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Apr 7, 2016
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I'm a new member and was very excited to find this site about all things Busch Gardens :)

This is our first time going to HOS and Busch Gardens, we're going 9/30-10/2 for the whole weekend and i have a few questions.  

I rented a cabana for the Saturday, can you tell me what the cabanas are like?  Can we leave our stuff there and come back throughout the day?  Is it possible to take a quick catnap in them?

How does the Photokey work?  Is it just ride photos, or do they have photogs set up through out the park?  

Since we'll be there for 3 days, do we need a game plan going in or can we just walk around and take our time?  The plan is to leave at closing each night, so i'm thinking we can get there around noon-1pm on Friday and Sunday...but plan on a full open-close day Saturday (hence the cabana).  Is that a good amount of time to ride and see everything?  

Do they have special food and drinks for HOS?

I'm so excited...I can't wait to see, eat, drink and do everything!!  

Thanks!
 
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Nicole

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RE: Advice for 1st/Howl O Scream visit

Welcome to the Forum!

Let me try to answer as many of your questions as I can this far in advance of the event.

I do have a question for you: are you interested in the houses, shows, and/or rides?

As the resident cabana expert, I am happy to address that question.  Historically, HOS cabanas have come with four QuickQueues, nectar for the lorikeets, a locker, and free drinks.  

The QQs are undoubtedly the most useful perk.  They will give you front of the line access to all of the haunted mazes, and most of the major rides.  Each QQ can be used at each attraction once.  Do you have the cabana for all three days?  If not, you may want to take advantage of the front of the line access to the houses on the same night that you get the cabana.  The lorikeet nectar is fun, if you enjoy feeding the birds.  The aviary is in the same area as the cabanas (as are several other animal attractions).  The lorikeet area is usually open during HOS, but the birds are sensitive to cold, so depending on the weather, it could close early in the year.  The free drinks are nice, especially if you opt not to get the refillable bottle.  

About the cabana themselves: they have honestly seen better days.  They have curtains on three sides and fairly comfortable chairs and tables, so you can hang out, eat, and nap in there.  The cabanas also come with a private locker and a mini-fridge, so you can leave everything in them.

I have never gotten Photokey, but from watching Luke, I believe they send you the pictures electronically.  It includes ride photos, as well as other photo ops around the park (at the stables, etc).  Someone else may be able to shed more light on the current system.

Especially since you will have QQs, you should be in no rush.  I can get all of the mazes and rides done in a single day with front of the lines passes.  Given that you have so much time, I would suggest doing some planning, so that you can really experience all of the main attractions:

- Haunted mazes,
- TerrorTories (scare zones),
- Shows (if you want to see them), and
- Special dining.

To expand on each of those:

Haunted mazes.  These are pretty self-explanatory.  There is still a lot of speculation in the HOS 2016 thread about which houses will be back this year.  You can also find reviews of the 2015 event in that thread.  Here is mine, if you are interested.  I would keep checking this Forum for information.  Especially towards the end of the summer, we should start getting some good information about how HOS will look this year.  There will be separate threads for the shows, as well.

TerrorTories.  I honestly don't know, if these will be back this year.  BGW has tried a wide variety of approaches to their scare zones.  The last couple of years, they attempted these immersive, story-telling areas throughout the park.  The most popular has always been "Ripper Row" in the front of the park, based on Jack the Ripper.  Guests are meant to feel as if they are in London, when the Ripper was on the prowl.  There scare and show elements.  The driving force behind the TerrorTories, however, left the park mid-season last year.  We really don't know what direction the new Entertainment VP will take the event in this year.  In 2015 he dramatically improved the houses; he could tackle the scare zones in 2016?  Who knows?

Shows.  As with the TerrorTories, it is hard to predict what the new Entertainment VP will do with the shows this year.  I personally dislike theme park shows, so I am a bad source.  The park has everything from campy dinner theater to burlesque Rocky Horror-style shows.  There are threads for all of them, if you are interested.

Dining.  BGW does themed food and drink for all of their special events.  There have been dinner theater options, specialty drinks, HOS bars in the TerrorTories, themed counter service, and event creepy sundaes.  The special dining changes from year to year, so once again, check back here for rumors and reviews.

Anyway, hope you have a great time at HOS and I recommend browsing this Forum and our affiliates sites (http://bgwfans.com/ and https://buschdominion.com/) for leaks, pictures and reviews.

I hope this answered some of your questions?
 
Apr 7, 2016
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RE: Advice for 1st/Howl O Scream visit

Thanks so much! This is extremely helpful.

