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Tempesto: The Legend Begins


For most of the fall-winter months, I saw what looked to be a strange, orange erector set structure reaching into the sky near Apollo’s Chariot.  Soon after, light blue coaster tracks started rapidly appearing.  During the off-season, these twisting tracks taunted me across the empty parking lots whenever I drove by on Route 60.  Busch Gardens was obviously building a new coaster and thus, the anticipation of the opening day weighed heavily on my mind.


All the planning, design, engineering, construction, inspections, testing, and sheer will it takes to both fund and produce any thrill ride always amazes me.  These talented people work so hard to please the riders, who are inevitably the final product’s judge and jury.  In many ways, building a roller coaster is no different than producing a big budget, block buster film and praying for success at the box-office.  However, this movie will play over and over for decades to come.

So I am putting on my Roger and Ebert hat and review Tempesto, the newest thrill ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.


The Basics:

Tempesto was manufactured by Premier Rides and is now nestled in a very small footprint in the Festa Italia section of the park.  It features three launch elements, a 154-foot inversion, and reaches 63 mph on 883 feet of track.

Sounds impressive right?  Well it is!  I was able to ride the front, middle, and back car and for a ride that is less than one minute, it packs a punch!  Being shot through a magnetic launching system both forward in backwards makes the station house look like a blur.  You then rocket straight up, twisting while you go to crest over a length of track that has what looks to be an impossible corkscrew twist.


The inversion is that of a slow roll, and before you even get to focus on the landscape, you are thrust straight down through a tight fit of steal beams and track.  There is another disorienting go round and back through the station for a roll back stop.


What is behind the name, “Tempesto?”

Here is the park’s official statement:

“In the rich tradition of the classic Italian Daredevils, no single man wowed the crowds like Tempesto.  Busch Gardens’ daring new roller coaster, Tempesto, lets riders take center stage and recreate his signature stunt. Guests daring enough to take on Tempesto will race into unbelievably tight turns at 63 miles per hour and defy gravity as they roll through a complete inversion 154 feet in the air.”


The ride delivered on white-knuckle elements, but just as impressive was the theming.  In true Busch Gardens’ fashion, the park has taken a roller coaster and given it a back-story everyone can relate to.   Imagine that you are in a crowd at the circus looking up at the acrobats, tightrope walkers, and trapeze artists.  Safely you sit among the spectators with a bag of popcorn and soda and watch people risk their lives.  But… what if you were the daredevil?  What would it feel like performing such terrifying stunts?

In my opinion, the theme stems back to turn of the century daredevils.  For instance, there was a real life daredevil named Diavolo, who performed in Adam &Sells Bros. Circus in 1902.  His act seemed to defy gravity on nothing more than a bicycle.  According to, Diavolo’s “…big trick was to ride the bicycle down a triple extension ladder placed at an angle of 52 degrees from a height of 60 ft, bouncing and jumping over the rungs, keeping upright all 79 feet of the way and riding down on the hippodrome track.”

Here is an image of Diavolo and his act:


Lucky for us we are not in a bicycle during the 154 foot inversion when riding Tempesto. The ride features a loose fitting, over-the-shoulder soft harness with a pressure lock lap bar.  The front row offers a frightening view of the 154 ft inversion and for a brief moment you wonder if the coaster will make it through the complete turn.  The back car gives riders a real gut-wrenching pull over each drop for an extra wow factor.


Going back to the turn of the century, people cried out for more stunts featuring bicycles, automobiles, and motorcycles.  Their technology was new, edgy, and spoke to those who dreamed of the future.  Busch Gardens uses that concept to their advantage with Tempesto.

The entrance and queue line reflects a time period of death-defying acts of a traveling circus from the early 1900s.  Vintage inspired sideshow posters are placed on the walls and carnival like lights string across the entrance in all its retro glory.  Even the ride’s gift shop carries the vintage décor of an era gone by.




Nevertheless, the park cleverly meshes nostalgia and modern technology.  That is why Tempesto is perfect theming for the 40th Anniversary of Busch Gardens Williamsburg.  It takes a timeless story and pushes the envelope for the daredevil in all of us.



My final conclusion:

Tempesto:  an awesome ride with a Steam Punk vibe!  

Now, it is time for you to decide.  Will you stand and watch or do you dare to ride? 


Thanks for reading my review and please make sure to Like BGW Memories on Facebook for more photos of Busch Gardens past and present.  Feel free to share you memories, park photos, vinatge Busch Gardens images, and love for the park with us!

Celebrating 40 Years of Fun

A collection of Historical Markers with factual information that celebrates the park’s rich 40 year history.


Before you read this, be aware that this blog post is a labor of love.  The quest was extensive and time consuming, but I could hardly resist the lure of finding so many cool facts and photos!

In case you haven’t heard, the park has scattered little nuggets of historical images and information around the park like a nostalgic Easter Egg Hunt.  Hopefully, I found them all.

If you visit the park this year, take note of the painted color scheme reflects The Old Country Logo.  (That did not escape my notice Busch Gardens; nice touch!)


The vintage colors

I for one, was pleasantly surprised by the sheer number and quality of the signs.  Someone took great care in the construction, documentation, and appearance of the displays.  So, to those who worked on this project:  I salute you!

The following are my reasons for putting together this blog post:

  • Some of you may not be able to visit the park this year.  If so, I typed out each of the sign’s descriptions the park listed under each photo.  I would have added the little trademark symbol as they do, but I honestly have no idea how to do that on the computer.  Just imagine they are there.
  • This may help provide a check list of how many there are.   Spoiler alert:  Some of them are really hard to find.   It made for a fabulous form of exercise; so I have no complaints!
  • I love anything about park history and honestly, I just want to share it with you all.  Therefore, you will occasionally see that I added my own commentary after the descriptions.   Such comments will be notated by an asterisk and in bold.  *Like this….(fancy isn’t it?)

~ A journey through time via Busch Gardens 40th Anniversary Celebration’s mega-awesome park signage begins.

Tally Ho Adventurers!  Your quest awaits!


Busch Gardens, The Old Country


What’s in a name?  Busch Gardens has had many through the years.  It opened as Busch Gardens, The Old Country; Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 1992; Busch Gardens Europe in 2006; and Busch Gardens in 2008.  The original park design featured three villages celebrating the spirit of European villages from which early American settlers came.  During the construction, a workman discovered a 200-year old brass and steel saber that was thought to be owned by a French engineer officer of the Revolutionary War period.  The Williamsburg theme park was one of three Busch Gardens in the country, including Tampa Bay and Los Angeles.  More than 6,000 park guests, led by Governor Mills E. Godwin, Jr. and television personality Ed McMahon, dedicated and officially opened the Old Country on May 16, 1975 after just one year of construction.


