cfc wrote:Thanks for the Bier Fest report. I had commitments both weekends and couldn't attend, but definitely will next year (I hope they expand it).
When I saw that you were at WCB my first thought was "Chuck might not have had a chance to get to Bier Fest to do a trip report so <sigh> I guess that I will have to bite the bullet and post my photos instead."
I always look forward to your trip reports with your funny captions...as do many others. Hope to see one for the Halloween event!
I attended Howl-o-Scream yesterday on opening night and just wanted to share my brief impressions of the mazes! (I also met Chuck at the front of the line of Unearthed!) I'll go from favorite to least favorite.
Cut Throat Cove: This house is just all around really good. It has great theming, plenty of actors, and is quite lengthy. It had one of the longest lines of the night (which wasn't very long because rain scared everyone away), but was well worth the wait.
Cornered: What a pleasant surprise! This was a HUGE upgrade from Root of all Evil. The theming was quite interesting and it was loaded with actors. It ranks high mainly because it is a massive improvement and a solid maze.
Bitten: This may be ranked high just for sentimental reasons. I have always liked Bitten since it was introduced and I still do now. However, I wish they would connect the mazes behind Das Festhaus like they used to! For some regulars of BGW, the house may be getting a bit old and in need for an upgrade.
Lumberhack: This was a good new house with great actors but some major flaws. First off, to even reach the house you have to go around the Festhaus for a trip that may require packing snacks. Secondly, the entrance of the house crossed with the exit and the attendants couldn't figure out who was going in and who was leaving. Thirdly, it is really short. However, I really liked how open the maze was in contrast to the others and the theming was quite neat. I also like that they are using a new area, though it needs a new entrance route; It has a lot of potential. This would be a great area to link with Bitten, but the theming doesn't match very well . . .
Deadline: While newcomers may enjoy this maze, it has worn off on me quite quickly. It is very well themed but relies heavily on gimmicky effects. I am also over zombies. Unlike Bitten, I will not be too upset when this gets upgraded.
Catacombs: Short, not many actors, and getting old as well. Just blehh
Unearthed: Big disappointment . . . I guess it is better than Thirteen, but not by much. There seemed to be very few actors with long stretches of just walking. They utilized the EITA screens for a spinning vortex video-thing, but it was so out of place with all of the ride mechanical features around. A hanging Scarlett in the corner was just cheezy. I probably wouldn't rank this lowest if it wasn't so hyped up, but alas it was. Lumberhack and Cornered were much better in my opinion. On a positive note, it had a quite well themed queue right before the maze entrance, though this makes you even more disappointed when you go in the maze.
Overall, I had a great time with little to no waits. My roommate and I even sneaked in two walk-ons on Tempesto with one ride in the front seat. Most of the mazes were high quality and make the visit very much worth it. I didn't pay too much attention to the zones, partly because there were not many actors. I am assuming this is because of the low park attendance. I am interested to find out what everyone else thought of the houses!
Windy, rainy conditions provided appropriately spooky opening-night atmosphere for Howl-o-Scream 2015 at Busch Gardens Williamsburg on Friday, September 25. You know that fall has finally arrived in Virginia when the park kicks off this event.
So, what’s new this year? If you were looking forward to 13: Your Number’s Up or The Root of All Evil mazes this year, you may be disappointed. But the park has replaced them with three new mazes; one is a true stand out, and the others are pretty good, but could get better as the season moves on.
Here are my thoughts on the mazes.
Unearthed--Scarlett’s Revenge (new; Europe in the Air building, Ireland): This is the best maze the park has done in years. Some very nice sets back up an interesting premise. An ancient house is found during a dig at the park. Of course, there is a terrible curse, and a demonic witch (Scarlett) out for revenge against those who tormented her and killed her husband; her plan requires lots of body parts and tarot cards. The maze’s premise makes sense in Williamsburg, as new construction projects are sometimes held up when excavations uncover the foundation of some 17th- or 18th-century house. Scarlett is also the “icon” for this year’s event (as I presume she is at Tampa), and she’s available for photos--and her minions are around to sell “Scarlett’s Potion,” the main ingredient of which seems to be vodka. That being said, Unearthed, like the mazes that came before it in this building, is weakest toward the end, when they use the narrow, stone-lined corridor of the Europe in the Air queue. They space out giant tarot cards there, which serve as hidey holes for scareactors. In Friday, there were only two monsters in the corridor; however, when I went through with friends again on Saturday night, they used all the cards to scare guests. But the corridor still looks a bit bare.
