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Photo TR: Hard Hat Tour of Busch Gardens' Forest of Fun


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Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., gave the world a sneak peek at its newest land, the Sesame Street Forest of Fun (FOF), during a hard hat tour for the media today. FOF is the newest of what Busch calls its "KIDsiderate" attractions, and it's shaping up to be a excellent addition to the park--a heavily themed "European" version of Sesame Street with "kid-sized" versions of classic rides that the whole family can enjoy, in addition to wet-and-dry play areas and, of course, classic characters like Bert and Ernie, Grover, and Elmo.

 

FOF represents a "natural partnership between two iconic brands," said John Reilly, the park's general manager, at a brief ceremony in the lobby of the Globe Theatre in England--that is, Busch Gardens and Sesame Street (courtesy of the Children's Television Workshop).

 

The Sesame Street characters will be hanging their hats (well, if they have hats) in what used to be the Royal Preserve petting zoo, and the home of two Howl-o-Scream mazes, in years' past. And the park's creative team has managed to cram quite a bit into a fairly small space. Here's what guests will find in the Forest of Fun:

 

Elmo's Castle--a performance stage and wet playground

Prince Elmo's Spire--a "shot-n-drop" ride for the whole family

Grover's Alpine Express--a family-friendly roller coaster themed to a trip through the Alps

Bert and Ernie's Loch Ness Adventure--a flume ride for parents and kids

Oscar's Whirly Worms--a family-friendly "rock-n-tug" ride

Oscar's Yucky Forest--a dry play area

1-2-3 Smile with Me!--a character and guest photography studio

Abby Cadabby's Treasure Trove--a gift shop (yes, you knew that was coming )

 

In addition, the Globe Theatre will be "taken over by Sesame Street's furry friends" in Sesame Street Presents Lights, Camera, Imagination, a 4D movie that replaces (and some would say it's about time) Pirates 4D. I'm pretty sure this is same 4D flick that I saw at Universal Osaka in 2007--it probably makes as much sense in Japanese as it does in English. (I rather enjoyed it.) And, yes, water effects will come into play during the feature, so be prepared. I think adults and kids will get a kick out of the show.

 

Another show that's departing to make way for Elmo and his friends is Castle O'Sullivan. Yes, the castle is being transformed into a dining venue for Sesame Street character breakfasts and lunches. (So, if you missed seeing the little plastic leprechaun last year, too bad.)

 

The park's other kids area, Land of the Dragons, will, of course, remain in operation, as will the other kids' rides located throughout the park.

 

Sesame Street Presents Lights, Camera, Imagination and the character meals will debut on the park's opening day--Saturday, March 28. The Sesame Street Forest of Fun will open on Friday, April 3.

 

The Forest of Fun is located in England behind the sky ride; there's an entrance across from the Escape from Pompeii, too. Let's take a look, shall we?

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Here's another look at the front portion of the Forest of Fun. Now, on to what you really came to see.

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Here's where Bert and Ernie's version of "Loch Ness" will be. Riders will cruise around a small castle and be eaten by an enormous primeval beast. (Sorry--no interlocking loops.)

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Best not stand under this unless you're wearing a rain slicker.

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This is Elmo's Castle. Sesame Street characters will periodically pop-up on this stage to dance, jump around, and generally terrify small children.

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The green tower is Prince Elmo's Spire.

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Unlike his two silent partners, Larry Giles (vp of engineering and design) was quite happy to talk about BG's new "European Sesame land." Oscar's Yucky Forest will be on the left.

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Off to the work-in-progress Forest of Fun.

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I always do what big rubberheads tell me to do. (I'm undergoing therapy for this, and I'm doing much better, thank you.)

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. . . safety first!

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OK, everybody follow Bert and Ernie, but remember . . .

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. . . Larry! (I don't know if you can have your picture taken with Larry, nor does he have his own theme song. There wasn't a plush doll of him either.)

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Bert, Ernie, and . . .

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BG's general manager, John Reilly, introduced the Forest of Fun's "creative team."

