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Remembering Bill Wiley

“Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come.  Share the keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future.”  ~Mattie Stepanek

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It is pretty obvious I am a very sentimental person.  I see life as a series of events that shape who we are and how we respond to the world around us.  Someone once asked me in a job interview, “How do you see yourself?”  It was a good question and one I had thought about before.

I told her that “I see myself as thousands of puzzle pieces glued together by people who have influenced my life in both a positive and negative way.  My interests, my personality, hopes, dreams, morals; all of which stem from those moments in my life that someone said or did something that shaped my view of the world around me.”

I have always been very aware of connections that tie us all together.  Sometimes they are recognized immediately, but most of them go unnoticed until much later.   It is with great pleasure that I share this story with all of you.

When I started BGW Memories, people were frequently asking if I had any photos of the Brewery Tour.  After searching for months, not one single picture surfaced.  Then when I least expected it, I got a message from William “Bill” Wiley.  He mentioned was that he once worked at the Anheuser Busch Hospitality Center.  With that little note, he attached three photos.  One was of the elusive Hospitality Center; another was the Eagle One monorail.  My favorite was the picture of  him proudly standing in front of a recruitment table.

Hospitality Center

Hospitality Center

Eagle One Monorail

Eagle One Monorail

Bill by the Recruitment Table

Bill by the Recruitment Table

I was electrified with joy!  Not only did this serve to spark my own memories but I knew that it would be appreciated by hundreds of other BGW enthusiasts.

In January, I received an email for Bill’s daughter Nancy.  She explained that her father had passed away and wanted me to know how much he loved BGW Memories.  I started crying as soon as I read those words.  I felt such a loss.

Chances are,  I personally met Bill at some point.  My mind began wrapping around the connection.  I never knew that the man behind the smile at the Hospitality Center would later send me such a treasure trove of history.  Even though I cannot recall the sound of Bill’s voice or conversations at the park we may have shared, knowing we both had the chance to reconnect is a miracle.

We go through our lives never knowing all the ways we affect others.  Bill Wiley taught me that what we do, no matter how small, matters.  In turn, I will never see the photos of the Brewery Tour again without thinking about Bill and his enthusiasm and kindness.

Thank you for sharing your memories with us Bill.   Also to Nancy:  Thank you for telling me how much your father enjoyed reading BGW Memories and how proud he was to be a part of Busch Gardens history.  We will forever be connected and for that, I am sincerely grateful. 

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Please honor Bill by reading about his life.   William “Bill” Wiley’s Obituary is found here:  http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/DailyPress/obituary.aspx?n=William-Roy-Wiley&pid=168882269

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“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”
― John Steinbeck

For those wanting to know more about the Brewery Tour:  a regular contributor to BGW Memories, Christopher Shwartz sent me links to the entire Brewery Tour captured on film.  The You Tube videos were posted by “SCIONIZER.”  Thanks to you both for this precious documentation of park history!

1.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOmTtPmFJ34
2.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dleS01NRG0
3.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUtBaBwN5Q4
4.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ti0QaImVSg
5.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEA5BeerH4A
6.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81eH6s1muTw
7.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekNDY7d2PAA
8.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToYfwGw8Qbs
9.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P34MniqMw5o
10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Qk43AVHZcw

A Look back at 2013: The Year of Friends

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Another year has come and gone and I find myself staring in to the abyss of two long months without Busch Gardens Williamsburg.  The cold dark winter sky looms over me as a coaster-less depression rolls in.  Yet amidst the gloom and leafless trees, I reflect upon 2013 with fondness.   I will declare 2013 as another new chapter in my experiences at Busch Gardens.  Through the broad reaches of the internet, I will call it:  The Year of Friends.

Before social media came around, it was a lonely road roaming around the park.  A good analogy of this isolation would be as if I only person who showed up to a sci-fi convention in costume.  No matter how many times I went with friends in years past, no one shared my level of enthusiasm.  That is, until now.

Starting a community fan page was something I had wanted to do for quite some time and thank goodness I took the plunge!  This year I connected with a family of enthusiasts that made me feel at home.  At last, I could be myself and no one would think odd of me.  It was refreshing and glorious!

The first event in 2013 was Pass Member Preview Day.  It was a cold wet March morning, yet I was honored that so many fans gathered into a huddle to start the day off right.

Our First Meet-Up

Our First Meet-Up

For those who have never been to Pass Member Preview, it is scheduled the day before the park opens to the general public and usually features presentations scattered in various locations.  The presentations are designed to inform season pass members of what to expect for the new operating season; call it a teaser trailer.

This past year’s preview consisted of promoting the new Food & Wine Festival; something I could barely contain my excitement about.  When the event arrived, I was not disappointed!

I instantly feel in love with the event, the food, and the atmosphere.  The Food & Wine festival was almost like a special gift given to the loyal guests of the park.  I would even say it was a very successful enticement for many locals to come out to enjoy the spring weather by tasting European themed dishes and to pair them with various wines and beers.  Hello?  Awesome!