Yes, we want to experience everything... the houses, shows, and rides. We only have the cabana on Saturday. Since there's only 2 of us, will we be able to use the other 2 QQs?

I guess I can't do much planning until more info is released.
 
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Nicole

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RE: Advice for 1st/Howl O Scream visit

You can use two QQs, as long as they give you all four. You can usually also use them on any day, not just the day you bought them.

Some thoughts on timing.

I personally recommend getting to the park early and paying for Preferred Parking. The lines for the trams can get really long (people have reported waiting more than an hour), especially on Saturday.

The rides and shows will be open all day; the haunted attractions will open at sundown.

Although you will have the QQs on Saturday, you may want to focus on the mazes on Friday and Sunday, because the crowds tend to be much worse on Saturday (although that early in the season, they won't be as bad as later on October). The mazes are significantly better, when there aren't heavy crowds. Halloween Horror Nights at Uni handles "conga lines" fairly well; BGW, however, has not yet learned how to manage a constant flow through a house. There tends to be a lot of "stacking" in the houses on Saturdays, with people coming to complete stops. My observation is that it is usually because of rude gusts whop refuse to keep walking and/or walk incredibly slowly. As a result, you very often have a better experience in the houses on Fridays and Sundays.

I hope I haven't made this sound like a bad event. The reason the lines get so long is that people love HOS. It is a lot of fun, even on Saturdays.
 
Apr 7, 2016
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RE: Advice for 1st/Howl O Scream visit

Awesome! So we can use 2 on Saturday and 2 Sunday?

Good to know about the parking. It makes me think of another question...is it better to leave a few minutes before closing or should we take our time getting out of the park to avoid the traffic? We're staying right up the street, so the drive isn't too bad.

I went to Jason's Woods one year and there was a group in front of us that ruined the whole experience. They carried on so bad when they got scared, that I knew something was coming up and didn't get scared. So I'll take your advice and do them Friday and Sunday.
 
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Nicole

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RE: Advice for 1st/Howl O Scream visit

Based on past years, yes you should be able to use them Sat and Sun. Also, lines are not as bad at the end of the night on Saturday.

I, personally, prefer to wait until the very end of the night to depart. A lot of people leave early, so the crowds really aren't that bad.

Not sure where you are staying, but BGW has partnered with some local hotels and resorts, and a few have shuttles and special ticket packages. I summarized the current deals here; I expect to see similar options in the Fall.
 

Zachary

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RE: Advice for 1st Howl O Scream Visit

On the QQ subject: If you get unlucky and they date your QQs, you will not be able to use them on another date. Historically though, especially with the cabanas, the park has rarely dated the single use QQs. It does happen from time to time though.
 

Merboy

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Zachary said:
On the QQ subject: If you get unlucky and they date your QQs, you will not be able to use them on another date. Historically though, especially with the cabanas, the park has rarely dated the single use QQs. It does happen from time to time though.

And if it does come to that and you can't use your extra two QQ's then at least you can give them to two strangers and make someone's day!
 
Apr 7, 2016
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That's exactly what we would do...no point in them going to waste.

Oh man, i can't wait! Is it September yet?

I was looking at the website and the one coaster with the free fall drop looks like SO much fun!!
 
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Nicole

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So, I am inferring that you have not been to BGW before? If you are interested, we can also give you tips on the regular rides and eateries?
 
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The Hessian

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chevyhd17 said:
Correct!  I don't know anything about BGW, so any advice/tips/suggestions would definitely be welcomed.

Well then you've have come to the right place my friend for we have all the info you will ever need on Busch so don't be afraid to ask.
 
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Nicole

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So, what I am going to say here is only my personal opinion.  As you can tell by reading this Forum, people disagree violently about many of the specifics.  Hopefully, others will chime in, as well.

Not knowing how much you already know about BGW, let me start with some general background.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a true theme park, vice an amusement park.  It is comprised of several European "hamlets."  Each country has stores with authentic merchandise and themed restaurants.  For example, Das Festhaus in the Octoberfest hamlet serves German cuisine; and the gift shop in Rhinefeld sells beer steins made in Germany.  The rides are also themed to the hamlet.

BGW historically has had good food by theme park standards.  The quality has been falling off a bit recently, but the new restaurant in San Marco is really quite good.

BGW also has a reputation for having a really good coaster collection.  It doesn't have as many flat rides, however, as you might find at a more traditional amusement park.

