How about a two-part update from Busch Gardens this week? First, we'll take a look at how much progress they've made on InvadR; second, I'll take you on a little tour of Christmas Town. Sound OK?
The park's first wooden coaster is really taking shape now. They've been working on the themed area around the station, done a lot of work on both sides of the railroad tracks, and have made a lot of progress on the lift hill, which goes over LeScoot (the log flume). You can get a good look at the construction from the train, but they put up lath on one side of the Alpengeist bridge (they do this every year during Christmas Town). It makes it tricky to get good photos from there now.
Let's have a look.
Welcome to BGW's Christmas Town, where you can . . .
. . . do your weekly produce shopping? (The onions and potatoes are real, but the carrots are plastic.) More on the park's yuletide event later.
For now, let's take a little train ride.
Not reindeer. Sorry.
Hello, what's this? Looks like we're entering the InvadR construction zone.
Remember that tunnel? It now has quite a bit of track.
Looks like it'll go over the railroad tracks about here (on the right side of the train).
Here's a hill on the left side of the train.
This section looks very close to the train tracks.
Another look at the tunnel section.
Looks like the return to the station.
Here's the lift hill, which looks very close to Le Scoot.
I like the nice sweeping curve and drop here.
From the last car of the train in the Caribou station.
Watch out for that caboose!
Looks like they've already starting painting the "fort."
After making a careful examination through the peephole in the construction wall, I deduce that someone on the crew likes Fanta. They've added to the station a bit, too.
The station has its own little Christmas tree.
Here's a wider look at what I presume will be the entrance to the queue at some point.
Let's check out the view from the bridge. This deer is very excited.
Why, those sneaky devils! Lath!
But where there's a will, there a way. Here's a look back at the station and approach to the lift hill.
Here's a closer look.
The drop on the other side of the tracks (complete with train) from the bridge. That's all for InvadR. On to Christmas Town!
As usual, BGW looks beautiful during Christmas Town. The park boasts "over eight million Christmas lights," and while I didn't take time to count them all, I'll take their word for it. (I hate to be the poor guy that has to find that one loose bulb, should the park ever go dark.)
So, what's new at Christmas Town this year? Like the other Busch/SeaWorld parks, BGW has added Rudolph's Winter Wonderland--a meet-and-greet with characters from the classic TV special. It's located in Apollo's Chariot's queue in Holiday Hills (aka Festa Italia), and it draws quite a line. Being as I was on my own last Sunday, I didn't check it out. It is part of Quick Queue if you want to skip the line. Forest of Fun is open for the first time this year during Christmas Town, and it features plenty of Christmas trees. You can also ride both Tempesto and Verbolten, along with the rest of the park's flats, the Flight of Lights skyride, and Nacht Tower (aka Mach Tower in elevator mode).
The shows are back, too: Twas the Night (ice show) in France, Gloria (religious show) in Ireland, Scrooge No More (Dickens, of course) in England, Miracles (sort of religious show) in Italy, and O'Tannenbaum (music and lights) and Deck the Halls (old-style Christmas TV special) in Germany.
Ready for an overdose of Christmas cheer?
I got off the train and hoofed it into France.
France is themed to the "Twelve Days of Christmas" this time of year; this year's tree is fancier than last year's (well, this is France, you know).
The path to Ireland is lined with green-lighted trees and luminaria.
This wolf was so excited for Christmas that it ran around like a maniac that night.
They've changed the decorations in Ireland. The old "shamrock" lights have been replaced with pine garlands festooned with pine cones and cranberries. They're a bit more subdued.
I like Ireland's Christmas tree.
Here's a closer look at the tree's old-school decorations.
The Jack-o-Lanterns of Howl-o-Scream are gone in favor of these star-filled globes.
Here's a look at one up close.
I think the Scottish Highland Cow prefers the colder weather of December to the heat and humidity of summer.
Forest of Fun's water play area is now filled with Christmas trees.
"Skillet Cookies"? You intrigue me.
Ice cream makes a skillet cookie even more intriguing.
I love the decorations here. Reminds me of my hometown back in the ancient times--only we didn't have Tempesto.
Then again, Holiday Hills probably looks better.
The entrance to Rudolph's Winter Wonderland.
I didn't venture in because 1) there was a huge line, and 2) I was on my own that night, so it would've been creepy. ;)
Never let Herbie the Elf pound on your molars.
I'm sure Rudolph runs a clean game.
Where there is Christmas Town, there is a gift shop. Or two. Or more.
All this and more can be yours!
Santa Claus: The Arrogance of Power.
Tremble before the power of the Claus! Watch as he makes the tree behind him burst into flame by using his mind!
I remember burning my fingers on huge bulbs like this when I was a kid.
Gold and silver are the decorative motif in Italy. So elegant, so dignified, so beautiful . . .
. . . er, stay classy, BGW guests.
What's happening in Germany?
Well, you can help Santa climb out of his chimney by spraying him with a squirt gun.
You can watch O' Tannebaum (music and synchronized lights) in front of the Festhaus.
Perhaps you'd like to buy your very own ugly Christmas sweater . . .
. . . or ask Santa to bring you one on Christmas Eve.
I bought the Scotland ornament. I usually buy one new ornament per year at Christmas Town.
It would't be Christmas Town without Creepy the Elf.
More of the silver and gold in Italy. Why isn't Yukon Cornelius prospecting here?
The Polar Pathway (Escape from Pompeii) is the park's single most spectacular display.
Hard to believe it was infested with homicidal zombies just over a month ago.
On the way out, I caught Scrooge No More. I think it's the best of the park's Christmas shows. I'm a sucker for Dickens's "A Christmas Carol."
^They have all sorts of cocktails--along with the usual hot chocolate. Cobblestone Ale and Spirits is a bar in England, which features Sam Adams Fezziwig (their seasonal brew). I had a nice steak sandwich at the Festhaus, and the griddle cookie with ice cream (Forest of Fun) was delicious. I might try their smoked ham dinner next time (it's at the Trappers Smokehouse).
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