Globe Theatre


The Globe Theatre was the park’s largest structure when it opened in 1975, and it continues to host live shows in the double-sized replica of William Shakespeare’s performance space.  Through the years, the theatre has featured a variety of extravaganzas from Mark Wilson’s Worlds Greatest Illusions, America on Ice, Hot Ice, Celebrate America to today’s London Rocks, with puppets, animation, and musical performances from classic British bands.  The Bard was a writer for all seasons, and the Globe Theatre showcases many seasonal favorites such as Monster Stomp on Ripper Row, part of Howl-O-Scream and Scrooge No More for Christmas Town.  For a time, 4D movies were also shown including Haunts of the Old Country, R.L. Stein’s Haunted Lighthouse and Pirates 4-D.

* I would like to mention two shows; Ghosts of the Globe and Haunts of the Old Country.  BGW Memories’ Entertainment Photo Album on Facebook, you may find images of Ghosts of the Globe. 


Double-Decker Bus Stop


From the moment guests arrived to Busch Gardens, they were immersed in the European Theme.  Guests boarded red, double-decker buses using a special multi-level bus stop to carry them from the parking lots to the main entrance.  At the time, Busch Gardens had parking for approximately 3,000 vehicles.  Today the park has seven parking lots, including Scotland and Bavaria located across from the park.

* Additional Photos of these buses are found in BGW Memories Facebook Albums “Park Transportation” and “Postcards.”




The sky-high mode of transportation provides guests with a three-minute, 3,000 linear foot tour of the “World’s Most Beautiful Park.”  Passengers enjoy views of six European countries while traveling nearly 80 feet in the air.  It is the most popular ride in the park, and has given more than 75 million rides since the opening in 1975.  All Aboard! Passengers travelling to the following destinations: England (Aeronaut Skyride), Aquitaine (Blimp Debarcadere Skyride) and Rhinefeld (Zeppelin landing Skyride).  It is the only ride of its type with a triangular layout.


Budweiser Clydesdales


The Budweiser Clydesdales were first introduced to the public on April 7, 1933, to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition.  The first Clydesdale hitch was given by August A. Busch, Jr. as a gift to his father, August Anheuser Busch, Sr.  A Budweiser Clydesdale’s qualifications include having an even temperament, gelded, four years of age, eith hands (72 inches, 183 cm) at the withers when fully mature and weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds (820 and 1,040 kg). The Budweiser Clydesdale were and still are a symbol the Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC.




When the park opened in 1975, the bridge in Scotland was called Brittany Bridge leading to the medieval English Hamlet of Hastings on the other side.  In the main court area there was a “Guess Your Age and Weight,” and the village featured a Battlements shooting gallery, a penny arcade and Turvey Manor Fun House.  In 2001, Busch Gardens introduced Ireland, Replacing Hastings- the first new country to join the park in 20 years.

*Let’s also take a moment to remember the store Wizard Works that had magicians and magical items (Currently it is the store called “Pot O’ Gold.”)  The bathrooms next to Wizard Works used to be Rooms of Illusionment and featured two rooms to walk through.  One was a body heat reflection and a shadow wall.  One could lean up against a wall and a bright light would flash.  Moving away from the wall, your shadow was left until it faded and the light would flash again.


 Magic Lantern Puppet TheaterIMG_6223

Michael Recycle was the featured character in Sid and Marty Krofft’s “Camelot Revue” in the Reynolds Aluminum Theater in 1976.  Other shows have included Once Upon a Dragon with 50 puppets and directed by Bill Baird, a 73-year old marionette maestro who is considered the world’s foremost living puppeteer.  The original puppet troughs are still located beneath today’s stage.  The theater continued its transformation by staging live shows including Kaleidoscope, Hats off to Hollywood, Journey into Music, and Stage Struck.  Times changed and Rockin’ the Boat was the last show in 2000 before it was renovated to become the Abbey Stone Theater.  When Ireland debuted in 2001, Irish Thunder took the stage and the rest is history.


 The Enchanted Laboratory


This unique and enchanting building was once home to Le Catapult for ten years.  The art on the walls looked like a howling storm with crashing waves and dark lightening clouds themed after the Battle of Hastings.  There were big changes in 1986 when this building housed a new show mixing animatronics, special effects, and live performers called the Enchanted Laboratory of Nostramos the Magnificent, which ran through 2000.  Animatronic characters included a wise owl, a dog-like dragon, and a raven.  With the introduction of Ireland, Secrets of Castle O’ Sullivan played from 2001 to 2008.  Today you can Dine with Elmo and Friends at this theater, enjoy Halloween dining opportunities and Santa’s Fireside Feast during Christmas Town.

*Pelinore was the name of the Owl, Talon was the name of the Dragon-like dog, and the raven was named Elixir.  There was also a creature that popped up named “It” at the end.  That monster was reused as a prop in the old Haunted Train Ride (No longer running) during Howl-O-Scream.  The lighted Gargoyles that were located on theater walls are part of the décor at Howl-O-Scream’s Blood Banquet.  I wrote an entire blog about this show located here:



13705_945202872158683_5311157537262694711_n-001The simulator building was constructed and debuted in 1990.  Riding with a gnome-like character, guests traveled as companions that encountered a variety of obstacles during their mission.  Questor combined a fast-paced motion picture adventure, with studio animation, special effects, and flight simulations.  In 1996, King Arthur’s Challenge replaced Questor and in 2001 Ireland launched and Corkscrew Hill was introduced.

**Thanks to Frank Forrester for finding this sign beside Grogan’s Pub.  The ride was also intrduced at the Busch Gardens Tampa Park and a video was posted to Youtube by weatherguru76 of the entire ride. Located here: 


Threadneedle Fair


A fun and game-filled Renaissance festival greeted visitors in 1975.  Theatrical hosts tempted guests to test their skills at a variety of games, and there was even a traveling gypsy show.  True to Arthur’s day, fellowship was not forgotten, and the townspeople were always eager to share their good cheer.  Jack Hanna’s Wild Reserve opened in 2009, and brought a brand new look to the area.  Park guests now have the opportunity to learn and get an up-close look at Grey wolves, eagles and other animals important to conservation and our environment.

*Make sure to notice the “Threadneedle Bridge” sign while in the area.  It’s a little Ghost of the past. 

The Sign

The Sign


LaJolie Plume


Originally known as LaJolie Plume, a bird circus theater, today it is Shenanigans Theatre and hosts the side-splitting More…Pet Shenanigans.  This unique and inviting space has always been a home to shows celebrating animals.  The many productions featured Feathered Follies in the 1980’s, World of Birds and Wild Wings in the 1990s, Falcons and Fables in 2001 plus many others.  Today, more than 40 of our furry friends were adopted from animal shelters and rescue facilities across the country.  Now they reside at Busch Gardens where they receive veterinary care, plenty of exercise, and lots of love and affection.


Anheuser-Busch Hospitality Center


Anheuser-Busch Hospitality Center

When the park originally opened, the eagle-One Monorail transported guests on a 7,150 foot oval track from Busch Gardens to the Anheuser-Busch Hospitality Center.  Anheuser-Busch opened the Hospitality Center in 1974 to showcase their products. Guests could watch history videos about the company; receive complimentary samples of beer, and tour the brewery.