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As a local and an avid park goer, this event was my favorite all year.  I felt a constant draw to the park just to enjoy the simple pleasures of food, wine, and the company of dear friends.  It almost brings to mind the TV show cheers, where everybody knows your name; where the bar is Grogan’s Pub and the entertainment was Celtic Fyre and the Killarney Village Band.

The locals enjoy a pre Celtic Fyre toast!  (Photo Credit: Wrangler Roy Photography)

The locals enjoy a pre Celtic Fyre toast! (Photo Credit: Wrangler Roy Photography)

I love the Killarney Village Band!

I love the Killarney Village Band!

My friends and I also acquired a new favorite place to congregate during the event; Aquitaine, France!  Before the Food & Wine Festival, the hamlet of Aquitaine consisted of a brief stop for a ride on Griffon. Yet with the wonderful addition of the Aquitaine Village band, a lovely reinvention of Le Belle Maison shop with the best wine expert in the area, and the charming French Waiters, my friends and I found a new home!  So many hours were spent enjoying wine, singing Oh la la with the band and taking in the scenery of twisting vines while the enticing smell of crepes and coffee lingered in the air.  Oh la la indeed!

My favorite waiters!

My favorite waiters!

Last night of Illuminights!

Last night of Illuminights!

I felt that the Old Country had returned from these small touches of unique experiences.  Our group felt full of anticipation for each day that we would all converge upon our favorite table to discuss life and Busch Gardens.

I would also like to mention my other favorite addition during the Food & Wine Festival:  the Wine on the Rhine cruise.  The price of the cruise was extremely affordable and included a sophisticated snack of cheeses, chocolates, and a wine of your choice.  A charming band serenaded your journey.  It is romantic and a relaxing way to your evening with friends or that special someone.

The wonderful Wine of the Rhine River cruise band!

The wonderful Wine of the Rhine River cruise band!

With the new event, let us not forget a coaster legend reached another milestone in 2013.  The Loch Ness Monster, celebrated its official 35th anniversary.  I planned a mini gathering of fans and even had a poster made for Nessie’s birthday to honor the old girl.

That anniversary morning, the “usual suspects” as I call us, ran into the gates to be the first to ride Nessie that morning.  The park had also decided to celebrate this moment by offering the first 100 people an anniversary tee shirt as well as a chance to be recorded on the celebratory 1st ride of the day.  I was so extremely honored that my best friend and I made it to the front seat! Trust me, we ran hard to earn that spot!

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Looking at that photos taken that day, it is easy to see the love and appreciation for Nessie.  May she live long and remain forever in our hearts!

I would like to randomly insert another favorite memory of 2013; one of my favorite performers took the time to come take a photo with me in his Big Bad Wolf costume.  Anyone who has read my blogs knows my love the classic coaster that once traveled at the “speed of fright” but also for the singer that played the part in the show Entwined.  It remains one of my favorite pictures of the season!

I love this picture!

I love this picture!

During the summer, I took several behind-the-scenes tours that I highly recommend.  Attending the Bird of Prey Tour, The Ultimate Insider Tour, and the Coaster Tour with fellow park enthusiasts was well worth my time and money.  Our tour guides were fantastic and the memories that were made will last forever.  I have written reviews of all the tours on my Blog and please read them at your leisure!

Bird of Prey Tour

Bird of Prey Tour

Coaster Tour Glory!

Coaster Tour Glory!

Bobby made our Griffon adventure fantastic!

Bobby made our Griffon adventure fantastic!

The regular season still held more adventures!  My friends and I were able to catch the last show of “This is Oktoberfest.”  For me, the show is a true representation of the Old Country era of traditional German Festhaus music.  My favorite memory was being selected to dance the Polka one last time with one of my favorite performers; again- another one for the memory books!  It was a touching and fitting way to say goodbye to a show I loved so much for the 2013 season.

Polka time!

Polka time!

Not only did our band of park enthusiast brother’s and sisters enjoy the last of “This is Oktoberfest” and “Entwined”, but we also gathered to enjoy the final performance of Celtic Fyre.  We had so much fun and the cast was so touch by the showing of love and support from their fans.  Many of the 2013 cast has moved onto new ventures but their place in our hearts will never be forgotten.

Thanks to Roy Richards for this wonderful moment of Celtic Fyre!

Thanks to Roy Richards for this wonderful moment of Celtic Fyre!

Thanks for the memories to all who made the regular season shows full of joy and magic!  Best of luck to all of you who are returning and those moving on.  Our love and wishes go out to you all.

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Before the end of the summer, another Pass Member special announcement was made in the Festhaus.  The family of avid fans made their way to be the first to hear what we can look forward to for HOS and for 2014.  We learned about the new format of Howl-O-Scream (HOS) and got to see special look at the new show set to be in the Globe Theater in 2014 called “London Rocks.”

The crowd of fans gather!

The crowd of fans gather!

After the presentation, the performers came out in a vintage double-decker bus to have a meet-and-greet with the fans.  Obviously, this was my favorite part.

These are my boys!  Love you guys!

These are my boys! Love you guys!

