This trip report was done by Shafor in our FORUMS and covers the first couple days of the new event.
11/28/09:
We got there @ 3. First thing to note, no preferred parking. We usually pay the extra $6 to park up front, but they said they weren’t doing any preferred parking at all for CT. Not an issue at that point because there weren’t that many people there. From talking to some people inside it seems that not many were aware of the hours change and most arrived at 4 instead of 3. I’m guessing the lot filled up later on and people had to use the tram.
The good, bad and ugly from inside the park.
The good:
Park looked incredible after dark! Great atmosphere, the lights and decorations were awesome.
They did a great job (as usual) with the theme. The North Pole area was cool, as well as the outdoor market place in Octoberfest.
Lots of new food and good deals in the gift shop. They had a coffee mug (I think $3?) that you could refill with hot chocolate all night for $.99.
The rides were dead. We went to Griffon at the beginning of the night, again around 6:30 and again around 9 and rode it several times each. Zero people in line each time. Got to walk right on. Same w/DarKastle. Even the kiddie rides were dead. The only ride we saw any kind of line on all night was the swings (go figure?).
They had outdoor heaters, which were a nice touch with the cold. I would have never thought of that.
The bad:
Crowded. Very crowded. They had the bridge blocked off by BBW and the path by the train in Scotland. That left the only path around the park through Ireland, France and Germany. Train was running, but not Skyride (not sure if the Rhine River crossing was open or not?). Without being able to circle the park you kind of felt trapped in one area. We’re used to looping the park 5 or 6 times when we’re they. Because it was so crowded on the paths, we didn’t get around like we normally do and I felt like missed out on a lot. We noticed on the way out that the barrier was down by the Scotland train, so maybe by the end of the night you were able to circle the park.
Because of the cold, and lack of places to go, the show areas were packed. I’m not waiting an hour to see a show. We never made our way back to Ireland for the show there because we didn’t want to battle the crowds on the path. We took the train from New France to Scotland at the end of the night. The Festhaus was so crowded all night that it was basically shut down. They were letting people in in small groups at the door as other people would leave. (Hint: you can sneak in through the bathrooms). We didn’t get to see the show there. The line for food, literally (not joking), started at the front door!
There were two live penguins in the penguin “show” (’nuff said). Keep that in mind as you’re waiting in a 30 minute line.

The ugly:
The park stunk. I think they were piping in some “seasonal” scent or something, but ewwww. I thought the smell was terrible and I couldn’t escape it all night (although it didn’t seem to bother my family that much).
All in all, we had fun, but not sure if it’s worth going back. We planned on getting the 3-day pass and going again Christmas week. We’ll have to keep thinking about that. Not sure if it’s worth the $100 in ticket price for the family.
Looking forward to hearing other some other reports!

11/29/09:
Ok, day 2 was much better than day 1. It was not as crowded. I suspect tonight will be even better.
We took the train around the park @ 7-ish and noticed that the Battering Ram was open in Italy. So when we got off, we went to check it out. Indeed they had pulled some of the trees aside (but didn’t remove them completely) that were blocking the paths to Italy. There were some decorations, the Battering Ram, Flying Machine, Balloons, and Gliders were all running. The coffee shop and bathrooms by the theater were open and they had some of the street musicians that were performing in New France moved to Italy wearing San Marco garb. Festa Italia was blocked off.
We asked the employees what was up and they said that the plan was to partially only open Italy if needed due to crowd size. So it will be closed when the park opens, but if the crowds get too big, they’ll open it up in that limited capacity. I asked if that was the backup plan all along and they said it was not. Basically, Friday was so overwhelming they scrambled on Saturday morning to decorate/set up Italy so they could use it if necessary.
Lines for the rides were still light. Very short wait at Griffon and DarKastle (interesting note: they turned the water spray off at the end of Darkastle, employee there said people complained Friday night about getting wet and having to go back into the cold.) Corkscrew Hill was closed for repairs when we went by.
The two biggest negatives (I hate to be negative, but…) are the Festhaus and the penguins. The Festhaus is just ridiculous. It’s so crowded you can barely get near it. The penguins are, well, I actually feel a little embarrassed for the park by it. They moved the entrance from by the train tracks over to the other theater entrance (next to the bathrooms) and the wait was 45 minutes when we went by. Keep in mind, there are TWO penguins sitting in a glass enclosure at the very end of the walk through. People are expecting dozens of penguins wearing scarves and puffball hats, like doing some sycronized ice skating or something. The let down is just tremendous (particularly given the wait). Just watch the looks on people’s faces as they exit.
My advice: get there early (3-3:30), run to the penguins before there is a line just to check it out for yourself, and then jet to the 4:30 show @ the Festhaus. Otherwise, be prepared to wait in long lines for both.
Have fun!
Oh, and again, New France smokehouse is definitely the place to eat. The foods rocks, it’s not crowded at all , and there’s plenty of heated indoor/tented seating.
(and the funky smell seemed to clear up)

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