I was there for a few hours on Sunday night, and the staff in the Terror-tories were doing a better job than on Friday. The Wendigo animatronic does, indeed, lurch back and forth a bit. I still think they need an actual "monster" running around in addition to the military types. More was going on in Ripper Row, as well.
Did all 5 mazes last night and a second Bitten walkthrough. Ranking from first to worst.
Bitten (5/5) - the maze everyone loves to hate comes out on top Sunday night. Consistent scares and the atmosphere is still great. Did a solo run before close and everyone pretty much wanted a piece of me. It was awesome. Some of the actors were a little off but not bad for opening weekend. This was pretty much the only maze that didn't seem to suffer from any major staffing issues both times I walked through.
Cut Throat Cove (4/5) - maze still screams Cutback Cove, but the actors did a pretty good job overall (aside from a few scenes here and there). Just wish they'd drop the hanging things and actually focus on making the maze look legit instead of a backyard haunt or a repurposed Fear Fair. Also a lot of dead room where the actors were supposed to be.
Root of All Evil (2/5) - Ehh. Some of the actors were decent enough, but didn't get as many scares as I expected. Wish the rest of the guille suit guys and chainsaw guys were back since there was only one of each in the entire maze. My friends loved it though. If they brought back the living statues, the alternate paths, and the pond guys, it would be so much better. Some areas felt really short staffed.
Deadline (2/5) - Still lots of dead room and bleh lighting (luckily I went through at night so my eyes adjusted). At least the maze looks nice. Subway car was cool as always though and firecracker guy always gets a jump out of me. You could tell most of the actors were pretty new at this.
Catacombs (1/5) - My friend said it best. This maze is staffed with 15-year olds. There were a few good scares and as usual, the change in layout is always nice, but the actors mostly weren't that great. The whispering at the start of the maze was pretty much the best scare in the entire maze and that's pretty much just an audio track. One of the employees had to light the way for us because the maze ended up getting conga-lined a few times. Huge disappointment since this maze has been VERY consistent the past few years (aside from opening weekend last year). I just hope this whole lack of scares is just the maze going through first weekend growing pains.
13 (1/5) - Went through the maze as the sun was going down. Should be renamed Fear of Empty Rooms. A good scare every once in a while, but not enough to really do much for me. The first few rooms should be called "Fear of getting lost to the point where you accidentally wander into the employee break area" and the room right after the bedroom should be called "Fear of bathroom/fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo room smells". I felt so bad for the actress having to sit there all night. Her clothes probably reeked at the end of that. Did I forget to mention the half-themed rooms? Even the waiting room was missing the chairs and table.
Overall opening weekend thoughts. - Short staffing as usual (or everyone's just on break) - Half-themed rooms in some of the mazes. Seriously Busch, you got a head start on the whole HOS decor. There's NO excuse for half-themed rooms. - Allow current employees to hire for HOS. A lot of the actors from previous years are gone because they can't work HOS so its all new talent. That usually leads to weaker mazes and scare zones. - Fix the lighting in some of the mazes or staff them to guide people, especially after sundown when its still bright outside. I've run into enough walls, people's ankles, and accidentally wandered into a few break rooms by mistake simply because its so hard to see.
All three shows are running great this year. Go see them now! Shame the park cut outdoor shows in the Italy restaurant. Dig it Up was good and Miracles was AMAZING.
Saw Chuck leaving Cut Throat Cove. Said a quick hi.
My problem with Root is that it's just not scary. The unique scares they had in 2012 were replaced with really boring, generic scares you find in all the other mazes. If you combined the atmosphere in the current maze with the unique scares they had in 2012 (the living statues, the people in the ponds, the split pathway with awesome jump scares on both sides), you'd easily have one of the best mazes in the park.
I also noticed everyone's timing was a little off so the scares were either predictable or they ended up being ineffective. Or maybe that's just me. I'll check back a few times during the season to see how the actors hold up.
^I haven't cared much for Root of All Evil in any of its incarnations; it just never made any sense to me. There's nothing particularly scary about a greenhouse full of standard flowers you can see growing in anyone's backyard.
Now, if they had a mutant man-eating plant, then you might have something.
Not so breaking news, but somebody complained in the VA Gazette that the severed head props the park placed everywhere are offensive due to recent events, so the park promptly removed them. Such a shame.
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Busch Gardens Williamsburg has removed some of its Howl-O-Scream displays after complaints from park guests that headless figures were reminiscent of the recent ISIS beheadings.
Park officials said in a statement Wednesday that the Halloween-themed displays are sometimes graphic, but they’re fictional and not intended to provide commentary on world events. But in the court of public opinion, views are mixed.
“That’s not … consistent with the Halloween spirit at all,” said Hartley Bond, who took notice when the image of severed heads made its way into a local paper.
But Norman England, another park attendee, doesn’t think world events come into play at Howl-O-Scream.
“It’s Halloween. I would not associate one with the other, you know? That’s how I feel about it. People go there for the scariness, and what’s happening in the Far East is entirely different.”
According to a Busch Gardens, the props in this year’s event were designed and purchased several months ago, before the ISIS beheadings. Despite that, a park spokesman said some of the props have the unintended consequence of appearing insensitive and are being removed.
“I think it was good that they pulled it,” Bond said. “I think it was out of order and insensitive to public sentiment. So, I’m glad they responded.”
The full statement from Busch Gardens is as follows:
Many of the scenes depicted at Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream are graphic in nature, but they are fictional and are not intended to provide commentary on current world events. The props in this year’s event were designed and purchased several months ago. In light of recent events, some of these props have the unintended consequence of appearing insensitive and are being removed. Busch Gardens apologizes for any offense they may have caused.
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