On April 7th we were honored to be included in the media event for InvadR, Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s first wooden coaster. Before you say, “Yeah, but it’s not all wood”, we understand that. As coasters do, wooden coasters have evolved. This ride gives you the wooden feel and the smoothness of an Arrow coaster.
David Cromwell, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA President, invited the waiting crowd to InvadR before being interrupted by Magnus the Red and his horde of Viking InvadRs.
Upon leaving the queue you take a quick dip into a turn that takes you to the lift hill, up and over Le Scoot log flume. Another dip at the top helps you pick up speed that brings you to the small bump and into the tunnel that covers the top of the 74′ drop. Exiting the tunnel, you are face to face with a “head-chopper” (thanks for the term from our friend Andrew Stilwell at Coaster101.com) and under the service road that leads to Le Scoot. You then proceed to the nine airtime hills and bank turns up to 55 degrees ending with a helix that drops down and back up to the finish.
This ride maintains it’s speed and feels faster than the 48 mph the park boasts. The airtime hills will lift you off the seat, which caught me off guard. InvadR is far more intense than I expected, and after four rides, I have to say, THE BACK IS THE BEST! Riding in the back row feels like a smaller version of Apollo’s Chariot.
The theming to this coaster lacks nothing, in my opinion. It is very well done, and fits very nicely into Trapper’s Village.
GET UNLIMITED ADMISSION – TWO PARKS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
Take advantage of the best deal of the season as opening day approaches
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (February 27, 2017) – Opening day is only one month away, but there’s still time to take advantage of the best ticket deal of the season at Busch Gardens® Williamsburg.
Through March 31, consumers can get unlimited admission to Water Country USA® for free with an online-only purchase of a Busch Gardens Fun Card. For the price of a Single-Day Ticket to Busch Gardens, guests can buy a 2-Park Fun Card and enjoy unlimited visits to both parks through Sept. 10.
Busch Gardens opens March 25. Water Country USA kicks off its season May 20.
That’s not the only steal of a deal. Busch Gardens is also offering a 2-Park Preschool Pass to make it affordable to take young children to both parks. This limited-time, online-only offer, allows children ages 3 to 5 to enjoy free unlimited admission to the Williamsburg parks through Sept. 10. Parents must register online by May 31.
Bursting at the seams with exciting rides, concerts and events, this upcoming season promises to be one of the most action-packed years at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.
The season opens with a visit from animal expert Jack Hanna on March 25 – 26 and kicks into high gear with the spring opening of InvadR™, Busch Gardens’ first wooden roller coaster. Hold onto your Viking helmet as you fly over nine air-time hills, including a 74-foot plunge at almost 50 miles per hour. Grab your family and run for the hills aboard InvadR.
Summer kicks off with the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival, which will take place weekends from May 26 – July 2. Tantalizing new food and beverage options abound throughout the festival, including the addition of India as a new kiosk.
In July and August, Busch Gardens becomes a cooler place after dark during Summer Nights, presented by Coca-Cola®. Special entertainment, culinary experiences and a fun nighttime atmosphere will give guests a new reason to visit during summer evenings.
Summer Saturdays will be even more special with the Summer Nights Concerts, featuring popular rock, pop, country and contemporary Christian performers live under the stars in the Royal Palace Theatre. Confirmed acts include 38 Special, Josh Turner, MercyMe, Jeremy Camp and Rend Collective, with additional names to be announced. Concerts are free with park admission.
Two special shows join the entertainment line-up. Britmania™, a new musical revue featuring British hits from the 1960s to today, debuts June 30, and will be performed throughout the day in the Globe Theatre. A new show in Das Festhaus® will make its debut on March 31. OktoberZest will feature traditional German music and dances, with a modern twister, offering diners a fun Oktoberfest experience every day. All For One™ returns for its second season with new action and adventure. The swashbuckling tale of the Three Musketeers runs nightly in the Royal Palace Theatre from June 30 through Sept. 3, except for concert Saturdays.
Guests can spend a hot summer day in a fun and refreshing way at Water Country USA®, Virginia’s largest water park. The park offers fun for the entire family with a retro surf theme, resort-style amenities and more than 40 state-of-the-art water rides and attractions.
