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It looks like after years of providing Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s visitors with the most subpar in-park experience possible, Festa Italia, the park’s neglected red-headed stepchild of a hamlet is finally going to receive some love. Today Busch Gardens Williamsburg filed a permit for a “new attraction with height of 156 feet” with the title “Busch Gardens Festa Italia Expansion.” Said permit can be found below.
See Update #1 at the end of this post for more information.
Now, for anyone not following along at home, this comes after a long string of interesting activity around the Festa Italia hamlet. It all started nearly two months ago when the park conducted a line of sight test over the Italian-themed areas of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Following that rather odd occurrence, the rumor mill started churning. Whispers of an unknown attraction for 2014 or 2015 began to be heard from little birdies all around the park and suddenly everyone had their fingers crossed for a surprise attraction announcement at this year’s Pass Member Appreciation Weekend presentation.
Unfortunately, Pass Member Appreciation Weekend came and went without even a hint that there was a large project on the horizon for the park. Immediately following the annual announcement event, everything went silent. No one (including myself) seemed to know what was going on. Then, suddenly, out of the blue, this weekend guests were greeted with an interesting sight upon walking into Festa Italia: Utilities markings had shown up all over a massive chunk of the hamlet. Though I won’t be mapping each dot, I’ve created the map below to show the areas where they could be found on Sunday:
Naturally, utilities markings on such a large scale peaked the interest of a lot of people on our forum and, luckily, it turned out that we didn’t need to wait long for the next clue to roll in. Tonight one of our forum members, Party Rocker, found evidence that the park was conducting soil tests within a 50 foot radius of Il Teatro di San Marco. What does a 50 foot radius around San Marco’s theater look like? I have a map for that.
As you can see from that map, the only part of that radius that’s at all interesting is the Festa Italia-side which encompases a steep embankment down to a small offshoot of the Rhine River- one that is strikingly reminiscent of the one Verbolten utilizes just across the river. If soil testing is occurring there, one has to assume the park plans to build something there. Anyway, within hours of the soil testing news breaking, the permit mentioned above showed up in the James City County permit database confirming our mounting suspicions that something major was about to happen on the Italian-themed side of the Rhine River Bridge.
So now that brings us to the point where the permit itself (seen above) was discovered. What all can be gleaned from that permit? Unfortunately, other than the total height and elevation information, not much. Typically we end up getting a ton more information out of the actual Planning Commission meetings when these things come up for approval though so hopefully we’ll know more fairly soon.
We’ve managed to obtain the full permit application! Check out Update #2 for more information.
Anyway, I’ll avoid too much speculation here as everything is still very early but I welcome you to share your own thoughts (or just read those of other’s) on our already very active forum thread about the project here. As always, to stay up to date on this and anything else the future holds for the park, by all means, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and stay tuned for more information. We’ll have it eventually.
Oddly enough Busch Gardens Williamsburg has updated their permit application and reworded the title from “Busch Gardens Festa Italia Expansion” to ”Busch Gardens 2015 Festa Italia Attraction.” Perhaps this is an attempt to nullify the potentially unrealistic expectations for a physical hamlet expansion that the original permit title was creating? I’m honestly not sure but regardless, it’s quite a strange turn of events if you ask me. Anyway, the new permit can be found below.
In addition to the name change, you may also notice that the area for “Water Conservation Agreement Required” has changed from “Unknown” to “No.” This would seem to indicate that this new attraction will be little to no interaction with the Rhine River. Fortunately one bit of good news can be gleaned from the name change: It confirms that whatever this attraction is, we’ll see it appear in 2015.
Shane, one of the ParkFans Network admins, has managed to obtain the entire permit application which was submitted to the James City County Planning Commission on the 7th. We’ll likely do a more detailed analysis of what all it reveals soon, but for now, here’s the original permit filing in its entirety.
More updates are on the way. Stay Tuned…