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Time to get this show on the road.

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"Aren't we adorable? Couldn't you just buy all of us right now?"

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"Yeah, ol' Oscar's got ya covered in yuckiness here. The Virginia humidity will make it all the sweeter!"

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"Yeah, you punks are gonna love my yucky trees, poison ivy, carnivorous bees--heh, heh, heh!"

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First stop, the lobby of the Globe Theatre.

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Looks like I'm on the right track. The Sesame Street music blasting through the loudspeakers gave me another subtle hint.

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Boy, the park is dead today . . . oh, wait.

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April 3, to be precise.

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Hang on to your hernia belts, coaster dorks--here's a look at a new kiddie credit!

 

That is, if the park isn't really busy. Yes, they are planning to "discourage" adults without kids from riding on busy days to give families and kids a chance. So, be patient, credit whores!

 

A couple of other bits of news: FOF is going to have ample seating, with ample shade, for parents to relax and watch their kids play. There are "two or three levels" of theming to be applied, and landscaping is supposed to begin in earnest this Monday.

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That's all for now. See you at the end of March, Griffon and Alpengeist. Thanks for reading.

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"Er, I'm sorry, Bert. But that TPR guy got the last lunch"

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At least I have plenty of mayo for my little turkey wrap sandwich, eh Tyler?

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Hmm--looks frightfully healthy.

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Of course, we hardworking construction guys always carry lunchboxes.

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See you in April, Forest of Fun.

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A few last looks at the Forest of Fun as we head back to the Globe for lunch.

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Phew! That was rather stressful! Time to kick back.

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And here is a "Helix of Death" taken from inside another "Helix of Death"! Yes, I risked life and limb today to get these exclusive pictures for you!

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And now, in a TPR exclusive, I take you inside a "Helix of Death"! Imagine a train zooming by, under the menacing shadow of Pompeii!

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When it's all done, it should look like this. Only with track coming out of either end. And with more dimensions.

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Another look at the station. Yes. It really is. That's all.

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I wonder if I can get this guy to hang a ceiling fan in my computer room?

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The station is coming along nicely.

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Oh, God, that's a nice pair you have there . . .

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Or in this one.

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Picture your butt in this seat.

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Here are a few pictures for all you train fetishists.

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"Yessir, Mr. Grover, sir! I'm a' touchin'!"

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"Touch my ride, geek! You know you want to!"

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. . . Grover in the front car!

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Larry assured us that this ride will have a "unique layout." It does have two "Helixes of Death"! It will also have some "mountains," as well as . . .

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Behold! Grover's Alpine Express!

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All those hard hats I thought the Village People had made a cattle call for a new contruction worker.

 

Larry was sensational on the TPR Kurse of Darkastle tour, love his work.

 

Now the race is on, which TPR member will get the credit first?

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Pretty sweet stuff Chuck. Looks like I gotta get my butt back to Busch Gardens one of these days. I haven't been there in awhile and now I have two credits to get there!

 

That's pretty awesome you got to use the track as a Lazy Boy for a couple minutes!

 

Jimmy "I want Chuck's hard hat" Bo

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^^^Yes, Zierer can make decent coasters...I don't know how you can make a kiddie coaster decent though.

 

This was a great update, I've been wondering what the area was going to look like for a while now. And it looks good, I was a bit worried on how a Sesame Street themed area would look like in a park like BGE, but it fits in fine. BGE has needed something like this for a while now.

 

And Grover, well...looks like a nice little decent coaster...I guess.

 

EDIT: Uh...is it BGW now?

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Great report Chuck!

 

Were the height requirements listed for the rides on any signs or paperwork you got?

 

I know that last summer KT was too small for Vapor Trail at Sesame Place, but was able to do all the other rides, so just curious if it was the same. Thanks!

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Great TR Chuck! This addition looks like it will fit in nicely with the rest of the park. I think it's time the fam get up to tha Burg to visit Great Granny.

 

Oh, and Bush Gardens is there as well.

