Yesterday, one of our forum members, UnicornZiva, pointed out that the park had updated their Christmas Town website to include a full lineup of this year’s attractions. I figured it would probably be something that would be good to share on the front page, so, well, here it is. And, since a normal “this is what the park announced” post would be horrifically boring, I tossed in some rather interesting tidbits of information (especially in regards to this year’s shows) as well as the normal heaping portion of my opinions on this year’s changes. Enjoy!
As was announced on pass member appreciation weekend in September, the park plans to open Festa Italia for the first time during Christmas Town this year. We had a pretty good idea of what rides would be open inside Festa Italia, but until today, we never had any sort of confirmation. By the looks of it, the park plans to rename all the flat rides in Festa Italia to better match the retro Christmas theme they announced would be making its way to the hamlet at the pass member event. Below is a list of all the rides which have been added to this year’s event. For a full list of all the rides you’ll be able to experience this year, you can take a look at the official Christmas Town website, here.
Reindeer Run is the Christmas Town name for the childrens ride normally named Elephant Run. It’s basically just a kiddy version of the Mack Rides Music Express which can also be found in Festa Italia.
Speaking of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Music Express, here it is. According to the Christmas Town site, it’ll be renamed to Snowman Summit in place of it’s normal name, Tradewinds.
Lastly, at least in Festa Italia, is the Mack Tea Cups ride which is normally known as Turkish Delight. For Christmas Town, however, it will be renamed to Peppermint Twist. That name sound familiar? It should. Peppermint Twist was one of the water slides that was removed from Water Country USA a few years back. I guess someone knew they had the trademark and figured they’d use it.
As we heard a while back, Verbolten will indeed be open for Christmas Town 2012. Back when Verbolten first opened, there was a lot of talk of possible holiday overlays. We didn’t see one for Howl-O-Scream this year, but could we see one for Christmas Town? Certainly would be interesting. It’s also worth noting that, in the past, the park has only opened one of their B&M coasters during Christmas Town. Verbolten has a notable advantage over them: It can run in any temperature above 32°F versus the minimum temperature of 40°F required by the park’s B&Ms. Hopefully, this means that Christmas Town will have an operating coaster more often this year than it has in past years.
Lastly, we have Mach Tower. Although it was open last year, it will be providing an entirely different experience this year. One of the interesting features of Mach Tower is that it has its normal dropping mode that is used during the normal operating season but it also has another mode that we have yet to see in use: Observation mode. Observation mode will, essentially, turn Mach Tower into an observation tower with a slow ascent and descent. UPDATE: The park has updated the Christmas Town website to say that Mach Tower will be renamed Nacht Tower. I had heard this was going to happen and was a bit puzzled when the name Mach Tower showed up on the site.
Interestingly enough, this is the first year in Christmas Town’s history that we won’t be seeing a new show. This is in stark contrast to what we saw for this year’s Howl-O-Scream where we got two brand new shows and another one which was completely revamped for its new home. The good news? It sounds like we can expect some fairly large changes to be made to at least two of this year’s three shows.
I’m, personally, a massive fan of Deck the Halls so it’s great to see it coming back this year. Unfortunately, I have some reservations about the show this year. Since it debuted with the event in 2009, it has used the rising stage which had been in Das Festhaus since Oktoberfest opened back in 1976. That stage, as I’m sure you know, was removed at the beginning of this year to make way for the new, large, single-level stage which hosted Entwined during the main season and Night Beats for this year’s Howl-O-Scream. The park proved that it can make good use of the somewhat overwhelming stage with Night Beats; but I fear that because of the height difference and lack of multiple levels, Deck the Halls will lose many of the interactive elements that have (up until this year) been a staple of all Das Festhaus shows. Regardless of how it turns out, I imagine a ton of changes are going to be made to the show in order to make it work on its new stage. I hope the park takes their time with this one; because, if Deck the Halls keeps the same cast as Night Beats had this year, Deck the Halls could very well be one of the greatest shows in the history of the park.
