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Pantheon at Busch Gardens

I can’t believe we’re already a month into 2020.  While Busch Gardens may be quiet without the screams from excited guests, the staff has been hard at work since closing day, prepping for the spring opening.  Breaking down rides, conducting safety inspections, and rebuilding them.  As you pull into the toll plaza on opening day, take a peek to your left and you’ll notice Apollo’s Chariot has been fully repainted back to it’s purple and gold glory, and it looks as good as it did when it first opened.

Refurbs and paint jobs aside, there is also one thing to really look forward to this year….PANTHEON.  The parks newest, fastest, multi-launch coaster.

Located next to the Festa Italia train station Pantheon, themed for the Roman Gods Pluto, Neptune, Mercury, Minerva and Jupiter, takes will take riders through 3,328 feet of track at speeds of 73mph, through four launches, two inversions, a 95 degree drop, and a 180 foot drop.  For those airtime fans, while there may not be a lot of hills, but we’ll still see fifteen, yes, FIFTEEN, opportunities for airtime, as the trains race over, under, and around the terrain.

Once you leave the station, the ride takes you through twists and turns before finally entering its first launch and inversion.   As the trains make their way to the top hat hill element, you’ll find the trains rolling backwards up to the top of the reverse launch, where the track will actually shift into a launch track, sending the trains up and over the top hat, down past the Rhine River, similar to Verbolten’s second drop, sending riders into what is called a ‘Top Gun Stall’, where the train inverts, hanging riders briefly, before continuing on, and finally finishing back at the station.  The entire ride will be about two minutes in length.

If you rode the train during last season and followed Pantheon’s construction, you’ve probably noticed that it sits in the area that was previously used as pastures for the parks Clydesdales, sheep, and Highland cows.  Have no worries, the park didn’t completely displace our beloved animals.  They still have plenty of pasture space next to the ride.  In fact, you’ll probably get a chance to see them as you walk over the Festa train station to get to Pantheon.

While we were not given information regarding the themeing we were told that there will be themeing at the station and queue area.  And if you’re worried about the trees that were removed for construction we asked about that too.  The park works with the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program that requires that they replace trees that are removed.  So while it may not be immediate, they will work to replace the landscaping around the coaster.

While there may not be an official opening date released just yet, the park is hoping for a spring opening.  There’s still quite a bit of work to finish before they can begin testing though, including completing the last section of track.  My guess is maaaaaybe a spring break opening if we’re lucky, but hopefully no later than Memorial Day.

Busch Gardens opens March 14 for members, March 15 for general public.  If you haven’t purchased a membership yet, now is the perfect time to buy them as the park is running a sale on memberships AND fun cards.  https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/annual-pass/


Christmas Town 2019 Review


Alright chasers, it’s that time again. Time to break out your hot cocoa mugs. Christmas Town is officially open!

In it’s 11th year, the park continues to amaze me with their lights and decorations. With just two weeks between the end of Howl-O-Scream and opening of Christmas Town, the park had a lot of work to do, tearing down Halloween decorations and putting up 10 millions lights and Christmas decorations around the park. Two weeks. But somehow they manage to get it done.

Back in its second year, the Christmas Town Express is still one of my favorite highlights of Christmas Town. I highly recommend getting into the line early as on busier nights the wait can be extremely long (upwards of 2hrs), but even then, the wait is well worth it. Like last year, the train only uses one station, Caribou in New France, making this a full 20 minute ride around the park. Keep an eye out a you pass through the Festa Italia station as you can see the latest work on the construction for Pantheon, the new coaster opening in 2020.

The park has two new highlights this year. The first is the Traditions tree maze. This is a must see, even if you only do it once. Located to the right of Das Fest Haus, this maze of lighted trees features booths from around the world that explain how different countries celebrate Christmas. The booths also act as craft stations for kids. The tree maze is simply beautiful and since it’s tucked away from everything, giving you a bit of peace and calmness from the crowds.

The second new attraction this year is the new show in Italy, simply titled, Believe. It features a live pianist singing Christmas carols. I still miss Miracles, and honestly would love to see the two shows merged together, but I’m thankful that they replaced Gift of Harmony.

Scrooge No more, Gloria, O’Tannenbaum, and Deck the Halls round out the rest of the shows.

Families might be bummed to find the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie is no longer playing in Festa. It has been replaced with a count down to Christmas photo op location. Disappointing but the photo op is cute. But don’t worry, you can still visit and get your picture with Rudolph and his friends.

