As you all know, last Thursday Zachary, Luke, and I spent a few hours touring around the Most Beautiful Theme Park. While we were there, we tried to get answers to everyone’s questions, and to aim Luke’s camera at the most interesting things we could find. So, here is the second of three reports on what we saw and learned, when we were given such unusual access.
San Marco Construction
Unfortunately, for safety reasons, Emily, our amazing guide, was not able to take us into San Marco proper, but hopefully the pictures the park has been providing (like the one below) will tide everyone over, until March 19th, when we can all see the new restaurant, glass shelter, and restrooms, ourselves. That said, we do have some very interesting tidbits to share.
Photo Credit: Busch Gardens Williamsburg
During our chat with Larry Giles, BGW’s Vice President of Engineering, he told us that they are putting in a new Dyson integrated faucet and hand drying system. I suppose this seems like an odd detail to report, but honestly I think it could turn out to be the coolest feature of the new bathrooms. He said there will be a continuous sink, and a row of Dyson Airblade Taps. The new system should reduce the amount of water that gets splattered all over the floors and sinks, and eliminate the hand dryer lines. Maybe I am a complete geek, but I am really curious to see these in action.
Larry also told us that they are using a different company than before. As many of you know, Spain Interiors had the contract for both the New France and Festhaus bathrooms. The refurbishment of the San Marco facilities, however, is being completed by Henderson, which according to our readers has worked on several projects for the park before. Hopefully, the San Marco bathrooms will be as beautifully themed as the other two.
Emily and Larry also shared a few details about the new restaurant. They assured us that Marco Polo’s Marketplace will still serve the Italian fare from Ristorante della Piazza. In addition, there will be a wood burning oven and wok. For anyone who has been to either SeaWorld Orlando’s Expedition Cafe or the Dragon Fire Grill at Busch Gardens Tampa, the market style layout at our new eaterie should be familiar. Instead of cafeteria-style queues, there will be stations for each type of cuisine. The open layout reduces the lines, and allows the park to offer a wide variety of dishes. I believe all of the upgrades in San Marco are going to improve everyone’s experience in that part of the park.
Carl Lum Blue
Another interesting tidbit that Larry shared with us had to do with paint. The park is constantly refreshing the look of their attractions and hamlets. Recently, they decided it was time to clean up the splash pools on the water rides. After looking at a variety of shades, former Busch Gardens Williamsburg President, Carl Lum, jumped in and said that he liked “that one.” According to Larry, it has been called “Carl Lum Blue” ever since. You can see here how it brightens the look of Escape from Pompeii. So, as you are strolling through the park, keep an eye out for one of Carl’s legacies: Carl Lum Blue.
Craft Bier Room
Since there has been a lot of interest in the new Brauhaus Craft Bier Room and Stein Club on our forum, we asked Emily if there were any additional details she could share with us. She gave us some great news! Both will be open on March 19th, so Pass Members will be able to check out the new tap room and rent a stein. Even more exciting for some people, she said that we will be able to keep our steins at the end of the season. We also asked if BGW planned to keep the Bier Room open after the 40th anniversary of Das Festhaus. She said that it will depend on how popular it is this year.
Guests will be able to reserve one of 300 specially-designed steins and keep it in the Brauhaus Craft Bier Room for their personal use all year long. They plan to serve a rotating variety of craft beers and ciders, including several options from local breweries. I expect this addition will be a huge hit with both beer lovers and exclusive merchandise enthusiasts.
On our way from the Wild Reserve to Le Scoot, we noticed some changes in Aquitaine. As you all know, over the last few years, Aquitaine has seen a number of upgrades, including the addition of Crêpes and Coffee, the renovation of La Belle Maison, and the opening of the incredible Josephine’s Creamery de Chocolat.
A new patio has been opened up next to Josephine’s to provide additional seating for guests. This space, which was reclaimed from a backstage area, should give us lots of comfortable tables and chairs to enjoy the great ice cream.
Below you will find a picture of the newly relocated statue of Archangel Michael slaying a demon. Previously this statue stood in front of La Belle Maison between the two doors that you can see in the background. Last year the planter in which it is now located housed a small fountain.
Odds & Ends
In addition the projects above, we learned about other small changes and plans for the year. In many cases, Emily shared with us things that should really improve everyone’s experience at the park this year.
State of the Greenery
While we were meeting with Larry Giles, we saw carts of flowers on their way to be planted. In fact, on our stroll around roughly half the park, we didn’t see any empty flower beds at all. Here are some examples of the flora we saw on our tour:
Food & Wine Festival
I wish we could say that we have a ton to share with you about this fantastic event. While we don’t have the new menus, we do have a bit of a scoop. Emily and Larry told us that at a recent meeting some of the staff were asked to taste the new dishes for the Local Virginia and Hawaii kiosks (I clearly have the wrong job). They tested Chocolate Pecan Bacon and Spam dishes. Both sound regionally appropriate. Maybe we will get a sneak peek before the event opens?
Finally, a lot of people will be very excited to see that the park is replacing the old, token-operated lockers with the type installed at Tempesto last year. Although construction was not yet complete we did see these sitting outside Escape from Pompeii.
Once again, we hope you found these insights as interesting as we did, and be on the lookout for our final installment soon. For all of our BGW news and updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.