Verbolten Incident & Mäch Tower Changes
Previous Opening Weekend Part 1: Presentations and the Food & Wine Festival
I’m terribly sorry that it took me this long to get this post up. After Pass Member Preview, I simply didn’t have enough photo content to justify a post- at least not one I would have been happy with. With that said, last weekend was technically the first full weekend the park was open to the public so I’ll pretend the title is still relevant. Anyway, enjoy the update!
The new lettering above the automatic ticketing machines to the left of the ticket windows. I know many people aren’t fans of the color but I quite like it.
The new archway and waterfall. There used to be another ticket booth here.
Overview of the new entry plaza.
This pond is pretty fantastic.
As is the waterfall.
Here’s the new directional sign located at the tram stop. I don’t mind the design itself but those glossy arrows look rather dated and gaudy.
Same park information sign that has been located in the bus lot for a while now. New logo likes quite nice on it. Notice both Mach Tower and Le Scoot are down.
New signage as you walk up to the park from the bus lot.
Here’s sign located across from the bridge to the bus lot. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the textured background they used on this sign.
This is one of the three shops that have been completely renovated for 2013. Though the outside of the building is more-or-less unchanged (except for a new door), the interior has been completely replaced. I honestly have no complaints about what they’ve done here. Everything looks fantastic and they’ve managed to stick to the “Olde Country” theme the park has always been known for.
Notice the new signage and the new door to the left.
Looking towards the front wall.
A closer look at the shield. Quite a nice bit of detail.
Looking towards the right wall.
I love the mock fireplace and all the detail on the walls.
Looking back towards the left wall.
Note the fake window.
Lastly, a look towards the back wall.
Admittedly, I was extremely skeptical about the park’s ability to pull this store off in a tasteful way. Lately they’ve been doing a great job of ruining the park’s tranquil atmosphere through hamlet modernization but, amazingly, they managed to do a fairly impressive job with Union Jack’s. It has a strong theme all its own on inside while not negatively affecting the hamlet’s theme as a whole. Now if the shop’s stereotypical modern British style spreads beyond the shops doors, that’s another story entirely.
The shop’s main sign. Like I said, they did a great job of blending it with the rest of the hamlet externally.
A closer look at the main sign.
A sign was also placed in the display box under the breezeway near the turnstiles.
Yes, the inside is very, very bold. As long as it stays in here, I can live with it.
The other end of the shop.
For the first time in ages they’ve actually opened the back door to this shop. Maybe someone will actually walk down this alleyway now.
Eagle Ridge Rework
Eagle Ridge was another area where the park has done a fairly large amount of work over the off-season. Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, the changes are a fairly major downgrade from what the area was previously. Now, this may sound like a criticism, but, the park did have good reason for the changes they made. Last season there were multiple instances of eagles escaping from the enclosure and while the consequences of these escapes aren’t entirely clear we do know that there was at least one instance of an eagle making it to Newport News Park and another which resulted in an eagle making its way into the wolf enclosure. So, with that in mind, though the new enclosure isn’t very aesthetically pleasing, it was a needed change. Hopefully as the foliage grows in things will start to look a little better.
It’s also worth noting that there’s only one bald eagle at the park right now. Apparently all the others were owned by a 3rd party who decided to remove them from the park after the occurrences mentioned above. The good news is that we’ve been told that more will be introduces over the coming weeks and months.
Overview of the new area.
The only bald eagle left at the park.
New sign for Penny
Though it didn’t receive much attention over the off-season, the Wild Reserve side of Aquitaine has received quite a large amount of work over the off season. Some of the changes (particularly the doors and banners on the exterior of La Belle Maison) have been particularly controversial.
Walking up to the new Aquitaine
Note the new banners and doors on La Belle
I honestly hate those banners. Also, the doors look like they were just shoved into holes in the wall. The whole building doesn’t have a consistent feel and the new changes clash horribly with the rest of the hamlet.
A closer look at the doors. Note that the doors to the left actually lead to an employee area.
New seating area. It’s an improvement but I’d love to see a thin planter or something to divide it from the main path. The area feels too flat and open in its current state.
The new arbor is a massive improvement over the face painting booths that were here previously. After the grape vines grow out some, I imagine this area will look absolutely superb.
A new set of backstage doors have been put up for the Royal Palace Theater. Interestingly enough guests can walk all through here now that the fence and gate is gone.
A nice angle of Griffon soaring over France.
La Belle Maison Overhaul
To complement the changes entertainment made in the park’s French hamlet, the merchandise department went to work on the inside of La Belle Maison, Aquitaine’s main gift shop. I must say, I’m thoroughly impressed with what the park has done in here. Previously La Belle Maison housed heavily branded surf gear and clothing- items that were horrifically out of place in the hamlet of Aquitaine. Fortunately, similar to what was done with the Emporium in Banbury Cross, La Belle has been completely renovated to provide an experience and atmosphere that reflects its hamlet perfectly. In addition to the park-branded merchandise in the main part of the shop the park also added a brilliantly themed wine tasting and sales area.
Main La Belle Maison sign
An overview of the newly renovated shop
A look at some of the jewelry on display
Some of the apparel that can be bought here
A neat Eiffel Tower model they had for sale.
