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Don’t forget about the Tram

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Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and welcome aboard. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Williamsburg Virginia home of Anheuser Busch, and Busch Gardens, The Old Country. Please remain seated, keeping head and arms inside the tram at all times. For your own safety and comfort, please, no smoking eating or drinking while on board. Please note you are parked in the Scotland Parking Lot. Our park will be open until 10 PM this evening. Your single priced passport covers all rides, shows and attractions for the entire day. Tickets are $12.50 per person, while children two years of age and under are admitted free. There will be a slight additional charge for games and for concert entertainment.

As you tour our park today, you may notice several height restrictions for many of our rides. For example, if your child is 46 inches tall or taller, he may be able to ride the Glissade, Wildcat, or Wave Swinger. He must be 48 inches tall to ride the Loch Ness Monster. Other such height restrictions will be posted at the rides. Your cooperation in helping us to enforce these safety regulations will be greatly appreciated. If you brought a picnic lunch, we have picnic areas available in most of our parking lots. Picnic lunches, along with radios and coolers, are not permitted inside the park. We also ask that you help us keep our park clean by using the trash receptacles located throughout the park and parking lots.

As we approach the Tram Stop, please remain seated until the tram comes to a complete stop. At that time, parents please take small children by the hand, and exit carefully on the right side of the tram. Trams will depart from this location throughout the day to return you to the Scotland Parking Lot. Please watch your head and your step, and have a great day at The Old Country.

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Sound familiar?  If the answer is yes, then you must have visited Busch Gardens when it was still called The Old Country.  This particular spiel, or a voluble line of extravagant talk, was recited thousands of times during the summer of 1982.   Reading this spiel today is like opening a time capsule.

Of course Anheuser Busch no longer owns or operates Busch Gardens Williamsburg, tickets are certainly NOT $12.50, and concerts no longer require an additional fee.  But you know what?  The core of the message  has remained the same:  Welcome, Safety, Conservation, and Fun!

Whether it is your first-time visit to the park or the 60th, the tram ride sets the tone for the entire day.  The number of times I have been on a Busch Gardens tram in the course of three decades is mind-numbing.  Amazing thing is; I cannot recall a single ride that wasn’t pleasant.

I know, I know.  There are no big drops and I doubt the tram could even reach 50mph.  In jest, I could probably beat it to the finish line on foot. (If I were in better shape and perhaps if my name was Usain Bolt.)

Still… who cares about thrills when you are looking for a dependable, relaxing, and peaceful transport to and from the park?  Any weary traveler will tell you that the approaching tram is a welcome sight when heading back to their car; especially if the traveler is also toting children, cotton candy, ice cream cones; a camera, several water bottles, and a giant stuffed Gorilla that has been hoisted overhead for hours after winning it at the ring toss.

It is in moments like that that I really appreciate the tram.  In addition, I also respect how the tram operators never fail to  greet everyone warmly.  It takes a special kind of person to maintain a hospitable presentation for each group of riders no matter how bad the weather is outside.  I’m sure it isn’t easy to get people on board smiling when it is freezing or entice them to laugh on a sweltering day.

Speaking of weather and in the spirit of humor, I have provided some southern weather-based colloquialisms* to analyze how much the tram actually improves our experience at Busch Gardens.

On those scorching summer days when it is hotter than a hen laying up hill in a wool basket, does the tram feel like a camel ushering us to the oasis?  Yes.   If the rain done come a “gullywusher,” does the tram provide us safe passage back to our cars?  Yes.  And even if it is colder than moonlight on a tombstone in December, can it be said that the tram swiftly carries us all to our destinations; much like Santa’s Sleigh?  Of course.

For all of those reasons, I believe that the unofficial motto used by the US Postal Service should also reflect on the duty of maintaining and operating the trams at Busch Gardens.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from their swift completion of their appointed rounds.

