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P. 467: Loch Ness Monster Update Tour

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Here is a trip report from the Busch Gardens Bier Fest for those interested. Got a chance to hit this up with my partner and meet up with his son, daughter in law and grand-kids on a return trip from Myrtle Beach.


Other than not understanding why they wouldn't have had the German Oom-Pah band in Festhaus versus over by Mach Tower, the festival itself was great! We were able to get on all of the coasters with very little (if any) wait and then do the beer sampling before the rain and storms arrived later in the afternoon.


I believe that this was their first Bier Fest, so would assume that based on the amount of people that seemed there mostly for this event, that it will continue to expand and improve in the coming years!


A good sign when you arrive around 10:15 and there are only front row riders on Apollo's Chariot!


We rode three times in a row without a wait.


Welcome to heaven's gate!


Here is the hoppy beer selection (my favorite) including Western NY made Southern Tier IPA representing...I could literally walk to this brewery from my house!


Nice to see my hometown beer spreading it's goodness across America!


Although an eye chart, here are the Oktoberfest beers (mostly variations of Spaten).


Here is the stand in front of Festhaus.


This was the brat-wrapped in a pretzel - it was just okay.


The Jagerschnitzel on a stick was the way to go...it was so good that I never even got a photo before I ate it all!


If I wouldn't have been so full from this and the pretzel, I would have loved to have tried the Kloepse!


My only gripe about the fest...country music in Festhaus? Really?


Even the singer said, "Only in America could you get hillbilly music in a German Festhaus". So true...


Here is the sampler card you get for $20.


Kind of pricey for 3-4 oz samples...but it was beer and it was good beer, so no complaints whatsoever.


The big surprise for me was the Shock Top Twisted Pretzel Wheat. I am not a fan of wheat beers for the most part, but this was originally awesome as it not only smelled like pretzels, it tasted somewhat like them too!


Liked the German outfits that the servers were wearing.


Said Pretzel Wheat.


Not sure how many Americans are familiar with real German Schnaps, but this describes the differences.


Another surprise hit for me was the Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. I can do some dark beers, but this stuff was like eating a Reese's!


Local Firkins from Virginia breweries.


These are in the barrels.


Poor Oom-Pah band had to play 2nd fiddle to a country band over by Mach Tower - fail.


Here is the Schnaps tasting area. You could not try these with the punch card. They were extra, but having already tasted authentic German Schnaps while in Germany, I saved my money.


Alpengeist was a walk-on...rode it twice with no wait. One of the top B&M inverts, IMO.


Can't wait to see one of these at CP next year. My favorite coaster at BGW!


The park is getting all decked out for their Halloween event.


Wish I could come back for this, but I know someone will post a trip report, right? :-)


Thanks for reading!

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I've never understood noise complaints with theme parks. They really are not THAT loud! And most of the "noise" is during the day time. Highways and railways are way louder and you don't hear people complaining about living near those! Ugh. Yuppies.


Devils advocate: actually the "worst" noise comes early in the morning. At BGW the green-taggers (graveyard shift maintence staff that certify the ride to open, literally every single day the park is open) start work around 3am. As far as coasters go, they usually start by looking over the trains, then walking the lifts/brake runs to check lightbulbs, PA systems, and ride phones (there's usually 2-3 phones per lift or brake area, and phones at many service gates to enter a restricted area, all of which must be tested daily), the cameras, etc, as well as inspect the lift chains and grease wells etc. Depending on the ride, they might start moving trains as early as 4:30-5am, and usually 7am at the latest. When it's the dead of night or early in the morning, and everything is still and quiet, if you live within 10 miles of BGW, you will be able to hear noise. I remember coming in to open wolf when I worked there, and from all the way back in Oktoberfest, I could hear LNM testing/the music from Scotland playing, since the music in Germany wasn't on yet. I've also heard the Alpengeist "track tones" from outside the park's boarders when arriving in the morning.


When Drachen Fire was there, they got SO many complaints to the city/police in 1992 from morning testing, they actually re-designed the anti rollback device to make it silent. Also, the "track tone" spiels which play over the ride area track for all coasters are designed to be so loud that they can be clearly heard when the park is open, and bustling with guests/moving rides. However, when it's 5am and everything is still/quiet, they can be heard vividly from well outside the park.