Don’t forget to visit Santa’s workshop. His elves are on hand to help your kids write their letters.

I will say this….one of my favorite things this year as been the big tree at the end of the pathways between San Marco and Festa Italia. Typically by Christmas Town it’s leaves are completely gone, leaving the bare outline wrapped in lights. This year we’ve been treated to the leaves holding on (thanks to the wacky Virginia weather), adding just a splash of color and shadowing to the popular photo spot.

While you’re walking through Oktoberfest, don’t forget to visit the merchants of Mistletoe Marketplace. I love shopping the various crafts from these great local vendors.

If you’re looking for food, Das Fest Haus still serves the traditional Christmas dinner of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cornbread stuffing and Trapper’s Smokehouse has their BBQ Sliders. I wish they would carry the sliders during the regular season.

And don’t forget the parks ever popular peppermint fudge hot cocoa.  Bring your mug for $2.39 refills!!

Christmas Town is now open daily through January 5th. For tickets and more information, visit their website https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/events/christmas-town/

Howl-O-Scream 2019

On September 14, Howl-O-Scream opened once again. Members and media got a sneak peek on Friday the 13th. Lucky for us, we also had a full moon to help bring on the scares.



Dan, Matt, Cody, and myself got the chance to check out all of the mazes and enjoy the sneak preview of the new(ish) show, Jack is Back. Sadly, long time running fan favorite Fiends is gone this year (Bring back the nurses!!) but another fan favorite has returned. If you’re familiar with the Jack is Back show from years ago, you’ll remember the Ireland section of the park turns into a dance party, complete with fog and streamers, and our favorite pumpkin himself, Jack. It was hard for me to have high hopes for this show as it is nothing new, but it’s still a fun show the entire family can enjoy together.

On to the mazes….

Unfortunately t he park hasn’t introduced a new maze this year, BUT, there’s a few small additions and tweaks to the current lineup.



Circo Sinistro, while still one of my favorites, still lacks in the scares. Nothing has changed about this maze over the years except the amount of scares is still lacking (even though I will admit, they got me a few times). It’s a struggle trying to justify standing in line for longer than 30 minutes for this maze. While I enjoy it, this is one that I can pass up if the line is too long.

Demented Dimensions….We left this one disappointed. It was a favorite of mine last year. The sets are still well done, but lacked any scare actors inside. I hope it improves of the season as they can do so much with this one and they just….didn’t.

Dystopia….well done last year, well done this year. We enjoyed this even though nothing stood out to us as being great.

Lumberhack…again, a well done maze. Being outdoors they make great use of fog to help hide the scare actors. It’s also another maze I can take or leave. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun, but not stand in line longer than 30 minutes fun.

Vault: Overtaken….back for its second year, Jack has been released from the vault to take over Ireland, but replacing him is our second favorite Howl-O-Scream characters….the cast of FIENDS. They join the other characters of Howl-O-Screams this year. If you didn’t go through the Vault last year, here’s a simple synopsis….favorite characters from past years and favorite sets. I loved this maze last year, and enjoyed it again this year.

Frostbite…..here’s my surprise favorite for this year. I loved it the first year and hated it last year. Too much dark tunnels with nothing to see. Too few scares. Just plain boring overall last year. In fact, I couldn’t even get myself to go through it more than once. So when we were notified that we would be doing a walkthrough with reverse POV (more on that later) I honestly was disappointed. But, I still agreed to give it a chance, and I have to say I was so wrong. THEY SCARED THE CRAP OUT OF ME!!! Again, the guys had way too much fun at my expense with this maze. And we have the video to prove it. This is a maze I would go through with each visit this year. Well worth it!

Scare Zones

As with the mazes, there are no new scare zones this year.

Sideshow Square has received MAJOR improvements this year, even on opening night. Last year there were so many changes, including characters, that the whole area was just lacking. I love to people watch and this area is one that I can sit for hours and just watch everyone. Last year it was boring and lacked any sort of scares or entertainment, but this year, familiar favorites ARE BACK! I don’t usually get scared in the zones, but the guys and I took a break to watch the action and unfortunately I fell victim to being scared on more than one occasion. But I loved every second and will look forward to hanging out in this section with each visit.

Garden of Souls…another favorite from last year. Themed to Dios de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, this is another scare zone that I would actually love to see improved on or even a maze designed to its theme. While there’s not much for decorations, the scare actors do a good job of creeping up to and scaring guests passing through the area.