The last event I attended in the summer was Wild Days.  A ticketed event of either a breakfast or lunch will include meeting Jack Hanna and a close encounter with exotic animals.  I have never missed this event and plan to continue the tradition every year!

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After the summer, Howl-O-Scream seemed to arrive overnight.  Truth be told, I loved the new Terror-tory Concept and the more adult themed atmosphere.  Entertainment was key in 2013 with classic shows, bars, and a new location worthy of a special note.

My absolute favorite was Blood Banquet!  The concept of a “dinner theater” has been something I have wished for!  Luckily, it far exceeded my expectations!

In fact, my friends and I became regular attendees.  I adored the cast and their enthusiastic portrayal of an eccentric band of vampires, gypsies, and glamorous beauties.   The food was the best in the park and I pray that next year the concept continues to expand with our lovely cast of characters.

My love to all of you! Fangs for the memories!

My love to all of you! Fangs for the memories!

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The last tango~ a lovely moment captured by my friend Frank Forrester.

The last tango~ a lovely moment captured by my friend Frank Forrester.

Of course the shows Fiends and Night Beats were our other favorite haunts.  Our group tended to enjoy the warmer indoor aspect of the shows and the quirky arrangement of tunes catered to fabulous vocal talents.

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

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

My favorite composition from Night Beats.

My favorite composition from Night Beats.

OK, I have to mention the highlight of my Howl-O-Scream entertainment experience.  I was called up to have none other than Night Beats lead star, the vampire host with the most, Ulrich himself!   I totally made me swoon with delight!  For the record, he is an enchanting vocalist. Wow.

What a moment!

What a moment!

* I wrote two Blog Articles about Howl-O-Scream this year if you wish to see more of the event in greater detail!

After Howl-O-Scream ended, Christmas Town began.  As always, friends gathered for the opening day without disappointment.  The weather was perfect and the park looked lovely as always.   Our first destination was to see the very first show of Gloria!  Two words; BLOWN AWAY!

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We all were in quiet awe before erupting in a standing ovation.  The power of the vocals brought chills and even caused me to shed a few tears.

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Aquitaine France had a new look for Christmas Town, and for the better.  My favorite addition was the roaming performers, The “Royals of Aquitaine.” Her Majesty Queen Florette, His Majesty King Francois,, and the lovable Jester Harlequin with his sidekick Jester junior, brought smiles to everyone!  This kind of entertainment sets Busch Gardens apart from the competition and never fails to create fond memories for guest.  Bravo to the trio!  They were certainly the crowd favorite this year!

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Moving on from France, the show Deck the Halls in Oktoberfest has always been another fan favorite.  So much so, the the park had to close the Festhaus frequently as it would continually reach capacity.  The talent is always top notch!

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Christmas Town is also more than entertainment, shopping, and lights.  I would like to mention that an outside the Festhaus a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet was open on occasion.  Tucked away; I found it a very affordable hidden gem.  My only complaint was that I wished it had been open every night as I would have gone everyday.  The food was so good and I even met a few new friends while waiting in line.  Oh, and there was ham.  Glorious Glazed Ham!

Yummy ham!

Yummy ham!

From Germany and continuing into the San Marco Theater of Italy, the show Miracles was performing with the usual flair of inspirational music and talent.  My favorite is always the vocal solos, the ballet dancer, and the finale!  One can never leave without feeling that Christmas is more than gifts; it is about love and togetherness.

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Speaking of togetherness, a friend of mine decided to embrace the Christmas season of giving to a family who normally could not have enjoyed Christmas Town.

On behalf of the anonymous donor and representing BGWFans and BGW Memories, I was there to welcome them to the park and see them off with the blessing bestowed upon them off with a package of VIP parking, park admission, quick queue passes, photos with Santa, complete meal packages, a cashless wristband with pre-paid spending money for additional gift purchases as well!

They were a military family whose father was stationed overseas during the holidays.  It was an honor to witness such an act of generosity.  I was told they had a wonderful time and were very grateful.  For me, that is the spirit of giving!

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As for my holidays, I spent Christmas Eve with my dearest of friends at Christmas Town.  The day was absolute perfection.

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I was also at Christmas Town on New Years Eve.  My college buddy, who came all the way from San Diego to spend the day with me and my close friends at Busch Gardens, was a delightful way to say goodbye to 2013.

Of course it was sad to see the season come to an end.  I will miss my Busch Gardens family of friends but look forward to being reunited in 2014.

New Friends and a new family through social media!

New Friends and a new family through social media!

Perhaps I may run into you in the park as well.  Please introduce yourself and feel free to share your favorite moments and memories with me!  I would love the chance of making a new friend.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year and a fun filled adventure at Busch Gardens in 2014!

CHEERS!

My husband: he's a keeper!

My husband: he’s a keeper!

>>>  A Special Thanks to all those who worked Christmas Town and spent their Holidays providing families with beautiful memories!  It is hard work to keep up a smile during cold weather and provide great service and perfect performances every night!  Thanks for the memories and being such wonderful, beautiful people.  Happy New Year to you all!

