Sorry about the static nature of the homepage lately. Between things going on in my personal life and with the site, I’ve had my hands full. Anyway, we have a massive update for you today including a huge IllumiNights recap, a Howl-O-Scream construction update, pictures of adorable wolf pups, video of the new version of Entwined, and more. Enjoy!
Normally this is something I’d like to have up on the first week or two of an event but it didn’t work out that way this time around.
The Legend of Killarney
Legend of Killarney has been around since IllumiNights debuted back in 2010 and has remained, more or less, unchanged. The show takes place on a small raised platform in the center of Ireland with additional characters and effects appearing on the roofs of the neighboring buildings. Unlike the other shows, particularly Voila! and Giardino Magico, there is a pretty good amount of guest interaction and you can really tell that the show is aimed at a younger audience than some of the other IllumiNights shows.
France’s IllumiNights show from last year returns again this year with some rather major changes. Last year, the show’s main spectacle was the chair stacking acrobat. This year, his chair stacking act has been replaced with some gymnastics and various other tricks on some sort of ladder. Overall, I think it’s a solid show that surpasses last year’s version by a considerable amount. Though it lacks the guest interaction that you see from both Legend of Killarney and Wunderbarn, I can still see younger audiences being captivated by the juggling and whatnot in the show.
This year’s new IllumiNights show, Wunderbarn, is replacing an the original Oktoberfest IllumiNights show, Clocktoberfest. Honestly, I feel both Wunderbarn and Clocktoberfest have quite a bit in common. They’re both clearly geared towards children, they’re both somewhat, well, cheesy, and they both have a very wacky feel to them. I never really liked Clocktoberfest all that much so I was looking forward to its replacement. I was hoping for something quite different; something closer to Voila! or Giardino Magico. Sadly, that’s not what was delivered. Wunderbarn is a bizarre show. Between its fart jokes, awkward dialog, annoying clucking, and massive cast, it just doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the event or even the park as a whole. I love the lighting at night and to a certain extent, its costumes and set, but when combined with what is, in my opinion, an awful story and script, the show fails to impress me. Wunderbarn is very much in the same vein as Entwined and Gloria; strange shows that could be so fantastic but end up falling flat on their faces because of a horrid script and setup.
Giardino Magico is one of the two remaining original IllumiNights shows and is, in my opinion, a perfect example of what the park should be striving for with the event. The lights in the garden surrounding the stage do a fantastic job of creating a very magical environment similar to what you see from Wunderbarn. The difference? Giardino Magico is a perfectly executed idea. Its smaller stage and (much) smaller cast give it a more intimate feel than what you get from Wunderbarn and, unlike Wunderbarn, it focuses all of its energy on amplifying the magical feeling that surrounds it instead of simply cracking a few fart jokes and trying to get a cheap laugh. It feels classy and it fits perfectly. I would love to see Voila! learn a few tricks from Giardino Magico as well. Don’t get me wrong, Voila! is one of the event’s better shows, but I think it could greatly benefit from some new lighting in Aquitaine similar to what can be seen throughout both Oktoberfest and Italy during IllumiNights. Basically, I would really like to see more of the classy, magical vibe that Giardino Magico radiates though San Marco make its way into the rest of the park.
It’s amazing to think that we’re just three weeks away from the start of the 14th annual Howl-O-Scream event. If you haven’t been keeping up with the rumors and leaks surrounding this year’s event, you can see our list of announced, leaked, and rumored Howl-O-Scream attractions here. Before proceeding, I highly recommend you read that post because otherwise, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to picture a good chunk of what I’m about to list. Anyway, here’s a list of the changes I saw on my trip to the park and what we’ve heard from reputable sources inside the park:
[list style=”2″][li]Thirteen:Europe in the Air has shut down to allow the park to begin installing Thirteen into its ride building and queue.[/li][li]Catacombs: No work is visible on this one yet. I imagine that’s because the park just finished their last concert in this house’s location yesterday. We should see props begin to pop up any day now.[/li][li]New House: Visible work has yet to really begin on this one either. Not entirely sure what the hold up is seeing that it’s in a (seemingly) out of the way location that’s not really visible to park guests unless they’re specifically looking for it. I’ve been told to expect work to begin very soon though.[/li][li]Bitten: Because of Bitten’s location it can say intact year-round. Work has been underway for a little while now cleaning up last year’s set and tweaking everything to make sure it’s ready for opening day. A few pictures of what is visible outside the building are located in the gallery below.[/li][li]Fear Fair: Unlike Catacombs and the new house, the park has been working feverishly on Fear Fair for weeks now. Because of its out-of-the-way location work on Fear Fair doesn’t have any effect on normal park operations. Pictures of the progress can be found below.[/li][li]Deadline: Like Bitten, this is a house that can, more or less, stay intact year-round. Not much work should need to be done here and anything that does need to happen won’t really be visible to our cameras.[/li][/list]
If you haven’t heard, Busch Gardens Williamsburg just became the home to three new gray wolf pups, Kaya, Beo, and Boise. The park has been putting the cubs out into Wolf Valley at set times throughout day along with a few trainers who are positioned inside the exhibit to answer guests’ questions. For some reason Boise wasn’t out with Kaya and Beo when I went to see them, but I figured no one would fuss about looking at pictures of adorable wolf pups so here are some photos of Kaya and Beo!
[dropcap2]Entwined: Version 2[/dropcap2]
Following the extremely negative feedback the park received about this year’s new show, Entwined, they have redone parts of the show in an attempt to make the story easier to follow. Is it better? Well, not really. For some reason they seem to have shifted the focus off the three main characters in the original version (Hansel, Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood) and instead focus more on the head gnome and the fairy godmother. Additionally, the head gnome character also acts as a narrator during parts of the story to replace some of the speaking lines the other characters had. Sadly, you can tell they’re trying to patch up holes with the new version and, in this case, the patched up version may be worse than the original. The main complaints I (as well as many others) had about the original version were that it was obviously aimed at a very young audience and the story never seemed to flow very well. Neither of those problems were really fixed in the new version of the show. You can tell that they tried to smooth out the story, but, at least to me, it ends up looking sloppy and thrown together. It feels like they put a band-aid on a wound that needed a bandage and professional medical attention. I guess they should be given credit for trying, but at times, halfhearted attempts at fixing something cause even more disappointment than the original problem ever did. Anyway, a video of the new version can be found below. If you never got to see the original, a video of that version can be found in this post.
[list style=”2″][li]Verbolten: Lately Verbolten has been running exponentially better than it was earlier this year. Additionally, it sounds like the on-ride video system has finally begun working properly as well. As far as I can tell, the last thing the park has to fix are the headlights on the trains. Maybe that’s something we’ll see show up next season? It’s also worth noting that following complaints of headaches resulting from the second launch, the park has an additional cushion on the headrests of Verbolten’s trains. They didn’t feel all that soft, but maybe they’ll help a bit? Anyway, a shot of the new headrests can be found in the gallery below.[/li][li]Black Forest Picnic Area: Seemingly out of the blue the park has completely redone the Black Forest Picnic Area. I have to say, the new signage and decorations look absolutely fantastic. Again, pictures are included below.[/li][/list]