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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
https://www.facebook.com/events/2028429887210033/?active_tab=discussion

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.

Changes to 2018 Annual Pass Program

If you’re like most locals, you probably have an annual pass for either Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, both parks, or even the 11 park Platinum pass.  Last week, Busch Gardens announced their brand new MEMBERSHIP program for their 2018 operating season.  Yes, that’s right, Membership.  The new program has three tiers, Basic, Unlimited, and Premier, with prices starting at $10 per month, per person, or $120/year.

Let me break the new membership levels down for you.

The Basic membership gives you admission to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, Howl-O-Scream, and Christmas Town, on select days, subject to blockout dates, 50% off general parking, guest ticket discounts, member sneak peeks, and in park discounts

Unlimited and Premier memberships both offer unlimited admission to Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, Howl-O-Scream, and Christmas Town, no blockout dates, free general parking, member sneak peeks, and in park discounts.  While the Unlimited pass gets you 2 free guest tickets, the Premier level gets you 3 free guest tickets and free preferred parking.

What are the blockout dates for the Basic Membership?  Pretty much spring break, holidays, and most Saturdays.  In other words, the busiest days of the theme park season.  While at first glance, this may be a huge deal breaker for most people, if you prefer to visit the park during the middle of the week when it’s not super busy, this may be the deal for you.  You still have plenty of time to visit the park, even during peak season,  and can still get your money’s worth of your membership.  For more information regarding the blockout dates, check their website https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/annual-pass/blockout-dates/

Something I’m curious about with the new memberships, that the park has yet to disclose, is the member ‘sneak peeks’.  Will this be something similar to how local museums offer their members private invites to opening night events for new exhibits?  Will park members receive private sneak peeks to events like the Food and Wine Festival before it’s open to the general public?  Or will these mysterious sneak peeks be something else completely?  Only time will tell as the park hasn’t said anything beyond ‘more information will be coming soon’.

Probably my only complaint regarding the memberships and how they’ve been created, is the fact that we don’t get to opt in or out of Water Country USA.  I’m torn on this.  I’m not typically one for water parks, but I don’t hate them either.  But I feel it would’ve been nice to have had one more pass option, not including Water Country USA on it.  Not to knock the park, it’s a great park, but for those that absolutely don’t go to water parks, this portion of the membership goes to waste.  I would’ve liked to have been given a membership option for one park as well as the two park options, at a slightly cheaper price of course.  Maybe Busch Gardens will reevaluate their membership plans down the road and adjust their offerings to suit this need/want.  I know those Water Country USA only pass holders would appreciate the option as well.

Now, for those existing pass holders, I’m sure you’re wondering how these new memberships affect your current passes.  Well fear not, you have options.  You don’t have to switch over to the memberships…..yet.  If your current annual pass is paid for in full, you don’t have to switch over until the pass expires.  If you’re on the EZPay, you can keep your pass until you’re ready to switch to the membership.  If you want to switch to the new memberships now, anything you’ve paid for your current pass will be prorated for the membership.  It is currently unclear just how long the park is planning on allowing the annual passes to continue though.  It could be through the end of the 2018 season, it could be three years from now.  Originally the park had listed a January 2019 date that all passes must be changed over by, but since their announcement, they have removed that original date and are stating you can keep the current pass for now.

For more information on the new memberships, visit the parks website.  You can compare the benefits of the three tiers and decide which one works best for you.  . https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/annual-pass/benefits/

My Fourth Season as a Scare Actor

Hey there friends!  It’s your friendly neighborhood scary dude, Cody.  I got the awesome opportunity to scare the pants off of people, yet again, at Haunted Hunt Club Farm in the Haunted Hayride.  This year, the overall theme was A Night of Possession.  Our hayride theme was classic monsters.

Jack and Jason, our managers, along with other actors, staff and friends worked from February until opening night to build an awesome playground for us this year.  A few stages had been taken down or moved, including moving the entire graveyard to the finale from the first zone.

The Scenes

The first stage was cut in half and Stanley, our talking skeleton was placed as the opening act.

