Yesterday, August 7th, was the the first day of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Pass Member Appreciation Weekend. As we’ve come to expect from the event, the park held an elaborate presentation inside Das Festhaus at which they announced the details for both of their upcoming seasonal events, Howl-O-Scream and Christmas Town, as well as teased the park’s new show for 2014: London Rocks. Unfortunately, all three of these announcements had been leaked, in some cases, months ago. In other words, if you have been keeping up with our forum or even just the blog, there’s likely not going to be any surprises for you.
That said, though most of the presentation was a rehash of things we already know, I think we can all agree that anytime Scott Gasparich takes the stage, at least part of the presentation is worth watching. If you’ve enjoyed watching or just cringing and grimacing at past announcements presented by Mr. Gasparich, I guarantee you that his part in this year’s presentation won’t disappoint. I assure you that it’s every bit as confusing and gaudy as we’ve come to expect from his past announcements. That, combined with the fact that Scott really was the only person to present anything anyone really cared about explains why the bulk of this post will likely be dedicated to his section of the event. Now, don’t take that to mean the other presenters didn’t do a solid job, because they did, they simply didn’t put on a glitter and confetti filled spectacle like our good friend Scott Gasparich has done. Say what you will about his ideas and style, Scott knows how to keep an audience interested.
Anyway, without further ado, enjoy the post![hr]
As any good presentation should, Saturday’s announcement started out with an introduction by the park’s president, Carl Lum. Though there aren’t any stunning revelations to be found within his very short speaking part at the event, I do have to give him credit for really doing quite a good job on-stage. As I’ve come to expect from Mr. Lum, he delivered a very eloquent introduction that came off as sounding completely honest and sincere. Say what you will about the direction his park is moving, but you’d have a hard time convincing me that he doesn’t care what his customers want or that he doesn’t truly have the park’s best interests in mind.
[list style=”3″][li](1:20) States that the park listened to guest’s feedback and used a great deal of that to plan this year’s Howl-O-Scream event[/li]
[li](1:48) Says that Christmas Town has become a very “special” event for Busch Gardens Williamsburg and cites the fact that it has become a yearly tradition for so many families as one of its strengths[/li]
[li](2:13) Thanks the pass holders for being such loyal customers[/li]
[li](2:38) States that he will be open to field any questions and suggestions guests may have after the presentation and credits many of the park’s products to guest suggestions and feedback[/li]
[li](3:20) Believes that Busch Gardens Williamsburg has the most loyal pass members in the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment chain and thanks us again for our continued support.[/li][/list]
To be perfectly honest, Jack Hanna’s part in this year’s presentation came off to me as being irrelevant filler. Don’t get me wrong, Jack Hanna has a fantastic stage presence and, in all honesty, may have actually provided the most enjoyable part of Saturday’s event, but it simply didn’t seem to be very relevant to the park. I would have loved to see him onstage alongside the park’s zoological VP to talk about some of the changes and additions that their department will be making over the next year, but instead, it was just Jack Hanna talking about Jack Hanna. Again, he did truly do an absolutely fantastic job, but it just didn’t feel like it fit with the announcement.
[list style=”3″][li](2:00) Talks about how he got into the animal care industry[/li]
[li](2:28) Mentions that guests may “hear certain things” about the animals kept at the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment parks but assures guests that “of the animals we have here, 98% of them come from other zoological parks, not the wild”[/li]
[li](3:20) Jack Hanna’s first TV series was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch in the 80s[/li][/list]
I’m just going to come out and say it: Dan Dipiazzo’s chunk of Saturday’s presentation was horribly boring. He had more speaking time than both Carl Lum and Jack Hanna combined and nothing to share that really justified that length of time. For the record, I’m not saying Dan is a sub-par speaker by any means, but I do think he got handed a very lackluster list of things to present. In fact, I think the entire event would have flowed better if Dan’s marketing and retail-focused section was placed right after Carl’s introduction or after Scott’s confetti extravaganza. In my opinion, the off-topic nature of Jack Hanna’s talk followed by the less than exciting bullet-point list of items Dan was handed to present made for a very weak “core” of the announcement.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some important things sprinkled through his talk, but, in all honesty, even with those gems in there, I wouldn’t even say that the video below is necessarily worth watching. Basically, if you’re going to skip one of these four videos, make it this one. Like the two videos above, there’s a highlights section below Mr. Dipiazzo’s video which will point out any high-points in his presentation and give you a nice, quick, glanceable guide to the important bits of his talk.
[list style=”3″][li](0:48) Announces merchandise partnership with the American Cancer Society[/li]
[li](4:22) Announces that the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival will be back again for 2014 and will be bigger and better than ever. Teases the possibility of new booths, new beverage stations, new meals, and an extended operating calendar for the event. States that social media will likely play some role in choosing what additions are made[/li]
[li](5:56) Announces the bring a friend for free promotion for the opening weekend of Howl-O-Scream[/li]
[li](8:37) Announces the Christmas Town pass for existing season pass holders. $25 when brought before the end of October and then $30 after that. The pass also provides all normal season pass benefits. Lastly, Christmas Town will be starting one week sooner than it has in past years[/li][/list]
This is a must-watch. Like most everything Scott Gasparich does, he managed to turn his 25 minutes of announcement time into a massive glitter and confetti-filled spectacle. I don’t know what exactly to think of the whole thing, but that’s really beside the point. This is one you’re just going to have to watch and form your own opinion on.
[list style=”3″][li](0:25) States that the park has a few new surprises for Christmas Town this year- most notably a new thematic package in Aquitaine which is “going to sparkle“[/li]
[li](0:59) Says that the focus of this year’s Christmas Town event will be on family traditions.[/li]
[li](1:39) Howl-O-Scream announcement starts. Not much new information, but you need to watch it regardless. This announcement is going to be a thing of legend. After all,
Scott Gasparich Count Vlad doesn’t intend to go unnoticed. Seriously, if you want to understand the references everyone will be making throughout this entire event, just watch the video.[/li]
[li](16:12) London Rocks announcement begins. Again, just watch it.[/li]
[li](19:00) London Rocks preview begins.[/li][/list]