Register or Login to Hide This Ad for Free!


Sep 23, 2009
From what Nora and I were able to gather yesterday, the remaining stock of authentic German steins and cuckoo clocks in the German Gifts shop in Rhinefield are the last crop of clocks and steines the park will be selling. It sounds like the park simply doesn't plan to restock the shelves and other merchandise will soon be taking their places. Nora was fortunate enough to pick up the very last Busch Gardens Williamsburg-themed stein yesterday and, when we left, there was still one Killarney stein, two Anheuser Busch steins, and maybe 2 or 3 other miscellaneous authentic German beer steins as well. The cuckoo clock supply is dwindling rapidly as well. First they took the Hummels and now they've taken the steins and cuckoo clocks. It's absolutely heartbreaking. A Busch Gardens Williamsburg that doesn't sell authentic German beer steins anymore isn't the Busch Gardens Williamsburg I knew and loved. That is all.
This is sad news. The unique shops selling true, foreign merchandise was always something that added to that wonderful immersive feel of winding through that cobblestone path lined with shops. In fact, that's one of the things that's always kept Busch Gardens up there with Epcot in terms of its feel: the shops of "Germany." Do we really need another space that will probably just sell BG souvenir cups, T-shirts, key chains, etc.? This really shows what poor shape the park is in right now. Where is the Busch Gardens I used to know? :(
That shop was destroyed years ago when they brought in all the soccer stuff. The Christmas portion has been shrinking for years as well. The only reason I go in there is because the AC works really well.
  • Like
Reactions: K8theGr8
I hate to be the bad guy (okay, I love it, just not in this instance), but did the park make any money off that stuff? I realize the park is in the current situation due to terrible management, but at this moment can't blame them for trying to make more money while things normalize.
  • Like
Reactions: netdvn
You save money by not shooting off absurdly expensive fireworks every night, not giving out half-priced tickets all season, and not hiring a new, more expensive talent agency to replace a massive percentage of your performing staff. Removing what people love about the park just solidifies the ever-more-prevalent opinion amongst the general public that the park is losing everything that made it special.
Yes. You could probably cancel a night of fireworks and fund German Gifts for the rest of the season. I think people need to really grasp the fact that German Gifts is much more than a gift shop- it's an integral part of the Rhinefield hamlet as a whole. Don't underestimate the value of shops and stores in creating atmosphere. German Gifts, for many people, wasn't so much a store as it was a walk-through attraction. There was a time when the store was stuffed full of things you could only see at Busch Gardens Williamsburg or in the country the hamlet is themed after. These unique experiences are what have always made Busch Gardens Williamsburg what it is. The more of those that vanish, the worse off the park will be. They may save a few bucks in the short-term, but they vastly underestimated the long-term effects of their actions. Cutting things from special events helps the budget in the short-term and only renders very short-term effects. Killarney Kommotion will be gone and forgotten forever in about two weeks. People will remember what German Gifts was for years and years to come.
That is very disappointing and frustrating. If there was a "Sad" button beside the "Thanks" button, I would have clicked it. It is yet another layer of the Old Country that is slowly being peeled away year after year.

It's a complex problem though. I suspect this shop was primarily there for setting the scene of a German village and not a consistently high-volume revenue driver. If a clock or a stein sold, bonus! Now that BGW is apparently strapped for cash and these items don't sell quickly or at all, a move was made to start generating more cash faster.

I start to ask myself:
  • How many more layers can be removed before the theme starts to break down? (temporary turtles, snails and tinsel notwithstanding)
  • Do I continue to rationalize the loss of things used to be so that there can be a future?
I could not believe that the stock of steins was that low, nor could I have ever been prepared to hear that the store would not be refilling their shelves with authentic German Merchandise anytime soon; perhaps ever again.

I felt like someone had just thrown a rock through the Festhaus stained glass window. In some symbolic way, I could almost hear the crashing glass falling all around me at that exact moment.

If German gifts goes to the wayside and it is replaced with beer themed shirts and glassware made in China, Busch Gardens will have lost the heart and soul of their souvenir shops. So what if it doesn't make tons of money? It is one small piece of real estate in the big picture.

When I went to Epcot, each country had tons of expensive and authentic gifts from each location. Of all the Disney parks, Epcot is the one I love the most as it is not about "Mickey Mouse" or rides; it is about the "Experience"

I walked away from Epcot feeling refreshed and the joy of experiencing so many cultures in one trip.

This used to be the same for Busch Gardens. I used to feel that the countries held a European magic that came from the shops like German Gifts and Italy Gifts. The food, entertainment, souvenirs, music, and atmosphere were all carefully crafted to make me feel like I was far away from Virginia.

Sadly this past Sunday, I saw that the clock in Rhinefeld was not fully working, there were barely enough steins to cover the display wall in German Gifts, and the show This is Oktoberfest only plays late at night in a Festhaus when there is only one open line to purchase food.

