Photo TR: Hard Hat Tour of Busch Gardens' Forest of Fun

From Petting Zoo to Howl-o-Scream to Sesame Street
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Photo TR: Hard Hat Tour of Busch Gardens' Forest of Fun

Postby cfc » Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:31 pm

Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., gave the world a sneak peek at its newest land, the Sesame Street Forest of Fun (FOF), during a hard hat tour for the media today. FOF is the newest of what Busch calls its "KIDsiderate" attractions, and it's shaping up to be a excellent addition to the park--a heavily themed "European" version of Sesame Street with "kid-sized" versions of classic rides that the whole family can enjoy, in addition to wet-and-dry play areas and, of course, classic characters like Bert and Ernie, Grover, and Elmo.

FOF represents a "natural partnership between two iconic brands," said John Reilly, the park's general manager, at a brief ceremony in the lobby of the Globe Theatre in England--that is, Busch Gardens and Sesame Street (courtesy of the Children's Television Workshop).

The Sesame Street characters will be hanging their hats (well, if they have hats) in what used to be the Royal Preserve petting zoo, and the home of two Howl-o-Scream mazes, in years' past. And the park's creative team has managed to cram quite a bit into a fairly small space. Here's what guests will find in the Forest of Fun:

Elmo's Castle--a performance stage and wet playground
Prince Elmo's Spire--a "shot-n-drop" ride for the whole family
Grover's Alpine Express--a family-friendly roller coaster themed to a trip through the Alps
Bert and Ernie's Loch Ness Adventure--a flume ride for parents and kids
Oscar's Whirly Worms--a family-friendly "rock-n-tug" ride
Oscar's Yucky Forest--a dry play area
1-2-3 Smile with Me!--a character and guest photography studio
Abby Cadabby's Treasure Trove--a gift shop (yes, you knew that was coming ;) )

In addition, the Globe Theatre will be "taken over by Sesame Street's furry friends" in Sesame Street Presents Lights, Camera, Imagination, a 4D movie that replaces (and some would say it's about time) Pirates 4D. I'm pretty sure this is same 4D flick that I saw at Universal Osaka in 2007--it probably makes as much sense in Japanese as it does in English. (I rather enjoyed it.) And, yes, water effects will come into play during the feature, so be prepared. I think adults and kids will get a kick out of the show.

Another show that's departing to make way for Elmo and his friends is Castle O'Sullivan. Yes, the castle is being transformed into a dining venue for Sesame Street character breakfasts and lunches. (So, if you missed seeing the little plastic leprechaun last year, too bad.)

The park's other kids area, Land of the Dragons, will, of course, remain in operation, as will the other kids' rides located throughout the park.

Sesame Street Presents Lights, Camera, Imagination and the character meals will debut on the park's opening day--Saturday, March 28. The Sesame Street Forest of Fun will open on Friday, April 3.

The Forest of Fun is located in England behind the sky ride; there's an entrance across from the Escape from Pompeii, too. Let's take a look, shall we?
FOF 01.jpg
April 3, to be precise.
FOF 02.jpg
Boy, the park is dead today . . . oh, wait.
FOF 03.jpg
Looks like I'm on the right track. The Sesame Street music blasting through the loudspeakers gave me another subtle hint.
FOF 04.jpg
First stop, the lobby of the Globe Theatre.
FOF 05.jpg
"Yeah, you punks are gonna love my yucky trees, poison ivy, carnivorous bees--heh, heh, heh!"
FOF 06.jpg
"Yeah, ol' Oscar's got ya covered in yuckiness here. The Virginia humidity will make it all the sweeter!"
FOF 07.jpg
"Aren't we adorable? Couldn't you just buy all of us right now?"
FOF 08.jpg
Time to get this show on the road.
FOF 09.jpg
BG's general manager, John Reilly, introduced the Forest of Fun's "creative team."
FOF 10.jpg
Bert, Ernie, and . . .
FOF 11.jpg
. . . Larry! (I don't know if you can have your picture taken with Larry, nor does he have his own theme song. There wasn't a plush doll of him either.)
FOF 12.jpg
OK, everybody follow Bert and Ernie, but remember . . .
FOF 13.jpg
. . . safety first!
FOF 14.jpg
I always do what big rubberheads tell me to do. (I'm undergoing therapy for this, and I'm doing much better, thank you.)
FOF 15.jpg
Off to the work-in-progress Forest of Fun.
FOF 16.jpg
Unlike his two silent partners, Larry Giles (vp of engineering and design) was quite happy to talk about BG's new "European Sesame land." Oscar's Yucky Forest will be on the left.
FOF 17.jpg
The green tower is Prince Elmo's Spire.
FOF 18.jpg
This is Elmo's Castle. Sesame Street characters will periodically pop-up on this stage to dance, jump around, and generally terrify small children.
FOF 19.jpg
Best not stand under this unless you're wearing a rain slicker.
FOF 20.jpg
Here's where Bert and Ernie's version of "Loch Ness" will be. Riders will cruise around a small castle and be eaten by an enormous primeval beast. (Sorry--no interlocking loops.)
FOF 20a.jpg
Here's another look at the front portion of the Forest of Fun. Now, on to what you really came to see.
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Postby cfc » Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:59 pm

Hang on to your hernia belts, coaster dorks--here's a look at a new kiddie credit!

