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Pusheen Gardens
Jul 20, 2011
Williamsburg, VA
Howl-O-Scream rush creates scary traffic
By Steve Vaughan  

JAMES CITY — While screams of terror echoed around Busch Gardens during Howl-O-Scream on Saturday night, there were likely some screams of frustration on Interstate 64.

Howl-O-Scream caused the park to reach capacity and caused traffic to back up on both the westbound and eastbound sides of Interstate 64.

While the park was only at capacity for a little over an hour, from 7 to 8 p.m., the resulting traffic jam lasted until 10:30 p.m.

Busch Gardens spokesman Kevin Crossett said Howl-O-Scream occasionally brings the park to capacity, which also happens during Christmas Town in December.

“I can’t tell you how often it happens, but it does happen occasionally,” he said. “Those are both very popular programs.”

He said that the park works with state and local police to try to minimize backups on the highway.

“We put up Facebook messages and tweeted that we were at capacity and then an hour later when we weren’t,” he said.

James City County Police Deputy Chief Steve Rubino said heavy traffic this time of year at Busch Gardens is to be expected.

“If you are planning to go there for the rest of the month, while they are doing Howl-O-Scream, be prepared for traffic delays,” he said.

Rubino said there’s less traffic the earlier guests get to the park.

“And you want to keep in mind if you go too late, they may reach capacity and close the park,” he said.

“We work with state and local police to try to manage the traffic as best we can,” Crossett said, noting that Busch Gardens has added an additional 550 parking spaces this year.

Sgt. Michelle Anaya, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, said Saturday was business as usual for troopers.

“We can’t shut the interstate down, or detour anyone,” she said. “From our perspective this was just normal traffic on I-64.”

It wasn’t normal to folks stuck in it.

Lauren Krishna and her husband left Norfolk at 4:30 p.m. to drop her son off at the park, they told the Daily Press on Saturday. They said they reached their exit on I-64 at 5 p.m. and remained stuck there at 8 p.m.

“It’s a parking lot,” Krishna said. “There are cars all around us.”

At one point, Krishna said she saw a woman and two children walking along the shoulder, presumably toward the park.

“Kids would get out of their cars and stretch their legs,” she said.

On a post on Busch Garden’s Face-book page, user Chris French commented, “After sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for more than two hours I would HIGHLY recommend that Busch Gardens invest in some signage for the interstate to advise when the park is closed or at capacity.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation has to approve signs on the interstate.
Sep 30, 2015
It's amazing to me that people don't expect this to happen. It is nearing Halloween and it's a popular event. Heck, the crowd calendar on here even is 90% correct for those days. We had no problems getting there at 9:30 AM and staying until 9:00 PM. We were on AC when dusk hit and you could see nothing but brake lights out onto 60 and all the way until it disappeared. The park can't be expected to take responsibility in knowing how many people might attempt to show up at the park all at once. If at capacity, then those people are just out of luck. The park opens early enough that arrangements could have been made throughout the day to drop off people or arrive. If you just want Halloween, that's the chance you take. I for one had fun all day till I froze and headed out.
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Reactions: Zachary
Sep 30, 2015
I'm sure a big problem was Friday was a rainy, dreary day so a lot of people decided they'd just go Saturday night instead. That probably led to a lot of the problem. But for a Friday forecast to be 70 and partly sunny, it rained half the day and was just gray the other half. I cleared off around 5PM and we didn't notice a big uptick in park attendance. Saturday was a huge crowd though once 6PM hit, with a majority of ride lines getting long around 4PM until the HOS started.
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