For more information or to purchase a Pass Membership, Fun Card and tickets, visit www.buschgardens.com/va or call (757) 229-4386. “Like” Busch Gardens on Facebook, and follow @BuschGardensVA on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
Hi Chasers! I wanted to take a moment to talk about the expansion of I 64 from Newport News through York County. I do not want to make this an anti-VDOT post, I just want to give people a heads up on what is happening, as I think this will be a good thing in the long run. As many of you may have noticed over the last year, work is being done to expand the interstate from 2 to 4 lanes starting afterf Jefferson Ave., where it currently goes from 4 to 2 lanes. Those who take that drive to Busch Gardens Williamsburg know that bottle neck all to well, and dread the moments before arriving there. I was up there today (Feb. 7th) and saw a ton of completed work. From what I saw, all that needs concrete are the bridges and overpasses. This is great news considering the VDOT website, that segment is not supposed to be finished until December of this year. So what does it mean for BGW visitors when this segment is finished?
The bottle neck gets closer to BGW
BGW is at exit 243. As you can see here, the first segment ends just before exit 247. That is roughly 3-4 miles before the BGW exit. Those new 4 lanes will become 2 again before the Yorktown Rd. exit. Expect heavy BGW traffic to get heavier around this area until the second segment is completed. Where this will help is, we will have only a few miles of 2 lane interstate before it expands to 4, thus smoother rides home. Those traveling 64 East will not be affected until the second and third segments are completed.
The second segment has already been getting marked off and I saw work vehicles beginning to clear the path. The website has a completion date of Spring 2019. Yes, I know, that is 2 years away, but, once completed the 64 west route will be much smoother. I still expect BGW traffic, but there will be less “interference” from vehicles passing through.
The third segment will be a much bigger undertaking, as it has more bridges and overpasses, some of which are going to be replaced. There is currently no start time on the website, so we will keep you informed when we can, as this will affect travelers from 64 east.
In conclusion, this construction can be a pain in the but for motorists for he time being, but in the long run, I believe we will have a better commute to our favorite park.
This year on the hayride was one of change and excitement. We had new management in Jack Chapman, our long time head of make up, and Jason Lingle, former assistant manager of The Village of the Dead. Jack’s wife Sandy is on board as our HR manager. With the help of some veteran actors, Billy Joyner, Paul McHendry, DJ Liles, Travis Chapman, Amanda Winteringham, Eric Sobotta and a few others, construction of Dr. Lazurus’s Woodland Asylum began back in June. A new energy and excitement was running through the hayride, sparking fresh ideas and a desire to create something great.
I spent all of the time I could muster in the woods, helping where I could with my limited carpenter skills and my expert ability to pick up trash and branches. I was dumbfounded every time I arrived in the hayride with the amount of work that was being done. Jack, Jason, Billy and Sandy spent more hours out there than anyone, by far, creating an awesome playground for our actors.
With change comes new obstacles, and we experienced some resistance from mother nature. We had a pretty bad rainstorm that dropped a tree in our graveyard area, but miraculously, it caused no damage. The flooding was our biggest issue, but with help from some pumps we got it mostly dry. That was soon followed by Hurricane Matthew, which was way worse than we ever expected. We had several trees down, one that split but didn’t fall, that we were able to have cut down before it could cause serious damage. The flooding washed away most of the graveyard, and left standing water everywhere. We remained determined, and were still able to put on a hell of a show.
Our cast this season had a lot of new faces, my family included. My oldest son, Talyn, started his second season with more a full time volunteer status, missing only one night this season. My wife, Amanda, and my younger sons, Jake and Hunter, joined us a few nights this season, catching the scare bug.
I know I cannot remember every name of every actor/volunteer we had this season, but I will try!
First Stage: Guard shack
Guests hear how the asylum is in chaos as the patients are uprising after finding out Dr. Lazurus has been using the inmates for his own twisted experiments. Actors: Gaylord Brown, Billy Joyner, Nate McGuiness, Patrick Wiley, Tom Dvorak, myself, Eric Baker
The asylums patients who have been buried here are rising from the grave. Actors: Liz Rodenfels, Avery , Takoda Carter, Jakob Donaldson, Hunter Donaldson, Taylor Vogel, Nick Vogel, Paul McHendry, Amanda Donaldson, Bryce Hawkins, Mariah Cunningham, Robert Phillips, Jason Lingle
Stage 2: Mortician and Lucky
The guests are being warned of the presence of the smallest and most vicious of our inmates, LUCKY! Actors: Brandon Pierce, Tom Dvorak, Patrick Wiley, Nick Balovich, Justin Lee, Trey Pardue , myself
Stage 3: Pharmacy
The pharmacists offers relief to the passing guests. Actors: Eric Sobotta, Tiffani
Stage 4: TV Room and Psychiatrist
The old man watches static on his TV as the patient and psychiatrist argue. Actors: Stacy Turlington, Francine Miller, Drake Holland, myself, Amin, Tyler Owens, Eric Sobotta, Robert Phillips
Stage 5: Solitary Confinement
Dr. Stanley explains the purpose of the confinement, and how some our disturbed patients may have escaped.