*The best AC in the park was on the Eagle-One Monorail!  It was so refreshing on a hot summer day.  Not to mention two free beers!   Need I say more?  


Gypsy Wagon


This 19th century gypsy wagon, known as the Durton reading wagon, once traveled through the picturesque English countryside.  The nameplate reveals A. Hooke Lynn as the original owner while the axle bears the inscription of V.R. Mason, Patent, London 1842.  Ash is the primary wood component; however the cabinets and bunks are made from pine.  There are touches of spruce and lemonwood while the fancy scroll-work is in a bas-relief.  The wagon’s meticulous restoration insured matching the original paint, authenticity of hand forged hardware along with cut glass complete with small bubble imperfections and faults.


Three Musketeers Theater


The original Three Musketeers Theater was a 1,000-seat open-air amphitheater where trained animals performed against a mammoths French castle backdrop on a huge stage, separated from the audience by an authentic moat, which remains under the current stage.  A fabric-type net tent provided shade.  Today it is known as Le Palais Royal or the Royal Palace Theater.  There have been several animal shows over the years, along with Circus Europa, Chinese Acrobats of Taiwan, Imaginique, laser shows, ice spectaculars, and popular concert artists.  For a brief time, there was even a children’s petting zoo located in the back area.


LeMans Raceway


Over 25 million races were run on LeMans Raceway as one of the original attractions when Busch Gardens opened in 1975.  There were 49 recreated antique racing cars that traveled nearly ten million miles in 31 years before the raceway closed in 2006 to make way for the Griffon coaster.  The cars, modeled after the 1913 Stutz Bearcat, had molded fiberglass bodies and were built on steel frames in California.  Racecars followed of o three 2,000-foot tracks, accumulating a total of nearly 200,000 miles per car.  The mileage total for the entire fleet equates to nearly 400 trips around the Earth with a top speed of only 7 mph.

*Did you know that the original design had the cars going the opposite direction?  The straightaway was supposed to replicate the race to the finish.  Due to the nature of how cars had to stop at the loading area, it was safer to have the ride end on a large curve to aid in slowing the drivers down.


Eagle’s Nest


Totem poles and tepees made Eagle’s Nest Village a popular stop for children.  Here, a friendly Indian helped organize games amid the kid-powered activities, such as the “Ball Crawl,” the “Cloud Bounce,” and the “Punching Bag Forest.”  The children’s interactive play area was located under the LeScoot Log Flume.  The supports of the log flume still show remaining remnants of the original Eagle’s Nest theming based on Native American drawings.

*I loved this place as a kid.  The ball pit was amazing.  Sometimes water would splash from the log flume and we loved to wait for the water to fall on those hot summer days.



LeScoot Log Flume


The LeScoot Log Flume has given nearly 35 million rides since 1975.  It recreates the thrills and excitement of a French Canadian logging camp, dipping and turning at tree-top level, ending with a plunge through a sawmill, then a splash into the river below.  It was an original attraction when Busch Gardens opened, and featured a totally dark sawmill except for floodlights that shine on what appears to be a seven-foot cycling buzz saw, complete with buzzing sounds.  Traveling 60 feet in the air, this dashing ride takes guests through a wild 1,420 foot course, and moves at an average 5 feet per second.

*This ride used to have two hills.  The first dip was removed due to debris pooling at the bottom.  It was more efficient to keep the one final drop at the end.  The water pump is located behind the Alpengeist, next to the maintenance bay.  Water from the ride is drained and recycled each day of operation. 


Le Catapult


Le Catapult has given more than 14 million rides and operated in four different locations, making it the most repurposed ride in the park.  The original location in 1975 was inside the building known as Castle O’ Sullivan located in Hastings.  The ride was moved and reopened with Festa Italia for the 1987 season when the Enchanted Laboratory of Nostramos the Magnificent was added to Hastings in 1986.  It was later moved to Oktoberfest and renamed Der Katapult where Mach Tower currently stands before moving to its present location in New France.


 Canadian Folk Palladium


The Palladium has hosted many hit shows since opening with the park in 1975.  It is commonly called the Canadian Palladium and has offered bluegrass, country, and dancing performances.  At various intervals, the Palladium featured gospel and clogging shows.  The Busch Street Boys were featured in 1994, and in 1988 American Jukebox performed at this theater in various forms.  Monster Stomp was a new show that debuted for the 2002 Howl-O-Scream season.  It was quickly a fan favorite, and provided groundwork for Monster Stomp on Ripper Row which debuted in the Globe Theatre in 2014.




The German heritage of the Busch family is reflected in Rhinefeld Village.  It was the original performance space of the park’s first German-themed show played on a bandstand near the gazebo.  The 19th century-style Wilkommenhaus is a true replica of a German town hall, and was a hub for good food, drink, and friendly people.  The Busch Memorial Fountain was built in 1914 and originally stood in St. Louis for many years.  It was commissioned by Lily Busch as a tribute to her late husband, Adolphus Busch 1839-1913, founder of Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC.

*Sadly, I could not locate a sign for the lovely glockenspiel.  The clock was repaired and functioning opening day which was a very joyous surprise!  If you wish to see a version of this lovely style clock located in Munich, here you go:


Grimm’s Hollow


Originally a petting zoo, kids visited and fed baby animals in the nearby forest while adults enjoyed libations at Rhinefeld.  It was transformed into Grimm’s Hollow, a fantasy world of children’s rides and experiences for the 1979 season.  Rides such as the Lady Bug catered to Children’s whims, while a puppeteer played to their imagination with a Punch and Judy show.  A Captain Kangaroo show took place on stage for a short time.  In 1994, Land of the Dragons replaced Grimm’s Hollow.  The original sign has been repurposed for Chug-a-Tug and Bug-a-Dug.

* Grimm’s Hollow also had a fun sand pit area with a play Gingerbread House and rocking horses.  There was a boat ride (still in operation at Land of the Dragons) and a circular buggy and motorcycle ride as well.


Herschell Carousel


Park visitors have enjoyed more than 16 million rides on this historic merry-go-round.  Allen Herschell, a pioneer of the mobile carousel, built this unit in 1919 in Tonawanda, New York.  For more than 50 years, it traveled throughout the United States before being abandoned.  In 1973, Busch Gardens located the dismantled carousel in a Dallas, Texas auction barn.  Under the direction of the builder’s grandson, fourteen craftsmen spent six months restoring it to its original condition.  All side panels, ponies, castings, and brass rails are either original fittings or genuine Herschell replacement parts.

*Technically, this is the oldest ride in the park.