While walking through the park, we somehow missed Axe Alley and Fool’s Court, but if Axe Alley is typically overrun with fog and Fool’s Court last year wasn’t much about scares as it was more just watching the jesters interacting with guests. I can take it or leave it honestly.

And then there’s guest favorite Ripper Row. The headless ladies and Scotland Yard are back once again, on the search for Jack the Ripper.

The biggest disappointment for us of the night was there was no Monster Stomp. As of this writing, the show finally opened this weekend, however, opening Howl-O-Scream without a major show for the first two weeks was a tough blow for us as we were looking forward to seeing it. Another night.

Want more than just haunted mazes and shows? The park has also introduced two new No Escape Rooms, Jack’s Twisted Terror and Grave Obsession, for a separate fee.

Howl-O-Scream is open weekends and limited week day nights now through November 3.


Summer Nights returns to Busch Gardens

Summer has arrived at Busch Gardens!  And what better way to kick off summer is Summer Nights.

Last year, Busch Gardens introduced their summer event, Summer Nights.  A rave party feature neon lights, music, and bubbles.  To help kick off Summer Nights this year, the park has brought back the dance group Light Balance. Last year they performed inside the Abbey Stone Theatre with limited dates and show times.  Due to their popularity, they have expanded to the Globe Theatre with an all new show created just for Busch Gardens. Local media outlets were given a sneak peak look during one of their rehearsals and I’ll just say this….these dancers are amazing and you are going to love their show. They’ve picked up the Globe Theatre’s show schedule timeslots and will perform throughout the day, beginning at 2:00, and into the evening, through July 7.

The full list of performers are:
Light Balance June 29-July 7
Boogie Storm July 8-14
The Passing Zone July 15-21
William Close & the Earth Harp Collective July 22-28
Fighting Gravity July 29-August 4
Freckled Sky August 5-11.

Another show to look forward to during Summer Nights are SPARK, returning for its second year. Lasers, pyrotechnics, dancing, and lots of neon lights.  And don’t forget about their bubble pit.  Located at the Royal Palace Theatre, SPARK is more dance party than actual show, but it’s the chance for everyone to celebrate summer by dancing the night away.

With Summer Nights we also get new food throughout the park.  So many goodies to choose from this year.   If you enjoyed the sangria during the Food and Wine Festival, they’re not only keeping it, they will be rotating flavors weekly, like pineapple, berry, and watermelon.  Sangria was one of my favorite drinks during the Food and Wine Festival so I’m excited they’re keeping them during Summer Nights.

Other summer treats this year include chicken and waffle cones, tie-dyed crepes, chocolate dipped pretzel sticks, and the return of the Freak Shakes from Josephine’s Creamery de Chocolat.  If you missed them last year, be sure to grab one, and share with a friend.

Squires Grille will also be serving up two new burgers. Their first one, the donut burger, consists of two burger patties, bacon, and cheese, served between two maple glazed donuts, with a hard boiled egg garnish on top.  At first glance, this sounds like an odd, sickenly sweet, combination, but by first bite, I was hooked.  The combination of sweet, salty, and savory meshes well with the burgers and donuts.  The maple glaze on top is sweet but not too sweet and balances everything together nicely.

The second burger is the Impossible Burger. This burger is actually plant based, and looks and tastes pretty close to an actual beef burger.  This is not your average ‘vegan’ burger full of black beans and fillers.  Whether you’re trying to eat healthier or just want to cut meats out of your diet, the Impossible Burger is the perfect when you do get the burger craving.  Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.


Summer Nights will run daily June 28-August 11.  https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/events/summer-nights/


BG Food and Wine Festival 2019

Hey guys! It’s that time of year again. The annual Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival is here. Lots of changes and new kiosks this year. Some good changes, some not so good.

Ever since it’s inception, the Food and Wine Fest is one event I look forward to at the park every year. I love food. I love wine. Perfect combination, right? This is also the time when you get to try foods from around the world, as well as eating something different in the park if you’re tired of eating at Das Fest Haus or Trapper’s Smokehouse. I will say though, this year is full of mixed emotions for me. Too many changes missed kiosks from previous years.

First off, what happened to the chef demos??? The demos have been a huge favorite of mine the last couple years! I loved seeing the dishes being prepared, and yes, being able to try them on the spot, fresh made. The demos were always a huge hit. Those kiosks have been replaced by drink stations. Not a bad swap really as some of the infusions are really good, but I still miss the demos.