In 1982, the tram operators would always conclude your ride with:

“We hope you have enjoyed your visit with us today, and invite you to return soon. ……Please watch your step as you exit and have a pleasant evening from Busch Gardens The Old Country.”

Needless to say, I enjoyed my trip then, today, and I will be returning to the park many times in the future.   To all those wonderful people that make our little tram ride to and from the park so enjoyable: Bravo!

Thanks to the wonderful Tram team!

Thanks to the wonderful Tram team!

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There is a great video to watch regarding the trams and it can be seen here:

Joe’s Job: tram operator at Busch Gardens  Tram Operators work the 10-10 shifts all summer to drive visitors to Busch Gardens from their cars into the park.

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*southern weather-based colloquialisms found on this page have been passed down to me by my grandmother.. 

She, bless her heart,  always recited the most charming of Appalachian gems.  Here are some of my favorites :  I’m as full as a tick.   Jumpy as a cat in a roomful of rockers.  Pretty as a speckled pup.  It’s hotter than the devil. Happier than a cow in clover.  Skinny as a rail. He wouldn’t know the truth if it looked him in the face. 

On a side-side note: For years I thought “Si-goggle,” or Appalachian slang for crooked, was an actual word until I was scolded by my first grade teacher for making up nonsense.  Why, I reckon  she done think me dumber than a coal bucket!  Guess I was never one for book learnin’ y’all.

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6 Comments

  1. Gary Terrell says:

    Very nice story, the tram personnel have a lot of responsibility. We’ve often called the tram ride our last ride at Busch Gardens.

    Speaking of old mountain sayings…. my grandparents lived in the mountains of both West Virginia and North Carolina. One saying my grandmother often used, especially when she was taking our picture, was ” smile like a jackass eatin’ briars”. That always got a big smile out of us grandkids.

    • noramarien says:

      Thanks Gary. I’ve edited the story quite a bit in the last hour or so thanks to my ol’ nemesis, the evil Dr. Grammar! Colon, semi-colon, comma, eh~ please ignore any errors you see above as the words are all blending together this late in the game.

      Anyway, aren’t those old Mountain sayings the best? Like you, hearing my grandmother (who sounded every bit like Dolly Parton) speak with words like, “Reckon, done gone, down yonder by the crick, and so forth was always was a hoot. Two other phrases I’m sure you also heard growing up was “Mad as a wet hen” and “Flat as a Fritter.” I recall asking her what a fritter was and she then made me a fritter in the kitchen and said, “here ya go; one fritter. Flat ain’t it?”

      I also asked her why a wet hen was mad. She told me that if I ever tossed a hen into a bucket of water, I would know. 🙂

      I sure miss my grandmother. She was from the Tennessee mountains near the North Carolina border.

  2. Neil Taylor says:

    My kids love riding the tram. I started telling them early on that the tram is the best ride in the park, because it is the first one you ride and it takes you straight to the fun. Then when the day is over it takes you straight to the parking lot so you can sit down and unwind and remember all the fun things you did.

    • noramarien says:

      Exactly! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I read the spiel from 1982 and fell in love with all the memories it brought back. I then started thinking about how excited I was to get to the parking lot and see the trams running because that is the sure sign that fun times are ahead. I hope you and the kids have a great time at Busch this year. 🙂

  3. Roy Shafer says:

    I forgot to mention that we had names for the Trams. Number one was “Ace”, number two was “Bullet”, because it was fast. Number seven was “Lucky”. But our favorite was number three. We named it “Sherman”. Sherman ran like a Sherman Tank. It was loud. It was slow. It rattled and shook everyone like crazy, but there was no stopping it. When Ace broke down, we used Sherman to tow it to the maintenance shop. Then he went right back to transporting passengers again.

    • noramarien says:

      I did talk to the tram guys and they confirmed that the same trams are running from 1976. (He said this was trams 1-4)- the rest were added later. And yes, the trams all have their nicknames still. 🙂

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