Das Katzchen


Das Katzchen is German for “The Kitten.”  The roller coaster was introduced to Oktoberfest expansion in 1976 and operated through 1984.  Built by the Allen Herschell Company, (the creator of the Busch Gardens Carousel), the coaster was a single train with three cars.  Riders were arranged two across in two rows for a total of 12 riders.  Some of Das Katzchen’s supports were extended to accommodate its hillside location.  Nearby, there are still hints of the footings from the original Oktoberfest Bridge, but you have to look carefully since the bridge has since been removed.




The park soared above its expected attendance in the 1975 operating season, so Oktoberfest, a new section of the German village, was added in 1976.  This grand hamlet included a 2,000-seat Munich-like festival hall (where food, drink, and oompah music still abound), several new rides and roller coasters, restaurants, and additional restrooms.  Oktoberfest continues to capture the excitement of Munich’s famous street festival.  It was the first expansion to the original park layout and originally included Oktoberfest Bridge, since removed.




The Glissade was a wild ride just like those found on the grounds of Munich’s Oktoberfest.  This German-built bobsled-like coaster was referred to as the best thrill ride of its size and kind in the world.  Cars raced over the 2,00-foot course in 30 seconds, reaching speeds of 60 mph.  The Glissade stood where Curse of Darkastle operates today, and still gives rides in Guadalajara, Mexico.  It was one of the park’s original attractions in 1975.


Wild Izzy


Wild Izzy, a steel wild mouse coaster was named after the 1996 Summer Olympic Games mascot.  Busch Gardens was a proud sponsor of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games that were played in Atlanta, Ga.  Renamed Wild Maus in 1997 and removed at the end of the 2003 season, it was then relocated to Busch Gardens Tampa and renamed Cheetah Chase.  In 2005, Curse of Darkastle opened where Wild Maus once stood.


Das Festhaus


Das Festhaus, a Munich-like dining hall, opened in 1976 as part of the 1976 Oktoberfest Village expansion.  At the time, it was thought to be the world’s largest dining hall seating more than 2,000 dinners.  Today, it is Busch Gardens largest structure.  Over the years, it has hosted a variety of live shows including This is Oktoberfest, Polkamania, and this year’s new show Roll Out the Barrel.  Guests can still be overheard talking about a time they dined on a park favorite, the delicious Black Forest Cake.  The Festhaus cookbook calls it a Bavarian Torte, Bayrische Torte in German.  Look Closely- the stained glass windows on the front of Das Festhaus celebrate the park’s original countries, including Hastings.

*Shockingly, there is not a sign that discusses the famous stage that once stood inside the Festhaus which featured a unique rotating and lifting platform for the band.  The dancers would then perform underneath the band.  In addition, a 40th Anniversary sign in honor of Bob Bauman, the Burgermeister that hosted the shows in the Festhaus and served as a major icon for over 25 years should be considered.  Bob retired in 2002 at the age of 87.  He passed away in 2009 at the age of 93. An article with this information is found here:  

*A photo from the Virginia Gazette:  381781000


Drachen Fire


Drachen is the German spelling of Dragon and the looping roller coaster, located in Oktoberfest, opened in 1992.  Special lighting illuminated the sides of the coaster car in red.  When Drachen Fire was completed, it has six inversions; a wraparound corkscrew midway on the first hill, two Cobra Rolls (referred to by Arrow Dynamics as a “Batwing”) and a cutback between the corkscrews.  Two counter-clockwise corkscrews completed the count.  The ride’s loading station is currently being used for Howl-O-Scream.


Die Wildkatze


Die Wildkatze, a Schwartzkopf Wildcat steel coaster, debuted in Oktoberfest as part of the 1976 expansion.  The ride featured single-car trains with riders sitting two across and became a park favorite.  Removed at the end of the 1983 season to make room for the Big Bad Wolf, it still operates at a park in Maryland.


The Big Bad Wolf


The Big Bad Wolf opened in 1984, and provided over 29 million riders the thrill of traveling at the speed of fright.  The coaster’s debut, originally scheduled for April, was delayed until June so that trim brakes could be added on the after the second lift hill because the trains were travelling faster than expected.  The “howl” heard on the first lift of the Big Bad Wolf was added in 1985, and in 1992 Bavarian buildings were added in the Wolf’s village.  The ride closed in 2009, but some of the footers, queues, and part of the station were left standing and have been repurposed for Verbolten.

* My friend the Big Bad Wolf, how I miss you.  I wrote two stories about the Wolf.  Feel free to check them out should you wish to read my thoughts about my favorite ride of all time. 


Loch Ness Monster


The Loch Ness Monster is a myth and a legend, but at Busch Gardens it is real, at least as a roller coaster.  More than 53 million rides have been given since its 1978 debut.  The Loch Ness Monster was the first double-looping coaster in the world when it opened and is the only one to this day.  For the coaster’s 15th anniversary, 20 Elvis impersonators, from the popular movie, The Flying Elvi, parachuted into the park and rode the Loch Ness Monster.   It was a day fit for a king.  Stretching over six acres, the double-looping steel Arrow Dynamics roller coaster was designed by renowned International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Hall of Fame member Ronald Toomer.  The Loch Ness Monster was added in 1978 and was the first roller coaster to feature interlocking loops.  The American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) organization was founded at this coaster.  History was made in 2003, when ACE designated the Loch Ness Monster as a historically significant ACE Coaster Landmark.

*For the 20th anniversary, the park added growling sounds, strobe lighting, and a face of the Loch Ness that flashed right before you as you exited the cave; conveniently timed to misters that went off right at that exact moment.  Those special effects have since been removed.


Busch Gardens Railway


All aboard!  More than 58 million park visitors have been boarding and enjoying the train ride at Busch Gardens since 1975.  One of the park’s original attractions, the railway line was designed with two trestles, offering spectacular views.  The first custom built trains were Balmoral Castle, and English-style locomotive, and Der Hochbeinige, a Prussian-style locomotive.  The original locomotive loop was nearly 2 ½ miles with two stations and trains traveled an average of 10 mph.  The Alpen Express was added in 1997, and the train was outfitted with a snowplow and alpine style paint on the caboose as it debuted in conjunction with the park’s Alpengeist roller coaster.  Originally built in 1972 for Lakeside Park in Salem, VA it is an American style locomotive with a matching four-coach train and caboose.


Royal Preserve Petting Zoo


*Thanks to Frank Forrester for locating and sending the image of this sign.  It is located near Sesame Street’s Forrest of Fun.  I am unable to read the description and I will make sure to get a close-up the next time I visit the park to fill in the details.  However, I will give you the information I know.  The Petting Zoo was located where Forrest of Fun is located today.  It was wooded and housed various animals like Black Bear cubs, llamas, goats, chickens, a pot belly pig, a Condor, Parrots, and various other critters.  Children were able to touch and interact with some of the animals and even feed them.  There were these little pellet dispensers and for a quarter you feed the chickens and goats.  (Side note, those machines were also located on Grimm’s Landing Bridge, where you could feed the ducks and turtles that lived in the Rhine River at the time).     Here is one of my memories at the petting zoo:  






Since 1990, Busch Gardens has been consistently voted the “World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park” by the National Amusement Park Historical Association.  When original built in 1975, care was taken to preserve the mature landscaping and natural terrain of the parl.  Some of the trees on site are over 400 years old.  To this day, the park carefully stays true to its European style theme and landscaping.  Grooming, watering, and replacing plants takes place daily prior to opening.  There are more than 250 flowerbeds, 150 hanging baskets, and 1,000 planters throughout the park.


