl-O-Scream 2015 is the best I have seen!  Everything was on point that wasn’t canceled due to weather.  Thank you Busch Gardens for giving us a great experience this season, we cannot wait to come back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bier Fest German Cordial Tasting

By Lee McGraw

I was able to try the German Schnapps tasting on opening day of Beir Fest with a few good friends and was pleasently surprised by the variety and tastes.cup

For $14.95 you get to try four different German liqueurs and a souvenir coffee mug actually made in Germany.  Each serving was about one ounce served in a small cordial glass.

The first liqueur we tried was Black Forest Kirschwasser Cherry Brandy.  Talk about powerful!  At 90 proof this one really woke you up quick!  I could taste the cherry but with such a high liquor content you couldn’t really “sip” this one, was more of a “cheers, down the hatch” shot.  All of us had to had some water to wash this one down after the fact.

The second one was by far the majority’s favorite, called Barenjager Honey Liqueur.  This one smelled amazing and went down nice and smooth.  It immediately gave you a very nice warming feeling and had a honey smooth taste with a really clean finish.  Definitely one to be sipped!

The third in the tasting is one almost everyone has tried or at least heard of, Jagermeister! If you like Halls cough drops or cough syrup this is the one for you.  Another one that wants to be “shot” and not “sipped”, at least in my opinion.  It’s made with 56 herbs and spices and the title means “HuntingMaster”.  I know in my early military career I was “smacked down” by this stuff on more than one weekend party!

The fourth and our second favorite was  Echtekroatzbeere Blackberry Liqueur.  It had a very nice smell of fresh blackberries and the taste to match, although not as smooth as the Honey liqueur it was quite tasty especially if you like blackberries!  Another one that I would enjoy as a sipping liqueur!

All in all I really enjoyed the tasting. Learning about each one, where it came from, it’s history and such was well worth the $14.95 to me.

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Celtic Fyre 2015 review

August 16th, 2015

 

Céad milé failté!  Celtic Fyre, Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Irish music and dance show is, in myIMG_20150816_161939866 opinion, better than ever.  Today’s shows had a little bit of a different look with Ben, the singer who plays Tommy Flanagan (who lights the gas lamps) filling in at Roll Out the Barrel (who did an awesome job, by the way), guitar player, Michael pulled double duty to perfection, singing Wild Rover while playing guitar, with his delightful Irish rasp (Michael also subs in guitar for London Rocks on occasion).

IMG_20150816_161741106

The female American tap dancer, Gillian, was a little under the weather, so theIMG_20150816_180431107 male, Avery, took the solo and filled the time wonderfully, though I love when she is performing at full potential.  They both are great tappers with killer smiles.  Trevor, the innkeeper, is one of the most enthusiastic I have seen in the role.  He has a great way of making the character lovable and seems like a good innkeeper to sit and have a pint with. IMG_20150816_162017324 Valerie (Maureen) always kills The Voice.  I often find myself watching her for fun facial expressions in the back ground, the same goes for Shaylyn (Frankie Donaghue), IMG_20150816_161751063the belle of Finnegan’s Wake.  Jonathon ( Tony Kiley) with his racing pigeons, it’s like religion how he performs Finnegan’s Wake both vocally and comedically.  Though the show has had great drummers in the past, like Cat and Caleb, the replacement of the bodhran with a fiddle has been a solid choice, especially with the choice of musician.  IMG_20150816_182103561Marita’s stage presence is really solid and fun, almost as if Lindsey Sterling lived in olden days Dublin.  Sapta, the accordion player, had big shoes to fill after the departure of everyone’s favorite musician, Dimitric, left following the 2013 season, but she has to be the most graceful accordion player I have seen, not to mention her talent on both the squeezebox and the piano.

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The world class Irish dancers that are cast in this show are amazing.  I love seeing everyone’s individual skills along with the precision group dances.  Scott, Heather, Ryan, Mairéad, Connor, Tyler, Sara, Dylan, Jeremy, Rachel, Fiona, Emily and Jason bring the grace and boom everyday!  If I forgot any names, let me know!

Celtic Fyre is a must see when visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and it runs until September 7th.  I have always loved this show, and this season has seen some new faces and a few changes in choreography that have helped it grow so much more.  I always try to catch a show when I am in the park.  Don’t forget your popcorn, we’ll be witcha in two ticks, and stay mighty!  Now if I could just find me keys…