And speaking of Christmas Town . . .
Ah, the weekend of November 22-24! Such a magical time of the year. One anticipates the sound of sleigh bells, the smell of roast turkey, and the enchanting buzz of everyday beverages infused with a little something "extra." Yes, who doesn't look forward to this wonderful weekend?
Well, Walmart, Target, and other retailers have been looking forward to it since before Halloween, but that's besides the point--for this is the opening weekend of Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and the park invited those of us who "blog" about parks to check out this year's version on opening day.
So, what's new with Christmas Town this year? Perhaps the largest aesthetic change took place in France, which was themed to the "Twelve Days of Christmas"--a different Christmas tree for each lyric in the carol. Food offerings are very similar to last year, but the Swedish meatballs and Schnitzelwich from the Food and Wine Festival are now offered at Christmas Town, along with a larger assortment of adult beverages,such as Butterscotch Egg Nog (made with schnapps) and a Cranberry Hot Toddy (I'm definitely going to try this one--well, and probably the egg nog, too). The park keeps upping the ante on Christmas lights each season, too. Six million lights were installed on the park's buildings, paths, and trees, and 85 percent of those are LEDs (that's a lotta lights hooked up to about 25 miles of cable). Many of those lights adorn the park's 1,500 fresh-cut Christmas trees--you can really smell the fresh pine as you walk around.
The only coaster operating is Verbolten; the Forest of Fun, DarKastle, and the water rides are closed, but the skyway (as "Flight of Lights") and all the park's flat rides are running. And, yes, the penguins are back, as are the three shows from last year: "Gloria" (Ireland), "Miracles" (Italy), and "Deck the Halls" (Festhaus).
The park treated us to a "Collies and Clydesdale" tour, which isn't offered during Christmas Town, followed by Santa's Fireside Feast in Castle O'Sullivan in Ireland. This is the first time I've ever tried the feast, and it's a nice event for families. The buffet is quite good (particularly the roast turkey and stuffing). Mrs. Claus works the room until Santa himself comes out for photos, followed by a story--"A Visit from St. Nicholas," or "Twas the Night Before Christmas," by Clement Clarke Moore. Then Mrs. Claus comes out with cookies, and Santa encourages you to eat them all--now there's something a group of coaster enthusiasts can support.
My thanks to the park, and Koy Grant in particular, for inviting me to participate in this event for Theme Park Review. It's a great way to kickoff the holiday season. Well, our bellies are full. Shall we walk off dinner by checking out the rest of Christmas Town?