One other thing that sets all SeaWorld and Busch parks apart is their animals.  While BGW isn't an accredited zoo like its sister in Tampa, it does have a fair number of animal exhibits and tours.  Your cabana will be right in the middle of the Wild Reserve, which is where the rotating animal exhibits are displayed.

So, about those coasters.  I noticed you said you were really looking forward to Griffon.  It is a fun ride, but in my experience the visual and mental affects are more extreme than the actual physical experience.  That said, the first drop offers an amazing view of Demon Street, during HOS.

Most people list either Apollo's Chariot or Alpengeist as their favorite roller coaster in the park.  I believe it really a question of which kinds of forces you prefer.  

Apollo (my favorite) is a B&M hyper coaster with an amazing first drop and a series of fantastic air time hills.

Alpengeist is a B&M invert that is incredibly tall and fast.

Verbolten is more of a family ride, but has a really cool drop track element and a fun launch.  I personally like it a lot.

Loch Ness Monster is an Arrow with interlocking loops and what many of us consider the best straight drop in the park.

I can't recommend anyone ride Tempesto, but I know some people enjoy it.

BGW has two dark rides: Curse of Darkastle and Europe in the Air.  Darkastle is similar to Spiderman at Islsnds of Adventure.  You ride through the scenes in a "sleigh," wearing 3D glasses.  EitA is a simulator like Wild Arctic at SeaWorld, but the story is derivative of Disney's Soarin'.

The flat rides are all fairly self-explanatory.  There is a drop tower, called Mach Tower, as well as a variety of other carnival rides, mostly concentrated in Octoberfest, San Marco, and Festa Italia.  The scrambler (Le Catapult) is somewhat hidden in New France.

There are three water rides, if it isn't too cold.  Le Scoot is a great, classic log flume.  Escape from Pompeii is a well themed, but fairly short shoot the chutes type ride. I don't think Roman Rapids is open at HOS?  Regardless, it is an average rapids ride.

I highly recommend you take the sky ride all of the way around.  The views, especially during special events, are fantastic.  You will have to disembark at each station and get back in line to make a full circuit. It is also the easiest way to get from Octoberfest to Heatherdowns. The lines can get long, so try it on either Friday or Sunday.  Most people love the train, as well.  It has been a haunted attraction in the past, but in recent years it has only been a great transport option.  It goes around the park and offers lovely views.

In terms of food, I recommend trying the new restaurant in San Marco, Marco Polo's Marketplace.  I would stay away from the pasta there, however. Trappers is also fairly good barbecue; most people I know get the brisket.   I can't comment on Das Festhaus, as I don't personally like German food.  If you like ice cream, you should try Josephine's; and Crepes and Coffee is pretty good, and usually has fillings themed to the season or event.

If you want a drink, and you don't want to go to one of the HOS bars, try Grogans Pub in Killarney or the new Bier Room in the back of the Festhaus (if it is open during HOS).  Both also serve appetizers, and there are also some good main dishes in Grogans Grill, which you can carry into the pub or Annie's.

Especially since you will be there for three days, take some time to enjoy the landscaping, scenery, and shops.

If you have specific merchandise you like, we can offers suggestions about shopping, as well.

Once again, I hope this was helpful?
 
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This is why I really love this forum, a good balance of helpfulness and playfulness.

Also, i agree with Nicole's advice. I couldnt really help you because i dont go to BGW a lot anymore, but if you ever want to go to Seaworld Orlando, you know where to look :)
 
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Apr 7, 2016
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Awesome info! I can talk all day about Disney and Universal, but anywhere else i'm lost. I just need to make sure I remember everything.

The sky ride sounds pretty cool, i'm sure we'll take multiple trips on it.

Yummmm to good food and drinks!

The atmosphere and theming (sp?) is another reason we're staying 3 days, so we can take our time and soak it all in.
 
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netdvn

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Because its here, I'd recommend checking with this.

Crowds shouldn't be too bad second weekend of HOS. Fridays during the day are extremely slow so you can get rides and shows in without any trouble giving you plenty of time for night rides and mazes come sundown.

Saturday will be busy but if you've got a cabana, you'll have front of line passes so no big deal.

Because the park dropped bring a friend days, Sundays should be great for crowds as well. I'd check out Kings Dominion if you've already done everything at Busch and are looking for more haunts to check out. Just make sure the park is open for Haunt before you go though. Would suck to drive an hour out of your way only to find the park is closed for a private event or not running Haunt that weekend.

Skyride WILL have lines once it gets busy. Especially at night as people use it to travel around/leave the park. It's definitely worth checking out if you have the time and want to soak in the views.
 
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