The old graveyard area was turned in to the outskirts of town, where a warehouse and church were built, along with a house and a camp.  The werewolf, his mother or a victim, the hunter, and the priest were all featured here.

Just beyond the camp is the demon stage.  I was asked to paint the shadow demon, and I am rather proud of it!

 

You then come upon The Black Raven Inn, our biggest build this season.  Jason did 90%, if not more, of this build himself.  It is one of the most gorgeous sets we have ever had.  I spent the last 5 nights of the season here.  Across from the Inn was the garden, which was home to Gnomie, our living garden gnome.

On your left you meet our detective, who is trying to find the werewolf, after being attacked, and losing his mind in the process.

 

You come upon “Hidden” where our possessed lady is hiding body parts in the walls, while her friends scream and cry at the sight!

 

As you reach “town center”  you find it under the rule of the vampires, who are fighting the human resistance.  I spent the beginning of my season until the last week, here.

After town center you enter our famous tunnel.  This season featured the mummy, Akanummen, who was released by a foolish tomb raider, where the ancient evil begins to possess others and raise his henchmen.

Through our new graveyard, you come face to face with a partially resurrected Akanummen, who questions your motives in his land, and sends his minions upon the attack, at which point your driver hauls butt out of the hayride.

My Fun

I started out my season as Eleazar, the master vampire.  My character was rather upset that the humans allowed the ancient evil to return, and is leading the fight against the human resistance.  I really enjoyed the character, I was on a tall stage, in an area that looked really cool.  I have to thank Aunt Sharon for making me the awesome vest!

My last 5 days of the season were spent as The Keeper.  I was in the Black Raven Inn, where the souls of those I have possessed reside, constantly walking my endless halls, searching for your body.  I had roughly 18 hours to come up with the character as we had an actor go out with pneumonia.  I really liked the character and the lines, and it seemed well received by my peers.

The Cast

Now it’s time for me to talk about my fellow actors.  We had a great group of returners, who brought it like the veterans they are.   I love you guys and I hope we have a lot of returners next year!  I am really proud of our first years!  Awesome job!  i will let the pics do the talking!

 

The Crew

Now a little bit about the people who get you there and help try to keep us safe.

Mary, Josh, Matt, Nate and Robert were the drivers this year.  Things ran pretty smoothly from what I can se and I appreciate you guys for keeping things safe!

Annie, Chalane, Katie, Ricky and Teresa were the monitors.  Those fine ladies that help set the scene and keep telling you to put away your cell phones.  Each monitor has a different personality.  Miss Anne is the cackling witch that brings us joy!  Chalane was new this year, but brought a little punk rock to the hayride.  Katie was tough, but interacted with us, which is something I love.  Ricky is always smiling and seems to be having more fun than the guests.  Teresa is a pro, great interaction and the best lemon cookies ever!

Our ownership an front office staff work their butts off to make it easier for us in the back!  JD and Randi, thank you for giving us this space and time to let loose and get paid for it!

Travis and Holly kept the makeup flowing.  Thank you guys for throwing paint around and making people scary!

Jason
Jack

I cannot finish this without the most important people on our staff, Jack, Jason and Sandy.  You three are the backbone of the operation.  Sandy runs the office, she is the mom, nurse, confidante, and the sweetest hardass you will ever meet.  Jason can build anything you need him to.  It is amazing to see the progression from week to week, and I cannot wait to see what you come up with next year!  You are the quiet manager, but you have my respect and admiration for what you do and what you put in to making us this cool playground.  Jack, you are a makeup master!  Design, acting, dialogue, just and overall haunt wizard.  I look forward to working and learning with you in the offseason!  I always learn so much from you in the haunt, as a father and a man.

 

Thank you to the guests for coming out, and remember…

BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Howl-O-Scream 2017 Review

Howl-O-Scream 2017 review

2017 brought in a new Terror-Tory, a new haunted walkthrough, and a re-vamping of a classic show.

Night Beats: ReVamped brought more casket and less “Casket Club”.  The overall theme of your Brad and Janet style characters, a la Rocky Horror, being musically stalked, and subsequently turned, by vampires was a different approach than years past.  The music was fun, and the dancing was decent.  It wasn’t my favorite version of the show, but Ulrich will forever be the measuring stick.

