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Fur Dozy

Mayor of Busch Gardens Tampillsburg
Nov 5, 2009
1,494
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Griffons, Penguins, and Elves
A Christmas Town Review


Let me start of by saying that if you have high expectations, prepare for disappointment; however, if you have low expectations prepare to be impressed. Although there are several things to look forward to in Christmas town, there is much that falls short. By the time you finish reading this review I want to give you a good Idea of whether or not going to Christmas Town is worth your while.

Let’s start off with the decorations. As usual Busch went big with the theming and decor. Some of the best things are: a net of stars that light up Scotland, a 45 foot tall artificial Christmas tree on which lights "dance" to several favorite Christmas songs, and a beautifully decorated area to get your picture taken with Santa. The one thing is that the great theming is somewhat inconsistent. Italy has no theming but a few trees with lights, there are dumb looking "socks" over the lamps in France (similar to the pumpkin ones during Howl-o-Scream), and over the gate to Ireland it looks like they just threw the decorations up and left them how they sat. Overall the theming is the least of your worries though. In my opinion, the best part is the walkways in Scotland. There you will find rows of trees that are lit with blue lights and above, hundreds of star shaped lights that light the path. That, is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in the park.

Next up, the shows! Busch's shows are quite a large attraction compared to other parks. As such, I had high expectations for them. There are three theatrical shows and a handful of street shows. The best theatrical show is the one in the festhaus titled “Deck the Halls.” It features a good blend of classic Christmas music and catchy choreography. This is a fun and entertaining show for all ages. There is also a 4-D show in the Globe Theatre titled “A Sesame Street Christmas.” This show is a fun experience for young children and features exciting special effects. The Third and final theatrical show is in the Abbey Stone Theatre. This show, titled “Rejoice” had high expectations as the best shows are often held in the Abbey Stone Theatre; however, it falls short. The show has a line up of songs that leave very little impression . Also, the show seems short. You wait for the whole show for the good songs to come, then all of a sudden, its over. No big finale, just a curtain call, it’s over. This show is still somewhat enjoyable for the more patient ones of us. Small children will not be entertained by “Rejoice”. As for the street shows, The one that you need to see is “O Tannenbaum.” This is a light show which features a 45 foot tall Christmas tree. It only lasts a little under ten minutes but is very impressive none the less. The other street shows are good for watching in between the other things you do but leave little impact.

The food is slightly different from the regular season. There are less menu choices but the general selection at the different eateries remains the same. There is also one big addition to the snack stands, that being hot chocolate. You can buy one then refill it for a dollar.

Last but not least, the rides. There is an abbreviated selection of rides open for Christmas Town. The lines tend to remain short at no more than a five minute wait. Griffon is good but very cold in the front row. Darkastle is warm but put a hat on for the mist at the end of the ride. There are also a few attractions that are exclusive to Christmas Town. There is a penguin exhibit that after walking through a winter wonderland queue line, you can get a close up look at a penguin or two (depending on what they have in the box at the time) in a 2x4 glass box. This is a very unimpressive setup and is not worth any more than a five minute wait, however, you may need to wait up to 15 minutes. They also took the trains and strung lights on them and decorated several points along the ride, making it a fun experience. The other exclusive is Santa’s workshop. Here you can get your picture taken with the big guy himself. The catch is you have to pay for the park’s picture and they made that the low low price of $19.99.

Overall, this is a good opportunity to get into the park if you don’t have a pass. If you are one of the unlucky ones that have paid for a pass, this is only worth one visit and it really should only cost you half that much. So get on your Christmas Spirit and give it a shot. It is at least good enough for one visit, just don’t expect to be able compare it to the regular season.

P.S. One last hint: Italy opens each night around six and they run the battering ram and the flying machine.

*This Review was written by Caleb Phillips for the exclusive use of BGWfans.com. Any other uses must obtain specified permission from BGWfans.com prior to use.
 

