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Busch Gardens Williamsburg (BGW BGE) Discussion Thread

P. 447 - Halloween Harvest Trip Report

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Right, the liens situation is not unprecedented though it is unusual to see it occurring at this scale.

 

The COVID crisis is not something that SeaWorld could have controlled but the level of investment is somewhat paralleling what we saw from some Six Flags parks during the era of the Premier Parks acquisition. Forgive me, but based on speculation I've read (and ONLY from speculation I've read), I'm not sure upper management has the parks' long-term prospects in mind.

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Halloween Harvest, or “Howl-o-Scream Lite.” Busch Gardens is sticking with its “reservations only/limited attendance” events with Halloween Harvest during October. This is sort of “Howl-o-Scream

It's so weird seeing the park map like that, but at least a half open park is better than a closed park!

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Bad news for Busch Gardens (and KD.)

 

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RICHMOND (WAVY) — A summer of fun at Virginia’s marquee theme parks is appearing less and less likely after Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va) indicated he wouldn’t be making any exceptions for the parks in the state’s phase 3 reopening guidelines.

 

Despite Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion both indicating that the governor’s 1,000-person limit would not make reopening “economically sustainable,” Northam on Thursday stuck by his decision that holds the massive parks to the same restrictions as bowling alleys and movie theaters.

 

“There are so many contacts at these amusement parks, people are touching different things and so we have had discussions with the Virginia Department of Health, our epidemiologists, and that is the decision we made,” Northam said.

 

Northam did not shut the door completely on changing his mind during phase 3, which starts on July 1. Several state lawmakers have pushed for Northam to at least raise the capacity limit to 5,000.

 

On Tuesday, Busch Gardens President Kevin Lembke said that would at least allow his park, as well as Water Country USA, to “get back to business.”

 

“As soon as we feel it’s comfortable we can move forward safely, we’ll do that,” Northam said.

 

He pointed to rising COVID-19 case numbers in other states as a chief reason to stick to the current plan.

 

“Those individuals are the same people that come enjoy our amusement parks,” Northam said. “I know it’s difficult. These decisions are tough.”

 

The Historic Triangle, which includes James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg, relies heavily on tourism. Hotel revenue fell 85 percent in the Williamsburg hotel market for the week of June 14-20 compared to the same week in 2019, according to ODU’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Governor's rule is not one that has been fully thought trough. Why should places like a theme parks, with an abundance of open air area be subject to the same capacity limit as Bowling Alleys and Theaters which have limited indoor space?

 

And, yes, theme parks have tons of touch points... but that's not limited to theme parks. Every day, all day, people touch stuff. So, that's not a suitable reason either.

 

This just doesn't make sense.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Busch Gardens is kind of / sort of reopening on August 5th for members and August 6th for everyone with a craft beer event and a few coasters open. Ireland, Scotland, France and New France will be open along with Finnegan's Flyer, Loch Ness Monster, Griffon, InvadR, the Scrambler and Li’l Clydes.

Edited by coasterbill
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This seems like kind of an amazing work around to at least get some of the park open? Hope it goes well for them!

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It's interesting that BGW is able to do this, as the state recently issued some more restrictions on the Hampton Roads region (roughly from Williamsburg to Virginia Beach). This area has become more of a COVID "hot spot" recently.

 

I'm planning to go the Member Sneak Peek on Aug. 5. I'll post a report about how it went.

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Keep in mind though, the event is catered to locals (for you non-locals seeing this). For those that hadn't caught on, it's not an all-day event the dates they're open. The event is four hours per time slot each day of the event: 11am-3pm & 5pm-9pm Thursday through Sunday (besides the membership sneak peak). I've confirmed with the park that they will close at 3pm to allow the park to clear out and reset for the event, and reopen at 5pm. So, unless you have an annual pass, membership, fun card or preschool pass, and live relatively close, this may not be for you. Tickets for others are $44.99 plus tax...ouch. I guess some will go, but that's a bit steep IMO.

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Local media have confirmed that Busch Gardens' capacity is capped at 1,000 for these events, as per state guidelines.

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BGW site: "Pass Member and Fun Card Reservations are currently SOLD OUT for the event, but be sure to stay tuned because we are working on more ways to keep the fun going! Please check back later for updates."

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I'm going to cross my fingers, but I'm really debating on pulling my Sea World market shares (SEAS) and put it somewhere safer, before I lose money.

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^ Yes, I agree. Seems pretty marginal at best. Maybe they're charging a lot for the beers...

 

And the food. And the merch.

 

Plus, they won't need a full staff because only part of the park is open. I'm looking forward to seeing how successful this event is.

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Pretty cool drone vid of the park being empty. It's a 9 min vid of the park showing "everything", but I copied at the part where it really zooms in on Pantheon. Pretty cool look. Please don't roast me, but IMO, it looks like a very short ride. I guess leading up to it, I thought it was a bit longer in total. I know, I know "it's not open, can't judge it yet".....but just a bit surprised at the length via this footage:

 

 

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Based on fan-made POVs on youtube, it should be around a minute and 15 seconds of ride time, and that's without a lift hill. That's pretty long, comparatively speaking to the other large scale Intamins in the area - El Toro, Skyrush and I305 are all less than a minute from drop to brakes and are often considered three of the best rides on the planet.