Stage 6: Cafeteria
Hungry? Try some feetloaf! Actors: Amanda Winteringham, Alan Swack
The inmates are rioting, causing chaos and dismay for the doctors and guards. Actors: Noah, Talyn Donaldson, Rachel Matthews, Tiffani, Takoda Carter, Trey Pardue, DJ Liles, Gaylord Brown, Skylar
Tunnel: The Lab
The story of how Dr. Lazurus is using the patients to find a cure for his own dark demons. Actors: Richard Bergstresser, John Dikun, Gaylord Brown, Takoda Carter, Nate McGuinness, John Aldridge, Talyn Donaldson
Finale: The Failures
Earlier in the season, the doctor told you that this was your end. Later, the doctor is dead and the inmates are in charge now. Beware the experiment! Actors: John Aldridge, Nate Reep, myself, Tom Dvorak, Rachel Matthews, Francine Miller, Drake Holland, Justin Lee, Takoda Carter, Ashley Dennis, Avery, Brandon Lee, Eric Baker, Ken Gerlach, Kevin Lupton, Mariah Cunningham, Robert Phillips, Sandy Chapman, Jack Chapman
My Character this season was named gniK (pronounced “Nick”). gnik is a maximum security patient that could be seen throughout the asylum, and on different stages throughout the season. I chronicled our season through his eyes on Facebook. We were given a lot of freedom with our characters and the use of cutthroughs that allowed us to attack the wagon in multiple places. I think this freedom made it easier to put ourselves in to the characters. I was able to adapt gniK to the psychiatrist stage, the guard shack, the mortician stage and the finale. Our story line made it very easy to change around characters and it gave returning guests a different show weekly. I found a companion in “Clementine”, a pick ax handle that gave me something to “threaten” guests with. On the first stage, gniK explained how there was an uprising, and he and Clementine took out the guard. On the mortician stage, I got to introduce “Lucky”, our resident leprechaun played by Brandon Pierce. This little dude is impressive, and he is one hell of a guy! In the psychiatrists office, I played opposite a skeleton I named Dr. Spaceman (30 Rock reference), and I actually went crazy one night when I was “forced” to listen to “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” over and over for four hours. In the finale, I explained how I had killed Dr. Lazurus and we have taken over the asylum.
I have to tell a story here. One of our new volunteers, Bryce, was placed in the graveyard. I was on first stage that night, and as I came around the corner I saw him laying on the ground. I was curious as to why an actor would just be laying on his back, I stood and watched this…
I was so impressed I called him on it after the night was over.
Nate Reep, our veteran chainsaw runner and my forever brother, found a new apprentice in John Aldridge. Mad respect to John who made his first year a huge success. X gonna give it to ’em!
Alan, the kitchen cannibal, joined our lunch lady, Amanda, to create a disturbing scene in the cafeteria. I loved seeing what they did next.
Ashley came in last year as a make up apprentice who got thrown in to acting. She was very teachable and I have a lot of respect for her courage when the show started.
Billy has been an actor for a long time in Virginia Beach’s Nightmare Mansion as well as HCF. His character, Patient 14, was super creepy and the addition of his puppet, Truman, caused guests to fear flu shots. A true method actor.
Our “Jumpers”, Caveman Paul, DJ (Patient 09) and Travis (The Muffin Man), defied gravity nightly. They constantly put their bodies on the line, and I cannot respect that more.
The “little ones”, Avery, Tiffani and Liz, caused a lot of surprise in their ability to climb wagons. It was a joy to watch nightly.
Eric and Mariah brought the creep and energy every night!
Eric Sobotta, AKA Pinocchio, and Tyler Owens really stepped it up this year! I am so proud, brothers!
Rachel, your cheery disposition kept a smile on my face ALL season long!
Francine, Richard and Drake are another family that brings the scare. Richard being gassed every night was a highlight in the tunnel, while Drake playing the psychiatrist to Francine’s patient was a stroke of genius.
Gaylord…What can I say? A good friend and constant form of comedy. I love working with you!