New kiosks this year are Mexico, Jamaica, and Philippines, as well as the herbal infusions, garden to glass, and the sangria garden.

If you pay close attention to the new food kiosks, you’ll notice some of your past favorites were kept for some of the new kiosks. Like the empanadas from Spain are now at Mexico.

My favorite booth this year once again was Brazil. I’m crazy for the churrasco (steak with chimichurri sauce). This is a hard one for them to mess up. The steak is cooked on the grill pit outside of Trapper’s Smokehouse. Pair this with the Brazilian Lemonade or Caipirinha (rum with sugar and lime) and add their abacaxi (grilled pineapple).

If I had to pick one food booth to skip though, it would be the Philippines. I was intrigued about their Mamon, a
butter sponge cake topped with shredded cheese with raspberry sauce. Cheese on a sponge cake with raspberry sauce? My curiosity got the best of me with this one. My idea of sponge cake, or any cake for that matter, is something soft and moist. The sponge cake here was hard and crispy, more like a cookie than a cake. The raspberry sauce was good but there was no shredded cheese on the cake (or was it cooked inside?). I wish I had tried the Siopao (steamed pork bun with sweet soy glaze) instead. If you have to pick a kiosk to skip, this one would be it.

Other returning favorites from Ireland (bangers and colcannon), Korea (beef bulgogi), and Mediterranean (lamb sliders and loukoumades) were still popular and very good. While I was looking forward to ending my sampling with the pecan bacon bars from Virginia, by the time we made it back around to them, they were sold out, unfortunately.

Another new favorite though was at the Italy kiosk. Italy replaced Spain (I miss the scallops and gazpacho!) with their mushroom risotto and caprese. I skipped the risotto (although I have heard from others it’s really good) and opted for the caprese. This simple dish is a hit. The tomatoes and mozzarella cheese make for a nice light, refreshing, dish to enjoy in the hot summer. Yes, I can make it at home, and I do, but this one is worth it at the park as well.

Now for the drinks. The new herbal infusion station offers up drinks such as lavender lemonade, watermelon mojito and mint julep, and rosemary lemon Moscato. We opted for the lemonade and mojito. the lavender lemonade was REALLY strong. The lavender overpowers the lemonade flavor. In fact, as we drank it down, we added water and more ice and it was still too overpowering for us. This was one drink we couldn’t finish. The watermelon mojito however…..SO GOOD!!! I could get this over and over. Not too sweet, not overpowering in flavor. It had the perfect combination of everything to it. Highly recommend!

I will admit I skipped the Garden to Glass kiosk. I don’t do Bloody Mary’s and after the lavender lemonade, I was scared to try the Strawberry, Orange, Beet & Ginger Smoothie

My absolute favorite new kiosk this year though, is the Sangria Garden. You cannot pass this one up!! If they kept this year round, I would be one happy girl. They offer four flavors:
Red Sangria – Traditional red sangria
White Sangria – Citrus Moscato sangria
Rose Sangria – Strawberry rose sangria
Frozen Sangria


You can buy the sangria by the glass or try all four as a flight. Either way, it’s worth it! The frozen sangria was the best, followed by the red, but honestly, all four are very good, very refreshing, and perfect on a hot summer day.

The food and wine festival runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, through June 30. If you’re a member, don’t forget to scan your pass at the self serve kiosk at the park entrance and claim your free sample with EACH visit!

Coasting For Kids at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Who’s ready for some coasters??

This weekend, Busch Gardens will be opening for the 2019 season.  While it’s been a long two months since the park closed in January, I know everyone is eager to get back to their favorite coasters.

On Saturday, Busch Gardens Williamsburg will be kicking off the season by hosting Coasting for Kids, a fundraising, roller coaster riding event for kids with critical illnesses and their families.  This event is being co-hosted by Give Kids The World.

Haven’t heard of Give Kids The World?  Neither had I until recently.  Here’s a little information on them….

GKTW was Founded in 1986 by Central Florida hotelier and philanthropist, Henri Landwirth.

The GKTW village, opened in 1989, is an 84-acre, nonprofit resort built exclusively to serve critically-ill children and their families. The villas offer fully accessible accommodations, with all meals provided on site, tickets to local attraction, plus all transportation.