BGW of course is interested in being good neighbors, so they design their green tagging to make the "loud" parts as late in the morning as possible, but they need to open on time, and at peak, the park opens pretty early.


Now, with all that said, I feel like moving in next to a theme park and complaining about noise is about as silly as moving in next to an airport and complaining about the sound of planes landing (as in, you knew the noise would be there before you moved in, so don't live there if you don't like it), but again to play devils advocate, I think they are THAT loud, and the worst of the noise comes between 6-9am. I can just imagine some poor sap buying a house in November for some reason, not realizing what they were getting into, then being shocked when spring rolls around


Again though, why move within earshot of a theme park if you are looking for peace and quiet?

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Thanks for the Bier Fest report. I had commitments both weekends and couldn't attend, but definitely will next year (I hope they expand it).


When I saw that you were at WCB my first thought was "Chuck might not have had a chance to get to Bier Fest to do a trip report so I guess that I will have to bite the bullet and post my photos instead."


I always look forward to your trip reports with your funny captions...as do many others. Hope to see one for the Halloween event!

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Since it would take a while to edit the photos, I wan't to get a consensus from the thread: Would anyone care if I posted a TR from way back in July? I have some nice shots.


Go right ahead. Good TRs are always welcome.

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I attended Howl-o-Scream yesterday on opening night and just wanted to share my brief impressions of the mazes! (I also met Chuck at the front of the line of Unearthed!) I'll go from favorite to least favorite.


Cut Throat Cove: This house is just all around really good. It has great theming, plenty of actors, and is quite lengthy. It had one of the longest lines of the night (which wasn't very long because rain scared everyone away), but was well worth the wait.


Cornered: What a pleasant surprise! This was a HUGE upgrade from Root of all Evil. The theming was quite interesting and it was loaded with actors. It ranks high mainly because it is a massive improvement and a solid maze.


Bitten: This may be ranked high just for sentimental reasons. I have always liked Bitten since it was introduced and I still do now. However, I wish they would connect the mazes behind Das Festhaus like they used to! For some regulars of BGW, the house may be getting a bit old and in need for an upgrade.


Lumberhack: This was a good new house with great actors but some major flaws. First off, to even reach the house you have to go around the Festhaus for a trip that may require packing snacks. Secondly, the entrance of the house crossed with the exit and the attendants couldn't figure out who was going in and who was leaving. Thirdly, it is really short. However, I really liked how open the maze was in contrast to the others and the theming was quite neat. I also like that they are using a new area, though it needs a new entrance route; It has a lot of potential. This would be a great area to link with Bitten, but the theming doesn't match very well . . .


Deadline: While newcomers may enjoy this maze, it has worn off on me quite quickly. It is very well themed but relies heavily on gimmicky effects. I am also over zombies. Unlike Bitten, I will not be too upset when this gets upgraded.


Catacombs: Short, not many actors, and getting old as well. Just blehh


Unearthed: Big disappointment . . . I guess it is better than Thirteen, but not by much. There seemed to be very few actors with long stretches of just walking. They utilized the EITA screens for a spinning vortex video-thing, but it was so out of place with all of the ride mechanical features around. A hanging Scarlett in the corner was just cheezy. I probably wouldn't rank this lowest if it wasn't so hyped up, but alas it was. Lumberhack and Cornered were much better in my opinion. On a positive note, it had a quite well themed queue right before the maze entrance, though this makes you even more disappointed when you go in the maze.


Overall, I had a great time with little to no waits. My roommate and I even sneaked in two walk-ons on Tempesto with one ride in the front seat. Most of the mazes were high quality and make the visit very much worth it. I didn't pay too much attention to the zones, partly because there were not many actors. I am assuming this is because of the low park attendance. I am interested to find out what everyone else thought of the houses!

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Opening Night at Howl-o-Scream 2015


Windy, rainy conditions provided appropriately spooky opening-night atmosphere for Howl-o-Scream 2015 at Busch Gardens Williamsburg on Friday, September 25. You know that fall has finally arrived in Virginia when the park kicks off this event.


So, what’s new this year? If you were looking forward to 13: Your Number’s Up or The Root of All Evil mazes this year, you may be disappointed. But the park has replaced them with three new mazes; one is a true stand out, and the others are pretty good, but could get better as the season moves on.


