Let the Good Times Roll: Mardi Gras Celebration at Busch Gardens
It's cold and gloomy outside my window today, so it's a good thing that I chose yesterday to check out Busch Gardens' version of Mardi Gras. This is the latest in a line of "reservations-required" events and, in my opinion, the best one so far--at least when the weather cooperates. The first weekend was freezing and snowy, but January 6 was sunny with temperatures in the 50s--perfect weather to hang out at the park; ride Alpengeist, InvadR, Verbolten, and some other rides; and enjoy some Cajun-type food and New Orleans-inspired entertainment. I also had the bonus of hanging with Bill and Brit that day (they drove all the way down from New York State). Great to meet you two at last!
The park made a smooth transition from their "Winter Celebration" decor. Out with Frosty the Snowman in France, and in with a big court jester. All the red-and-green Christmas lights were switched to Mardi Gras purple and gold, and there was plenty of entertainment, such as a jazz band, motley-bedecked drummers, and stilt walkers. This is the liveliest that the park has been since the COVID restrictions began. They also drew a good-sized crowd, and the three open coasters had the longest lines I've seen in a while, but the crews handled them pretty well.
There were some hiccups. They were a bit short staffed, especially in food service. I wanted to try the gumbo at the grill in front of the Smokehouse, but they ran out at 1:30 and had to prepare some more. I ended up having the Mardi Gras Frites (fires with Andouille sausage in a Cajun sauce), and those were pretty good. Grogan's Grill in Ireland had a long line all day (the pub was slammed early on, too). I wanted to try the grill's Cajun Hush Puppies, but they ran short. The Creamy Cajun Meatballs at the pub were a good substitute, though. The line for beignets at the funnel-cake shop in Germany was long, as well.
Alpengeist had the longest wait of the day, due to one-train operations (which is unusual for this park). Not that the line deterred Bill, TPR's number-one Alpengeist fan. But toward the end of the evening, the line had thinned considerably, and we enjoyed a "mini-ERT session" on the coaster. Alpengeist was also running better than it was a month earlier (maybe that's why the other train is in the shop).
All in all, a fun day at Busch Gardens. I think they could expand on their Mardi Gras Celebration after the pandemic is sorted out.
Here's a look at how the good times were rollin'.
Remember--plastic Halloween "costume masks" do nothing against COVID!
Let the good times roll, folks.
What? No Union Jacks hanging in England? The Queen shall hear of this outrage!
This is what they call "Mardi Gras" in Ireland. True story.
Castle O'Sullivan is decked out in traditional Killarney Gras beads. In your face, New Orleans!
Bow before the party gods, peasants! You must now bite the heads off living crawfish in tribute.
"I don't want to work! I just want to bang on the drum all . . . wait a minute . . . this is my work."
You intrigue me, sir.
They were good.
"We have come for your children!"
Does a band wearing masks indicate a band full of bandits?
They had some unusual animals, too,
"Y'all came to see me? Why I'm so flattered it just tickles me half to death."
The owl thinks he's far more adorable than any ol' cat.
Somehow, I survived a super nova at Busch Gardens.
"Hey, Castle O'Sullivan! Top this!"
They've crossed cats with llamas! You might say they're the "cat's pallamas"! (I stole this line from someone else.)
Er, Festhaus juggler? Do you and the stage want to be alone?
Hmm--I wonder where I'll find Bill and Brit?
We snagged multiple consecutive rides at end of the evening, I begged off the last train of the night because I felt a bit ill. (Yep--getting older.)
Mardi Gras clown says, "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." (This was an evil clown at Hall-o-Scream, but he's very versatile.)
Nice lighting on the path from France to Ireland.
After a few brandies, the Queen approved of England's Mardi Gras decorations.
Happy Mardi Gras from Busch Gardens--and thanks for reading.