 

Guy "Keeping tha tradition of hidden agenda secretly safe from his relatives for years now." Koepp

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LOL, I still cant believe they would have let her ride the death mouse at Quassy. Of course, Matterhorn does not really have a big height requirement, yet I honestly consider it to be the least kid family ride in the park. The Yettie used to traumatize me, and the track is so crazy and rough but not painful.

 

Anyway, back on topic. The new section looks really good, particularly the grover coaster, which looks like fun for a kiddie coaster.

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I hope when they say discourage people from riding without kids they will still allow it but maybe they won't be happy about it.

 

Not only for enthusiasts but it looks a lot bigger than your standard kiddie coaster and for a park with a very unbalanced collection of coasters (all are thrills, for the average park guest), I would think a lot of people might want to ride it.

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for a park with a very unbalanced collection of coasters...

 

Think about from a heigh restriction point of view:

 

42" Big Bad Wolf

48" Loch Ness Monster

52" Apollo's Chariot

54" Alpengeist & Griffon

 

Throw in DarKastle, Roman Rapids and Pompeii all at 42" and I think you have a pretty balanced selection of rides already for the 42" - 54" rider (about ages 6 through 11 and up.)

 

I will say that what BGW does need is a good kids area with a kiddie coaster for the under 42" group, but as it currently stands there is a good balance of rides at the park for other age groups to where I wouldn't think many people would actually *need* to ride the kiddie coaster on their own unless they are just trying to get the credit.

 

--Robb

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I hope when they say discourage people from riding without kids they will still allow it but maybe they won't be happy about it.

 

Not only for enthusiasts but it looks a lot bigger than your standard kiddie coaster and for a park with a very unbalanced collection of coasters (all are thrills, for the average park guest), I would think a lot of people might want to ride it.

 

If you run to it first thing in the morning, I'm sure you won't have a problem. They just want to keep the lines down later in the day, so the little ones can ride. ...Kinda like Pteranodon Flyers at IOA.

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Great report Chuck!

 

Were the height requirements listed for the rides on any signs or paperwork you got?

 

I know that last summer KT was too small for Vapor Trail at Sesame Place, but was able to do all the other rides, so just curious if it was the same. Thanks!

 

Thanks for asking. Larry Giles did mention that the minimum height for Grover's Alpine Express is 36". Whether that meant smaller kids could ride with parents, he didn't say (my impression was that he didn't know for sure yet). There weren't any other height requirements listed on the press materials, but I'll see if I can find out.

 

Goliath 513 wrote:

I haven't been following this project much, but is this being built on the land once occupied by Drachen Fire?

 

Nope--it's in England behind the sky ride and across the railroad tracks from Escape from Pompeii.

 

As for the park's "actual name" now, the sign out front simply reads "Busch Gardens"--no "Europe" or "Williamsburg." The Web site still says "Europe."

 

Hector, Grover's is a Zirer coaster like Shamu at Sea World in Orlando. They said the layout for Grover was "unique," and it does have to accomodate some theming (which will be installed shortly).

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Thanks for asking. Larry Giles did mention that the minimum height for Grover's Alpine Express is 36". Whether that meant smaller kids could ride with parents, he didn't say (my impression was that he didn't know for sure yet). There weren't any other height requirements listed on the press materials, but I'll see if I can find out.

 

From my Zamperla days, (this is assuming the Rockin' Tug and Jr Tower are Zamperla products like Sea World Orlando and Sesame Place), both of these carry 42" minimum height requirements unaccompanied (i.e. anyone under this height can ride with a guardian).

 

Mark

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Omg!! I LOVE it!! I am such a product of Sesame Street, it taught me how to count, read and say the alphabet! I even used to get in trouble for pronouncing 'Z' the American way! I am so excited that the Bert and Ernie ride is Scottish themed

 

Anyway..... Thanks for the update Chuck!! I am extremely jealous of your encounter with Bert and Ernie and your awesome hat and lunch box! I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all looks once it is done. Are you gonna go back once its all done?

 

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