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Dec 10, 2011
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Saw this show for the first time on Tuesday and man was it packed! Every table was filled and the show which I thought was just decent entertained the young kids getting them dancing and I thought it was quiet funny when the actors came around picking women to dance(one of the funniest parts was watching them try to get people up).
 
Feb 12, 2011
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Decided to give this show another chance the other day. I'm honestly not sure if I like it much better than Entwined or Roll Out The Barrel, both of which I loathed.

The whole thing feels fake to me. Rather than an attempt at authenticity, OktoberZest felt like a more polished version of Clocktoberfest or Wunderbarn in that it's based off of the German "feel" without an understanding of the culture it's representing, or an attempt to convey such an understanding to the audience. (Fortunately, unlike the two Illuminights shows, this show did not make me want to hurl myself into the Rhine.) To me, Oktoberzest was to German culture what fortune cookies are to Chinese culture.

I found myself cringing throughout the show. The opening "happy slappers" routine was awkward and, since it was so quiet, lacked the presence or grandeur necessary to grab the audience's attention. This would be a decent "filler" segment while the rest of the cast prepares for the next main scene, but on its own it's a weak opening. I would prefer a lively musical number to start the show, ideally with live musicians.

Many of the dances, except for the "traditional" German dances, looked frenzied and uncoordinated, as if the cast was just sort of bustling about the stage. I wish the show stuck to more traditional dances, as they seemed more graceful and more coordinated.

I actually thought glockenspiel/wood-chopping scene was really cool in its own right, and I sort of wish the entire show had taken on that sort of theme. Actually, if OktoberZest had gone totally balls-out in tying all of the show's number and its performers to the steampunk-ish clock theme, I think it would have been much more interesting. It's a unique concept that I wish the park had explored more. Unfortunately, since the show never seems to find its footing on exactly what type of show it wants to be, the wood-chopping scene does feel out of place.

The Country Roads segment has already been beaten to death on here, but I will say I totally agree that it is out of place and makes no sense in a German show. Even if the song is popular in Germany, it's the equivalent of serving McDonald's at a Mexican restaurant because McDonald's is popular in Mexico.

The final song, "All The Folks In Gemany," seems juvenile and I can only imagine that the song's premise that "all the folks in Germany" count 1-2-3 is a little insulting to German viewers. I just found it annoying.

I may have just come on a bad day, but the audience did not seem into the show at all. My brother even remarked to me that he "felt bad" for the talented performers, trying to scare up enthusiasm for a lackluster production that was beyond their control.

Overall, the show seems discombobulated, like a mix of themes and concepts jammed together. The combination of "modern" German dance, traditional dance and classic German songs, American country music, steampunk and wood-chopping, and American music revue-type songs just don't mix, in my opinion. As I said, I wish the park had capitalized on the "glockenspiel" theme, creating a modern and unique showcase of steampunk sprinkled with hints of German culture. It would have made the show cohesive and made it look less like a half-assed attempt to convey "authenticity."

Still, I would prefer that Busch move away from their "stage type" shows in the Festhaus and get back to a show that merely compliments the eatery. I see Das Festhaus as primarily a restaurant, so I would love to see a show that blends into the background, rather than one that turns the Festhaus into a dinner theater.

From start to finish, I still found myself missing a show like This Is Oktoberfest. Segments like the happy slappers and Country Roads made me long for a true German show in the Festhaus, while the more traditional segments reminded me of a time when an authentic German show ruled the Festhaus.
 

Lord Robert

"Not pet. Wingman."
Apr 18, 2014
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Great review. I'm glad that you saw that the inconsistency and lack of going through with it's great concept is by far with what's wrong with the show. It's going to need some very big changes next year if it wants to succeed.
 
Sep 29, 2009
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Honestly, this is not a show that I would rather give a second chance. I don't think cheap karaoke music with something that sounds like a potty training song at the end is salvageable. Also, I didn't like Roll Out The Barrel by any means, but I wouldn't have minded having a soundtrack for that. ROTB never really tried to claim authenticity, which greatly decreased its offensiveness. They deliberately made it look like a cartoon, whereas OktoberZest claims to be authentic and just makes things worse for the show by doing so.
For what it's worth, about 60-70% of the dancing in the show are actually traditional Russian dances, definitely not German. There is hardly any resemblance between the two. To say so is just a little bit insulting to both respective styles.

There are plenty of traditional German acts that we have never seen in Das Festhaus. OZ starts to display that in the Holzhackerbuam (or Holzhackerbub'n, depending on locality) scene, and they do a pretty good job, except the "slap dance" part at the beginning of the show really fits more here, if anywhere. Even so, the dance that they are trying to recreate at the beginning is way more complex. Most people could slap randomly and call it dancing, but a real Schuhplattler takes skill and training. The park has done this in the past at slow speed, and it worked, because the song arrangement was complex while keeping a tempo to match the dancing.

