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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
Now on to the returning attractions
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The demons are great, we could do without the EDM party. ‘Nuff said.
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!
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.
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!!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Busch 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.
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.
Two 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
The 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.
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: