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The Art of Busch Gardens Part One: Howl-O-Scream

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This year Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens has captured my imagination and inspired that neglected artistic side to flourish once more.  Many people are surprised to find out that my degree is in Studio Art and Animation.  Sadly, that life long dream of being a traditional Disney Animator was promptly crushed when the studio stopped producing hand drawn films.

Yep, you guessed it.  Life happened.  Bills needed to be paid and my passion for art fell to the wayside.

Still, through it all, Busch Gardens has been a muse for me on many occasions.  Going to the park and seeing the murals and small details captured my heart and imagination for decades.  The quality and dedication to themeing is what Busch Gardens has been known for; something that is rarely appreciated until it is gone.

Therefore, I decided to make a series of articles about my need to capture these works of art and present them to a broader audience.  It is my hope that when you read my stories and view my work, that it inspires you to look at Busch Gardens in another way; to see the beauty in color, line, light, and form.. to see performances as art and expression and to enjoy the little things.

The Art of Howl-O-Scream

Busch Gardens equals entertainment.  Whether you are on a ride, watching a show, having a tasty treat, or just taking in the sights, the goal of the park is to entertain you.  Many dedicated people behind-the-scenes; the unsung heroes, work tirelessly to find a way to make the magic happen.

This year for Howl-O-Scream, the park tried something new with their “Terror-tories” concept.  Obviously, there was a decision made to bring the adult entertainment to a new level.  I found myself intrigued by the new sights and sounds.

Night Beats

The number of times I have seen the show speaks volumes for the production value and talent of the performers.  For me, I feel that I got away with stealing a free ticket to see a Broadway show.  From the costumes, lighting, sound production, set design, choreography, and vocals; I am continuously entranced by the quality of it all.

For example, the rich colors of the opening number, the soft hues of the nocturnal set, the velvety purples and gold of the finale all give me chills.  The choreography uses these colors to compose the performers on stage much like painting a picture.

Just the loan door and stairs evokes "theatrical" production.  The simplicity is the beauty of this set.

Just the lone door and stairs evokes “theatrical” production. The simplicity is the beauty of this set.

Colors pull you into another time.

Colors pull you into another time.

The rich fabrics and performances capture the imagination.

The rich fabrics and performances of the actors capture the imagination and spirit.

Lighting highlights the performers interaction and directs the viewer to that perfect moment on stage.

Lighting highlights the performers interaction and directs the viewer to that perfect moment on stage.

Subtle lighting and color sets the mood for the performers to create a moment like this.

Subtle lighting and color sets the mood for the performers to create a moment like this.

The nocturnal dance number changes to a soft blue; moonlight feel. The outfits flutter to elude to feathers in flight and the performers act owlishly as they dance.

The nocturnal dance number changes to a soft blue; moonlight feel. The outfits flutter to elude to feathers in flight and the performers act owlishly as they dance.

Perfect lighting and powerful vocals dashed with a splash of humor make this scene forever memorable.

Perfect lighting and powerful vocals dashed with a splash of humor make this scene forever memorable.

From top to toe, the performers hist every motion to provide that extra magic to the choreography.

From top to toe, the performers hist every motion to provide that extra magic to the choreography.

Body language and and background colors convey exactly what needs to be said without even hearing the lyrics.

Body language and and background colors convey exactly what needs to be said without even hearing the lyrics.

My favorite dancer of Night Beats.  I can't help but to watch the effortless motion across the stage.  The art of Dance.

My favorite dancer of Night Beats. I can’t help but to watch his effortless motion across the stage.

The art of humor and dialogue. Let us not forget the script writers as well!

The art of humor and dialogue. Let us not forget the script writers as well!

Pyrotechnics add drama to a very theatrical pose.

Pyrotechnics add drama to a very theatrical pose.

My favorite composition from Night Beats.

My favorite composition from Night Beats.

 Blood Banquet

The newcomer this year is my strongest recommendation for a dinner-theater experience.  Blood Banquet never fails to entertain your sense of humor and to please the pallet with luscious food and beverages.  By far, it has been my favorite addition to Busch Gardens along with the Food & Wine festival earlier this year.

Blood Banquet set the bar higher at Busch Gardens.  This is the one place you can interact with the performers and share a few laughs.  You get to see their costumes and lovely personalities up close and feel like you are a part of the act.

The whole things reminds me of Threedneedle Fair.   Back in The Old Country era of the park, actors ran the games and interacted with guests daily in this area.  They constantly stayed in character and spoke strictly with Old English accents.  I was happy to see a similar concept return to Busch Gardens this year.

The actual “show” does not take place on a stage, but around the tables themselves.  There is a heavy influence of the vintage Hollywood Glam and   a nostalgic humor reminiscent of Groucho Marx.  The costumes and set design reflect upon 1940s cinema and the ending number evokes the Broadway show and dance number “That’s Entertainment.”

Therefore it was easy to get lost in the art and magic of the production.  Here are examples of what inspired me:

I love the cinema feel to the costumes and hair styles.

I love the cinema feel to the costumes and hair styles.

Creating an atmosphere is the first step.

Creating an atmosphere is the first step.

Inside the Vampire Point Hotel, the buffet decor is set to have that old world; haunted charm.

Inside the Vampire Point Hotel, the buffet decor is set to have that old world; haunted charm.

Let us begin with Count Vladtastic.  The show starts once this colorful character sets foot outside.  His dry wit and quick thinking add to the fun and whimsy of dinner at the Blood Banquet.

Let us begin with Count Vladtastic. The show starts once this colorful character sets foot outside. His dry wit and quick thinking add to the fun and whimsy of dinner at the Blood Banquet.

It is all about Guest interaction at Blood Banquet.  Better watch out; Count Vladtastic is watching you!

It is all about Guest interaction at Blood Banquet. Better watch out; Count Vladtastic is watching you!

The Collins are a great set of characters as well as Lugosi.  Often times you will find them roaming outside the dinner area and never miss a great photo op.  Love the costumes!

The Barney Collins, Lugosi, and Marge Collins. Often times you will find them roaming outside the dinner area and never miss a great photo op. Love the costumes and the fact guest interaction is the first priority for Vampire Point!

Vampire Tourists, who would have thought!  The Collins family pose for a great photo.

Vampire Tourists, who would have thought? Marge, Barney, and Leticia Collins make sure to add flare to the show!

Chef Juliet uses her French Charm and Brewing talents to entertain guests.  Ironically, she uses garlic in all her food.

Chef Juliet uses her French Charm and Brewing talents to entertain guests. Ironically, she uses garlic in all her food.  Notice the use of Green & Red.  Great use of complementary colors.

Lugosi, obviously named after the famous actor Bela Lugosi, is not a vampire and is both resentful and relieved his master Count Vladtastic has not made him a vampire.

Lugosi, obviously named after the famous actor Bela Lugosi, is not a vampire and is both resentful and relieved his master Count Vladtastic has not made him a creature of the night.

One of them prays to be a vampire, the other not so much.  These lovely ladies hope to serve you drinks and provide you a warm welcome at Vampire Point Hotel.

Mary Sue prays to be a vampire; Mary Ann (sporting the garlic) does not. These lovely ladies hope to serve you drinks and provide you a warm welcome at Vampire Point Hotel. Their hairstyles, costumes, mannerisms, and beauty take you to another era.  Kudos to everyone!

A little dinner music is provided by the lovely gypsy violinist.

A little dinner music is provided by the lovely gypsy violinist, Svetlana Bendova. Her colorful costume and lovely smile entrances the guests while they enjoy their meal.

The Collin's daughter may text on her phone and would kill to see Lady Gaga, but she never misses the chance to shake her wings or have a drink with guests.

Leticia Collins may text on her phone and would kill to see Lady Gaga, but she never misses the chance to shake her wings or have a drink with guests. Love the hat!

Good food and good times are key at Vampire Point!  It is, Valdtastic to say the least!

Good food and good times are key at Vampire Point! It is, Valdtastic to say the least!

Other Examples:  It is in the Details!

The rest of my artistic inspiration is based on several magic moments around the park; an extremely energetic performer that goes above and beyond or the hidden details in alcoves around Busch Gardens.  If you look closely, you can always see art everywhere you go.

Making a return appearance is the Gargoyles from the Enchanted Laboratory show in the 80s.

Making a return appearance is the Gargoyles from the Enchanted Laboratory show in the 80s.

Ms. Nellie goes above and beyond to entertain guest as they roam through Ripper Row.  Her character has to be one of the most interesting additions to the park in years.

Ms. Nellie goes above and beyond to entertain guest as they roam through Ripper Row. Her character has to be one of the most interesting additions to the park in years.

Smoke, shadow, reds and blues add horror to the silent and spooky headless ladies of White chapel London.

Smoke, shadow, reds and blues add horror to the silent and spooky headless ladies of White chapel London.

I love when performers stay in character, even when they are not center stage.  This lovely nurse strikes a pose in the shadows of the show Fiends.

I love when performers stay in character, even when they are not center stage. This lovely nurse strikes a pose in the shadows of the show Fiends.

Even off stage, the actors  of Dig it Up- Ham it up!

Even off stage, the actors of Dig it Up- Ham it up!

It takes a lot of work to decorate an entire theme park.  Make sure to look for all those hidden scares in the air and everywhere.

It takes a lot of work to decorate an entire theme park. Make sure to look for all those hidden scares in the air and everywhere.

This creepy character greets you at the Pirate Baaaargh with a hint of humor and a dash of scare.  He is hilarious.

This creepy character greets you at the Pirate Baaaargh with a hint of humor and a dash of scare. He is hilarious and the  costume is fantastic!

Open Casket Bar Vampires - serve you drinks in character and in a very tantalizing way.  Their charm, costumes, and personalities are sure to lure you and your money on some frightfully sweet beverages.

Open Casket Bar Vampires – serve you drinks in character and in a very tantalizing way. Their charm, costumes, and personalities are sure to lure you and your money on some frightfully sweet beverages.

It takes time to theme a store and set up merchandise displays.  Dont' forget to admire the artistic effort that goes into selling these treasures.

It takes time to theme a store and set up merchandise displays. Dont’ forget to admire the artistic effort that goes into selling these treasures.

Hand painted works and various signage take time and talent.

Hand painted works and various signage take time and talent.

Costumes - costumes!  The skill needed to make all those costumes for the performers around the park never fails to impress me!

Costumes – costumes! The skill needed to make all those costumes for the performers around the park never fails to impress me!

The drummers are always having fun but the cave girl always steals the show with her performance and mannerisms. You go girl! Female drummers rule!

It takes color, choreography, musical ability, dance, composition, and a strong concept to make a work of art like Fiends.

It takes a complete knowledge of color, choreography, musical ability, dance, composition, and staging to make a work of art like Fiends.

So what inspires you?  Feel free to share your favorite Howl-O-Scream art with me and the readers.

In conclusion, I would like to send a special shout out to all those people who give 110% at the park.   Thank you for all you do and for the memories!

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Howl-O-Scream adds Fright to your Night!

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Fear has a way of Spreading at Howl-O-Scream 2013

This year I had no idea what to expect from Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream event.  So much has changed at the park in the last few years; I was at a loss at how the new attractions would stack up against years past.

Like any event, there are highlights that stand out from the rest.  One in particular is the new Blood Banquet at the Vampire Point Hotel located in the Rhinefeld hamlet of the park.

On paper the separate up charge for a dinner-theater sounded interesting enough but would it be worth the extra cost?  The answer is an astounding YES! 

Directly stated from the Busch Gardens Website:

“The all-you-care-to-eat dinner buffet is located at Wilkommenhaus and features hand carved meats, interactive pasta station, lamb stew, chili, a baked potato bar, assorted vegetables, tossed salad, dinner rolls, assorted desserts and non-alcoholic beverages. Beer, wine and mixed alcoholic drinks are available for purchase separately.”

The food was fantastic or as Count Vlad would say, “Vladtastic!”  The hand-carved beef and spiced turkey was to die for, the baked potato bar was delectable, and the chili was perfect on a cool September night.

Care for a slice of beef?

Care for a slice of beef?

Dinner is Served

Dinner is Served

Let the Feast Begin!

Let the Feast Begin!

I have a food allergy so unfortunately, I was unable to sample all the items on the dinner or any of the deserts.  However, the group I was dining with had nothing but positive things to say about all of the dinner options.

Also, the “Vladtini” house Martini was a cranberry delight and came in a light-up glass.

Being able to talk to the actors, especially Count Vlad, made my night.   Lionel Lonnie Ruland plays the count and he brings tons of charm and comedy to the role.

The show consists of Count Vlad, a lovely French chef, two lovely ladies as the bar staff, a surly dry-witted Bellman, a gypsy violinist, and three Vampire Tourists.   The improv style of comedy allows some over-the-top cheesy puns; but I found it endearing. What can I say, I love punny jokes!  Ba dum tsss!

Vladtastic!

Vladtastic!

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The friendly bar servers at Vampire Point

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A Little Dinner Music

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Vampires are Tourists too!

Even better, the show does not distract you from your dinner; it enhances it.   It lasts around 10-15 minutes, so by the time you are done with your first plate and want to get up for seconds, there is no awkward walking around the performers in order to grab your food.

My favorite part of the night was when I asked Vlad about his rings.  We both had on owl and snake rings and he made sure that they were introduced formally.  “Owl meet Owl.. hello owl.”   I kept laughing about it for the rest of the night!

Count Vladtastic Bling!

Count Vladtastic Bling!

I would recommend purchasing your ticket in advance from Busch Garden’s website before going to the park.  Those who purchase tickets ahead of time have reserved seating and receive first access to the buffet, table selection, and have time to start eating before the show starts.

The reservation was at 4:30 and just before 5pm, Count Vlad and his eerie cast of Characters makes an appearance and begins to roam around.  If you do not reserve your seat; you may have to watch the show from outside the restaurant.  Tickets for the buffet are sold on site only after reserved diners have arrived.

This is a must for anyone going to Howl-O-Scream this year.  Busch Gardens put together a hit that is guaranteed to create many wonderful memories.

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Me and Vlad 

Other Favorites of the Night

Terror-tories:  New for 2013.  They incorporate new themeing, scares, and a fun club atmosphere that appeal to the 21 and up crowd.  Make sure to bring your ID to experience all the fun adult beverages at the park!

Ports Of Skull (new)

Arrrrrr!

Arrrrrr!

Italy is swarming with Pirates and the new additions bring the night life to San Marco.  A creepy skeletal Captain greets you at the Birate Baarrgh (new).  I highly recommend the Hurricane; the classic tropical fruit and Rum cocktail.

Pirate Baarrgh

Pirate Baarrgh

Bella Casa has transformed into Captain Barghbie’s Booty (new) and features the best store transformation this year.  The inside looks like a pirate ship and houses all the Pirate Booty ye could ever ask for.  The Captain himself is there to serve spiced rum cider and various wines from Italy.

Captain Barghbie at the Bar

Captain Barghbie at the Bar

Captain Barghbie's Booty

Captain Barghbie’s Booty

Dead men tell no tales in San Marco this year.  Da Vinci’s Gardens are now the center hub for the Pirates to jump out and make you walk the plank.  Well, sort of.   The park has built several fun photo ops for you and your friends to be placed in many unpleasant scenarios.  Have a photo taken in a Crow’s cage, the stocks, walking the plank, or even in a replica crow’s nest.

Ports of Skull

Ports of Skull

Entertainment:  Dig it Up: returns this year to provide comedy to your night.  A museum comes to life bringing musically talented Romans, Egyptians, curators, cavemen, an alien, and one very entertaining cave woman!

Dig It Up Stage

Dig It Up Stage

The band plays!

The band plays!

The crowd favorites!

The crowd favorites!

We are the Men in Black!

We are the Men in Black!

House/Maze:  Cut Throat Cove is the newest Scare Maze replaces the clowns from Fear Fair last year.  Loacted in Festa Italia near Roman Rapids; this maze twists and turns around various stages.  Enter if ye dare!

Abandon all Hope ye who enter here!

Abandon all Hope ye who enter here!

House/Maze:  Deadline (returning) Located under Escape from Pompeii, Zombies are running around the Italian Subway system again this year.  

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Demon Street (New)

Demon Street

Demon Street

France is on fire this year with roaming demons sure to jump out and give you a fright.

Demon Drinks and the Demon DJ (new):  Located next to each other, a Demon perched upon a giant skull with flaming eyes pumps techno beats into the crowd.   Demonic Beauties serve you hellish beverages.

Let the Music Play

Let the Music Play

House Maze:  Catacombs.  (Returning House)  Located under The Royal Palace Theater.  The maze features a creepy crypt to run through.  

