Before I get into the story, if you could take a moment to vote for BGWFans in the Behind the Thrills Fansite of the Year poll, that’d be fantastic. Thanks for your support everyone!
It sounds like there might be something brewing in Banbury Cross. Over the past few months, we’ve been hearing a lot of (seemingly random) rumors about various parts of the park’s England-themed entrance area, Banbury Cross. Because we never really had any details or strong leaks, most of these rumors have stuck to the BGWFans Forum but lately, we’ve started to see something new: Construction permits. Because the construction permits don’t include much in the way of details, a lot of this post will be rumors that I’ve heard, rumors that have been posted to our forum, and in some cases, pure speculation. I’ll do my best to distinguish between what’s fact and what’s rumor.
[iconbox title=”Update (January 20th)” icon=”warning”]Many of the changes listed below have been confirmed by the park! Full story can be found here.[/iconbox]
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I figured this was a pretty good place to start because it seems to be a pretty straightforward change. Busch Gardens has filed for a permit to remove the leftmost ticket booth (see above) and replace it with an arch that will, by the sounds of it, span from the corner of the second ticket booth, over the path, and to the corner of the restroom building (see below).
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This change follows along perfectly with what we saw last year. For those who don’t recall, in an effort to decrease some of the path bottlenecks in the area, the park removed many of the planters and trees in front of the ticket booths. Anyway, you can see the permit in question by searching for permit number A-121446 here. Additionally, you can check out Zoomy‘s post with the details on our forums, here.
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This is actually something that has been rumored for a very long time now. The rumor of a Banbury Market (also known as The Emporium) replacement or refurbishment was first posted by Party Rocker to our forums back in June. Since then, not much had come to light until recently when another permit popped up in the James City Country database. Permit number “A-121439” calls for an Emporium refresh which will include a new entrance, interior modifications, and new lighting. Soon after that permit was uncovered, Zoomy supplied us with some details once again. According to his post, the refresh will be mainly cosmetic and we can expect to see new lighting, a new layout, new displays, and two new entrances. While these seem like minor things, it’s worth noting that Banbury Market is a very prominent building in the Banbury hamlet that has, as far as I know, stayed more or less unchanged since the park opened. If done wrong, these changes could really effect the look and feel of the England-themed hamlet. Zoomy stated that work is set to begin right after Christmas Town concludes and should be finished by pass member preview weekend in March. If you’re interested in checking out the permit for yourself, search for the permit number A-121439 here.
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Unlike the two previous items, there isn’t a permit associated with this one; however, we wouldn’t expect there to be. Why? Because this one is a show. For a fairly long time now, we’ve been told by a wide variety of different independent sources to expect the Globe Theater to be renovated and updated to bring it back to its original use: Live stage shows. Since Celtic Fyre debuted in 2009, we have seen a very strong push for new, high-budget shows from the Entertainment department under the lead of Scott Gasparich. While not everything has been a hit (see: Gloria!, Entwined, Wunderbarn, etc.), the push is definitely there. Additionally, in 2011 we lost New France’s theater, the Canadian Palladium, in order to make room for Le Catapult. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the 4D shows that have been located in the Globe for the last decade or so have steadily decreased in viewership and, in the case of Pirates 4D, have begun to feel extremely dated. With all this in mind, combined with what has been posted to our forums, and some things I’ve been told by trusted sources privately, I can say with near complete surety that we will see a new stage show in the Globe within the next few seasons. There has been a lot of talk about the massively popular Howl-O-Scream show, Monster Stomp Revamped, returning in either 2013 or 2014 and, from what I’ve heard, its new home may very well end up being the newly revamped Globe Theater.
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The last one was a story without a permit and now we have a permit without a story. Permit number B-122583, which was filed on the 7th of November, calls for the addition of a 1,500 square foot deck. No details or hints as to its location are given but, with the recent influx of activity in Banbury Cross along with the fact that, because of Banbury Cross’s location, a great deal of decking is used on the Banbury Market-side of the hamlet (see above), I think it’s reasonable to assume that this permit is for England as well. What could it be used for? Maybe the park plans to extend the deck behind M. Sweets Confectionary Factory to run behind the cotton candy stand and over to the newly renovated Banbury Market (see below). It could also, potentially, be a replacement for the seating area pictured above.
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There has been talk of the park focusing a lot of their time and money on breathing new life into their current hamlets. This could be seen in the park’s efforts with Oktoberfest over the last two years. That refresh bought new attractions, new shows, a new look and feel, etc. to an area that had stayed pretty much the same since the time of the Big Bad Wolf. Personally I’ve never had gripes with Banbury Cross. In fact, I always thought it did a fantastic job acting as an introduction to the rest of the park. Perhaps the park is looking to change it from a welcome area of sorts into an attraction all its own? Whatever the goal, I hope they leave the same welcoming, laid-back, immersive atmosphere that generations of park-goers have come to expect, intact. Sadly, if the new Oktoberfest is any indicator, it may be best for the park to keep its paint buckets as far from one of the park’s best hamlets as possible.