3 ½/5

 

Axe Alley is Howl-O-Screams newest Terror-Tory, replacing the often lackluster Wendigo Woods in New France.   The theme of Viking Zombies was rather unique.  I found the scares to be better, staffing was better, and the overall look and atmosphere were a big step from Wendigo.

4 ½/5

 

FrostBite has replaced Bitten as a haunted walkthrough.  What made Frostbite unique is the location.  You are walking through DarKastle, down along the tracks and through twisting areas.   The theme felt as a take on the Night King from Game of Thrones, even including dragon skeletons.  That aside, the scares were very good.  Use of shadow, animatronics, stunt sliders and zip-liners worked in the cold and rather well lit environment.

4/5

 

Now on to the returning attractions

Haunts

Unearthed

As usual, one of the best looking haunts I have seen at BGW.  It seemed a bit understaffed, but it still has potential to be wat it was it’s opening season

3 ½ / 5

Catacombs

The longest tenured haunt, now that Bitten has moved on.  It is a tight winding walkthrough, with some really good pop scares.  In my opinion, I would like to see something replace it, mostly because it is hard to keep returning guests scared/impressed when they see the same thing for so many years.

3/5

Cornered

Some changes were made, including the removal of the mirror area.  It is cleverly themed, and the addition of the audio whispers was very nice.  Most improved in my opinion.

4/5

Lumberhack

They reversed the path this season, but that is about all that has changed.  It is still a clever and fun walkthrough, but I would love to see some changes in pop scares and actor dialogue.

3/5

Circo Sinistro

A beautiful haunt, with one of the best rooms I have ever seen in a haunt, the ringmaster room.  The lack of traditional clowns, the turn of the century (20th, that is) feel of the circus, are well executed.  Still my favorite of the haunts.

4/5

Deadline

I need to be honest with this one, Deadline is dying.  The addition last year of the obvious projectors was a disappointment, as projectors should not replace actors.  At most they should be a distraction.  It was a bit lackluster from 2 years ago, when I think the haunt was at it’s best.

2 ½ /5

 

Terror-Tories

Rippers Row

I didn’t see much of it in action this year, as it seems the actors weren’t there as guests were exiting.  In the past, my favorite part was ending my HOS with a sit in 1866 White Chapel to watch the cast make people run.  I cannot give it a proper rating due to lack of experiencing the area.

Demon Street

The demons are great, we could do without the EDM party.  ‘Nuff said.

3/5

Vampire Point

The area lacked in actors, but those that were there new how to work around the crowd to get the target scare.  As an actor, we look for the most effective ways to hit the good ones.  These actors read their audience and attacked with stealth and the in and out technique, where you almost don’t see who just made you wet yourself before they disappear back in to the fold.  Well done!

4/5

Sideshow Square

So clever and understated.  Not overly decorated, but that is made up by the actors involved.  I missed the marionettes this year, but Wendy was back, and that is good enough for me.  BGW, do not let that young lady go, because I know a few haunts that would love to have her!  The fortune teller scare is always fun to watch.  Best Terror-Tory, hands down.

5/5

 

Shows

Fiends

Still my favorite show of HOS.  The jokes were ramped up this season, just really good.  The cast was on point, especially the return of Chandler as Igor (Eye-gor).  Always a must see!!

5/5

Starfright Orchestra

Unfortunately, my schedule did not allow another trip to the park to catch this show.  What did you guys think?

Monster Stomp on Ripper’s Row

Not much changed in this show, and that is a good thing!  Amazing vocals, dancing and especially percussion!  You have to see this show every year, or the haunt season is not complete!

5/5

 

Overall, Howl-O-Scream is always a blast, and though I had a few negative reviews, I know where the potential lays, and as someone who is around the business of haunts, I get the struggles, especially on the scale that Busch has to go to.  I give the whole event 4/5.  Thanks again to the BGW staff for giving us awesome access as per usual.  See you guys at ChristmasTown!

 

Please join the conversation here, on Facebook and YouTube.

 

Be Excellent To Each Other!