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Photo TR: Spring Bloom Festival at Kings Dominion


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How many of you knew that Kings Dominion was running a "mini" version of Epcot's Flower and Garden/Food and Wine Festivals this year?

 

Yes, KD is ringing in the spring and the new park season with their Spring Bloom Festival. Yes, there are flowers; but, most of all, there are coasters and food! The park has set up five food booths ringing International Street to give guests a taste of cuisine from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Jamaica/Hawaii (OK, techincally a "state," not a country), and Vietnam. And the food is surprisingly good--particularly some of the dessert offerings.

 

Much like the much larger festivals at Epcot and Busch Gardens, guests can purchase tapas sized portions of different entrees or desserts, such as a bratwurst slider or cinnamon bread pudding with caramel sauce in Germany, bruschetta or limoncello custard from Italy, ahi ahi tuna or coconut custard from Hawaii, or a spicy pork sandwich from Vietnam. The entrees cost $4.00, and the portions were decent (desserts averaged $3.00). And where there's food, there's beer and wine. Many Virginia microbreweries, such as Devil's Backbone (Lexington) and Center of the Universe (Ashland), along with wineries from Virginia and elsewhere, were represented. The alcohol was pretty expensive--a five-ounce sample of beer cost $5.00, and 16 ounces cost $8.00--but if you were lucky, you could get free samples courtesy of representatives of the various breweries and wineries on hand.

 

And how was the food? Overall, pretty good, and I'm not a fan of food at Kings Dominion. The bratwurst slider and the bread pudding were quite good. The Swiss chocolate fondue was a disappointment as it was ice cold, but it tasted pretty good. Maybe they should forget the fondue, spike with with brandy, and serve it as a drink. I liked the pork sandwich as well (it was served on a nice sourdough roll). There were some operational glitches, too. Not all the booths were ready on time, and the Jamaica booth ran out of Jerk Chicken. They also had some sort of "bistro" with a wine-and-beer list, but we never saw it staffed.

 

It this anywhere near the level of similar events at Epcot or Busch Gardens? No, but it provides a base that Kings Dominion could build on, if it's a hit with their guests.

 

As for the park itself, I was there with Steve (nozzy) on a Sunday, and there wasn't a big crowd (longest waits were for the Flyers and Avalanche). The whole park looked very nice, and I305 was running beautifully. Even Rebel Yell and Grizzly were giving better-than-average rides.

 

All in all, a perfect time to visit Kings Dominion. The Spring Bloom Festival runs until May 3.

 

Here's a look. I'll be posting two sets of photos.

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Giant, mutant flowers? What is this--Haunt?

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All you need to know about the Spring Bloom Festival is right here.

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Being as this is a "Bloom Festival," here are some flowers and a waterfall. You're welcome.

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"I am Steve, your waiter. Would you care to see our wine list?"

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"Thank you, Steve. We'll snap our fingers if we need you."

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Where there are flowers, there must be bugs. Giant, mutant bugs!

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A Butterfly Princess and a living flower. That's all you need to know.

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First stop, Germany. If you lived there, your garden shed would look just like this.

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Here's the menu: One entree, one dessert, and two beers. All food booths are cash only (no credit cards).

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I think Steve likes his German bread pudding.

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My bratwurst slider wasn't bad either . . .

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. . . if you just ignore the onion strings.

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Yo-del-ley-he-ho! That's Swiss for "I'm frickin' hungry."

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I can't vouche for how authentic this "Swiss" mac-and-cheese is, but it was pretty tasty with its bacon an onions.

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The chocolate fondue was a bit of a disappointment--as fondue. But it would make a nice cocktail, as the chocolate tasted pretty good. It just didn't work as a dip (too cold and too thin).

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Here's a little fairy nightmare fuel. Again, you're welcome.

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The ahi ahi was pretty good (very nice sauce to go with the tuna). We also liked the coconut custard. These were from the Jamaica/Hawaii booth.

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Italy opened late because one of the staff there was new and hadn't been told what to do yet. Something about serving food and taking money, I think.

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The bruschetta could have used a little more time on the grill, but the pasta salad that came with it was very good. The dessert was a tasty limoncello custard concoction.

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Welcome to Vietnam, Yankee imperialist dog!

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The Vietnamese pork sandwich was pretty good. It had a spicy bite to it, and the sourdough roll was good. I didn't eat the kim chee, though.

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"Oh god! Why did I eat that kim chee, then ride Berserker. Oh . . . bleah!" More to come.

Edited by cfc
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^Hmm--could be.

 

More from the Spring Bloom Festival at Kings Dominion.

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The park is running a little petting zoo over at Planet Snoopy during Bloom Fest.

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"Hey, I'm normally a vegetarian, but I could really go for one of those Vietnamese pork sammiches,"

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"Eat me! Really. I'm delicious! I'd eat me if I could!"

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Snoopy would also like a pork sandwich.

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Hmm--what's going on here?

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Is it really a good idea to hand out hammers at a theme park?

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Yeah, definitely not a good idea.

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I knew you'd want to see more flowers--and bicycles.

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Avalanche actually opened before noon today.

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Not sure what's going on here, but consider yourself "pardoned," Kings Dominion.

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Purty tree with no airtime.

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Purty tree with lots of airtime.

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Rebel Yell has quite a bit of new wood, but was very modest about it.

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Yes, Rebel Yell, you ran well--but I305 was still better.