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Vampire Point (new)

Vampire Point

Vampire Point

Rhinefeld has been taken over by Vampires!  Watch out for the creatures of the night waiting to pounce.  The Terror-tory features the must see- must do extra offered this year; Blood Banquet.  Say hi to Count Vlad and all his fiends at the Vampire Point Hotel.

The Vampire Point Hotel

The Vampire Point Hotel

Ripper Row (new)

Ripper Row

Ripper Row

England (Banbury Cross) has been turned into the year 1888 in the Whitecastle district of London.   Narrow pathways make it hard to avoid the Ripper who wants nothing more than to terrify park guests.  My favorite?  The headless Victorian ladies that seem to float down the cobblestone paths.

Spoooky!

Spoooky! 

Oktoberfest

Night Beats

Night Beats

Oktoberfest is not a Terror-tory, but features the well loved show Night Beats (returning).  Ulrich, your vampire host with the most, is sure to dazzle you with his charm and powerful voice.  Don’t get too entranced. His jealous fiancé Beatrix will  put a stop to your adoration in a heartbeat.

The show, as one can tell, is my favorite show in the park and features a wide variety of catchy night beats.

Ulrich demands your attention.

Ulrich demands your attention.

Beatrice is always a star.

Beatrix is always a star.

Gimme a beat and make it funky!

Gimme a beat and make it funky!

The Creatures of the Night dance the night away.

The Creatures of the Night dance the night away.

Open Casket Bar (returning):  Alright all you vampire fans, time to pull out your ID and wallet.  These vampires are out to make sure you have the time of your life.  Just make sure to never turn your back on them; you never know when one may decide to take his “dinner break.”

Open Casket Bar

Open Casket Bar

Der Marketplatz is the Dark Side of the Gardens Store where you can purchase all your must have Howl-O-Scream gear!

Dark Side of the Gardens Store

Dark Side of the Gardens Store

Bitten: (returning)  Located at the old Drachen Fire station house, this maze is one of the longest running mazes in the park.  For those history buffs out there… make sure to take in all the props when walking through and see what you recognize.

Bitten Returns again for 2013

Bitten Returns again for 2013

Ireland

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This is not a Terror-Tory this year as well but features three Howl-O-Scream attractions.

Fiends (returning):  The Doctor is back and making sure his Creature comes to life with the help of his assistant Igor, a werewolf, a vampire, a creature from the black lagoon, and a whole bunch of naughty nurses.  The music is catchy and many of the cast is new this year including the doctor.

The Doctor returns

The Doctor returns

Be my Frankenstein

Be my Frankenstein

Really Igor?

Really Igor?

A little help from my FIENDS

A little help from my FIENDS

Inoculation Station:  Everyone can be naughty sometime and you may wish to have these beauties help you to a syringe jello shot to get your heart beating faster.  The one thing I will say is that the actresses this year have been so friendly and never fail to stop and pose for a photo.

Don't be afraid to get a shot.

Don’t be afraid to get a shot.

House/ Maze13 Your Number’s Up (returning) an indoor house that features 13 fears.  When the park is busy, I recommend buying a Quick Que pass to bypass the long line.

Can you see me?

Can you see me?

There is also an added extra that you would need to purchase in advance called Fiends Feast.  I am unable to review it at this time.

That about sums up my adventures!  Hope everyone has a very safe and enjoyable time at Howl-O-Scream this year!  Make sure to like BGW Memories on Facebook to see more photos of Howl-O-Scream and Busch Gardens Park history!  https://www.facebook.com/bgwmemories?ref=hl

CHEERS!

CHEERS!

Link to dining experiences at Howl-O-Scream: http://seaworldparks.com/en/howloscream-williamsburg/Book-Online/Extras/Exclusive-Dining

Link to Behind the Scenes Tours at Howl-O-Scream:  http://seaworldparks.com/en/howloscream-williamsburg/Book-Online/Extras/All-Extras

Link to Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream Page:  http://seaworldparks.com/en/howloscream-williamsburg

Link to Howl-O-Scream Map for 2013:   http://seaworldparks.com/en/howloscream-williamsburg/Frightening-Features/Map

The eyes have it!

The eyes have it!

Your story awaits.

Your story awaits.