Busch Gardens’ popular Oktoberfest village is getting a new look this spring. The project is part of a two-year rebuild of the area. “Oktoberfest is the heart of Busch Gardens,” said Park President Carl Lum. “It serves as a hub of activity where friends and family can come together to enjoy rides, shows, delicious brats and games.”
Busch Gardens’ engineering team has spent the winter months building new facilities, moving existing rides and preparing for the installation of Mäch Tower, the park’s newest and tallest thrill attraction.
“Oktoberfest hasn’t changed significantly in thirty years,” said Larry Giles, vice president of design and engineering. “We’re taking what guests already love about Oktoberfest and building on it for a 21st-century audience.” When Oktoberfest opens this spring, guests will be treated to a Bavarian-style pretzel bakery, additional game areas and performance spaces. The park’s culinary team has been working to perfect new pretzel recipes.
“We’ve been conducting pretzel tastings during our off season and are now in the process of finalizing the menu, presentation and condiments,” said Jeff Thomas, vice president of culinary operations. The new shop, called Beste Brezeln und Bier, serves traditional hand-twisted pretzels along with pretzel-inspired creations like cinnamon-and-sugar pretzel nuggets and pretzel-wrapped hotdogs. Guests can purchase a cold beverage and sneak a peek through the shop windows as bakers hand roll and twist the pretzel creations.
A foot-stomping, thigh-slapping, strolling “oompah” band complements the culinary offerings, and a new show currently in development takes advantage of a maypole being constructed in the flower garden in front of Das Festhaus.
“We want Oktoberfest to remain as authentic as possible, so we made sure that the new additions not only enhance the festive atmosphere, but would bring another level of authenticity,” said Scott Gasparich, vice president of entertainment who leads the park’s thematic, event and show production teams. Colorful ribbons, festive greenery and blue-and-white checkerboard patterns are all part of the Oktoberfest theme that will be seen throughout the village. “Oktoberfest features a harmonious blend of tradition and modern heritage,” Gasparich said. “We’re putting our own twist on Germany’s traditional Oktoberfest celebration.”
Attentive guests will notice many village design elements feature colors from the German flag. The red, yellow and black have a traditional German feel while a colored maypole and festive banners depict Bavaria’s rich cultural heritage and add a finishing touch to the village ambiance.
Many new features required reconfiguring of the existing Oktoberfest space. To make room for Mäch Tower, the park’s Der Katapult is being relocated to New France. The scrambler-style ride is by far the most traveled attraction at the 100-acre theme park, having been moved four times since Busch Gardens opened in 1975. It is being renamed Le Catapult to fit its new French-inspired location.
Das Wirbelwindchen, affectionately known by park aficionados as the “kiddie swings,” will be relocated near the Roto Baron attraction, closer to Das Festhaus.
“We know guests love these KIDsiderate rides so we decided to relocate them to other areas to accommodate all the changes to Oktoberfest,” Giles said.
Guests will get their chance to start experiencing Busch Gardens’ rejuvenated Oktoberfest village when the park opens March 26. Mäch Tower is scheduled to open in late spring. Until then, fans can visit http://www.facebook.com/BuschGardens
for the latest news and construction updates.