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Grizzly sports a new logo on its train. Much nicer than the old one, which was just "Grizzly" in white letters.

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The Flyers had the longest wait that day.

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Yes, Dominator, you were good . . .

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. . . as were Grizzly . . .

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. . . and Volcano.

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But I305 ties you to its bumper and drags you all down a dirt road. It was completely insane that day (well, until it broke down late that afternoon).

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Look closely--can you see Richmond?

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OK, one more picture of Dominator for being extra good on Sunday.

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And that's all from KD's Spring Bloom Festival! Thanks for reading.

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^ I think they talked about it last year, but didn't put on the event until this year. Anybody else out there know for certain?

 

Last year they had the Spring Bloom Festival, but it was very easy to not realize anything special was going on- it was limited to just the butterfly statues, Butterfly Fairy Princess, craft for kids, and some not-very-special food. The International Food booths are new this year.

 

Just to offer my thoughts on it all as well:

-As a rule I never buy food at King's Dominion because of how expensive it is coupled with how bad it tastes. I was impressed enough with these offerings that were I to return I'd buy some again, and am now willing to give the park's normal food another shot this summer.

-As seen the booths are simplistic, but they get the job done, once everyone's figured out how selling food works anyway ^_^

-I think my favorite entree was the Mac and Cheese, though it's not very exotic. The Tuna was a very close runner up, and if they'd just toast the bruschetta that might jump ahead.

-Coconut Custard was great! Very interesting flavor, definitely my favorite dessert, though all were good except...

-As Chuck mentioned, the "fondue" at the Swiss booth is cringeworthy if you're trying to dip the tiny bit of fruit they give you. It was amazing as chocolate milk.

-Note that the "ginger beer" at Jamaica/Hawaii is more like carbonated pineapple juice. It makes me like it better, though someone expecting ginger beer is likely to be disappointed.

 

Overall it was a great day for food and rides, and I hope they do build on the festival in the future. I'm curious to see what the Carolina food festival down at Carowinds will be like as well.

 

Awesome pictures! Glad I could hang out with you for the day.

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Always makes me smile to see good things from KD, especially to see the rides being taken care of. I've always had a soft spot for this park, even in its rougher years, so seeing it's really nice to see it looking good again.

 

As far as the food and wine festivals, there can never be enough parks doing this!

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^ I think they talked about it last year, but didn't put on the event until this year. Anybody else out there know for certain?

 

Spring Bloom started last season with just International Street and flowers. For 2015, KD expanded the flower part into Planet Snoopy and added the mini food festival. Yes, the park's food festival is on the small side. Seems most of Cedar Fair's budget went to Carowinds this year. ("Taste of the Carolina's" | 9 food booths; each serving 3 "tasting size entrees" and a dessert. Plus, beer and wine pairings. Even has own sub-page on the Carowinds web site. TOTC seems to be on par with what BGW has been doing for the last 2-3 years).

 

A good number of the food places at Kings Dominion have been tweaked for 2015 by Chef Paul and his culinary team. From an all new menu at Wayside Grill in Old VA (Beef brisket and barbeque sandwiches) to new offerings/sides at the Country Kitchen. The chef is supposed to be focused on the food locations in Soak City this year. The water park "Chick-Fil-A" is out and a new in-house food venue serving Tex-Mex is in (fish tacos and so forth). Another, water park food location is to open "Fonda's Fiesta". Not sure what venue is serving what menu wise. The existing "Sharkey's" food location is supposed to be redone into a grab and go location with wraps, salads, desserts, etc. Other food locations on the dry side of the park have had changes made to their menu's as well.

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^We did notice a "moonshine sausage" sandwich at the Wayside Grill that had potential.

 

Yea, I forgot about that being on Wayside's menu. I did see two KD fan sites talking about the beef brisket sandwich there. Both were very complementary about the brisket. One person stated that it was "melt in your mouth" and it was better than what is served at "Trapper's Smokehouse" at BGW. That's surprising given the good reputation of BGW's barbeque.

 

The Bistro 75 food venue description, on KD's web site, stated days and hours of operation will vary. Course, being outside dining, I can see weather impacting the venue. I assume the expected number of visitors to the park might play a part in whether or not they staff that location. Plus, I read somewhere that Chef Paul's culinary staff was spread thin with the mini-food festival this month and he was not sure if he could staff both this early in the season.

 

Some of the food related changes at the park that I heard about:

 

Outer Hanks - changed something with the fish and shrimp that they serve (not sure if a new supplier, batter, or a combination of both).

Jukebox Diner - supposed to now have a burger fixin's bar like Hungry Hippo. Chef was to have come up with a new burger combo. new flavored milkshakes

Johnny's - new meatball sub

Country Kitchen - new BBQ sandwich and BBQ sauce (pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches). new and/or improved meal side items.

Pizza - might have limited time specialty pizza's served a the Pizza Parlor on Intl Street (not sure about Victoria's Garden in CAG).

Chicken Shack - new personal pizza's (pesto chicken being one of those).

New type of potato fry at some locations (photo of it looks like a thick curved chip).

More types of meal size salads and wraps throughout the park.

Course, the revamped food locations in Soak City.

 

There is a nice web site that focuses on food/sweets across the Cedar Fair chain. Interesting to see what is being done with dining across the park chain. check out cpfoodblog.com

 

I hope to get to the park tomorrow for the first time this season. Might have to check out the food festival!

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