Moving from Deck the Halls to Gloria is like moving from Night Beats to Entwined. As you can probably guess, I’m not a fan of Gloria. Gloria was the park’s new show for Christmas Town 2011 in the Abbeystone Theater. Coaster enthusiasts often talk about gimmicky coasters which, though they have one or two interesting or innovative elements, result in a less than impressive overall experience. Well, Gloria was a gimmicky show. The park installed sliding platforms on the Abbeystone’s stage which allowed them to move characters and props on and off the stage without having to actually have the cast move or have stagehands move the props. Sounds fancy, right? It was. Well, for the first five minutes. It was an effect that could be used to enhance an already good show, but it felt like the park was relying on that gimmick to carry the show. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Additionally, they used translucent panels of fabric which were placed in front of the stage at various points throughout the show to give the show some sort of storybook feel. It’s effective, but like the sliding stage, the technique was greatly overused and consequently ended up feeling like a cheap (and somewhat annoying) effect. Lastly, and perhaps worst, was the image slideshow which seemed to take up a very large chunk of the show. If I wanted to see stock photos of children and families doing Christmas-y things, I’d search Google Images. It was because of that ridiculous segment of the show that Gloria earned its nickname, “Gloria: A PowerPoint Presentation”.
Anyway, enough complaining about one of Scott’s blunders. There is, in fact, good news. According to people familiar with the matter, the same broadway lighting designer who brought us a good amount of the fantastic lighting that can be seen during the park’s IllumiNights event and who also did the lighting in this year’s Fiends will be redoing the lighting in Gloria for this year. Yes, it’s “only lights” but maybe that, combined with the negative reviews the park received about Gloria, will be enough to inspire some change in this historically disappointing show.
Miracles debuted at Ristorante della Piazza back in 2010 and, since then, has experienced very few changes. I haven’t heard anything in relation to this show yet this year so I think it’s pretty safe to assume that if any changes are made, they will be exceedingly minor. Luckily, this is one of those “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” shows in my book. It’s a solid show; neither fantastic, nor disappointing. I’ll still be holding my breath for a Christmas Town version of Mix it Up for 2013 though. They were able to remix Mix it Up into a fantastic show for Howl-O-Scream (Dig it Up) and I can’t help but think a Christmas remix is fitting as well.
La Cucina or, “that pizza buffet in Festa Italia” as it’s more commonly known, will be renamed to Dasher’s Diner and will be serving up a buffet of hometown American Christmas favorites. No real details are given, but I imagine we’ll see ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and the like. The outdoor seating will definitely be a downside to eating here instead of, say, Das Festhaus and I imagine they’ll have to keep the price fairly reasonable based on that fact alone.
… is gone. If you missed your chance to experience a two hour wait for a freezing cold round-trip on the park’s skyride, it won’t be given to you again this year. O, wait, no, sorry, it will be, it just won’t be a round-trip and won’t involve a two hour wait. Basically, they’re returning the skyride to its intended function: A transport ride. Honestly, this is a pretty great move in my opinion. Flight of Lights kept a massive line, not because it was particularly good, but because the skyride’s very nature entails awful capacity. Advertising a transport ride as some sort of amazing, must-see attraction just ends in awful lines and disappointed (and in this case, cold) customers.
… will be closed. Historically, the park has only kept one coaster open for Christmas Town and that trend will continue this year. Last year, the coaster selected was Alpengeist, but since Verbolten is open this year, Alpengeist will be dark.
… also won’t be operating. DarKastle is a little more interesting than Alpengeist because, for the first two Christmas Town events, it was open and was, really, quite a major draw. Last year, they decided to close it with the reason that they needed to do a long overdue, off-season rehab. Well, that rehab was done last year so, well, why is it closed yet again this year? We saw some improvements to the ride after this year’s rehab but also heard that even more changes were planned. Could those rumored changes be done this season now that the Entertainment department doesn’t have Verbolten to worry about? My fingers are crossed.
Caught something we didn’t? Let us know in our Christmas Town thread on the ParkFans Forum. Also, if you don’t know what’s going on with BGWFans, KDFans, and ParkFans, you should check out this post which will hopefully help explain everything. Change is in the air!