 Festa Italia


Festa Italia was added in 1987, adjacent to the Italian village of San Marco.  Themed around the fair celebrating Marco Polo’s return to Italy from his famous visit to China, it contains many of the park’s midway games, all with a fun and festive theme.  The big attraction was the Gladiator’s Gauntlet, along with five additional rides all housed in open air-pavilions and each depicting a country visited by Marco Polo.  The expansion also included Festa Station, the third stop on Busch Gardens Railways.


 Gladiator’s Gauntlet


Gladiator’s Gauntlet, a non-inverting Vekoma Canyon Trip attraction, was a 46-foot-tall contemporary thrill ride with a two part boat shaped vessel, which hung on two massive rotating cranks.  As the ride began, the boat separated into two parts and the passengers slid back and forth.  When the rotation started the boat began to move up and down as the ride swung high in the air.


Sea Dragon


The Sea Dragon was a Mack Sea Storm ride, featuring a center water fountain.  It was removed in 1998 to make way for Apollo’s Chariot.  The original metallic Sea Dragon pavilion is still overhead, serving as the roller coasters queue house.  The ride had boat-shaped cars with red sails.  Based on the ride’s movement, guest could end up forward, backwards, and feel the sensation of an exciting swing.

* This ride was extremely fun for its small size.  There was also a feature that allowed the boats to turn horizontally to face the fountain.  Sometimes the boats would turn in a way that had you facing the other riders.  It was always fun to wave to them before the boats turned again.  From someone who worked the controls, I was told these turns were initiated by the ride operator at their command. 




Introduced in 1980, Italy was the first new country added to Busch Gardens expanding the park’s footprint and offering guests another taste of the European experience.  Known as San Marco, it is a recreation of a 17th century Italian hillside village and covers nine acres.  It completed the outer circle walkway around Busch Gardens.  Included in Italy is Leonardo’s Garden of Invention which pays tribute to the genius of the 15th century artist and inventor Leonardo de Vinci.

*The Battering Ram, Balloons, and the Flying Machine all opened together.  The Gliders and Da Vinci’s Cradle were added later.  The Balloons were originally located where Da Vinci’s Cradle is now.  


Rhine River Cruise


An original attraction when the park first opened, the cruise line has given more than 15 million rides.  As cruise boats wind through the 65-acre man-made river, riders enjoy a tranquil and relaxing experience.  The original seven boats were modeled after the early Rhine passenger steamers and had large nonfunctional side wheels.  Today, the park has three boats.  The photo from 1974 shows the trestle before the river was filled.

*Nothing to add but just to say that this picture is amazing.  It is hard to imagine a time where there was no “Rhine River.”  Of course it is hard to imagine a time without Busch Gardens as well.  Thank goodness I was born right after the park opened!  


Trappers Smokehouse


Forty years ago, this section of the park was a picnic area, a ticket center for concerts and a popular place to get mouth-watering barbeque at Three Rivers Smokehouse and a beef brisket sandwich at Mackinak Café.  The barbeque baby back ribs, chicken, and brisket became so popular; the park opened a new 650-seat smokehouse restaurant in 2003.  Trappers Smokehouse now features a mesquite-fired show grill, three rustic-themed dining areas and an unprecedented theme park menu selection.  Signature items like grilled salmon, smoked turkey, grilled vegetables, mouth-watering deserts, and fried pickles are just a few fan favorites.  Here is a tasty fun fact:  Trappers served over 70,000 pounds of brisket last year!



Did you know there is a 40th sign located next to the administration building behind the scenes?  The wording is the same as the first sign you encounter entering the park and features the original 1975 park map instead.  I find this a beautiful way for park administrators and team members to reflect on the long standing history of Busch Gardens Williamsburg and how they are now part of park history.  Thank you to all who have worked there in the past and those there today.  Your hard work and efforts to provide Virginia with the World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park is greatly appreciated!



Well, I hope you enjoyed a look through memory lane.  Please feel free to share your memories and photos here at BGW Memories.  Together, we all put pieces of a very large theme park puzzle that is enjoyed by generations of enthusiasts just like you.  

~Celebrating 40 Years of Fun~


Busch Gardens 40th Anniversary Approaches!

Intro Ad

Spring is almost here and so is the opening of Busch Gardens Williamsburg.  The park opened May 16, 1975 to a huge crowd.  This year will be no different.

With a new coaster premier, more additions to the Food & Wine Festival, and a new show in the Festhaus, there will be plenty to draw people of all ages back for another year of fun.

In honor of providing us with 40 years of traditions and wonderful memories, I would like to post an amazing find that Gary Terrell has shared on the BGW Memories Facebook Page.  It is a preview brochure that advertises Busch Gardens in 1974 and features some stunning conceptual art.

This year I look forward to seeing the park evolve and also seeing it reflect on the past history.  40 Years is certainly something to celebrate!

Without further ado~  The brochure.

Front Cover

Front Cover


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Front Insert

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Back Page


Inside Information

Inside Information

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Christmas Town 2014: A Time to Relax and Rejoice!




Here it is, 2014, and Thanksgiving is already behind us.  You know what that means right?  Busch Gardens Christmas Town has begun! The park is ready to boost our holiday cheer.

But you know what the best part of that is?

Nestled amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, the familial obligations, and shopping chaos, Christmas Town offers up a chance to slow down and smell the roses; or in this case, soak in the beauty over 8 MILLION lights!


Relaxing at Christmas Town is, hands down, my favorite tradition.

This year was no different.   I attended the opening day festivities and it was a rather cold evening; alright…… very, VERY cold evening.  Nevertheless, the entire park looked stunningly beautiful that frigid, frosty November night.

Upon entering, several Marines were stationed outside collecting unopened toys for the Toys for Tots program. Their enthusiasm and smiles warmly greeted those entering the park.


There is still time to assist: Donations will be accepted through December 14th.  Just drop new and unwrapped toys at the Busch Gardens Welcome center to support local families in need.


Going back to Christmas Town, here is what I wish to point out for those seeking something new based on my experience on opening day: 

England’s decor along with the new show Scrooge no More is high on the list of what I adore.  All the while, Banbury Cross (as us old-timer Park enthusiasts say), was adorned with floating wreaths and lights galore!*

* I changed that  whole paragraph to rhyme on my third edit. You’re welcome.

In front of the Globe, snow falls from the sky at night and Carolers and a Brass Band wander through the crowds at various times each day.   The Hamlet is simply dazzling at night!

It's snowing!

It’s snowing!


Fa la la la la!