However, what I also want everyone to know that I noticed the large group of children that were laughing and dancing to the traditional and well-loved tunes of the Festhaus despite the smaller late-evening crowd. The older gentlemen of the Rhine River Cruise were so proud of their job and of the joy they bring to others, that their enthusiasm radiated off them.

Lastly as I was leaving the park, I caught the Aquitaine village band playing to the crowds. Someone mentioned it was their birthday and the band played "Happy Birthday" to them. The family all had their cameras at the ready and I am sure that they would treasure that moment as much as I was clinging to my Busch Gardens stein I had just purchased.

This is my plea to all who care at Busch Gardens: Remember what made the park great for over 30 years. If it isn't broke- don't fix it. And if you do "fix-it" make sure it is the same quality or better when it is replaced. People do not come to the park specifically to buy merchandise. They will however, come to the park to have the opportunity to recapture the experience they had previously. When that "experience" is no longer there, they are left confused and hurt.

If too many "experiences" keep being removed without replacing it with another equal or greater quality product; nothing unique and special is left.

It is Quality over Quantity that really matters. Yet, I am certain that there is a profitable balance between the two that would please everyone. I know how to fix it... I just hope some one else cares enough to take this challenge and make sure to do the right thing.

Let us hope.

In the meantime, I took a photo of my beautiful stein that says "Busch Gardens Williamsburg" (Made in Germany- limited edition) with the German Band, Rhinefeld archway, and Welkommen Haus clock all featured on it. The top has the Anheuser Busch Clydesdales running around the top.

To quote Plato:

~ All things will be produced in superior quantity and quality, and with greater ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts, and at the right moment, without meddling with anything else.


  • IMG_8954.JPG
    1.5 MB · Views: 60
I'm going to surprise people probably, but I think I agree with Pretzel Kaiser, here.

Ultimately, the shops at the park are stores, not exhibits. If the beer steins or cuckoo clocks don't sell, then they aren't wrong to take them off of the shelves.

I totally understand the feeling that the old Busch Gardens is falling away. And I also understand that getting rid of the authentic merchandise is yet another sign of that. But again, the merchandise is there to be sold. If it isn't selling, they have to try something else.

Now, so far as the authentic European merchandise *is*, in itself, an attraction, I would suggest little artisan's stands, where people can be seen making these items. You wouldn't have to have so many in stock, and you'd get a chance to really turn it into an exhibit. As it stands, though, again, the stuff in the stores is there for sale, not for looks.
I'm on the fence here. I agree somewhat with the concept of put what sells on the shelves, but at the same time, I absolutely loved ducking into this store to check out the cuckoo clocks, glass-making, Christmas junk, etc. I just recently bought the IllumiNights CD in there. Now I doubt I would ever have paid the price for a clock, but I do think it was somewhat of an attraction. It is ALL atmosphere for me. Plus the staff is awesome! I love the sweet little ol'e lady who works in there. Love her dress!! Either way, this makes me sad.
Dr. Jay Money Ed.D said:
[...] As it stands, though, again, the stuff in the stores is there for sale, not for looks.

I understand where you're coming from, but the park used to use creativity to blend in the items that were "just for looks", with top notch souvenirs that people would buy. When people see authentic stuff from a specific country, studies have shown that they are more likely to buy something. The park used to apply this principle all the time. In fact, for quite a while most of their gift shops had special scent machines made specifically for the park. That atmosphere created a feeling of wanting to buy something in that shop...Maybe think of it this way: If you see a German beer Stein at some run-of-the-mill country store, you wouldn't be as likely to buy it as you would at an authentic German store. When people see things in a shop that don't belong, they usually decide "Oh this is some cheap knockoff. I'll buy it real (insert genre) store." All in all, this just shows me that the park either doesn't care, or they don't have the creativity to pull it off anymore.
The $7,000 nutcracker is still in there last I checked and it adds great to the store decor but it is for sale and there to make money so once it's sold I will be fine with that. Hopefully I will be the one to purchase it :p

I know what you mean Castle; they used creative and experimental techniques to get people to buy the authentic stuff they aren't buying now.

I remember the scent in Emerald Isle it smelled so good.
  • Like
Reactions: CastleOSullivan
I certainly think there's a mixed-use purpose for the merchandise. It is part of the atmosphere of the park, yes...but it's merchandise first.

Another cool idea would be to heavily theme the gift shops, but still just sell the regular merchandise.

Like, you could have "the clock shop" and have it really look like a tinkerer's shop...have cuckoo clocks and elaborate machinery and gears, lots of set pieces, stuff like that. And maybe you do sell some reasonably priced souvenir clocks in there. But primarily, it's a regular old gift shop, albeit one that thematically shows off that aspect of authentic German culture.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that Disney already does this sort of thing to great effect. I think, however, that this is one thing BGW could actually do better than Disney know...if they cared.
Speaking of other clocks, have you seen the cheap plastic ones they have in there now? I just noticed them this weekend.
Consider Donating to Hide This Ad