Best wishes to a talented, lovely lady!  Hope to see you in 2014!

Best wishes to a talented, lovely lady! Hope to see you in 2014!

Having fun on the flume!
Having fun on the flume!

Spending quality time with a up incoming park enthusiast!

Spending quality time with a young park enthusiast!

Late night Verbolten rides are the best!

Late night Verbolten rides are the best!

Busch Gardens and best friends.

Busch Gardens and best friends.

From the Styx concert~ best wishes always!

From the Styx concert~ best wishes always!

Snow at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

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*This article was previously written and shared on BGWFans.com and on Busch Gardens VA Blog in 2010.  In recovering my hard drive this past month, I have found my old story and photos.  Enjoy.
The Swings ready to fly in the snow!

The Swings ready to fly in the snow!

December 31, 2010

When I was very little, I used to dream about what Busch Gardens Williamsburg looked like in the snow. Most kids would peer out their window and watch the falling fluffy flakes; thinking about snowball fights or building a snowman. Not me. I would try to imagine what the Loch Ness Monster Roller Coaster  all covered with snow and ice; sparkling in the winter sky.

What happened in the park when it snowed? Did anyone get to walk around and experience the acoustic nothingness that only comes when snow falls? Did the Rhine River Freeze? All these questions plagued me back when there were no social networks updating fans with a constant stream of photos or Blog posts. Heck, you couldn’t even e-mail the park for a quick answer! You had to send in a handwritten letter; yeah, remember those folks? The paper and pen kind? Oh, how times have changed!

Still, a few decades later, my ultimate winter questions were answered. It only took two miraculous things to happen; Busch Gardens opened their doors throughout December with an event called Christmas Town and Virginia was hit with one of the largest snowstorms in decades. Of course the bad news was that in order to safely open the park, the employees had the arduous task of clearing over a foot of snow on all the pathways, bridges, steps, railroad trestles, and more.

Most of us get tired after cleaning off our cars and shoveling the driveway. Imagine doing that over 350 acres! The dedication of everyone involved in the clearing process allowed the park to reopen three days later. Knowing this, I had my camera charged up and ready to go with heartfelt appreciation. This was a real snowfall and the park had to be spectacular!

I got there as soon as the park opened; set out for the sole purpose of gathering the ultimate Busch Gardens winter photo showcase. I was not disappointed; icicles dangled from the roof tops like prisms, snow blanketed every inch of the landscape, the Rhine River was frozen solid, and the frosty air made Christmas Town at Busch Gardens reminiscent of a winter themed lithograph by Currier and Ives.

Being at the park after a snowfall was just as I imagined in my youth; it was magical. Perhaps Santa was finally answering some of my Christmas wishes on those old “handwritten” childhood letters after all. However, I am still waiting for my own personal roller coaster. Santa, I hope you are listening.

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Beautiful Busch Gardens

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Italy in the snow.

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Ice and snow everywhere!

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France’s frosty trees!

For more Winter Wonderland Christmas Town snow pictures, please visit BGW Memories on Facebook for the complete photo album.

Feel free to submit your own Busch Gardens in the snow photos to keep the album growing!

Tis’ the Season to be Jolly! Christmas Town 2013

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While turkey leftovers are still in the fridge and families are together, many will set out to enjoy the joy of Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.  Already reaching the fifth year, Christmas Town has firmly established a yearly tradition for most of us.  Every year the event brings friends, families, and even complete strangers together to celebrate the season with lights, fun, food, music, inspiration, and entertainment.

When Christmas Town opened on November 27, 2009; I was there; ready to go and see what Busch Gardens had to offer!  Through the crowds I navigated with my brown coat and fuzzy earmuffs, bedazzled by decorations and the smell of hot cocoa and peppermint in the air!  The Christmas music playing in the park gave me the warm fuzzies as I held my husband’s hand and just took the time to enjoy a lovely moment in time.

Opening Day 2009

Opening Day 2009

I am glad to know that five years later, I still have that warm fuzzy feeling at Christmas Town.  This year the grand opening of the event was the weekend before Thanksgiving; a smart move on the part of Busch Gardens.

Having the event begin a week before the Thanksgiving weekend is brilliant when it comes to efficiency; performers get a little extra practice, retail shops make sure the registers are up and running, the rides operators are getting used to the cold, and the entire park gets a “test run” before a huge crowd lines up to enter the park after the Holidays.

I decided to go on both Friday and Sunday in order to capture all I could before the Holiday rush and to provide an overview of the ChristmasTown experience.  Laughably and in typical Virginia fashion, one day the temperatures reached into the 70s the other, the 30s.  Yet despite the temperature fluctuations, my experience remained the same on both days. For your enjoyment, here is an overview of what I consider the must see points of interest while visiting ChristmasTown this year.

What’s New?

This year France sparkles with a new look of silver and violet.  The theme is the 12 Days of Christmas and the first thing one sees upon entering is a very large and beautiful tree with the numbers and corresponding “gift” for each day.