That is, if the park isn't really busy. Yes, they are planning to "discourage" adults without kids from riding on busy days to give families and kids a chance. So, be patient, credit whores!

A couple of other bits of news: FOF is going to have ample seating, with ample shade, for parents to relax and watch their kids play. There are "two or three levels" of theming to be applied, and landscaping is supposed to begin in earnest this Monday.
FOF 21.jpg
Behold! Grover's Alpine Express!
FOF 22.jpg
Larry assured us that this ride will have a "unique layout." It does have two "Helixes of Death"! It will also have some "mountains," as well as . . .
FOF 24.jpg
. . . Grover in the front car!
FOF 25.jpg
"Touch my ride, geek! You know you want to!"
FOF 23.jpg
"Yessir, Mr. Grover, sir! I'm a' touchin'!"
FOF 26.jpg
Here are a few pictures for all you train fetishists.
FOF 27.jpg
Picture your butt in this seat.
FOF 28.jpg
Or in this one.
FOF 29.jpg
Oh, God, that's a nice pair you have there . . .
FOF 30.jpg
The station is coming along nicely.
FOF 32.jpg
I wonder if I can get this guy to hang a ceiling fan in my computer room?
FOF 31.jpg
Another look at the station. Yes. It really is. That's all.
FOF 33.jpg
When it's all done, it should look like this. Only with track coming out of either end. And with more dimensions.
FOF 34.jpg
And now, in a TPR exclusive, I take you inside a "Helix of Death"! Imagine a train zooming by, under the menacing shadow of Pompeii!
FOF 35.jpg
And here is a "Helix of Death" taken from inside another "Helix of Death"! Yes, I risked life and limb today to get these exclusive pictures for you!
FOF 36.jpg
Phew! That was rather stressful! Time to kick back.
FOF 37.jpg
A few last looks at the Forest of Fun as we head back to the Globe for lunch.
FOF 38.jpg
See you in April, Forest of Fun.
FOF 39.jpg
Of course, we hardworking construction guys always carry lunchboxes.
FOF 40.jpg
Hmm--looks frightfully healthy.
FOF 41.jpg
At least I have plenty of mayo for my little turkey wrap sandwich, eh Tyler?
FOF 42.jpg
"Er, I'm sorry, Bert. But that TPR guy got the last lunch"
FOF 43.jpg
That's all for now. See you at the end of March, Griffon and Alpengeist. Thanks for reading.
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Postby coasterking2981 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:29 pm

Looks good :)

What's the situation now concerning Busch looking for someone to buy the parks (from what I can recall last reading about it on Screamscape)?

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Postby Shavethewhales » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:37 pm

I'm impressed! There's a lot more there than I thought there would be, and Grover's Alpine Express looks better than I had imagined.

I honestly think I will appreciate this area more than many of the kids.

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Postby downunder » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:38 pm

All those hard hats I thought the Village People had made a cattle call for a new contruction worker.

Larry was sensational on the TPR Kurse of Darkastle tour, love his work.

Now the race is on, which TPR member will get the credit first?

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Postby griffon » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:43 pm

Wow, man, I'm really starting to doubt this as a credit possibility...
fof_27_116.jpg
Something about the way that plastic seat is moulded really concerns me...

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Postby JimmyBo » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:23 pm

Pretty sweet stuff Chuck. Looks like I gotta get my butt back to Busch Gardens one of these days. I haven't been there in awhile and now I have two credits to get there!

That's pretty awesome you got to use the track as a Lazy Boy for a couple minutes!

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Postby themeparkman25 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:42 pm

Does Zierer make good coasters? I cannot say I have ever ridden one before?

Overall those this section of the park looks fantastic and will make a great addition to the park for kids! Will it be ready for opening day?

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Postby coasterdude5 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:54 pm

Nice pictures, the area looks pretty cool. It's funny they've got that cruise ride going in there, isn't there a similar one in the Land of Dragons area?
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Postby pkdcoaster » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:55 pm

Thanks for the update Chuck, Aidan will be excited he will get at least one new credit this year. =)

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