Fa la la la la!


Fezziwig makes sure to smile and keep everyone in Good Cheer!

Fezziwig makes sure to smile and keep everyone in Good Cheer!


Over where the portrait artists are during the regular season, the park has converted the area to a bar staffed with Victorian dressed baristas, who serve you all kinds of tasty beverages, spirits, and treats.  In addition, Squire’s is now Dickens Tavern and serves guests traditional Christmas dinners.

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The Globe now features a new show aptly named Scrooge No More.    My review?

I was blown away!  The show is an instant park classic and a hopefully a tradition for many years to come.  As the title suggests, it is based on Charles Dicken’s classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey to rekindle his Christmas spirit.  It is a perfectly balanced with music, dance, theater, and high tech special effects.

I promise to write a full review after this season.  But for the sake of those who have yet to see it, I dare not ruin the magic and surprise!

Bah Humbug!

Bah Humbug!

*On a side note: My appreciation goes out to all those folks who worked diligently to put this together.  It is a strong, well choreographed musical that as a local, I am honored to have showing at Busch Gardens.  Love, Love, Loved it! 

God bless us, everyone!

God bless us, everyone!


Outside the Globe Theater, there is a photo opportunity where you may take a picture of yourself with friends and family with very Victorian themed backdrop.  Possibly with a Clydesdale!  Keep in mind that the horses have a limited time range with guests, so try not to fret if you miss it.  The Highland Stables will still offer photo packages.



This brings me to another bonus this year: the “Photokey” option.  If you plan on making memories with all the photo ops around the park, you may want to consider purchasing a Photokey in order to save money.  Here are the locations included:

  • Front Gate Photo (Fountain)
  • Highland Stables (Scotland)
  • Polar Pictures (Polar Pathway in Italy)
  • Frosty Friend Photo (Festa Italia)
  • Christmas Carriage (Big Ben in England)
  • O Tannenbaum (Oktoberfest)
  • Verbolten (Oktoberfest)
  • Pierre & Penelope Photo (France)

The park offers a Single Day Photkey and a Premium Photokey (good through the entire event – until December 31st) .  There are differences in price and what is included, so please link here if you are interested in either deal and read more about exactly what each package includes, availability, and pricing:

* Some of my own personal Photokey pics taken that day:



Most of the park, as well as the shows, remain the same.  The shows: Miracles, Gloria, and Deck the Halls return this year.  As always, they are amazing.   Since I have reviewed them all before, I will move on to some tips that may come in handy regarding the entertainment:

  • Get to each show early as seats go fast!  Gloria especially.  
  • On busy days the Festhaus may reach capacity, so if you wish to eat dinner and watch the show, plan your trip accordingly.
  • Dress in layers.  The Virginia weather is iffy, always.  It is also very warm in the Festhaus and in the inside theater.  So keep that in mind.
  • Download the Busch Gardens app or pick up a map upon entering the park to have an idea of the showtimes.



If you are a wine drinker (like me), you may wish to take advantage of the lovely wine glass set you can gather by visiting the France (Le Belle), Germany (German Gifts), and Italy (Bella Casa).  These shiny goblets, etched with Busch Gardens on the base are sold as is, or as I prefer… (for a little extra cost), with wine in them!

They are so sparkly and festive with Busch Gardens softly etched on the base, that I was in complete “Must Have” mode when I saw them.  So yes.  Thank you Busch Gardens. I always wanted a themed sparkly wine glass set of my very own.


My Personal Wine Tips:

  • Wines served at tastings vary through the seasons.   Check them out periodically.  There is a fan page dedicated JUST to wine at Busch Gardens.  Did you know?  Post your photos and keep in the loop here:
  •  Pace yourself.  There are several places offering wine tastings.  If you purchase a wine tasting you get a Christmas Town wine glass and when using the glass at the other locations, you get a discount.
  • Don’t forget that if you are a season pass member, even wine has a 10% discount!



Christmas is also the season of giving.   So don’t forget to peruse all the goodies at the gift shops this year.  You may just find that perfect gift for your loved one.

For me, the Emporium is one of my favorites.  You can get the latest Christmas Town items including the 2014 ornaments, Department 56 Colonial Williamsburg sets, and even personalized custom ornaments.

**They also had this mistletoe, frosty display that was so pretty.  So yes, I had to get a picture of it.  





So basically Christmas Town where you can enjoy, world class entertainment, lights-lights-and more lights, rides, seasonal foods and beverages, and visit jolly ol’ St. Nick all-in-one!

Here comes Santa Claus!

Here comes Santa Claus!


Speaking of Santa, I was finally able to enjoy Fireside Feast!  If you want your family to get a unique experience with Santa, this is it.  The dining extra is something best spent with the little ones, but I highly recommend it.

In case you are interested: The food was well seasoned and satisfying. During the meal, Santa recites the Night Before Christmas in a building that is both cozy and as warm as toast.   After the recital, everyone gets a chance to go up on stage to visit with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the Elves.  It certainly made me feel like a kid again!  Yep.  Even I saw Santa…… and took my husband with me!


Click here for more info:


Overall, Busch Gardens tied Christmas Town up in an exquisite bow for all of us to open and enjoy.  I wish I could cover every store, every show, every little thing; but my suggestion is to get out there and see it for your self!


May you all keep the spirit of Christmas in your heart always.  “..and as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless us Everyone!”

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”


The Entertainer


Growing up I was a competitive roller skater.  My mom used to drive us out to practice six days a week with us doing our homework in the car while cramming in an after school dinner.  Twelve years of my life went to lessons, dance classes, and choreography.  At the end of it all, I wasn’t able to go to the Olympics, get a scholarship, be a paid professional, or even have my face on a Wheatie’s Box.  Roller skating never did anything more than to give me the ability to enjoy dance and various rhythmic styles.


You know what though… I’m Ok with that.   I learned to dance like no one was watching. 

Skating led me to appreciate all forms of musical performances.  As a kid I knew all the lyrics and choreography in musicals such as Cats, Annie, and Phantom of the Opera.   It is only natural that when I am Busch Gardens, I get to reconnect to that little part of my life again.

In my heart I sing along and dance with those on stage.  Inside I sing like no one is listening.   



Since my life has made it more difficult to ride rides like I used to, I find that I now gravitate more to the various shows at Busch Gardens.  Luckily, the park offers more than thrilling coasters.

Despite the lady that ran the red light and changed my life, it’s helped me to love like I was never hurt.

Performing in Drama.

Performing in Drama.

So you see, this has brought me to reflect on the “theme park” entertainment profession in a deeper, more artistic level.  For example: What kind of person spends their days practicing and going through a mountain of trials, just to get to be on stage at a theme park?

My educated guess:

Years of training, tons of auditions, call-backs, failures, successes, and then working a bunch of crazy hours in extreme conditions with an unknown rehiring status; all for a few months out in the spot light with a mere hope of the crowd appreciates what they do.  No matter what, they perform like it’s heaven on earth.”