The 12 Days of Christmas

The 12 Days of Christmas

Also new in France is the roaming Royals of Aquitaine.  Her Majesty Queen Florette, His Majesty King Francois, and their court Jester Harlequin loves to greet you and pose for a photo.  The performers are fabulous and their improvisational humor will be sure to make wonderful memories for years to come.

The Royals of Aquitaine are a must see!!!

The Royals of Aquitaine are a must see!!!

Besides seeing the Royals, France offers a fabulous gift shop full of French themed merchandise, soap, and what else- wine!  Le Belle Maison Gift Shop hosts one of the three locations in the park where guests can partake in wine tastings.  The store sells the wine tasting package, bottles of wine, wine themed merchandise, clothing, jewelry, chocolate, Christmas ornaments, bags, French themed décor, and more.

Wine Tastings in France

Wine Tastings in France

Going past the gift shops and around the Royal Palace Theater is the Ice Palace Penguin exhibit.  The ever popular exhibit features an up close look at the adorable penguins in a themed enclosure.  The park also offers a behind the scenes penguin tour, but be aware that the tour must be purchased and booked in advance.

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Here we come a Caroling!

Penguins and Roaming Royals are certainly entertaining, and so are the shows at Busch Gardens.  This year features three returning classic shows:  Gloria!, Deck the Halls, and Miracles.

Located in the Abbey Stone Theater, Gloria! set my holiday off right.  It was the first show I saw this Christmas Town and even though the theater was toasty warm, the beauty and power of the performance gave me chills!  Even the grouchiest humbug will admit that the soaring vocals of the music, accompanied by a live orchestra will make your season bright. The show is extremely popular and if you want a good seat, it is best to get there early.

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Over in Oktoberfest Germany, Deck the Halls takes center stage at the historical Festhaus.  The show brings back the classic Holiday Favorites that will get you tapping your toes.  Kids will love the energy and fun of the performance and adults will appreciate the nostalgic flair.  I never tire of seeing Frosty “thumpity-thump-thumping around the stage, but I do wish I could watch the show without singing “Heat Miser” for the rest of the day.

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At the San Marco Theater in Italy, Miracles returns to inspire guests with moving music and contemporary dance.  Located outdoors, I am always amazed at how well the performers dance and sing in downright frigid temperatures. They make it seem effortless and their hard work warms the heart and soul.

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Unfortunately no times are given for three “roaming” musical performances, but be aware that there are Dicken’s style Christmas Carolers in England, a bagpiper plays in Ireland, and a Brass band performs in Holiday Hills.  The musicians are amazing and if you are lucky, you may run across a performance.

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Here Comes Santa Claus!

OK.  I shouldn’t even have to mention it, but anyone wandering through Rhinefeld a.k.a. The North Pole, shouldn’t pass up the chance to see Santa, Mrs. Claus, and all the super cute Elves!  Who cares what decade you were born in, no one is too old to see Santa and the photo op the park offers just screams Holiday Photo 2013!  Even if you are too afraid to see Santa, at least peek into the window and give him a little wave.

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“Please have snow and mistletoe and presents under the tree.”

Christmas is the season for giving, and there are plenty of places to find unique gifts for friends and family at Christmas Town.  The stores are always so beautifully decorated that they become an attraction themselves.  It is hard not to get inspired to go home and put up Christmas Decorations after walking through the gift shops.

Each shop offers guests something different, but a few stand out as being the most unique:

Artisans of Italy:  Here one can purchase authentic Capodimonte Porcelain flowers created on site by master sculptor Nino Galoppo and hand painted by master painter Antonio Aprea.  There are so many lovely choices of flowers; it is hard to choose just one.

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Right next door is Bella Casa Gift shop where Italian wines, wine tastings, Italy, and Wine themed merchandise are sold.

German Gifts:  No trip to BuschGardens is complete without a stop to German Gifts.  The store harks back to the days of the “Old Country” era and features traditional authentic gifts from Germany including high quality, hand painted steins and carved wooden cuckoo clocks.  In addition, hand Blown glass sculptures, German themed merchandise, Christmas Décor, Glasses of Glühwein, German Wine, and German wine tastings are also sold here.

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Emerald IsleGift shop:  A place to find authentic hand woven Irish sweaters, clothing, Waterford Crystal, and fine jewelry; as well as Ireland and Guinness themed merchandise.

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Mistletoe Marketplace: Located in Oktoberfest, this open air market hosts numerous local vendors that offer guests the chance to buy locally made gifts.

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These are a Few of My Favorite Things:

Of course there are rides and many other fun things to see.  Lights and decorations are shining in every corner and smiles and laughter are found everywhere.  Here are a few of my favorite things at ChristmasTown:

I never turn down a round trip ride on the train, where treetops glisten along your magical ride around the park.

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The Flight of Lights turns the Aeronaut Skyride into a Santa’s Sleigh ride perspective of BuschGardens; alight with twinkling lights and the faint echo of Holiday music reaching every swinging cabin.

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The feeling of riding the swings in the cold icy air never fails to make me feel like a kid again.

