Hey everyone, quick note before we get started: The article below was written last week and scheduled for a March 12th publication. In the time since, COVID-19 has flipped BGW, the amusement industry, and to some extent, society as a whole on its head. Due to the impacts of the Coronavirus, projects like the one discussed below could get the axe entirely. That said, we thought it reasonable to share what was planned regardless. Hence, this story is presented today exactly as it was meant to be posted last week.
At the end of yesterday’s article about Apollo’s Chariot likely not being ready for opening day, I mentioned that we were gearing up for a torrential downpour of Busch Gardens Williamsburg news. Thanks to a newly-filed site plan sent over to us by longtime friend of the site, Adam, that tidal wave of news continues today!
On Tuesday, Busch Gardens Williamsburg filed SP-20-0023 with the James City County planning department. According to the plan’s description, it depicts “the addition of a new bar and service area at the La Cucina building in Festa Italia.”
There had been talk of a substantial renovation coming to La Cucina ever since ParkFans member Eric pointed out notable alterations to the restaurant’s menu. This rumor really picked up steam when another ParkFans member, BGWnut, shared that he had been told that La Cucina was slated for a remodel and a maybe even rebranding—possibly to “Edesia’s Eats.”
We don’t have anything to share on the likelihood of a rebranding thus far, but the site plans that hit the public record earlier this week certainly show evidence that what BGWnut heard regarding an upcoming renovation was spot-on.
First off, here’s the plan in question with some of the extraneous information removed to make it a little more legible:
If you’re struggling to picture where exactly these alterations are being made, the front side of La Cucina is directly above the plan. The partial hexagonal shape in the bottom right is the gift shop next to Roman Rapids’ entrance, Rapids Gifts. Below I’ve embedded a Google StreetView perspective of the area in question.
Now, I know the plan included above is actually really difficult to decipher. In light of that fact, I created a composite map showing the planned changes. The map below includes the new bar, counter area, and checkout setup for La Cucina’s planned renovation.
The yellow, green, and red-colored shapes in the map above show the planned boundaries of each element (eg. the red areas are the checkout counter structures). The blue boxes reflect the planned shade structures over those items (eg. the blue box around the bar shows the sheltered area created by its canopy).
Though it’s hard to form a comprehensive opinion of the planned La Cucina changes from a few site plans, my first impression here is that this should be a massive improvement. The new bar will significantly increase the path presence of the restaurant and the new counter outside the building will likely be a new self-service drink area—a setup which has proved to work brilliantly over at Marco Polo’s Marketplace.
We don’t know what the actual timeline for these planned alterations looks like at the moment, but we would expect to see them come to fruition in the next couple months! Hopefully between this renovation, a largely-new menu, and the added Festa Italia foot traffic provided by Pantheon, La Cucina (or whatever it ends up rebranded to) will finally see some actual success.
To stay up to date with everything happening at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, make sure you follow us on Twitter & Instagram! If you have a Facebook account, consider tossing us a like there too! Whenever La Cucina reopens, we’re probably going to have to do a comprehensive review of its new menu. Judging by past La Cucina experiences, that may be quite an adventure… So look forward to that sometime this summer!