Zachary

Administrator
Sep 23, 2009
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I'm going to steal your permission info at the bottom and use it on mine too. Hope you don't mind. :D
 

Fur Dozy

Mayor of Busch Gardens Tampillsburg
Nov 5, 2009
1,494
1,626
250
You do not have the specified permission to use the permission statement. jk, go right ahead.;)
 
Nov 25, 2009
81
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Florida
I didn't think Italy was going to be open. Is it listed on the Christmas Town map? I think they decided to open Italy because it gets so busy and it's used to alleviate traffic on the pathways.
 

Fur Dozy

Mayor of Busch Gardens Tampillsburg
Nov 5, 2009
1,494
1,626
250
I believe it was in the plans( due to the fact that they were so easily able to open the country and the rides in the gardens) but it was a tentative plan. As so they would rather have an area open that is not on the map than to have an area on the map not be open. If that's not too confusing.
 

Fur Dozy

Mayor of Busch Gardens Tampillsburg
Nov 5, 2009
1,494
1,626
250
Its better for people to say "hey look there's even more here than what's on the map" than "awwwww, that place isn't open."
 
Sep 23, 2009
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Okay, that makes sense. You're right. I really don't think they anticipated such a huge crowd on Friday, though, and that hurt them A LOT. It's good that they thought to open part of Italy.

My thought is that they should have multiple Santas, one for each country dressed in period wear. I think that would help, too.
 

Fur Dozy

Mayor of Busch Gardens Tampillsburg
Nov 5, 2009
1,494
1,626
250
kcracken said:
Okay, that makes sense. You're right. I really don't think they anticipated such a huge crowd on Friday, though, and that hurt them A LOT. It's good that they thought to open part of Italy.

My thought is that they should have multiple Santas, one for each country dressed in period wear. I think that would help, too.

That might confuse the Kiddos.
 

Zachary

Administrator
Sep 23, 2009
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I can see it now...

Son: Mommy...
Mom: Yes Bob...
Son: I... I see Santa...
Mom: Yep, that's Santa, do you want to go say hi to him?
Son: N... n... no...
Mom: Why?
Son: He scares me.
Mom: Why, you just got your picture with St. Nick, why does Santa scare you? They are the same person you know...
Son: I... I know... That is what's scary.
Mom: Why?
Son: ...Because that means that he has c... c... clones. I saw them in a movie once... And they turned evil and blew everything up!
Mom: It is just a man in a costume...
Son: [Interrupts Mom] HE IS JUST A MAN IN A COSTUME?!? I gave him my Christmas list!
Mom: I thought...
Son: [Interrupts again] I WANT TO GO HOME! ALL I KNOW IS A LIE! NEXT THING I KNOW, YOU ARE GOING TO TELL ME THAT THE EASTER BUNNY IS FAKE TOO!
 
Sep 23, 2009
282
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North Carolina
Everyone seemed to be complaining about there being too many people to get near Santa. Just trying to help that out. And besides, kids ask all the time why there's a Santa at the mall, a Santa at the shopping center, a Santa coming to the WalMart, etc. They know they are the real Santa's helpers!
 
Sep 28, 2009
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kcracken said:
Okay, that makes sense. You're right. I really don't think they anticipated such a huge crowd on Friday, though, and that hurt them A LOT. It's good that they thought to open part of Italy.

My thought is that they should have multiple Santas, one for each country dressed in period wear. I think that would help, too.

Hey kcracken, That was part of my original concept I gave to BGW a few years back. I had called it "Christmas through the countries" and it would celebrate Christmas and the Holidays as it was celebrated in those particular countries themselves - with more cultural information pertaining to each country (something the park aimed for in their original concept from the beginning).

For example: Traditional Christmas dishes in Germany consist of plump roast goose, "Christstollen" (long bread loaves stuffed with nuts, raisins, citron and dried fruit), "Lebkuchen" (spice bars), marzipan, and "Dresden Stollen" ( a moist, heavy bread filled with fruit). Kids leave out shoes for Santa filled with treats too.. not stockings... ginergread is common during the "Advent" (aha- the origin of the Advent Calendar) which starts Dec. 6th. Germany actualy was the first country to celebrate "Christmas" as we know it and also bring us the wonderful concept of good ol' St. Nick. Yay for Germany!