Moving into the wine shop area
An overview of the wine tasting area
The stonework and overall attention to detail in this shop is brilliant
Remember what I said about detail?
One of La Belle’s towers has been converted into an imitation wine cellar.
A look inside the wine cellar
I spy a Food & Wine Festival logo…
As we reported around Christmas Town, the park put a good deal of money towards updating Le Scoot, one of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s oldest rides, this year. Over the off-season Le Scoot received an entirely new lift structure and though it wasn’t ready to open with the park, as of Saturday they appeared to be doing employee training so I wouldn’t expect it to be much longer till it’s ready for the public.
This was taken on pass member preview weekend. Note the lack of a lift belt and water.
Here’s a shot from last weekend. Lookin’ good.
I spy testing.
Unfortunately the sawmill building is still looking fairly rough.
It’s also worth noting that it appears that Le Scoot got paint this season.
Mach Tower is Down (Again)
Shocker! Mach Tower is down again! We’re not sure exactly what’s going on but it has yet to open so far this year and the ride ops stationed outside the attraction are, once again, being told to tell guests that it will reopen soon. For anyone who followed along in 2011, this should sound oddly familiar. Anyway, though I have yet to see it myself, people are reporting some sparse testing during park hours and while that may sound promising, it doesn’t seem that everything is running so smoothly. Natoma, one of our forum members, posted the following on Tuesday:
[blockquote author=”Natoma”]I was standing outside the pretzel shop today while they were doing some testing. Every time it dropped, there was this very loud grinding/rattling noise that would start when the brakes would usually kick in. They did this 10+ times. Needless to say, it sounded bad for the ride. Hopefully no damage was done.[/blockquote]
That can’t be a good sign.
The mark of quality engineering
UPDATE: Just moments after this post went live netdvn, another forum member, posted the following:
[blockquote author=”netdvn”]Saw a few people riding Mach today. I talked to someone standing underneath the ride and she told me maintenance and a few higher ups were riding. That’s definitely a good sign that the ride should be opening soon.[/blockquote]
Maybe things are looking up?
Ristorante della Piazza’s New Stage
Like Das Festhaus, Ristorante della Piazza also got a new stage for 2013; however, unlike Das Festhaus, we’ve been told that Ristorante della Piazza’s stage wasn’t replaced to give it a new look but instead to prevent the old one from rotting under the cast’s feet. Fortunately, at least in my opinion, the new stage is a major improvement over the previous one. Quite honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan of Mix it Up’s stage- I always felt that it looked rushed and, to be frank, trashy. The new stage brings back a much more traditional Ristorante della Piazza aesthetic with more muted colors and a look and feel that is much more inline with the rest of the venue.
From the front. Note how much larger the stage itself really is.
From the side.
Maybe the best thing about the new stage…
The fountains are back!
As reported earlier this year, Busch Gardens Williamsburg opened a Gelato shop this year! Additionally, having had some myself, I’m happy to report that it’s very good. Not pretzel shop pretzel level, but close. With that said, I will say that I was a bit disappointed in the shop itself. It looks extremely rushed with boring signage and sloppy paint. The holes from the previous menu board are even visible if you look closely. Basically it’s an excellent product but, in contrast to what we saw from the Emporium and La Belle Maison, the actual structure itself is extremely lackluster.
They should probably replace this sign…
The Coca-Cola Market was announced during Pass Member Preview day this year and, at least so far, very little work has been done. With that said, though I’m trying to reserve judgement till I see the final product, I don’t have high hopes. Anyway, I tried to get my camera over the construction wall so excuse the mediocre shots.
I’m no expert, but this seems to be a construction wall.
Yup, 85% sure this is, in fact, a construction area.
A big thanks to the park for putting this construction wall right next to a raised planter.
It really is much appreciated.
Pompeii Bridge Replacement
Following right along with this year’s trend of updates and refreshes, the park also replaced the bridge connecting the Pompeii area to the larger San Marco hamlet.
The park apparently didn’t get a chance to stain the wood before they opened on Pass Member Preview day
A side-view through the trees. If I’m not mistaking, the structure looks considerably less bulky than it did previously.
Luckily, by last weekend, the wood was stained. It looks much better this way.
Other Minor Changes & Updates
This is where I’m dumping everything that didn’t justify more than a single picture or two. Make sure you read the captions so you know what you’re looking at.
The newly renovated Pet Care Center is looking rather nice.
A new band was out and about in Killarney
Cleopatra, the park’s new 12 foot Burmese Python was in her new enclosure in the Wild Reserve
She was quite popular
Gluhwein was being served in the clock shop in Rhinefield
The maypole show in front of Das Festhaus is back this year
Food & Wine Festival signage is up along the Oktoberfest-San Marco bridge
I love these round signs
The grape stomping photo op is back! So much better than that awful glow stand.
The gypsy wagon outside of Festa has gone missing
Even the gravel pad it used to sit on is gone. This area needs something.
The arcade in Festa is missing its signage
Continuing the trend of lost signage in Festa, Tradewinds is completely signless as well. Get it together Busch Gardens!
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