Local wish-granting organizations also assist GKTW with providing airfare, car rentals, spending money, and anything else the families need, to include helping with medical care and translators.  These donations help to relieve the stress of illnesses by giving the families a week long dream vacation, stress free.

And the best part?  There is never any charge to visiting families, and no child is ever turned away.

Since 1986, GKTW has served over 160,000 families from all 50 states and over 75 countries.

If you think GKTW sounds similar to another well known organization, Make a Wish Foundation, you are correct.  According to Jessica Mueller, Social & Content Strategist for GKTW, they actually partner with Make A Wish Foundation and over 230 other wish granting partners to fulfill wishes of critically ill children whose wish is related to theme parks.  “When wish granting organizations have a child whose wish is to visit the Central Florida attractions, they work with us.  We fulfill the wish for not only the wish child, but the whole family with a week-long, cost-free dream vacation.” says Mueller.

How can you participate in the Coasting with Kids event at Busch Gardens?  Simple. The park is asking for guests to start your own fundraiser to help support the mission.  By raising just $100 (that’s EASY, right?), you can receive an event exclusive t-shirt, and all day access to Busch Gardens beginning at 8:00am with exclusive early rides on the coasters.

If you want to know more about GKTW check them out on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/gktwvillage/

The Busch Gardens Coasting for Kids event page can be found here

For more information about the event, and how to start your own fundraiser (it’s not too late!!!) visit http://www.gktw.org/coasting to sign up.

family on a carousel


Christmas Town 2018 Review

 10 million lights….candy canes and cookies galore….peppermint fudge hot cocoa.  These could only mean one thing….CHRISTMAS TOWN IS HERE!!

In it’s tenth year (yes, ten years!!) Busch Gardens is pulling out all the stops for this year’s Christmas Town.  And yes, I mean, they’re pulling out ALL the stops…starting with the train.

One of the newest attractions this year is the Christmas Town Express.  This 1.5 mile tour around the park is absolutely beautiful and worth the wait. Speaking of the wait, get in line early. With only one station (Caribou) open, the line can fill up pretty quickly.  Refill your hot cocoa mugs, sit back, and enjoy the ride!

The second new attraction this year is at the Wilkommenhaus.  Once again the park is using their light mapping projection system to transform the Cookies and Cocoa shop into its own gingerbread house.  The projections come on every 15 minutes after dark, tempting you to escape the cold and indulge in the parks delicious homemade cookies and hot cocoa, located just inside.

For those of you with small kids, Sesame Street Forest of Fun has family photos with your favorite Sesame Street characters, as well as the new stage show ‘Elmo’s Christmas Wish’.

There may be no other new shows this year, but for those that have enjoyed them in past years, Deck the Halls is back in it’s tenth year (yes, it’s the longest running Christmas Town show), as well as Twas that Night, Scrooge No More, Gloria!, and Gift of Harmony.  This is probably my only complaint.  While Gift of Harmony was new last year, I would love to see a new show inside Das Fest Haus.  Deck the Halls is great, but after ten years, can we get something new?

And don’t forget to round out your night visiting Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in Holiday Hills, along with his friends from the Island of Misfits, for photos, and the big man himself, Santa Claus, inside NewKastle (formerly Darkastle).  He’s ready to hear your Christmas wishes and take photos!

And while you’re walking around the park, don’t forget to indulge in all the Christmas Town goodies.  Whether you’re stopping by Josephine’s Creamery de Chocolat for a sugar overload with their beignet sundae or peppermint freak shake, or you’re enjoying a hot roasted sirloin sandwich from Das Fest Haus, there is food and treats throughout the park for everyone to enjoy.

Christmas Town is open now through January 5, 2019, on select nights.  Check www.christmastown.com/va for more information and tickets.

Howl-O-Scream 2018 Review : The good, the bad, and the scary

Can you believe it’s the end of October already? Where has this year gone? Seven months ago we were excited for another year of roller coasters, and now we’re nearing the end of Howl-O-Scream and getting ready for Christmas Town.

What has been your thoughts on Howl-O-Scream this year? Have you been yet? Do you plan on visiting the park for one last scare before they close and prepare the park for Christmas Town?

2018 is also the 20th year for Howl-O-Scream. The park geared us up for weeks leading to the opening by leaking teasers for the new mazes and scare zones.

This year we said goodbye to the mazes Bitten, Deadline, and Catacombs, and said hello to new mazes, Dystopia, Demented Dimensions, and The Vault XX.  We also saw the return of Frostbite, Cornered, Circo Sinistro, and Lumberhack.

