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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (BGT Discussion Thread)

P. 372: Serengeti Flyer swing ride announced!

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According to HowlOScream's FB Page, Zombie Mortuary is returning this year while Death Row is leaving! Hopefully Deconstruction will be leaving as well. Also, the Thursday 4-pack and Fright Feast will also be returning.


Well, gang, it's no 10,000, but 1,990 is nothing to sneeze at! I'm impressed. And because I'm impressed, I'll give you a nibble: One of the houses that shall return this year is Zombie Mortuary. One of the houses that shall not is Death Row Vengeance.


Definitely having Thursday 4-pack and Fright Feast -
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I had an informal chat with the gentlemen in charge of HOS (whose name escapes me at the moment) during BGT Bash last year, and he mentioned that Death Row Vengeance had run its course (that is, the space inside the building was beat to death).


I was quite impressed with HOS last year--it was more fun than Halloween Horror Night at Universal.

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Today Robb and I had the chance to attend a special media event promoting the upcoming launch of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's first annual Christmas Town extra-ticket event. Derived from the popular event started a few years ago at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, this new holiday option will feature special entertainment, shopping, dining, and decor that will transform the park into a winter wonderland on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights running from November 30th to December 23rd, 2012. General admission for guests is $39.99 on the night of the event (with a $10 discount for advance purchase and an additional $5 off for pass members).


Let's dive into some photos while we explain what Christmas Town is really all about...


This is what we're here for!


Ushered in through the Nairobi Gate, we were led to the Moroccan Palace Theatre for the presentation.


Along the way, we were stopped by a caravan serving hot chocolate-flavored iced coffee... I don't even like coffee, but this stuff was GOOD!


At the start of the presentation Park President Jim Dean opened to officially announce the arrival of Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay!


The projector-friendly stage from Iceploration served as a canvas to help paint the images of what Christmas Town will look like when it debuts this November.


This wasn't your standard presentation. Entertainment helped set the mood along the way.


Concept art gave us a good idea of what existing park structures will look like when the event begins.


The main entrance along with much of the park will take on a festive feel adorned with colorful lights and holiday music.


The iconic fountain across from the Moroccan Palace Theatre isn't being forgotten for this event.


Christmas on Ice, a new ice skating show developed specifically for this event will debut, produced by the same people behind Iceploration.



The Crossroads (the realm surrounding Cheetah Hunt) will receive some holiday touches.


Now Cheetah Hunt will jump a Christmas tree!


The Crown Colony House will be covered in thousands of lights for the Carol of the Bells light show, as the lights will dance to various holiday tunes throughout the night.


It looks like much of the park will receive additional lighting to help set the mood.


It wouldn't be a Christmas event without a nativity scene!


Speaking of a nativity scene...


Christmas Town will feature a play area with real snow banks (prime for snowball fights) and will have roaming snow men also present.


Speaking of which...


If this is that awesome pumpkin cheesecake from Howl-O-Scream... *drools*


Poinsettia Parkway will feature some very unique Christmas trees along with some holiday treats.


Jingle Bell Junction will feature the Jingle Bell Express, a small train ride catering to the younger guests.


The Christmas Town Express (the park's regular train ride) will be lit at night and will feature a sing along on rails for guests to enjoy.


Jimmy Osmond's Christmas Jukebox show features him and his family singing Christmas songs and sharing holiday memories each night at Christmas Town.


Busch Gardens will join with Jimmy Osmond in supporting the Children's Miracle Network by making a donation to children in need in Tampa.


Christian rock band Jars of Clay will close the evenings with an exclusive concert each night in Gwazi Park.


You know the penguins from SeaWorld Orlando's Penguin Encounter had to go somewhere, right?


"I'll be seeing you in November. Bring fish."


Christmas Town wouldn't be complete without a visit to Santa Claus' house.




And of course, you'll get to see Santa himself!


Time to unwrap one last performance!



What's going on?


They made it snow!


Based on everything we saw here, I'm very excited to check out Christmas Town later this year!


Five Wise Men?


It looks like the Christmas Town caravan has one more surprise for us...


Christmas fudge!


Over in Timbuktu, the park has opened the Christmas Town Preview Center to let guests know about this new event.


I'm already looking forward to it. You should too!


Oh yeah, the still sell Coca-Cola products here too! Christmas truly has come early!


50 tons of real snow!


Busch Gardens is taking creative liberties with the Florida flamingos.


Even the Sesame Street characters will have a place to celebrate in Christmas Town!


Christmas Town prices as set as seen here. That being said, Pass Members may currently buy their tickets for $10 per person (one per pass member) between July 10th and July 17th while visiting the Christmas Town Preview Center.


Park President Jim Dean is just as excited as we are to experience Christmas Town later this year at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay!


See you there this November!


In other news, a new Quick Queue automated kiosk has appeared near the entrance to Cheetah Hunt.


Guests (and pass members) can buy Quick Queue or the All Day Dining Deal from this kiosk, bypassing the normal guest relations line to purchase them inside of the park.


TPR likes turtles.



Edited by jedimaster1227
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The seasonal events have gotten REALLY good at SeaWorld parks over the past couple of years and this looks like one of the best yet! Can't wait to get down there and check it out.