Musicians, singers, dancers, technicians, and stage hands have to work hard as a team to pull it all together.  It takes fast learning to pull off learning the lyrics, choreography, lighting and sound cues, all within a few weeks before putting it all out in front of a packed theater.  The competition is tough and the stakes are high.  The directors, producers, and stage managers have an ever watchful eye; mostly for mistakes.


Yet, I look back to my life with all of those tedious hours of skating; my coach barking “Arch your back, point your toes, head up, one-to-three, on-two-three! AGAIN!! AGAIN!!”

It was like Abbey Lee Miller on Roller Skates.  Much of it was rather tough for a kid my age but I honestly loved every minute of it.   If you asked me now: “Do you want to go skating?”  My answer will always be yes!  It is in my blood forever.

Me Roller Skating Now

Me Roller Skating Now

You see, the people out there put themselves through this daily grind for the dream of it all.  To make a living using what they love more in life.  It is noble.  It is inspiring and I wish from the bottom of my heart, that they all make it big.

I’ve spoken too many of the performers from various decades.  They all share similar stories of “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”  The job is hard.  No matter how talented, young, or nimble you are, the schedules are grueling.  Don’t forget that any profession has its fair share of politics and drama as well.  I’m sure there is a TV spin-off that is just waiting to be made.

I’ve never  performed at any theme park, but I imagine it is much like skating was.  You work all year for a single performance (aka audition or competition) to either:   1) blow the judges away or  2) just go home with your tail between your legs.   Either one opens the door for even more psychological drama.  Even if you win… the pressure is on!

For example: I once ran across an old guide for entertainers back in the Old Country days.  It was for a street performer and it was for a complete improve role in the 1980s.  In a very “round about way” the job was summed up to this possibility:  Congratulations for making it.  Expect to be heckled and ridiculed, worst yet… ignored!   Any stand up comedian, dancer, or performer will tell you this is so true no matter where or when they work somewhere out in the public.

I’ve witnessed the last one first hand.

In France, I watched these extremely talented musicians out playing for the crowds.  People began walking in front of standing audience instead of going through the obvious pathway because they could care less.

The Village Band of Aquitaine is also the band that serenades you on the River Cruise!

The Village Band of Aquitaine is also the band that serenades you on the River Cruise!

There is also that awkward stare of “Whaaa?”  And then they kind of shuffle off like the sight of a guitar is something never seen in this world.  There is also the occasional (thankfully rare) individual that shouts out a rude comment now and then.  Just like the booklet from the 80s said, it is all part of the game.

However I see that most people, regardless to how long they did stay, pause, listen, and smile before moving on.  There are also those that sit and remain for the whole performance.  That of course, is what keeps those in the field going.  That mutual respect of performer and the audience.  God bless them.

My hope is that this little story may change a few minds about those on stage working hard for your applause and praise.  They pull on those hot, sweaty costumes every day to showcase their talents in hopes to forward them in life and to have that glorious sound of applause.

Even if you don’t like a show, consider it like going to a restaurant where you may have a bad meal, but the server is good.  Tip the server!  If the performers are out there giving 100%, even if you find the show droll, clap after they are done; don’t be shy.  I promise they won’t bite!  All of their hard work in life has led up to this moment of entertaining you.  In fact, those working behind the counters and rides that smile and wish you a great day, even when the weather is miserable, are doing it for you as well.

Just remember that if you see something that makes you want to clap and sway in your chair:

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

Oh, and some applause would be nice.

Love this show!

Love this show!


The Creatures of the Night dance the night away.

The Creatures of the Night dance the night away.


Wilkommen Gary Terrell


Almost from the very start of BGW Memories, Gary was there.  He would send me a plethora of messages and pictures of Busch Gardens and I was thrilled to see someone who shared the same level of enthusiasm as I did about the park’s history; a true compatriot to the documentation and preservation of memories!

As time passed, the site kept growing and growing and I was swiftly becoming overwhelmed.  I asked Gary to assist me and thankfully, he said yes.

Many of you have already seen his name many times here, but now I would like to officially introduce him as an editor to the BGW Memories community.  He has provided scans of history books, documents, and numerous other stories already.  I am proud to have him beside me and we both encourage you all to write to us and keep sending us pictures, history, and memories!

Prior to this announcement, I asked Gary to write up a bit about his love of Busch Gardens and without further ado:  Please give a warm welcome to Gary Terrell, fellow park historian and a dear friend!


From Gary:

Hello everyone!   Thanks for being loyal fans of Busch Gardens and keeping the spirit of the past alive here with us.  I’m excited about being here and building a little place on the web where people who love Busch Garden’s history can come here and reminisce.

My first memory of Busch Gardens is an ironic one.  It was 1975, the opening year.  That winter before, we had made a trip to Florida and we had visited Cypress Gardens.  Of course Cypress Gardens was just that, “gardens.”  Flowers, trees, birds, and a big lake with a ski show.

Photos of me at Cypress Gardens in 1967, yeah, I’m old!


As you can tell from the pictures, Cypress Gardens to a kid my age was a bit… ho-hum.

So when my grandparents said told me we were going to Busch Gardens, I was very animate in expressing my displeasure.  This was the time of Star Trek, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Evel Knievel.  Eleven year old kids just aren’t that into into flowers and gardens!

All I could see was more plants and trees driving up to the park.   At the time, there were no large coasters that poked out above the trees, so it wasn’t looking good so far.  Oh…..I just knew there was no way I was going to like it!

Once we were inside however, I began to see how this “Garden” was very different.  I fell in love with Busch Gardens, The Old Country immediately.  The charm and authentic look impressed me even at eleven.  Entering into Banbury Cross, listening to the music of Handel entwined with a faint whistle of a steam train off in the distance, I felt like royalty; someone truly special.  I mean for a kid my age, seeing the Beefeater and hearing an actual town crier was a grand way to enter into a theme park!



From there we went exploring each new hamlet and this place just kept getting better.

For example:  The Clydesdales.  You think they are big as an adult?  Just try to remember how they appeared as eleven year old!  They seemed like mythological and beautiful beasts from a fairy tale.


Back then the big rides were scarce, but there were other wonderful attractions that are no longer in the park that are still missed.  You see, it was great to board the train and see all of the animals.  The train was not only a means of transportation in the Old Country days but a safari like tour where you could look out and see wildlife like Buffalo and Elk grazing in the fields.  I think this is why the trains are still very special to me today.  They hold some of my oldest memories of Busch Gardens.  I still like to ride them around the park and just take the sights in.


I also remember first seeing the Wilkommenhaus, or the building currently behind the lovely fountain in Rhinefeld.  It was used in a statelier manner back then. You could dine and watch the Bavarian Dancers perform outdoors.  The clock was in its full glory; a true landmark of what is to become the most beautiful theme park.



Some memories that stand out on another trip a few years later include riding the Log Flume and then making a beeline for “Die Scwartze Spinne” ride.  I found it a great way to spin dry!


