The Chef's Guests: A Review
Previous The Final Food & Wine Construction Update
Before I get to the update, I’ll address this first. I can hear the cries now: “Where’s the Food & Wine review?” “What did you think of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s new festival?” “Quit stalling, just give us the pictures!” Well, unfortunately, this isn’t a Food & Wine Festival review. Why you ask? Well, I haven’t exactly decided what, if anything, I’m going to write yet. Overall, I think the event is stellar. Any complains I have are exceedingly minor and, honestly, not exactly worth talking about on the news side of the site. With that said, I really do want to do something to cover the Food & Wine Festival, but I just have to decide what that something will be. Anyway, if you really want to read a true review of the event, Nora has written up a fantastic piece over on BGW Memories that’s well worth a read.
Anyway, even if it’s not about the Food & Wine Festival, I think we have a pretty solid post for you all today. Originally most of this content was going to be combined with the massive Food & Wine post that went up late last week but, as I’m sure you all could tell, that post was already plenty long enough on it’s own. Because of that, I decided it would likely be best to split up the content between two posts, the second of which is what you’re reading now. So, with the Food & Wine Festival news out of the way, we can focus on some other areas of the park. As the title would imply, we have pictures of the newly opened Coca-Cola Market in Festa Italia, new pictures of the ongoing Aquitaine renovations, a summary of the leaks and rumors that I’ve heard regarding both IllumiNights and Christmas Town, and much more. As I said, there’s more than enough content here to justify making this a separate post. Enjoy!
The Coca-Cola Market is Now Open
Finally, almost a month after it was originally supposed to be done, the Coca-Cola Market is now open. It doesn’t look stellar, but it looks much better than the snack stand that previously occupied the space.
Overview of the new Coca-Cola Market
A look at the snack area
A shot of the tea and ICEE area
A closer look at the menu
That’s a lot of drink coolers
The refreshments banner
the drinks banner
The snacks banner
A closer look at the Coca-Cola Market logo
Aquitaine Renovations Continue
Ah, Aquitaine. What was once a bland, neglected corner of the park is now, in my opinion, one of the most impressively themed hamlets to ever grace the park. The time and effort that the park has put into cleaning up Aquitaine this season is, frankly, astounding. For a while now it has been a pretty commonly held opinion that the park often only pays attention to hamlets when a new marketable attraction is added only to let them slip back down into disrepair soon after. If the changes in Aquitaine this year are any indication of what we can expect in the future, I will be a very happy camper. Anyway, you can check out the latest pictures below. As I said, it looks, frankly, brilliant.
Overview of La Belle from the Wild Reserve side of Aquitaine
An overview of the Royal Palace Theater side
A bit of a tighter shot of La Belle
An overview of La Belle’s front facade
A closer look at the new windows
New La Belle branding
The relocated angel statue. I much prefer it here to be honest
The fleurs-de-lis on both sides of La Belle have grown out quite nicely
Griffon soaring over Aquitaine
New Royal Palace Theater signage
A closer look at the new stage in front of La Belle and across from the entrance to the Royal Palace Theater
And lastly, a shot of the grape design on the decking of the new stage. Very classy.
Closure of Pirates 4D Officially Announced
This is something we leaked was going to happen almost a year ago so it’s nice to finally see an announcement. For anyone who doesn’t know, Pirates 4D is the 4D movie currently playing in the park’s England-themed Banbury Cross hamlet. An all new stage show is planned to take its place in 2014. Anyway, you can find the park’s official announcement here. Also, for old times sake, here’s a few pictures of Pirates 4D’s signage. To be perfectly honest, I never realized how nice it actually looked till now.
IllumiNights Leaks & Rumors
Let me get this out of the way first: If you came here expecting good news, you’re not going to get it. Basically, IllumiNights is slowly dying. We have heard from an army of different extremely trustworthy sources that both Voila! and Wunderbarn have been completely cut from this year’s event with no replacements planned. That leaves the park with only two shows, Giardino Magico and a new show in Killarney. I honestly don’t know how guests are going to take a 50% drop in the number of shows at the event, but I can’t imagine it going well. Also, if I were a betting man, I’d put money on this being IllumiNights’ final year. The general consensus seems to be that it has been in a state of decline ever since the event’s first year back in 2010 and this seems to be the final two nails in the event’s coffin. I, for one, won’t miss it.
Howl-O-Scream Leaks & Rumors
After that bout of bad news for IllumiNights, lets pull out some more good news, shall we? According to multiple trusted sources all three of last year’s new Howl-O-Scream shows will returning for this year’s Howl-O-Scream. If you remember my Howl-O-Scream review from last year, you may recall that I was a huge fan of all three, giving one an 8/10 and the two others perfect scores. Hopefully the existing lineup of stellar shows should give the park more time and money to put towards hamlet theming, houses, and, most importantly, scares.
Speaking of scares, if you haven’t yet heard, multiple trustworthy sources are reporting that Fear Fair will not be returning for 2013. Back in 2011 Fear Fair topped my list of the park’s houses, not just for that year, but ever. In fact, to this day I still consider the 2011 version of Fear Fair to be my favorite house in the event’s history. Anyway, because of how much I loved it back in 2011, naturally I was excited to see it return last year; however, once experiencing the latest iteration, it was clear that the 2012 version of Fear Fair was just a shell of its former self. Though it’s a shame to see a once great house die, hopefully the park is able to pull off something better this year than what we saw in Fear Fair’s location last year.
Celtic Fyre Will Return for 2014
We’ve been told via a very good source that as things stand now, Celtic Fyre will return for one final season next year. If nothing massive changes within the Entertainment department, expect a new show in the Abbeystone Theater for 2015. Also, though not directly related to Celtic Fyre’s 2014 return, I might as well take this opportunity to share our new Celtic Fyre recording from a few weeks ago. This year’s cast is amazingly talented and the show may be performing better now than it ever has before. It isn’t often that a theme park show gets better with age. Bravo to cast, crew, and the Entertainment department as a whole for keeping this show running so well since its debut back in 2009.
Wild Days is Back for 2013
Though earlier rumors posted to our forums stated otherwise, the latest news from within the Entertainment department says that Wild Days will be returning once again this season. Over the past few seasons we’ve seen Wild Days continually shrink down from the nearly month-long event it once was. Hopefully with IllumiNights taking a backseat this year, a little more focus could be put into Wild Days. Honestly, I’ve always thought Wild Days was an event with a ton of untapped potential- if it saw just a small fraction of the funding the Food & Wine Festival has seen, I’m sure it could be made into quite the impressive bridge event between the main summer season and Howl-O-Scream.
New Water Country USA Logo
Now that Busch Gardens Williamsburg has their new Coaster Tree logo, it was only a matter of time before Water Country got a new logo as well. Though it hasn’t shown up in very many places yet, it has started to appear on some marketing material. I’ve attached one such piece of marketing material below.
I must say, I’m quite impressed with it. It’s worth noting that it flows quite nicely with Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s new logo as well. I don’t know if I’m the only one who has noticed this, but there seems to have been a massive influx of quality logo and design work in the park’s promotional material since the start of this year. Between the new park logos, the Food & Wine Festival branding, this new Water Country USA logo, and others, the chain seems to be pushing out some extremely well designed branding and advertising lately.
New Eagles in Eagle Ridge
Lastly, as predicted, the park has added three new eagles to Eagle Ridge. The information plates for each can be found below.