Opening Weekend Part 1: Presentations and the Food & Wine Festival

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I was going to post everything I have gotten this weekend at once but there is, quite simply, way too much content. Instead I’m going to break down everything from this weekend into two or three separate posts. This first post contains all four of the presentation videos and a ton of new information on the upcoming Food & Wine Festival. Enjoy!

Pass Member Preview Day Announcements

As mentioned in the previous post, Busch Gardens Williamsburg announced that they’d be hosting four presentations done by various members of the park’s leadership in Das Festhaus and The Globe Theater throughout the day on Saturday. While it took a ton of running back and forth, I did manage to film each and every one of the presentations. Each speech video will be included below with a quick summary of what was said for anyone who doesn’t have the time to sit through the full videos.

Park Presedent: Carl Lum

This is, most likely, the least interesting of all the presentations. That’s not to say Carl isn’t a talented speaker (because he most certainly his); however, Mr. Lum’s talk basically consists of a recap of the off-season and a little concert information. If you read BGWFans on a regular basis, there’s a very good chance you’ve already read all of what he talks about here. If you’re going to skip one, skip this one.


Important Points

Vice President of Entertainment: Scott Gasparich

As is normal for Scott, he hit this presentation out of the park. I, like many others, have disagreed with nearly every major change Scott Gasparich has made during his time at the park; however, I’m consistently impressed by his passion for the work he does and, at the end of the day, I’d much rather have someone who really does care about the things they’re making regardless of whether I enjoy them or not. In his talk, Scott does a great job of delving into what his and his team’s goals and aspirations are and the basis behind said goals. Similar to his presentation at Pass Member Appreciation Weekend last year, he was one of the few people who didn’t seem to have been given a script to read from full of marketing jargon and the like. He seemed to acknowledged that anyone who was nerdy enough to be at his presentation clearly knew what the park was doing and would likely be more interested in the thought-process that happens behind closed doors. Even though there’s no ground-breaking new information, Scott’s speech is well worth a listen.


Important Points

Vice President of Culinary Operations: Franz Kitenko

Though he has held two different Vice President positions at the park over the past few years, Franz Kitenko isn’t a name you often hear tossed around in the community. Believe it or not, Franz actually started as Vice President of Cullinary Operations back in 1993. In 2006, he moved to fill the position of VP of Merchandise but now, for 2013, he’s once again back as the head of Cullinary Ops. Anyway, Mr. Kitenko gave the only speech that really announced news we hadn’t heard about prior to Pass Member Preview day. If you have any interest whatsoever in the Food & Wine Festival, you should defiantly watch this one.


Important Points

Manager of Zoological Operations: Jay Tacey

It’s very rare that we get to hear directly from the zoological department at the park. In the past, the marketing department has always seemed to enjoy marching the park’s animals out into the crowd as they tell you about their latest buy this, get that free deal, but you very rarely get to hear from the people responsible for the park’s animal attractions. I absolutely love that Jay Tracey was given a nice chunk of the spotlight this time around and, even better, that he actually had some very interesting things to talk about. There weren’t any massive announcements made but he did a great job of running down the list of what his department had done over the off-season. I think my summary basically points out all the actual bits of information in his speech but, if you have the time, his talk is still very much worth a listen.

Also, just as a note: Jay’s talk goes till about the 12 minute point in the video below. He was immediately followed by Brad Elsass whose talk will be covered immediately following this section.


Important Points

Director of Merchandise: Brad Elsass

Brad Elsass is yet another important person at the park that gets very little screen time during the park’s normal press events. Additionally, his department has, arguably, been the one that has made the largest leap in quality this season. With three major shop overhauls and new products all over the place, it looks as though they’ve been quite busy while we’ve been away. With that said, though his presentation was good, this is another one you can pass up without missing anything all that important. Pretty much everything he had to talk about on Saturday was already out there in the open for us to see and even then, there was nothing truly shocking about it.

NOTE: Brad’s speech begins around eleven and a half minutes into the video below.


Important Points

Food & Wine Festival

After the park’s long reign of silence about their upcoming Food & Wine Festival they’ve suddenly decided to dump everything out there with a shockingly low amount of fanfare. Anyway, the content on the park’s site is rather annoying to navigate so we’ve included the basics below. For the full information provided by the park, check out the official event page for it here. If you’d like a summary of what we know thus far, feel free to continue reading below the map.


Over the weekend the park officially launched the website for the Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food & Wine Festival. On it they’ve included a map of all the stations, a list of the countries that will be represented, and menus for the majority of the kiosks. As you can see on the map above, the countries represented in the event include six of the seven countries with dedicated hamlets at the park (Scotland, Ireland, France, Canada, Germany, and Italy- excluding England) as well as five additional countries that are not normally represented at the park (Scandinavia, Belgium, Austria, Spain, and Greece). With so many vastly different locations to represent it’s going to be very interesting to see just how much theming they’ll try to pull off- if any. And now, here are the menus that have been posted so far:


Prior to all of this being posted, I honestly didn’t have high expectations for the event but after seeing all this? I’m absurdly excited. It looks like they’ve put an absolute ton of work into it and I’m anxious to see how the park pulls off what is bound to be a very high-class event.

If everything posted above isn’t enough for you, I have good news: There’s even more. Below I’ve collected all the Food & Wine Festival information from the videos above and summarized it all up into a nice, simple list.

Important Food & Wine Festival Information from the Presentations

Told you there was a ton of content. Anyway, if you’d like to discuss anything you’ve seen above there’s active threads dedicated to basically all of the topics at hand on the ParkFans Forum, here. Of particular interest may be the Food & Wine Festival thread, here.