In Ireland, they focus mostly on Mary and Joseph and candles are always placed in windows to signify welcome to weary travelers -aka Mary and Joseph looking for a warm and safe place for Jesus's birth. Food is kind of eh~ in Ireland but features raisin bread and milk.. umm.. yum? Having the staff greet you with the Gaelic greeting for 'Merry Christmas' is:
'Nollaig Shona Duit'......which is pronounced as 'null-ig hun-a dit'. would be cool and going above and beyond in quality and those extra touches. :)

The Scottish folk really throw a party. The cutest concept is that kids wear paper crowns a real easy tradition for the kids to participate with had Busch Gardens had the inkling to pass them out to kids. Christmas is fun in Scotland.

In England there is always Caroling (except they ask for money- for charity of course), and eat Christmas pudding (a rich cake stuffed with raisins and sultanas), mince pie and red wine.l. People attend a mumming, or performance, where people wear masks and act out Christmas plays.

An important aspect of French Christmas celebrations is the crèche filled with santons, which is displayed in churches and many homes. Living crèches in the form of plays and puppet shows based on the Nativity are commonly performed to teach the important ideas of Christianity and the Christmas celebration. Papper ribbons and apples are found strung along streets as decoration. The celebration is much like a German Christmas except more wine, more cake, and of course the lovely mistletoe tradition. "Zee' Fench love to Kee'z no?" La bûche de Noël (Yule log) - A log-shaped cake made of chocolate and chestnuts. Representative of the special wood log burned from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day in the Périgord, which is a holdover from a pagan Gaul celebration.

I could go on and on; but the main point is that I had hoped that Busch Gardens would really incorporate traditional and cultural touches to the region - like a few 'native language songs" like German songs in Germany (sung in German), Gaelic songs in Ireland..etc.etc.

I suppose, Busch Gardens has a file on me somehwere... warning staff about me.. heh~ I doubt it. At least they did listen to me regarding Chritmas at Busch Gardens... if only they kept my idea of staying open on New Years where there is a HUGE ringing in of the New Year. My line was "Beer- you all sell BEER- On NEW YEARS EVE- think about BG... money in the bank!!!" eh~ you cannot win em' all.
 

Zachary

Administrator
Sep 23, 2009
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Nora, do you keep backups of all of these emails? I would love to read them... you should post them if you still have them.
 
Sep 28, 2009
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I do now since Christmas Town opened and they have contact via email and I thought, heck...I should be keeping these. Still, I used to write letters by hand and mail them in or actually hand them to the customer service folks when I came into the park. After I sent the CT letter to the park, about a month later I got a call from a lady for BGW management really thanking me for the idea and said they enjoyed the letter and are considering some of the concepts. She told me to keep up the ideas and that the park appreciated my suggestions. I asked her if there was a chance of the Christmas concept actually happening and she said she didn't know but they liked the concept since she was told to call and thank me. (apparently, that did not happen often)

Later, about 5 or six months later I got a letter at home from Vice President of Operations at Busch Gardens, Mark Pauls, thanking me for my letter and suggestions. It was signed by him... although I could never say for sure that it was MY concept entirely, only that I had suggested about two years or so ago and the park was very receptive to the letter. Honestly, I wish they would do more of writing back; i miss the top notch communication the park had before the buy out from InBev. I still have the signed letter... I was stoked when I got it. It was a real honest confirmation that someone does read my various odds and ends I end up submitting to the park almost twice a year... like I said; I think they all know me by this time.

Honestly, I had put it in the back of my mind until I found out that BG will be open and Christmas and I freaked! All I kept saying was "They are really gonna do it! Wooohooo!"

Although, I did ask in addition to England that there is a rendition of a short mini version of Dicken's Christmas Carol at the Globe that is interactive with the crowd... like a kid picked to play Tiny Tim.. but alas... ye olde Sesame Street won out.

From now on, if a send a letter in the future, I will post it here for all to see. :p
 
Sep 23, 2009
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Nora, you really are amazing... and really well read. ;) See, I agree with you on the countries concepts. That would be perfect AND so Williamsburg! I mean, they celebrate colonial Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg. Why not use that at the park? Maybe they will consider it in the future. (and consider having the wolves out during it, too. They'd LOVE the weather.)
 
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