Home » Recent Posts

Category: Recent Posts

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!

Opening Day of InvadR

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.

Perhaps a nod to Nessie? Photo credit Andrew Stilwell, Coaster101.com

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.

Do not pass this ride up when you visit the park!

BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER!

What the I 64 Expansion Means for BGW Visitors

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

i-64-segment-i

http://www.i64widening.org/learn_more/maps.asp

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.

 

 

i-64-segment-iiSegment 2

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.

 

 

Segment 3easset_upload_file988_86491_e

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.

 

BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER!

 

ACTION-PACKED YEAR AWAITS AT BUSCH GARDENS® WILLIAMSBURG

bg-header

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (January 18, 2017) – Bursting at the seams with exciting rides, events and attractions, this upcoming season promises to be the most action-packed year in the history of Busch Gardens® Williamsburg and Water Country USA®.

The Vikings are taking over this spring as Busch Gardens Williamsburg debuts InvadR™, the park’s first wooden coaster. Hold on to 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.

invadr_viking_carBusch Gardens Williamsburg opens March 25. Water Country USA kicks off its season May 20.

FAMILY FUN DURING SPRING INTO FUN

Families with young children will find special reasons to visit during Spring into Fun, starting in March. The high-energy live show “Elmo Rocks!” returns to the Globe Theatre for a limited run starting March 18. Plus youngsters can meet their favorite furry friends, including Cookie Monster, Elmo and Abby Cadabby at Sesame Street® Forest of Fun™.

Celebrity guests will bring special fun for families this spring. The KIDsiderate® Concert Series returns in May, with musical performances by Choo Choo Soul with Genevieve and more. Families can experience the wild side of Busch Gardens and learn about the importance of wildlife conservation when animal expert Jack Hanna brings his animals to the park March 25 – 26.

Busch Gardens also will debut a new show in Das Festhaus® on March 31. The yet-to-be-named show will feature traditional German music and dances, with a modern twist, offering diners a fun Oktoberfest experience every day.

FWF_Hero

NEW TASTES AND COOL NIGHTTIME FUN THIS SUMMER

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.

All For OneTwo special shows also join the Summer Nights 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. 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.

Celebrate Independence Day at Busch Gardens with two days of fireworks July 3 – 4. The pyrotechnic displays will illuminate the skies with a kaleidoscope of colors. Guests can find their favorite spot in the park to watch the show.

MORE REASONS TO VISIT EVERY SEASON

beir_festThe area’s best Oktoberfest celebration returns in September. Raise a glass to toast the end of summer with a variety of craft beers from around the globe at Bier Fest, which will run select dates Sept. 1 – 17.

Fear abounds in the fall during Howl-O-Scream®. The park becomes a seriously scary place in the evenings, starting Sept. 23. New this year, the park will stay open until midnight on select dates and expand to two Thursdays in October.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™ and friends will return to Busch Gardens Christmas Town™, starting Nov. 24, with new experiences for families to enjoy the holiday spirit and more lights than any holiday event in the nation.

BEST DEALS OF THE YEAR

Busch Gardens has brought back two special online-only offers for guests to experience all of the action this spring and summer.

Buy a Busch Gardens Fun Card and get Water Country USA for free with our 2-Park Fun Card deal, valid online through March 31. Enjoy unlimited visits to both parks, all spring and summer, through Sept. 10.

The 2-Park Preschool Pass also makes 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.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.buschgardens.com/va or call (757) 229-4386. “Like” Busch Gardens on Facebook, and follow @BuschGardensVA on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

colonial williamsburg formation

FREE Tickets for Locals at Colonial Williamsburg – ONE WEEK ONLY

Don’t miss out on this amazing gift! From August 8th through the 14th, Colonial Williamsburg is offering a FREE ticket to residents of the following cities/counties:
Carriage colonial williamsburg
Williamsburg
James City County
York County
Gloucester County
Newport News
Poquoson
Hampton
Isle of Wight
Surry County
Chesapeake
Norfolk
Portsmouth
Virginia Beach
New Kent
Suffolk

In order to claim your FREE ticket, you must download and fill out this form:

Area Resident Free Ticket

and bring it with you along with proof of residency to the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center. You are only allowed one ticket per resident. Proof of residency is required.

kids-hoops

Want to shoot a real Revolutionary War style musket?

Ever want to experience shooting a musket like the ones used during the Revolutionary War? Well now you can. Earlier this week Colonial Williamsburg announced starting March 19th you can pay to learn about, get training on and fire live rounds from a replica musket at a secluded Musket Range. This new attraction is part of an initiative to attract new visitors with a unique hands-on historical experiences.

Unfortunately this attraction doesn’t come cheap, cost is $119 per person and you get to fire 6 rounds. Anybody 14 yrs or older can participate, but under 18 must be accompanied by a non-shooting adult. This cost is in addition to a CW Admission.

For more information about this event or to purchase tickets, visit their website here:

https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/plan/calendar/fire-flintlock-musket

Scotland - Loch Ness Monster - Roller Coaster - 2014

Pass Member Preview Day, Busch Gardens Williamsburg

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

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

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

Special preview day offers include:

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

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

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

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

Busch Gardens Donates 4,000lbs of Food to Local Neighborhood

WILLIAMSBURG (January 14, 2016) – More than 4,000 pounds of fresh produce, dairy products and packaged foods are making their way to residential food pantries in James City County’s Grove neighborhood thanks to a partnership between Busch Gardens® and the Grove Christian Outreach Center.

Busch Gardens and the outreach center are testing a pilot program in which the theme park donates its surplus fresh, frozen and packaged food items to the Center. The Center, which helps people living in this small community along Route 60 just south of the theme park, will distribute the food to residents who need assistance putting food on their tables.

BT0113OK01_008H_2048pxThe Grove community is designated by the US Department of Agriculture as a food desert due to low income levels and the lack of access to healthy, affordable foods at a nearby grocery store. Food deserts contribute to food insecurity and are a principle cause of hunger in the United States.

Lindsey Mair, a buyer for Busch Gardens’ culinary department and Grove Outreach Center volunteer, is spearheading this new Busch Gardens initiative.

“Our intent is to put our surplus food to good use and not let it go to waste,” she said of the donated food that will reach its expiration date before the park opens for the 2016 season on March 20.

Mair said food donation opportunities arise throughout the year following large-scale park events or after the park’s menu transition from summer operations to Howl-O-Scream® and then Christmas Town™.

“Our largest donation of the year will likely come after Christmas Town ends and the park closes until spring, as we typically have a surplus of food that would expire within that timeframe,” Mair said.

Pat McCormick, Executive Director of the Grove Outreach Center, said approximately 14,500 food-insecure individuals live in the City of Williamsburg, James City and York counties. Specifically, the overall food insecurity rate in James City County in 2013 was 9.3 percent with an estimated 6,310 food-insecure individuals living in the community.

BT0113OK01_021H_2048px“It is important that residents in Grove have access to good, nutritious foods in their own community,” McCormick said.

Many Grove residents are on a fixed income or disability, or simply do not have sufficient employment income to meet all of their household needs each month. Providing food to them through structured outreach programs helps eliminate their dilemma of having to choose between paying their rent, utilities, medical bills or food, McCormick said, adding that it is critical to nonprofit organizations like the Outreach Center to have the support of individuals and businesses in the community to help meet the growing requests for food assistance.

“The food Busch Gardens is donating will enhance our ability to meet our goal of reducing hunger and food insecurity in the Grove community and to meet the food needs of the families we serve each month. We are pleased that Busch Gardens will be a community partner in helping in the fight against hunger in our community,” McCormick said.

image001