John Dikun, the young doctor, had a good first season. The tunnel is a hard place to work, and your first year was a success.
Justin is a walking ball of sarcasm, which I can relate to. It was great working the finale with you.
Ken, for the time you were with us, you showed bravery in the face of adversity.
Kevin, dude, I am proud of you. ‘Nuff said!
Nate McGuinness never quit. When the mask came on, he was in character…wagon or not!
Doc, one of my best friends in the world! I am so glad you were able to come out and play. I am super proud of your first scare experience!
Patrick and Tom, you are always ready wherever they put you. You are crazy in and out of character and I always have a blast working with you two. I put you together because, as a trio, we have a chemistry in comedy.
Robert, you brought it dude. Great athleticism and shear will to scare!
Stacy, you are one of the sweetest girls and a disturbing psychiatry patient…sooo good!
Shut up, Trey
Takoda, you were everywhere and always energetic. It was fun watching you work!
TT, well done this year, little dude!
And lastly, my family. Thank you for being out there and understanding when I wasn’t home when you weren’t. Amanda, I am so proud and I loved watching your character come to life! Jake, You just wanted to be scary and you achieved it! Hunter, I haven’t seen a kid have more fun out there! Talyn, you seriously earned your place this year, you really made a lot of people proud!
Alright, let’s get star…SQUIRREL!
We found a new mascot! Henry is a young squirrel that seemed to have no fear of people
Our awesome makeup team helped so much, especially with the fact that we had so many first year actors. Jack Chapman, Ashley Dennis and Travis Chapman, thank you!
There would be no hayride without the “speed demons” driving the tractors. Mary Mary,Tyler “Deere Slayer”, Robert “Deere Whisperer”, Nate “Bearded Rusty Wallace”, Evan “Tractor Pull”, Josh “Mario Andretti”. You guys did an amazing job this year!
Our monitors have the task of making sure the guests know the rules, follow the rules and “put away your *%*&^$ cell phones”. Witchy Poo Anne, Kate (The inmate that was allowed to come and go), Teresa (Queen of lemony goodness), Ricky “Sparkles”, Trish (Created an atmosphere of comfort and ease, *snort*), Elisa (the evil gas lady). I love having people to interact with while on stage, and you guys really helped drive the show.
Of course, Jason, Jack and Sandy. Thank you again for providing a place that allowed creative flow in a playground that we couldn’t have imagined! Jack, you are a mentor to me. I appreciate everything you have taught me and trusted me with. Jason, this was our first year working together, and though we sometimes disagreed, we found common ground and I have a ton of respect for your skills in building, design and creativity. Sandy, our momma, you set us straight when we needed it, got our backs when we had conflicts, and you were a shoulder when we needed one, I cannot thank you enough.
Every night, before the show, we would meet in the tunnel and get hyped, here was the final nights session:
I honestly believe this was our best season ever! I love my hayride family! BooRa!
Pics by Gary Horton:
Pics by Attraction Chasers
Be sure to watch this year’s video and BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER!
Matt and I have no allusions to how lucky we are to get to be involved in awesome media days at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and our favorite has to be the Food & Wine Festival. We brought our wives along to this event and got the opportunity to taste everything at the festival’s two newest kiosks, Virginia and Hawaii. We were also very fortunate to have front row seats to see the ice carving show in Ireland. I will go through each kiosk and let you know what we thought about what we tasted.
Chef Justin met with us at the Virginia kiosk, located where Pig in Kilts usually sits in Scotland. He explained the menu and some difficulties he had along the way. He started out in November with ten dishes, knowing he would have to significantly narrow it down. He wanted to do grit fritters, but there were issues with them falling apart, thus he decided to scrap that idea and make cheddar bacon hush puppies. When planning for their ham tasting they had chosen Smithfield Ham and Edwards. Unfortunately, just before the menu was completed, Edwards Smokehouse burned down, so they went with 3 types of Smithfield ham. All five dishes were so good. We had trouble finishing them, but we definitely tried!
The Hawaii kiosk was so well done and everything on the menu was delicious.
Bangors and Colcannon are a must have!
Crepes and Coffee
The Cordon Bleu Crepe is a year round delight!
Coq a Vin will melt in your mouth
You have to try the Mac n Cheese..YOU HAVE TO!
If you like fish tacos, you will love the ones they have prepared here
The Schnitzelwich and Schinkennudel were amazing
The scallops were killer good
Mushi Gyoza has a ponzu sauce so good, I was looking for other things to dip in it!