Because we lived too far away to really benefit from a season pass, we would purchase a two day ticket to use on Saturday and Sunday.  I remember we would arrive on Friday evening and head straight for the Hospitality Center.  We were not allowed into the park yet, but we would use this time to tour the brewery, see the movie, and roam around the exhibits they had there.  Oh! Not to mention take a ride or two on the Eagle One Monorail!  It was neat to ride Eagle One over to the park and back.


We couldn’t enter Busch Gardens since we didn’t have that cool glowing ink stamp that you get when exiting the theme park section but at least we were able to get a Busch Gardens ride in that night! Yay!  Best of all, the Hospitality Center was full of delicious foods at their restaurant.  I loved the big slices of pizza that they had.  So yummy!

Rides on the double decker buses are well hidden away in my memory, but occasionally something stirs up once in a while when I see photos of them. Those icons from London added immediately to the start of ones submerging into the magic of The Old Country as they carried you from your modern day mode of transportation to the Shakespearean era of Banbury Cross. It brings back some wonderful memories when I see currently see the replica bus in front of the Globe Theatre. For me, it’s like having a dear old friend welcoming me back to Busch Gardens!

As a kid, I had a matchbox version of the buses.  True, they lacked the detail of the actual buses but  honestly, I didn’t care.  I had played with the toy so much most of the paint became worn and chipped off to the point it became barely recognizable.  I was so happy when I had found the exact same toy in mint condition overseas that many of my childhood memories began to flood back in.

Although I do miss many of the aspects of The Old Country, I understand Busch Gardens needs to change things around the park.   I appreciate what they do to keep the park competitive, fresh, and up to date.  Times change and tastes change.   It’s a completely different operating environment for the park today compared to what it was nearly 40 years ago and I am still proud of the way they “carry on and have fun.”

That’s what Busch Gardens is all about and I am thrilled to continue making memories for myself and with my friends; both old and new.  The best part is that I get to do all of this while watching new generations create their own childhood memories when I visit what is so near and dear to my heart:   Busch Gardens, The Old Country.


Gary and his wife Lisa love Apollo’s Chariot!


Gary and his son Jonas enjoy a run around the LeMans raceway.

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The “Terrell Boys” Gary, Jonas, and Josiah are having fun at the Old Country.

Howl-O-Scream 2014 is “Cursed” with Thrills and Chills!


The entire park seems more alive and scarier than ever before.  From the park website “The cursed have taken over… and that strange things start happening when you hear the haunting melody.”  Don’t Listen is the warning. If you do listen, they say you will be cursed.  How to lift the curse?  Survive the night of course!

The atmosphere is much more adult oriented and graphic in nature.  Parents really need to understand that most of the little ones will be terrified.  I’m in my mid 30s and I was a shivering mess by the end of the night.  All the décor around the park was more detailed and darker; Wendigo Woods especially.

New France has been changed into a Research Facility tucked away in the forests of Canada.  The Wendigo, or half-beast demonic creature known for Cannibalism was believed to be legend.  However, strange things are happening and terror is lurking all around!  The terror-tory is amazing and New France has never heard so many screams!

The  Wedigo is hungry!

The Wedigo is hungry!

Demon Street in Aquitaine has pumped up the volume with a street party atmosphere, complete with chainsaw welding demons!  The bar serves up very potent signature alcoholic beverages that are sure to get the party started!

Let's get this party started!

Let’s get this party started!

Vampire Point returns with more scare actors that hide through the twisting walkways in Rhinefeld Germany.  If you find yourself thirsty for something else besides blood, make sure to reserve your tickets for the ever fun Blood Banquet.  Count Vladtastic is back and the show has really increased in musical numbers and humor!  The show is outdoors so you do not have to purchase a ticket to enjoy the antics of Vlad and crew, but the food is to die for!  Tickets may be purchased at Guest Relations or online.





If you are feeling a bit naughty, head over to Ireland where the sexy nurses would love to give you a shot …. Of Vodka and Jello!  Just like Vampire Point, Ireland also has a ticketed dinner show.  Igor’s Fright Feast is also a buffet and features the character Igor, Swampy, and a team of naughty nurses.  The show is a classic pop music montage of fun and laughs.  The lighthearted humor is a perfect pairing to your dining experience.

We are Family!

We are Family!

Across the way at the Abby Stone Theater, Dr. Freakenstein is back at Fiends!  This year the show focuses on vocal and acting talent of the fabulous performers.  Dr. Freakenstein’s creature is not the only thing alive!  The show is memorizing with moments of hilarity.  The crowd is just as electrified as the creature.








Ports Of Skull is tucked away in San Marco Italy and is haunted by the tortured souls of undead pirates.  Only two have a sense of humor, the rest are the hunt for a new crewmember!  The pirate Barrrrgh and Crows Nest offer specialized food and drink with colorful characters to serve you your poison.  Enter if ye dare!





I saved Ripper Row for last.  It is the first and last terror-tory guests experience at the park.  The ripper is looking to find his next victim, so don’t get lost or it may end up being you!



Speaking of the Ripper, Monster Stomp is a live high-tech musical performance at the Globe Theater.  The show is fantastic!  It takes the classic version of Monster Stomp and multiplies the visuals by 100!  Imagine Monster Stomp meets Sweeny Todd.  It is more of a Broadway style production; the sets, music, dances, and rhythms are extremely well balanced and leave you thirsty for more.  Much like Sweeny Todd, the show is not for the lighthearted.  There will be blood.  Of course, the splatters are perfectly timed to haunting music!







If that isn’t enough, you still have the toe tapping Festhaus show called Night Beats.  Ulrich, along with his shadows of the night, entertain you with powerful vocals and dance.  The set itself has changed along with some of the musical arrangements, but the show is still as awesome as ever!  If you are like me, you will end up singing the musicall night long.  Even now, I am still singing:  “Were running with the shadows of the night. So baby take my hand, it’ll be all right. Surrender all your dreams to me tonight. They’ll come true in the end……”


The six haunted houses: Catacombs, Bitten, Cutthroat Cove, The Root of All Evil, Deadline, and the popular 13: Your Number’s Up have all returned to thrill guests.  I was able to go through Catacombs, Cutthroat Cove, 13 and Deadline.  All of them seemed more intense this year and I’m not sure who was entertained more, me or the people directly behind who witnessed my constant shrieking.

So there you have it.  Howl-O-Scream 2014 has begun scaring and entertaining guests once more!  The innocent sweet sounding tune playing around the park may be pleasing, but Don’t Listen. So will you survive or end up being cursed?


Have fun, stay scared, and don’t find yourself alone in the darkness!     

Special thanks to my friends at Behind the Thrills for allowing me to assist them with Media Coverage this year.  Make sure to follow them on Instagram, Face Book, and Twiiter for the latest news.

Info regarding Howl-Scream, hours, Ticket information, tours, and reservations; visit