Along with the mazes, new scare zones Fool’s Court and Garden of the Souls joined forces with the returning zones, Sideshow Square, Vampire Point, Axe Alley, and Ripper Row.  Fool’s Court, located in New France where Demon Street was, is full of evil jesters looking to steal your soul.  Literally.  These guys are great.  Creepy and fun to watch.  Garden of the Souls though, located in Davinci’s Garden in the San Marco area, is my absolute scare zone this year.  Loosely themed to Dias De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, you can watch the skeletons as they roam while trying to steal the souls of unsuspecting park guests.  I would really like to see this theme expanded on.  I think they did a fantastic job with the characters and costumes, as well as the theme throughout the garden itself.

I have to say, while I absolutely LOVE the new themes this year and I hope to see them return next year,  I have bitter disappointment in Sideshow Square.   Since it opened two years ago, this has been my favorite zone.  The team that played the circus freaks, because seriously, that’s what they were, were always amazing to watch. The gypsy fortune teller, the demon clowns, Wendy the wind up doll, and the ring leaders.  I could (actually, I would) spend HOURS watching them do their thing.  Interacting with guests and each other.  But not this year.  This has been my biggest disappointment for Howl-O-Scream this year.  They replaced the majority of the troupe (minus the gypsy) with clowns. But the entertainment just wasn’t the same. If the park were to bring one scare zone back, I would ask (beg) them to bring back the original troupe.

Also a disappointment this year was Circo Sinistro. Again, since it opened two years ago, was a favorite maze. The themeing was great, the scares were good.  This year, I was bored.  No scares.  Not one.  Not even anyone trying.  I think the guests walking through the maze did more scares on each other than the actual cast.  Needless to say, I was so disappointed in this maze this year that I couldn’t bring myself to another walk through.

Another disappointing maze for me was Frostbite.  I LOVED it last year.  There was always something around the corner.  The ice walls added to the feel of being inside a frozen castle. This year, it’s like they didn’t even try. It’s like the park debated about even using the space for a maze and decided at the last minute to bring it back, and then half assed the decorating.  So bad that when I went through I spent more time walking through blacked out ‘hallways’ with no scares, than actually being scared.  Again, this was a visit one time only maze this year.

The best mazes this year were the new ones.  While I found Dystopia to be ‘just OK’, I really enjoyed Demented Dimensions and The Vault XX.  I could walk through both mazes again and again and catch new details inside with their themeing and decorations.  But my absolute favorite maze this year, has been The Vault XX.  This maze pays homage to Howl-O-Scream’s past mazes and themes. If you can, check out the details of the various rooms and see if you can find your favorite characters from years past.

All in all, this has been another great Howl-O-Scream year.  If you haven’t been yet, this is your last chance.  Sunday will be the last night before the park reopens for Christmas Town.  Grab and friend and head over for some last minute scares!

Busy summer at Busch Gardens

Can you believe it’s August already? Where has this summer gone?

2018 has been a busy year for Busch Gardens.  New pass program, Food and Wine Fest, Concerts, Summer Nights, and the upcoming Beir Fest.

What was your favorite food or drink this year at the Food and Wine Festival? I absolutely fell in love with the Brazilian booth. The Churrasco was delicious and perfectly cooked, the grilled pineapple was a hit, but my absolute favorite this year was the Brazilian lemonade!!  I couldn’t get enough of that drink and kept going back for more every chance I got.  While I’m still bummed they removed the Canada booth, Brazil was the perfect addition to replace them and quickly became my new favorite booth.

Not long after the Food and Wine Fest ended in July, the park introduced their Summer Nights event. Music, lasers, pyrotechnics, fireworks, and let’s not forget the dance troupe, Light Balance.

If you haven’t been to the park to check out their Summer Nights yet YOU NEED TO GO!! Replacing the pirates show at the Royal Palace Theatre this year is SPARK, a live rave/ dance party featuring lasers, pyrotechnics, music, and bubbles. This show is running nightly through August 12.

The Wilkommenhaus features projection light mapping (think lasers projected onto the building). The sun goes down, the building lights up! This is a fun show that I would love to see return next year.

If you’ve been through the park during the day, you’ve probably noticed the park left the Cuba Kiosk up from the Food and Wine Festival. This kiosk is open and offering fun treats such as fried Twinkies and Acai berry bowls (think frozen yogurt with toppings, yum!) and mixed drinks.