Dead Line (Escape from Pompeii, Italy): Watch out for dangerous psychopaths when you ride the Pompeii Subway System. This returning maze has great sets, including a particularly disgusting public toilet, and lots of good scares.
Catacombs (Palace Royale Theatre, France): I’ve always been rather fond of this tour of the Necropolis of the Undead under Paris. Sure, all the monsters look alike, but the maze has great atmosphere, and I think the park reconfigured the layout a bit for this year.
Lumberhack (new; located in the woods behind Verbolten in Germany): This forest of “zombie” lumberjacks with axes and chain saws has some potential. The woods are pretty creepy after dark, and there are plenty of places for the monsters to hide. On Friday, the footbridge section toward the end was pretty weak. But when I went through it again on Saturday night, there was a lot more scaring going on along that bridge (like I said, there’s potential here).
Cornered (new; backstage area in Germany): Seems like some local corn farmers, the McCobb family (Get it? “Macabre”?), have been up to no good. They also seem a bit homicidal and a touch inbred. This is a standard “haunt” premise, but this mostly outdoor maze is amusing--the “corn-mirror-maze” section is pretty effective after dark.
Bitten (near the Black Forest picnic area to the left of the Festhaus, Germany): This is the oldest HOS maze and a bit long in the tooth (pun intended). That being said, it’s fun, and at least the vampires don’t “sparkle.”
Cut Throat Cove (Festa Italia): Arr! Get stalked by scurvy pirates! I was chatting with someone who summed this maze up perfectly by saying it’s their evil-clown maze, only with pirates. Reasonably fun, with some strong moments, but there is a long stretch where not much happens. (Again, this one might improve as the season grinds on.)
Last year’s “TERROR-Tories” (aka, “scare zones”) are back. You can still cower from slashers, bobbies, and harlots on Ripper Row (England); get down with your bad self and chain-saw-wielding demons on Demon Street (France); suffer harassment from diseased soldiers and officers in Wendigo Woods (New France); get sucked dry by the undead in Vampire Point (Germany); and be accosted by scalawags at Ports of Skull.
As for the shows, Monster Stomp on Ripper Row (England) is probably your best bet. Fiends (Ireland) and Night Beats (Festhaus) are back, too. And they’re still serving up a tasty buffet at the Vampire Point Hotel’s Blood Banquet.
Here’s a look at HOS.
Revenge? What did I ever do to her? Sheesh, some people are so vindictive.
Oh, I see. She must've been selling herbal supplements without a proper permit out of her home.
I like how the tarot cards refer to other mazes or TERROR-tories at HOS. Even a past icon, Jack, is featured. Of course, there's not a card for deranged corn farmers or lumberjacks, so maybe my theory is nonsense.
Hmm--not a lot of space. Is this Scarlett's summer cottage?
Here's what you'll be getting yourself into.
HOS starts at 6:00 pm, but I got there a little early. It was weird hearing upbeat 1960s British pop music amid all the gore of Ripper Row.
"I wanna hold your h-a-n-n-n-n-n-d!"
"There's a kind of hush/All over the world tonight . . ."
I've always liked the Jack-o-Lanterns they hang over Scotland. Now if they only had the Scotch-tasting booth from Food & Wine here, it would be perfect.
Nice hat. You're rockin' that look.
Oh, lord, we've all met this guy on the Internet, haven't we?
So, what does Scarlett have to offer at her house?
Herbal Viagra, perhaps?
When Scarlett's minions aren't posing for pictures or tempting you with tasty beverages, they're trying to slice off your limbs and hang them on the walls.
Regular queue is on the left, Quick Queue on the right.
HOS creative meeting: "Let's see . . . hmm . . . how about American Underground Research Archaeology? Yes! Cool acronym achieved!"
'YOU KILLED MY EDGAR! I WILL HAVE MY VENGEANCE! TAKE A PICTURE WITH ME!"
Here's a selfie I took after touring Scarlett's house. I guess the experience changed me a bit.
Gulp! The Black Widow! Looks like Alice Cooper was right--we're all just "humanary stew" (whatever the hell that means).
A wee tribute to the recently departed Wes Craven on the path between Ireland and France.
Here's your chance to dance till you drop--or get burned alive--on Demon Street.
"I remember when they used to put me at the entrance to the parking lot. Being in here sure beats breathing in exhaust fumes all day."
"I'm a demon with a chain saw. Any questions?"
Here's the entrance to the Catacombs--an old maze, but a good one (at least to me).
"Wanna be a permanent Catacombs resident? Ask me about our recruitment program!" More to come from HOS.
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