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Sitting down with a bottle of bubbly with friends to toast to what we are thankful for.

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Knowing that every time I come out to Christmas Town, memories will be made that will last a lifetime.

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There really is so much to see and do around Busch Gardens during Christmas Town, that I could write a book.  Just remember  to take your time and enjoy the atmosphere of all the sights and sounds.    Besides shopping, shows, food, and the rides; Christmas Town is a place to reconnect you to your childhood and to connect the young to their imaginations!

~~Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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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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Festhaus Recipes

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How many of you love food served at the Festhaus?  Silly question right?

To those who were not old enough to remember when the park opened in 1975, it may come a surprise to learn that the Festhaus was not officially “there” until 1976.   It also opened with along with the rest of the Oktoberfest section of the park.  Der Marketplatz, Die Autobahn, The Trabant (Der Blitzschneller), Die Schwarze Spinne, Der Wirbelwind, Das Wirbelwindchen, the Arcade, all the skill games, Der Roto Baron, and the Schwartzkopf Wildekatze coaster.

Oktoberfest opens!

Oktoberfest opens!

Oktoberfest was a success for the park and so was the food!

Back in 1979, the park published a cook book that was written by the creative brains behind the Festhaus menu.

Yes.  A cookbook for the Festhaus… the glory of it allin vivid color and text!

Let us take a moment to thank Festhaus Chef Karin Elliot and Velma Wong (pastry chef) in a quiet meditation.  Think of bratwurst with sauerkraut, a side of German potato salad, and a big old slice of German Chocolate Torte cake.

Top Chef Masters

Top Chef Masters

Sadly, this book is no longer in production and chances are that the only place you may run across it is in a used book store or in a thrift shop book bin.  Speaking of, Kelly Sweeney Osato, one of the readers of BGW Memories, found this lovely book in a thrift shop and decided to cook her own “Oktoberfest” Feast right at home.  Even better, she sent in photos of the fruits of her labor.

I bow to her culinary skills!

This is a feast!

This is a feast!

After reading carefully over my own copy of the Festhaus cookbook; I discovered that in order to properly cook traditional German food, the chef must possess a ton of patience and fee time.  Also, the directions can seem vague and difficult to follow.  However, after seeing the results from Kelly’s triumphant Top Chef Victory, I may have to break out the crock pot and skillets.

The finished plate.

The finished plate.

For those daring enough to follow in Kelly’s footsteps: Be aware that many of the ingredients may not be easily found at a grocery store.  You may have to go to a specialty, international grocery store.  Also, cheesecloth and numerous hours of simmering, pickling, and refrigeration are required for many of the dishes.

So, don’t go expecting an instant Festhaus meal in minutes!  Nope. This is hard work; home cooking.  Busch Gardens style….. and it is not for the faint of heart!

The reason I am spending my free time typing out this book, is to  provide everyone the chance to experience this long forgotten treasure.  I plan on making installments to this post with chapters being added every so often.

He's a keeper!

May the spirit of Oktoberfest be with you all!

Ein prosit, ein prosit, der Gemutlichkeit!

BierMeister

Busch Gardens Postcard featuring Bob Bauman.

Spoiler Alert:  I found out why that German Potato Salad is so good; BACON!  Yes, a good ol’ cup of bacon and the grease is simmered to make the sauce.  Even in Germany, bacon always makes things better!
Disclaimer: Please do not email with questions about the recipes and how to cook things.  I really don’t know.  Check Google.  It is a better chef than I am!
I should also mention that I am doing this in the spirit of Busch Gardens fandom and no money is being made by me or anyone that may help me with this little endeavor of mine.  Since the book is no longer in publication, I thought it would be acceptable to share my treasure with you all.

Busch Gardens Festhaus Cookbook

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Published for Busch Gradens

By

Taylor Lewis & Associates

1979

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Recipes provided by Festhaus Chef Karin Elliot and Velma Wong, pastry chef. The Old Country

Photographs taken by Taylor Lewis in Germany at The Old Country Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Virginia.

Editor: Joanne Young

Designed by Ahia

Food Stylist, Dora Jonassen

First printing Copyright 1979

By Taylor Lewis & Associates

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest opens!

At Busch Gardens Festhaus, every day’s Oktoberfest – the happy season of good food, good fellowship, dancing and song.  In Germany, where Munich’s huge Festhaus tents on the Theresienwiese are the heart of Oktoberfest, the holiday extends for sixteen glorious fall days as it has done since 1810.  In that auspicious year, Bavarian King Maximilian proclaimed a public celebration of the marriage of his son to a Saxony princess.

Such a happy custom was too good to abandon when the wedding was over, coming as it did when the harvest season when the hops were in and Munich’s famous breweries were turning out kegs of golden beer.  Today, the first Keg is tapped by the Lord Mayor to signify the opening of Oktoberfest.  Brass bands play, carousels turn, roller coaster cars soar up and slide down.  Young and old lock arms and sing, swaying to the music or raise their own on-litre steins (the only size allowed on Munich grounds) in merry toasts of “Ein, Zwei, Drei, Prosit!”

Germany’s famous wurts are in mouthwatering abundance, along with spicy sauerkraut, red cabbage, and tangy hot potato salad.  Over all hangs the tantalizing fragrance of barbecued beef, roasted daily on huge spits.

Join the fun at Busch Gardens Festhaus and when you go home, have your own Oktoberfest with the help of these authentic German recipes.

Table of Contents

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Food for Oktoberfest and other German Recipies

Oktoberfest History

Soups and Salads

  • Potato soup
  • “Clear Across the Garden” Soup
  • Noodle Soup
  • Chef’s Salad Dressing
  • Herring Salad
  • Carnival Coleslaw with Apples
  • Beet Salad
  • Hot Potato Salad

Favorite Side Dishes *to be added soon

Meat, Poultry, and Fish  *to be added soon

Breads and Pastries  *to be added soon

Miscellaneous  *to be added soon

Festhaus Songs *to be added soon

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SOUPS AND SALADS

potatosoup

Potato Soup

PotatoSoup2

Potato Soup

(Kartoffelsuppe)

4 Medium potatoes

1 medium cucumber

1 ½ teaspoon salt

2 cups cold water

2 small green onions

1 ½ cups half-and-half cream

½ teaspoon dried dillweed

¼ teaspoon white pepper

¼ teaspoon celery salt

Peel and dice potatoes and boil till soft in salted water.  Peel cucumber, remove seeds, and chop.  Mix with finely chopped onions.  Place large sieve over bowl and pour potatoes and cooking water through.  Reserve several table-spoons of cubed potatoes to give soup texture, and press remainder through sieve and mix with cooking liquid.  Return to saucepan.  Add cream, seasonings, cucumber and onions, and simmer over very low heat for about five minutes, stirring frequently.  Garnish with thin cucumber slices and a dash of dill.

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Clear Across the Garden Soup

Clear Across the Garden Soup

gardensoup2

“Clear Cross the Garden” Soup

(Quer durch den Garten Suppe)

4 cups of beef stock (or 4 cups bouillon)

1 onion sliced thin

½ tablespoon chopped parsley

3 tablespoons of butter

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup sliced carrots

½ cup chopped cabbage

½ cup cubed potatoes

Salt and Pepper to taste

The best thing about this soup is its versatility.  Walk clear across the garden, pick whatever vegetables are in season and add them to the soup!  This can include green beans, limas, brussel sprouts, zucchini, spinach, turnips, green peas, or whatever you like.

Sauté celery, onion, carrots, and cabbage in butter.  Add to soup stock or bouillon), add mix to potato cubes and parsley.  Then add your own variety of vegetables plus cubes of meat left-overs (or sauté 1 cup cubed beef round with vegetables if you like).  Simmer until potatoes are tender.  Serve with herbed croutons or slices of fresh homemade bread and butter for a complete meal.

For variety: Add 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, or 1 cup of fine noodles, or ½ cup alphabet macaroni. 

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noodlesoup

Noodle Soup

noodlesoup2

Noodle Soup

(Nudelsuppe)

4 pounds beef chuck with bones

2 quarts water

2 leeks

2 large carrots

2 stalks celery with leaves

½ large onion

½ teaspoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon salt

1 bay leaf

1 pinch each of marjoram and thyme

2 sprigs parsley (or 1 teaspoon parsley flakes)

4 ounces thin noodles

½ cup sliced carrots

Cut meat off bones and reserve.  Cover soup bones with cold water and bring to boil in sauce pan.  Strain off water, cover soup bones with 2 quarts fresh water, and continue cooking.  Tie leeks, carrots, celery, onion, and herbs into cheesecloth square, and place in soup pot along with salt.  Simmer for an hour, then add meat which has been cut into cubes and sear on all sides in a very hot skillet.  (German cooks prefer to sear the cut side of onion the same way before tying into cheesecloth bag, but this method is optional).  Continue simmering for at least two more hours, skimming as necessary.  Correct seasoning and cool.  Remove fat congealed on top before making the soup.

Heat stock to boiling, then remove meat with slotted spoon and keep warm.  Add ½ sliced carrots and cook until partially tender.  Add very thing noodles, approximately 1 ounce per cup of stock, stirring so noodles do not stick together.  Cook until noodles are tender and serve.  Pass meat cubes in separate dish, letting each guest add desired amount to soup bowl.

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Chef Salad Dressing

Chef Salad Dressing

ChefSalad2

Chef’s Salad Dressing

(Salat Marinade)

1/3 cup white vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

1 clove garlic, mashed

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 teaspoon carroway seed

1 teaspoon salt- dash of freshly ground pepper

½ cup chopped parsley

Chop Parsley very fine, wrap in cheese cloth, and wring out parsley juice.  Mix ingredients except sugar and parsley in bowl. Let stand for at least two hours.  Add sugar and parsley, and mix again.  Chill before serving over salad greens.

For variety: Add ½ cup finely chopped onion as a delicious marinade for fresh tomato slices; or pour over sliced boiled potatoes and garnish with crisp bits of bacon for a simple cold potato salad. 