I would love to see them go back to a more simple show like This Is Oktoberfest with a live band. However, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the park ditch the German theme altogether. While it may be the park's fault that they can't make it work, I doubt they will want to blame themselves, and the result might be that they say it can't be done. Remember, they are always very reluctant to go back to their old ways even if those ways are better. To them it would feel like taking a step backwards, even more so since they apparently scrapped the entire rising stage.
 

Lord Robert

"Not pet. Wingman."
Apr 18, 2014
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For how awesome "Britmania" turned out and for how beautiful "All For One" has become, really makes "OktoberZest" all the more pathetic in comparison. Seriously BGW, fix this show next year.
 
Likes: Flyer
Apr 2, 2017
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I don't really understand why everyone on this page talks Oktoberzest down so much.  To me, it's a fun show and appropriate for the venue. Every time I've seen it, the audience seems to love it. I also like Britmania, Mix it up and Celtic Fyre but didn't care for All for One.  To each his own, I guess.
 
Sep 29, 2009
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As the German equivalent of that phrase goes "Jedem Tierchen sein Pläsierchen" ("To each his own."- It rhymes in German). All For One is a subgenre of Theatre that doesn't appeal to as broad an audience as most theme park shows, but I think the current iteration is as good as it gets without being something else. I know this thread is about OktoberZest, but I think those are good points.
 

Lord Robert

"Not pet. Wingman."
Apr 18, 2014
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I think it's safe to say at this point that the consensus with "OktoberZest" ranges from people either liking it, feeling meh, disappointed, or hated it. I personally verge between "like it" and "meh" with the show. But with that said, I personally think that the set, costumes, performers and the two musicians are by far the best things about it.

This show thankfully isn't "Entwined", "Wunderbarn", and "Roll Out The Barrel"; but it isn't "This is Oktoberfest", and that's a pretty big problem.
 
Sep 29, 2009
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I complain a lot about "Take Me Home, Country Roads" being in OktoberZest, but believe it or not, John Denver is what my mom thought American music was before coming from Germany to this country. With this I remember my Oma talking about how BGW didn't use to do the Chicken Dance, and how that was "meant to cater to Americans" even though it really was German (unlike John Denver).

Funny enough, I recently remembered an instrument that my Oma would play sometimes (I don't know what it's called). And get this. Her favorite songs to play on that instrument were: Edelweiß and anything by John Denver, specifically "Take Me Home, Country Roads". :/

Now, talk about a strange coincidence. I know that she and my mom came here in the late 60's, so they were both huge John Denver fans, but still. My mom doesn't like it in OktoberZest, and I doubt my Oma would either, although she once opposed The Chicken Dance and later grew to like it.
 
Jul 24, 2017
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New poster here, but longtime fan of Busch Gardens. I really love OktoberZest, it's a show my girlfriend and I never miss. It's the perfect opportunity to get a craft beer from the Brauhaus, get a little tipsy and sing/dance along to fun music. By the time Country Roads rolls around, we're both yelling at the top of our lungs. It's like tradition for us.
 

Lord Robert

"Not pet. Wingman."
Apr 18, 2014
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I sure hope that if the park does make changes into the show, I hope it's changes that improve the show instead of making it worse. Due to "Britmania" and "All For One" being as awesome as they were this year, I think that "OktoberZest" 2018 might be the improvement we deserve.
 
Likes: jornor

Lord Robert

"Not pet. Wingman."
Apr 18, 2014
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I think if the show is going to utilize more musicians, the set needs to be slightly reworked so that there can be chairs to sit on. But I know other elements the show needs improving badly: song-list, tone, choreography, lighting and having more of that great German tradition other than "new" things, are what I think will help OktoberZest 2018 to be a show that has the potential to be good as This is Oktoberfest!

There was a good reason why This is Oktoberfest! ran from 1976-2011 and again from 2013-14. A very good reason.
 
Likes: jornor
Sep 29, 2009
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I'm pretty sure that fixture in the middle is new since Sneak Peak Day. I like the extra detail on the side towers. It makes them look less blocky. The maypole, however, has me very concerned.

Busch Gardens did a maypole show in maybe 2012. The daytime cast was mainly authentic German dancers. They were great. At nighttime, however, we saw the current Busch Gardens standard for choreography, and it was horrible.

Aside from them marching in with red stickers on their faces, they were not maypole dancing at all. They didn't know how to tie the intricate knots that were shown in the daytime by the authentic dancers. As a result, multiple stage hands spent several minutes undoing the knots, which took the authentic dancers about 20 seconds. The entire nighttime show was carried by LED lights inside the ribbons, which didn't always work. I am very worried about what this giant one might look like if it's used at all. I also like the Bavarian flowers as seen in RotB, but I'm not sure it clashes well with this set. Then again, maybe I think it's just too soon to bring back memories of RotB.

I don't have much faith in the choreography if we have the same people, but I hope that a larger band will make a difference. The problem is that the best acoustic spot is right in the middle of Das Festhaus. The higher up the band, the better it will sound, which was the main practical purpose of the original stage. I would think that they could recreate a similar sound by having cluster speakers in that spot, at the ceiling. This is the park's golden opportunity to show that they can handle sound design better. I hope they can pull it together.
 
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