Souvlaki has a very good tzatziki sauce
There is nothing bad at this booth, and this season they added beignets.
The food art is always so cool, plus they added an ice carving show this season
Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s 2016 Pass Member Preview Day came on March 19th this year with much anticipation surrounding Project 2017. The announcements were begun with the new President of BGW and Water Country USA, David Cromwell. David told us about the new Marco Polo’s Marketplace in San Marco that will serve Italian, Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, as well as a build your own cannoli bar. He announced the KIDsiderate and Glory at the Gardens concert series, you can read about those here. We were also there to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Ireland section of the park with performances by local Irish rock band, The Fighting Jamesons. There was also performances of the Killarney Village Duo out in the hamlet.
The Food and Wine Festival is returning with two new kiosks, Local Virginia and Hawai’i. We reported on Pass Member Appreciation day last year that there would be a new show in the Royal Palace Theatre, that show is All For One. No, not the 90’s R&B group, but a action packed Three Musketeers show. All For One opens July 1st.
Larry Giles, VP of Engineering, came on stage to announce Project 2017. He let us know that it will be BGW’s first wooden roller coaster, being built by Great Coasters, hitting speeds of 48 mph, a drop of 74 ft and have 9 airtime hills. Oh, and it’s viking themed…yes, VIKINGS. We are really stoked about this. Before we get a history lesson and there are arguments about the timeline of vikings landing in North America, remember, BGW is supposed to be fun. We believe this will be an awesome addition to New France. The main theme is vikings invading Trappers Village. Talking with Larry Giles afterword he confirmed it will be a hybrid wooden coaster. (Full announcement video below)
VP of Marketing, Dan Dipiazzo told us this will be the first crowd sourced roller coaster in the world, allowing park guests to vote for the name, along with other elements of the ride, including theming. We cannot wait!
All in all, 2016 is shaping up to be a historic year, going in to 2017! Keep up right here on BG Cabana.
Keep it positive. Keep it fun. Be excellent to each other!
Norfolk, VA – The Virginia Zoo is launching “Defining Moments,” a $2.6-million capital campaign for the renovation of the Zoo’s reptile house.
Renovations will use the building’s existing footprint, reconfiguring the internal space to double the number and complexity of current exhibits. The updated building, presently being described as the “World of Reptiles,” will feature more than 60 individual environmentally controlled exhibits. The campaign will raise all Zoo facilities to a matching high standard. The Zoological Society board has already raised more than one million dollars toward the campaign and is now asking the public to support the project by donating the remaining $1.6 million.
Since the reptile building’s construction in 1974, visitors to the Virginia Zoo have greeted reptiles, amphibians and nocturnal creatures in this space. The campaign will fund the complete renovation of the Zoo’s oldest building, creating a new 13,000-square-foot exhibit space. “Animals such as reptiles, amphibians and other small creatures are uniquely tied to our world, yet they are commonly overlooked,” says Virginia Zoo Executive Director Greg Bockheim.
“Each ‘defining moment’ that is discovered and observed by a child has tremendous value to our world, and it is our mission to create a fun and educational experience for children and adults at every exhibit at the Zoo.”
The 52-week construction timeline will reconfigure the space to increase the number, size and complexity of the exhibits. Other components of the new facility will include a frog laboratory, reptile nursery, venomous snake and diversity of life galleries, a conservation education classroom and a family restroom.
The Zoo plans to also extend the building to accommodate crocodiles with underwater viewing and add other improved visitor amenities. Exhibits will be constructed in a manner that is immersive and natural so that viewers can see and learn about rarely observed animal behavior.
Approximately 500,000 people visit the Zoo every year. The Zoo estimates that the World of Reptiles will bring in an additional 30,000+ guests annually.
To support the project, the Zoo is asking those interested to contact the Development Office at 757-441-2374 ext. 220 or email email@example.com
I have personally always loved taking my kids to the Zoo, and have also spent many tranquil hours there on my own. I very much look forward to creating new “Defining Moments” with my children in this new and exciting renovation.
The Virginia Zoo has been a staple day-cation for my family, it is an inexpensive and educational trip. After many years of visiting we have gotten to know many of the animals, and after the Trail of the Tiger exhibit opened we were able to see our new animal friends adapt to their new homes and see babies grow before our eyes. The staff has always been pleasant and knowledgeable.
Stay tuned here for more updates on this awesome project!
Keep it positive, keep it fun, be excellent to each other!
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.
New 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.
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!