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Sep 5, 2010
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RICHMOND
Hey, guys. I went by Busch Gardens this past Wednesday, and thought I'd discuss my impressions. Since I primarily watched the shows this time around, I posted it here. (This was originally posted as a thread response, but I think it ought to be it's own thing.)

I had a great time Wednesday. The heat was nearly unbearable, but it kept the crowds at bay (at least I think it was the heat!). I arrived around 1:30, and my primary objective was to see the Illuminights shows. I rode Pompeii, [the] Griffon, Darkastle and Apollo's Chariot. Nothing new there, although all of the talk on here about costumes and theming had me noticing things I normally probably wouldn't have thought about. I'll say that I honestly think Escape From Pompeii is the most well put-together attraction in the park. The set-up, the atmosphere, the costumes...I took note yesterday of just how complete that experience is. Anyway...

Uh, I'll say that the park had a bit of the old feel, but I'm 100% sure that that was because of Illuminights. The performances gave me something to do with my time, and, for the most part made good use of the hamlets. I went to Mix It Up and Celtic Fyre, as well. Let's see...grading based on the quality of the shows available vs. what I think the potential of a better, replacement show in the same space could be:

Mix It Up: Well executed, but weird. I was entertained by the show, yes, but I couldn't figure out who these chefs were...who they were supposed to be cooking for...why they knew how to play trumpets...who the waiters were...why they were there...and what any of this had to do with Italy. Grade: C+

Celtic Fyre: I've seen this before, and I still don't really like it. For what it's worth, my wife liked it better than the old shows (EB and IT). To me, it's convoluted and hard to follow, and not very Irish (or, at least, not very magical, which is the value of the hamlet). Part of the problem is not content, but the sound equipment, which muffles speech and makes the lyrics of the story songs hard to understand, which drags down the show. And I hate the American dance-off set up. Still, an improvement over the first time I saw it, so... Grade: C-

Illuminights Ireland: Cool use of magical imagery, good performance from the Leprechaun guy. Nice set up and cool puppets. The only thing I didn't like were the constant pop culture references and the fact that this leprechaun was taking advice from what appeared to be randomly selected puppets of a dog, a goat (?) and a chicken. It very much looked like they had just found a couple of puppets around and tried to use them in a show, rather than building dedicated puppets. He should have been getting advice from older Leprechauns. Oh well. Grade: B-

Illuminights France: Cool deal with the can-can girls and the acrobats, and the whistle guy. I thought it was lame that he was on a wire, because it makes it look less dangerous, but if I were up there, I'd want a wire, so its cool. Complaints: the set and stage and props and mens' costumes looked cheap. Those cardboard champagne bottles an didn't do the area any design favours either. Overall, though, enjoyable and French enough. Grade: B-

Illuminights Italy: Easily the best thing all day. The lights set the mood, the music helped, and the actual show was impressive. Great magical feel like Imaginique used to have. The costumes were a little cheap looking, but this is not Disney World, and these are free shows, so whatever. I'm not entirely sure why this wasn't staged in France, since it is a Cirque-style show. Made me miss Imaginique. Grade: B+

All that said, I have to note: if it hadn't been for the Illuminights shows, I think I would have been bored. They supplied all of the wonder/magic feeling of the day. There once was a time when they had these kinds of shows hardwired into the park. A legendary time called 8 years ago. O'Sullivan and Imaginique. Except those shows were 30 minutes, and better.

Also, those new shirts in Oktoberfest are whatever. They match the goofy new Oktoberfest motif. I'd give that whole thing a B-. It looks good for what it is...but it doesn't match the rest of the park and it doesn't make great use of the theming opportunities.
 
May 10, 2011
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Thanks for the report. We'd be TERRIBLE park buddies. We'd argue the whole time. But I appreciate the effort and detail in the report. :)
 
Sep 5, 2010
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RICHMOND
Are you the roller coaster type? I used to like coasters a lot more, but the older I get, the less I get out of them. Truth be told, they give me headaches more often than not, now. Any inversions or loops and I'm sort of over it.
 
Nov 14, 2009
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Williamsburg, VA
Yeah, nice detailed report. I actually think we'd be relatively compatible park buddies (first time I've heard that term) :) However, I think I might be a little more "easy-going." (although my beer consumption might be what mellows me out...)
 
Mar 30, 2010
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Park buddies... I never defined that term, but I go to the park with certain people and I know what to expect when they come. Some only do shows, some will do a mix, and some only do the rides. Some will drag their feet, others will keep up with you. Some enjoy the day no matter what and some just want to complain about everything. For me the worst are the ones that don't care about time, the kind that meet up with you after you've been at the park, or show up after the park has reached capacity, when you warned them. Choose your park buddies well.
 
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Nov 14, 2009
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pandorazboxx said:
For me the worst are the ones that don't care about time, the kind that meet up with you after you've been at the park, or show up after the park has reached capacity, when you warned them. Choose your park buddies well.

AMEN!
 
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