Like some others have mentioned earlier, I preferred HOS last year to Horror Nights (and in 2010). I've been to HOS the past 4 years and it has progressively gotten better every year, Can't wait to see what they have in store this year! Death Row Vengeance was a really good house the first couple of year but it has run it's course and something fresh will be a welcome addition. As long as there are night rides available on Kumba it will be the best Halloween event in Florida for me !

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This looks awesome! I love the idea of having 50 tons of real snow to make snow forts and throw snowballs at helpless litle kids.


On a side note...damn Robb, you are looking sexy!


Jimmy "I eat yellow snow" Bo

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I personally think this is a great idea for BGT to do (heck for the 50 tons of snow alone!!!)

I don't "do" Christmas (bah hum bug) but go to BGW every year for their Christmastown just because the lights and the changes from the original are interesting to see.


Thumbs up on the quick queue kiosk as well!!

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This does look like it will be very "cool," and if it's half as good as BGTampa's Halloween offerings, it's going to be insanely awesome.


So Jimmy Osmond has a painting of himself in a closet that's aging, I guess...

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According to Howl-O-Scream's FB Page...a new haunted house named Blood Asylum is on its way! Another one will be themed to a circus and will be in 3D!!! Also, they will bring back some old haunts in their new scarezone, Faded Memories. Looks like there might not be roaming hordes everywhere this year. Also on their FB Page, Nightshade, Nevermore, Alone, and Vampire Ultimate Gamble are coming back with a twist. There will only be two new houses this year also. Now we await the shows and the scarezones.


NEW HOUSE #2! "Circus of Superstition 3-D" Here's what I know: You’ve been taught to avoid black cats and sidewalk cracks your whole life, but all those years of bad luck have caught up with you. Crazed circus clowns challenge you to survive thirteen superstitions in their 3-D Tent of Terror, but it will take more than luck to escape this whole new dimension of fear.


You asked for it, YOU GOT IT! HOS 2012 will once again feature an insane asylum house... BLOOD ASYLUM! From the official BG files: "As lightning rages and thunder crashes outside, 'The Creature' escapes from his holding cell in a high-security asylum for the criminally insane. Now this sadistic deviant is running rampant, skinning his former cellmates and turning the mental hospital into his own torture chamber. This serial killer’s bloody playground will drive you out of your mind with fear."


Last tidbit of the day: A bunch of people have been asking if HOS was going to bring back anything from the past to celebrate big number 13, and the answer is YES! "Faded Memories" will be a new scare zone featuring signature set pieces and props from the classic houses of HOS's 13-year history, providing the ideal scare situation for some of your favorite HOS characters ever!

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Vampire Casino was really good last year, with a lot of the talent interacting with the guests. Closest I've been to a flashlight maze was at HHN many years ago when they had someone in your group wear a miner's helmet where the light would go on and off. I thought that particular trick didn't work as well as advertised, so I am curious to see how the flashlight works here. Nice to see them trying different things!



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I would imagine that they wouldn't give everyone a flashlight, so some type of grouping will inevitably be necessary. I wonder if this flashlight trick will cause the house to be an upcharge? Either way sounds cool.


Probably not. HHN did a house a few years back that was "Under Construction" and they gave every 9th or 10th person a miner's hat.

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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has sent us a press release announcing their preparation for the return of The Dark Side of the Gardens (the first hint of the year's possible Howl-O-Scream theme)...


As Busch Gardens began preparations earlier this year to transform the park into “The Dark Side of the Gardens” for its 13th annual Howl-O-Scream event this fall, the horticulture team realized that they faced a challenge: It's hard to find heirloom pumpkins and winter squash in Tampa in October.


Their solution? To research seeds and plant their own heirloom pumpkin patch. Heirloom pumpkins are the antique varieties of fruits and vegetables not normally found in mainstream produce markets. Heirlooms often feature unusual shapes, unexpected colors, plus a very flavorful flesh. Busch Gardens’ crop of pumpkins is destined not for pies, however, but for the delight of park guests who will be ready for the cooler temperatures and Halloween fun that pumpkin season signals.


“Last year was our first try at pumpkin farming which ended in miserable results due to heavy rains,” said Busch Gardens’ Director of Horticulture, Joe Parr. “This year, we started in February with raised beds of rich compost made right here at the park with zoo and landscaping debris, and are watering with a water-conserving drip irrigation system.”


It must be working: The pumpkin experiment has yielded more than 60 fruits so far, much to the excitement of the proud gardeners who coaxed the vines from seeds by hand-pollinating the flowers with cotton swabs… and who are now sharing their office with piles of pumpkins.


Pumpkins are all American members of the squash family and have been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. When Columbus discovered America, he found the native people growing a variety of pumpkin which would come to be named Seminole. Busch Gardens’ pumpkin patch features the Seminole, as well as La Estrellas, a tropical pumpkin hybrid from the University of Florida. Both thrive in Florida's heat and humidity. Parr’s team is also growing Rouge Vif d'Etampes (also known as the “Cinderella pumpkin”,) tiny Jack-Be-Littles, warty, dark-green Marina di Chioggias, the 50- to 60-pound“Big Max,” and even a “Pumpkin Tree,” which is actually a rare orange eggplant with tiny, ribbed fruits.


The challenge now will be to keep the ripe fruits looking their best until September when autumn harvest displays appear in the park for both day guests and Howl-O-Scream visitors to enjoy. If properly stored, pumpkins can last up to a year in Florida.


“As the summer temperatures soar,” says Parr, “it’s nice to think that October’s chill and pumpkins are coming soon.”





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