Here are my thoughts on the mazes.


Unearthed--Scarlett’s Revenge (new; Europe in the Air building, Ireland): This is the best maze the park has done in years. Some very nice sets back up an interesting premise. An ancient house is found during a dig at the park. Of course, there is a terrible curse, and a demonic witch (Scarlett) out for revenge against those who tormented her and killed her husband; her plan requires lots of body parts and tarot cards. The maze’s premise makes sense in Williamsburg, as new construction projects are sometimes held up when excavations uncover the foundation of some 17th- or 18th-century house. Scarlett is also the “icon” for this year’s event (as I presume she is at Tampa), and she’s available for photos--and her minions are around to sell “Scarlett’s Potion,” the main ingredient of which seems to be vodka. That being said, Unearthed, like the mazes that came before it in this building, is weakest toward the end, when they use the narrow, stone-lined corridor of the Europe in the Air queue. They space out giant tarot cards there, which serve as hidey holes for scareactors. In Friday, there were only two monsters in the corridor; however, when I went through with friends again on Saturday night, they used all the cards to scare guests. But the corridor still looks a bit bare.


Dead Line (Escape from Pompeii, Italy): Watch out for dangerous psychopaths when you ride the Pompeii Subway System. This returning maze has great sets, including a particularly disgusting public toilet, and lots of good scares.


Catacombs (Palace Royale Theatre, France): I’ve always been rather fond of this tour of the Necropolis of the Undead under Paris. Sure, all the monsters look alike, but the maze has great atmosphere, and I think the park reconfigured the layout a bit for this year.


Lumberhack (new; located in the woods behind Verbolten in Germany): This forest of “zombie” lumberjacks with axes and chain saws has some potential. The woods are pretty creepy after dark, and there are plenty of places for the monsters to hide. On Friday, the footbridge section toward the end was pretty weak. But when I went through it again on Saturday night, there was a lot more scaring going on along that bridge (like I said, there’s potential here).


Cornered (new; backstage area in Germany): Seems like some local corn farmers, the McCobb family (Get it? “Macabre”?), have been up to no good. They also seem a bit homicidal and a touch inbred. This is a standard “haunt” premise, but this mostly outdoor maze is amusing--the “corn-mirror-maze” section is pretty effective after dark.


Bitten (near the Black Forest picnic area to the left of the Festhaus, Germany): This is the oldest HOS maze and a bit long in the tooth (pun intended). That being said, it’s fun, and at least the vampires don’t “sparkle.”


Cut Throat Cove (Festa Italia): Arr! Get stalked by scurvy pirates! I was chatting with someone who summed this maze up perfectly by saying it’s their evil-clown maze, only with pirates. Reasonably fun, with some strong moments, but there is a long stretch where not much happens. (Again, this one might improve as the season grinds on.)


Last year’s “TERROR-Tories” (aka, “scare zones”) are back. You can still cower from slashers, bobbies, and harlots on Ripper Row (England); get down with your bad self and chain-saw-wielding demons on Demon Street (France); suffer harassment from diseased soldiers and officers in Wendigo Woods (New France); get sucked dry by the undead in Vampire Point (Germany); and be accosted by scalawags at Ports of Skull.


As for the shows, Monster Stomp on Ripper Row (England) is probably your best bet. Fiends (Ireland) and Night Beats (Festhaus) are back, too. And they’re still serving up a tasty buffet at the Vampire Point Hotel’s Blood Banquet.


Here’s a look at HOS.


Revenge? What did I ever do to her? Sheesh, some people are so vindictive.


Oh, I see. She must've been selling herbal supplements without a proper permit out of her home.


I like how the tarot cards refer to other mazes or TERROR-tories at HOS. Even a past icon, Jack, is featured. Of course, there's not a card for deranged corn farmers or lumberjacks, so maybe my theory is nonsense.


Hmm--not a lot of space. Is this Scarlett's summer cottage?




Here's what you'll be getting yourself into.


HOS starts at 6:00 pm, but I got there a little early. It was weird hearing upbeat 1960s British pop music amid all the gore of Ripper Row.


"I wanna hold your h-a-n-n-n-n-n-d!"


"There's a kind of hush/All over the world tonight . . ."