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Based on fan-made POVs on youtube, it should be around a minute and 15 seconds of ride time, and that's without a lift hill. That's pretty long, comparatively speaking to the other large scale Intamins in the area - El Toro, Skyrush and I305 are all less than a minute from drop to brakes and are often considered three of the best rides on the planet.

 

Solid point

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At the Pantheon Hard-Hat Tour, we were told that the ride would last about "150 seconds." We'll see if this holds up . . . someday.

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At the Pantheon Hard-Hat Tour, we were told that the ride would last about "150 seconds." We'll see if this holds up . . . someday.

 

I am assuming the first launch will be slow and the swing launches should eat up some time!

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At the Pantheon Hard-Hat Tour, we were told that the ride would last about "150 seconds." We'll see if this holds up . . . someday.

 

I am assuming the first launch will be slow and the swing launches should eat up some time!

 

Probably so. There's an initial forward launch, then a switch track to send you up "Neptune's Trident" (spike), then another forward launch to send you through the rest of the course.

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Coasters & Craft Brews Sneak Peek

 

Just when you think, ala the Soup Nazi, "no Busch Gardens for you," the park comes with a way to open, in a way: the Coasters and Craft Brews special event. Of course, you can't just show up and hope to get in. Guests have to "reserve" the day they want in advance, and there are a limited number of days and times, with attendance limited to 1,000 people, as per state guidelines for "entertainment venues." This applies to both regular guests and passholders (or "members"). Roughy half of the park is open, too: England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Fort New France.

 

I'm sure most of you can guess the other restrictions. Your temperature is checked before you enter to ensure you're not running a fever. Guests must wear face masks at all times, except when eating and drinking, and practice social distancing.

 

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Remember: six feet (or about one about the length of one adult grey wolf) between guests, please.

 

And just what can you do while wearing your mask and practicing proper social distancing at the park? You can ride three of the park's coasters: Loch Ness Monster, Griffon, and InvadR. They were also running the Little Clydes kiddie ride in Scotland, Finnegan's Flyer in Scorland, and Le Catapult at Fort New France. The Smokehouse is open for dinner, and you can grab a nice craft brew at Grogan's. The Clydesdales and some other animals are out, and the main gift shops in England, France, and Fort New France are open. All the ride and restaurant queues are marked for social distancing, and there are plenty of hand sanitizer stations all over the park.

 

I rode each coaster and Finnegan's Flyer. While I waited for the Loch Ness Monster, two ops wiped down the train before people were allowed to board, but I don't think they did this every time.

 

Each coaster had a grouper before you could enter the station, who assigned groups and single riders to rows for seating. I think they were using all the seats for Nessie. For Griffon, it depended on "groups." An op told me that if you had a group of ten, the group would get an entire row; other than than that, smaller groups had empty seats between them, so there weren't any full trains. InvadR had one only train running, and half the seats were blocked off (the other coasters ran two trains). So, the longest wait of the night was for InvadR, and even that wasn't too long.

 

Service at the Smokehouse went pretty smoothly, despite the socially distanced line. Instead of having platters prepared in advance and lined up for guests to grab, you had to order what you wanted, and they put it together then. Cashiers doled out the tableware. You could sit inside at Grogan's, but quite a few spaces were off limits (I snagged a table to myself in the back).

 

Overall, it was nice break in the monotony of the COVID-restricted life in Williamsburg. I'm sure the park will be tweaking their procedures as they go. Most of the guests complied with the rules; for example, I didn't hear anyone complain about having to wear a mask on rides (I had no problem with this, either).

 

Here's a look at Coasters and Craft Brews.

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You park in the England lot. This is where they check your temperature before you enter the park.

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Here be the rules, sez I.

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You'll find plenty of these in the park (all the ride queues had sanitizer stations).

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Obey the signs, people.

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Weird to see England so empty, even on a weeknight.

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Why, thank you, Busch Gardens. Nice to be back.

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I bought this shirt because it has a silhouette of a highland cow on it.

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Time to leave Merrie Old England . . .

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. . . but not for grouchy old Italy and Germany.

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You can still visit the Clydesdales.

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The horses are, of course, maintaining proper social distance.

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So, what else is there to do? I started with a ride on Nessie . . .

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. . . then walked by Finnegan's Flyer (which had a bit of a line).

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Look! A mythical Griffon!

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Longest line of the night.

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The eagles are always distant.

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If you want to see wolves, be mindful of the decals on the bridge near Wolf Haven.

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This owl would kill you, if it weren't for social distancing.

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France doesn't look too busy.

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France also gives you a chance to "relax" without a mask, too.

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Well, being as I'm in France . . .

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People were pretty good about practicing social distancing in the ride queues.

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Here's the socially distanced, half-full InvadR train.

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Brisket time!

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Eat your brisket only at designated tables.

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I saw this mushroom village as I made my way back to Ireland. Were the Smurfs who lived there under quarantine?

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Well, being as I'm in Ireland . . .

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. . . might as well hoist one.

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The line for Finnegan's Flyer had thinned out, so I took a swing or two. The ride ops were accounting for social distancing when seating riders.

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Time to call it a night.

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I did stop in the England gift shop. Who wants a Black Forest Cake pin, complete with a recipe?

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You can't ride Pantheon (sigh), but you can buy the pins.

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Remember: Stay six feet apart, or this wolf will kill you! Thanks for reading.

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