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Herring Salad

Herring Salad

Herringsalad2

Herring Salad

(Heringsalat)

3-4 ounce jars marinated herring fillets

12ounce carton of sour cream

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon sugar

2 tart apples

2 small onions

½ teaspoon dillweed

Core but do not peel apples and cut into thin slices.  Peel onions and slice thin.  Drain herring fillets and gently stir into sour cream in bowl.  Add vinegar, sugar, apples, and onions.  Chill in refrigerator 4 to 5 hours, or overnight.  Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle dill on top, and garnish with thin apple slices if desired.

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Carnival Coleslaw with Apples

Carnival Coleslaw with Apples

carnivalsald2

Carnival Coleslaw with Apples

(Karnival Krautsalat)

2 cups grated green cabbage

2 cups grated red cabbage

1 small orange, chopped

1 large apple, cored and chopped

2 medium carrots, grated

½ cup raisins

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

Grate cabbages and place in ice water to crisp while preparing carrots and fruit.  Do not peel apple- the red skins adds color and flavor to this bright salad.  Drain grated cabbage and dry between paper towels.  Toss with chopped orange and apple, grated carrots, and raisins.  Combine lemon juice with honey and pour over cole slaw, tossing lightly before serving.

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Beet Salad

Beet Salad

beetsalad2

Beet Salad

(Rote Beete Salat)

#2 can (16 oz) sliced beets

1 tablespoon super

1 tablespoon vinegar

½ teaspoon carroway seeds

1 small Bermuda onion, sliced thin

Drain beets and mix juice with sugar, carroway seeds, and vinegar.  Mix beet and onion slices together in bowl, stirring lightly.  Pour marinade on beets and refrigerate overnight to blend flavors.

For variety: Add 2 tablespoons Burgundy wine to marinade.

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Hot Potato Salad

Hot Potato Salad

hotpotatoesalad

Hot Potato Salad

(Warmer Kartoffelsalat)

6 large potatoes

¼ pound bacon (approx) to make 1 cup chopped bacon (uncooked)

1 cup chopped onions

2 cups water

3 tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ cup each pickle relish and chopped pimento

Boil potatoes then refrigerate about 6 hours.  Peel and slice.  Chop bacon and onion fine and brown in skillet till bacon is crisp.  Do not drain.  Add Cornstarch mixed with water to bacon grease, stirring till mixture thickens, and simmer for several minutes.  Stir in sliced potatoes and simmer until they are hot.

Breads and Pastries

Black Forest Cherry Cake

(Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte)

2 Cups Flour

1 ½ cups sugar

¼ cups milk

½ cup butter

1½ teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

½ cup cocoa

½ teaspoon red food coloring

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs, and measure rest of ingredients into bowl.  Blend on low, scraping constantly.  Beat 3 mintues on high speed.  Pour into two 9 inch round cake pans that have been greased and floured.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-50 minutes.

Filling:  2 cups black cherries canned in heavy syrup; combined with 2 tablespoons of Kirschwasser.

Frosting: (Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte) pint heavy cream, whipped or 1 large container non-dairy whipped topping

Slice each cake round horizontally to make four layers.  Place one layer on flat plate.  Fill pastry bag with whipped cream and pipe a generous ring around the edge of cake layer and a large rosette in the center. Fill exposed ring of cake with cherry filling.  Place the second layer of cake on top and repeat.  Place third layer and top and frost the entire cake layer with whipped cream.  Crumble the fourth layer into fine crumbs and sprinkle on the sides of the cake.  Using whipped cream, pipe two rosettes on top of cake and top each with a maraschino cherry.  Garnish the center top of cake with chocolate curls.

Bavarian  Torte

(Bayrische Torte)

Use chocolate cake recipe for Black Forest Cake.. (see above)  or your favorite Devil’s Food Cake Recipe.  Bake on rectangular sheet cake pan at 350 degrees until cake pulls away from the edge of pan and toothpick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean.  (About 25 minutes)  Cut cake into thirds so you have three equal rectangles.

Place one portion on cake board plate and spread with non-dairy whipped topping about ½ thick.  Place second portion on top and press down slightly to level off top.  Spread Second Layer with whipped topping and place third layer on top.  Frost top and garnish with chocolate sprinkles.

 

More to come!  Stay Tuned.  🙂

In the meantime- enjoy learning the lyrics to a Festhaus Song:

In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus:
Eins, zwei, g’suffa . . .
Da läuft so manches Fäßchen aus:
Eins, zwei, g’suffa . . .
Da hat so manche braver Mann:
Eins, zwei, g’suffa . . .
Gezeigt was er so vertragen kann
Schon früh am Morgen fing er an
Und spät am Abend kam er heraus
So schön ist’s im Hofbräuhaus.

Zicke Zacke Zicke Zacke Hoi Hoi Hoi!

Wunderbar!

Zicke Zacke Zicke Zacke Hoi Hoi Hoi!

Zicke Zacke Zicke Zacke Hoi Hoi Hoi!

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.

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!

__________________

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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