I've always liked the Jack-o-Lanterns they hang over Scotland. Now if they only had the Scotch-tasting booth from Food & Wine here, it would be perfect.


Nice hat. You're rockin' that look.


Oh, lord, we've all met this guy on the Internet, haven't we?


So, what does Scarlett have to offer at her house?


Herbal Viagra, perhaps?


When Scarlett's minions aren't posing for pictures or tempting you with tasty beverages, they're trying to slice off your limbs and hang them on the walls.


Regular queue is on the left, Quick Queue on the right.


HOS creative meeting: "Let's see . . . hmm . . . how about American Underground Research Archaeology? Yes! Cool acronym achieved!"




Here's a selfie I took after touring Scarlett's house. I guess the experience changed me a bit.


Gulp! The Black Widow! Looks like Alice Cooper was right--we're all just "humanary stew" (whatever the hell that means).


A wee tribute to the recently departed Wes Craven on the path between Ireland and France.


Here's your chance to dance till you drop--or get burned alive--on Demon Street.


"I remember when they used to put me at the entrance to the parking lot. Being in here sure beats breathing in exhaust fumes all day."


"I'm a demon with a chain saw. Any questions?"


Here's the entrance to the Catacombs--an old maze, but a good one (at least to me).


"Wanna be a permanent Catacombs resident? Ask me about our recruitment program!" More to come from HOS.

Edited by cfc
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Yes, there's more from Howl-o-Scream 2015.


This TERROR-tory is a bit odd. So, scientists and soldiers have captured a wendigo, and it gives them all a terrible rabies-like disease? I guess I can go along with that.


They sell pottery at all military commissaries in Canada. I learned something new today.


All the wendigo wants is a little understanding. And to crush your skull, slash up your face, and eat your brains.


Windigos (Wendigoes?) attract giant mutant frogs. Did you know that?


"I'm gonna scare the hell outta this barrel of diesel!"


"Leave that diesel alone! What did it ever do to you?"


Busch Gardens really needs to do something about the bat infestation on this bridge.


"Hey, buddy! Be a pal and get me a churro! Could you bleed a little on it too? Thanks!"


They're always so welcoming at Vampire Point.


Dude, you're lookin' a bit sickly there. Maybe you've been drinking to much AB negative.


The entrance to Cornered is just around the corner from . . .


. . . merchandising!


Where the real money from the event is made.


I'll definitely give the red-wine tasting a try the next time I visit HOS.


Or I could just get a brew or a cocktail at the Open Casket in front of the Festhaus.


This is Night Beats. This is also the only show photo in this report. You're welcome. ;)


Interesting. There are two ways to enter Lumberhack. On Friday night, guests had to walk behind the Festhaus all the way around to the woods behind Verbolten. That's a bit of a hike.


Cornered is the mass of walls and buildings; the Lumberhack queue is on the left.


Even the little snack stand for Cornered is themed--nice touch.


On Saturday night, the Lumberhack queue entrance was next to Bitten, which makes more sense. Note how they can flip the arrow on the sign. I guess the long way is for especially busy nights.


Lumberhack's Quick Queue entrance and exit are here, next to Bitten.


Speaking of Lumberhack, the maze begins with a campground full of terrified campers.




Scurvy bungee pirate and one his pals in the Ports of Skull TERROR-tory.


Pirate etiquette.


The entrance to Dead Line--still a very good maze with an interesting premise.


I like how they retheme this building for different events. For Christmas Town, it's bedecked with "candles."


Beer, booze, boogieing, and brimstone on Demon Street.


Scotland's Jack-o-Lanterns bid you "good night and pleasant dreams."


"What're you grinnin' at? It's closin' time! You best be movin' along!" That's it from Howl-o-Scream. Thanks for reading.

Edited by cfc
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Great review! It is interesting that we had such different opinions of the mazes. I guess that means they just have something for everybody!


Yep--it all depends on what you're looking for. 13 had some good stuff, but I was happy to see the change.

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Great review of the Opening, Chuck.


Did you get a chance to sample any foods created for the

event? Or do they not do that for this one?


(Well duh, of course they probably did!)


They have different desserts (the Monster Cake and Pumpkin Cheesecake are usually pretty good), and there are a number different cocktails available. I'll probably toy some of those later.


They have Halloween-themed goodies in the candy store in England, too.

Edited by cfc
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