Just a few feet away from the Summer Nights Kiosk at Josephines Creamery the park is featuring their all new Freak Shakes, available only during Summer Nights. What is a Freak Shake? It’s an insane monstrosity containing a cold and creamy milkshake buried under a mound of marshmallow fluff, chocolate chips, cookie dough, whipped cream, and a cookie or brownie (or if you prefer the subtle flavor of strawberry shortcake, you can get one of those as a Freak Shake as well). Let me just say, these shakes are not for the weak. It took two of us to attack ours and we still couldn’t finish it.  At $14 for the shake I recommend trying them at least once, but get it on an empty stomach and make sure you have a buddy (or two) to share it with. You’ll thank me later.

Now, finally, topping Summer Nights off, is the amazing dance troupe, Light Balance.  First seen on America’s Got Talent, this dance group is AMAZING.  The Abbey Stone Theatre has gone completely dark (when does that ever happen?) to show off the groups neon lights and effects.  Without spoiling too much, all I can say is if you haven’t seen these guys perform, you need to ask yourself, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  If you’ve never heard of the group, take the time and look them up on Youtube.  You won’t be disapointed. Their shows are only 12 minutes long, but trust me, it won’t feel like 12 minutes.  If you plan to see them this weekend at the park, make sure you get in line EARLY as it’s a show you won’t want to miss and seats fill up fast.

Summer Nights ends this weekend, August 12.

So, what happens after Summer Nights ends?  The precursor to fall, Beir Fest.  Beer lovers, this event is for you!  Similar to the Food and Wine Festival at the beginning of the summer, Beir Fest is the parks version of Oktoberfest.  With over 100 beers on tap each weekend, German foods like pretzels, turkey legs, and bratwurst, live music, and the tapping of the Firkin Keg every Friday, this event is the closest you’ll get to Oktoberfest.  Enjoy beers by the glass or by the flight.  Pair with a delicious salty pretzel or go authentic with German sausages from Das Fest Haus.

Beir Fest run weekends only August 17-September 3.

Battle For Eire

This past week Busch Gardens revealed to local media the behind the scenes construction of their newest ride for the 2018 season, Battle for Eire.

The storyline of the ride is Addie, the heroine, and her dragon sidekick Ollie, are battling the evil Balor and his minions Sluagh for the Heart of Ireland.

If you haven’t heard by now, Battle for Eire is a Virtual Reality ride, the first of it’s kind at Busch Gardens. With the use of goggles, the VR give you a full immersive experience, basically surrounding you in the storyline and making you feel as though you’re there with Addie and Ollie. If you’re not a fan of VR, or are afraid it might give you motion sickness though, that’s ok. The park took that into consideration and has designed the ride so that it can be ridden with or without the VR goggles. If you choose to ride without, you’ll view the screen as a 4K video.

While in line, riders will pick out their headgear and put it on and tighten it down. Once on the ride itself, you’ll put the VR goggles on. The goggles attach to the headgear by three magnets so you literally just pop them onto the headgear.

I know there are a lot of concerns regarding the VR headgear and how it works vs cleanliness, and let me put those fears to rest right now. The headgear is perfectly safe and clean. Don’t trust me? Trust the park. Why? Because you trusted them over the years to keep the 3D glasses at Curst of Darkastle and the shows inside the Globe Theatre clean. The headgear will be cleaned in the same sanitizing machine those 3D glasses were cleaned in. And don’t worry, the park has purchased plenty of the headgear, literally THOUSANDS, to ensure they have plenty for a full days operation with cleaning and turnaround. But what about the goggles themselves? Don’t worry about those either, they will NEVER touch your face.

Just a few stats about the ride for those that don’t already know….

There are actually 2 ride ‘rooms’ with each platform seating 59 guests.

The estimated experience time is around 15 minutes from time in queue to the time you’re walking off the ride.

You can ride with or without the VR goggles. If you choose without, the screen will be the equivalent of watching a 4K television screen.

Speaking of TV…..the frame rate for the video will be 90 frames per second. The average television runs at around 30 frames per second.

The voices of the characters were done by actual actors in Ireland.

The characters based on Irish lore.

Battle for Eire is created by Falcon’s Creative Group, the same group behind the creation of Curst of Darkastle.

While no official opening date has been given out yet, the park is aiming for a spring opening.