Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
BGE is an absolutely beautiful theme park with well manicured landscaping, extremely detailed themes in each of the lands, and everything looking like it had just received a fresh coat of paint. I do not think I have been in another park as attractive and well maintained as BGE, outside of the Orlando area. It was comparable, on a smaller scale, to the beauty of EPCOT when the flowers are in full bloom. My entire family was impressed throughout our tours. Furthermore, the placement of rides, attractions, and themed areas within the park was commendable. It looked like the park designers had worked hard to plan out every shop, restaurant, ride, show, and rest area. There were so many places along the tour to stop and admire the park itself that I often found my wife and mom lagging behind taking pictures and talking about the various plants and flowers. BGE is just an amazingly clean and pretty park.
For the most part, I think BGE has an impressive array of attractions, although not an overwhelming number of them. While we did not see all the shows or ride all the rides, we probably could have if we’d taken a few less rides on Apollo’s Chariot, or spent a few less times watching the Griffon’s splashdown. There was a lot to see and do, but given a few longer days of touring (the park was only open from 10 to 6 most of the week we were there) I am sure we could have easily accomplished everything the park had to offer. That is not to slight the park at all, in fact I think the BGE park designers have done a great job of utilizing space in the park, keeping within themes, and providing a wide range of experiences for customers. We had plenty of things to see and do.
BGE does fall down in the immersion category. While the park is very beautiful and well themed, for the most part the designers have done almost nothing with those themes. For example, when you wait in line for the Curse of DarKastle, there are at least two opportunities for greater immersion: the first is in the outdoor queue where an LCD screen broadcasts some info about the ride and accomplishes some initial setup and background. However, the volume is so low that you cannot hear a single word, and therefore you experience no immersion. Secondly, when you get inside the building there is a great opportunity for a pre-show room similar to what you find at a Disney attraction. Another LCD (much bigger than the one outside) adorns the wall while an eerie story is displayed about the attraction providing background, theming, and immersion. However, once again, the volume is so low, and the room so chaotic and filled with waiting riders that you cannot hear a single word. So instead of an immersive experience, the preshow movie becomes just more white noise lurking in the background. It is such a tragedy to miss any opportunity to make an above average attraction something greater in true Disney/Universal fashion. I still have no idea what the story is behind DarKastle. The one time we went on the ride when there was absolutely no line, we should have stopped and watched the movie instead of just blitzing past. At the time, we just did not know we would not get another chance at an empty preshow room. Corkscrew Hill (CSH) provides another example of how a lack of volume really hurts the immersion of an attraction. In both of its preshow rooms, the volume of the preshow movie is set at such a low level that a rowdy crowd can ruin the experience. The actual simulation is also too quiet and is easily drowned out by the screams and laughter of the audience. This type of issue does not happen at Disney and Universal where a) preshow cast members maintain order and quiet, and b) the volumes are set high enough to be heard over the din. I am not that old, nor am I going deaf, BGE just needs to turn the volumes to “11” wherever possible! Again, this is just a personal gripe of mine having been raised on Disney’s impressive ability to make you think you are not really in line and that you are instead already immersed in the attraction.
While I am griping I should note that I was disappointed by the large number of midway and carnival games that proliferated the park, especially in Germany and Italy. I know it is a matter of personal taste, but I would much rather see all that space used for top notch attractions and shows than for lousy carnival games that diminish the aesthetics of a beautiful park. I was happy at least to find that BGE has no “pay extra” rides like the commonly seen sky coaster ripcord swings, or the rock climbing walls, or go-karts. I was also happy to see that BGE does not have a space shot attraction. Other than Disney’s outstanding version of a space shot (Tower of Terror), I have never been impressed with space shot rides. And most importantly, BGE does not have any version of the Vekoma Boomerang. So while I give them props for not being a copycat park, I do wish they would get rid of many, if not all, of their midway games (note: Splashus Maximus, which I have heard good things about on this website, was not operating, so I cannot fairly judge its merit).
BGE dining. Overall, I think BGE does a nice job of providing quality and variety in their food choices. My favorite place to eat was Das Festhaus, mainly because it was inside, air conditioned, and has a great dining show to watch while you stuff your face. The German food is pretty darn good, although the more traditional offerings like the pizzas are just average at best. I also liked the food at Trapper’s Smokehouse which seems to be a favorite of most park goers, but it seemed that by the time I got my food, paid for it, walked to the dining area, and sat down, my food was either lukewarm, or beset by flies. Indoor seating options near Trappers would be a huge plus. Same thing with the Ristorante della Piazza, decent food, but an indoor theater for seating would be better for customers and performers. As for Bistro 205, it has the absolute worst hours. It seems to only operate on weekends (at least for now) from about 11:30 to 2:30. It was closed every time we went to the park, a major disappointment and something I will rectify the next time I travel to BGE. Finally, I do wish BGE had at least one sit down, full service, themed restaurant as it would make a great addition to the park and I think they would do a great job with it.
Now for a few brief comments on some of the rides and shows:
- Alpengeist is a well themed and impressive coaster, probably my second favorite ride in the park.
- Apollo’s Chariot is an excellent coaster, one of the best airtime machines I have ever ridden. IMHO, the front row on AC is the best ride in the park. I do wish, however, that the ride operators would do a better job of filling the seats. This ride has way too much traffic to have empty seats and needs a single rider line.
- Big Bad Wolf is another fun coaster. Were it not for the ride coming to a near dead stop midway through as it climbs for the final decent, this might be my favorite ride in the park. I love the twists, turns, speed, and the low, 42” height requirement.
- Corkscrew Hill is the most underrated ride in the park. Despite the sound issues I mentioned earlier, I think CSH is an excellent simulator ride; maybe the best I have ridden.
- Curse of DarKastle is a good 4D attraction. Outside of my complaints about the lack of immersion on this ride, I was impressed with BGE's attempt to replicate IOA’s Spider-Man. I do think DarKastle plays a distant second fiddle to Spider-Man, but the ride is well done, fun, and worth your time.
- Da Vinci’s Cradle is a midway ride, and while I am not a big fan of midway rides, I liked this one quite a bit.
- Emerald Beat is a top notch, energetic show. The most impressive show that we watched and definitely a must see.
- Escape From Pompeii is probably the most impressive waste of theming in the history of theme parks. I can’t believe all the work that went into what is truly a very average shoot-the-chutes water ride. Man, this one really could have been something more.
- Griffon is an awesome coaster experience, and unique (for now) to BG parks, at least in the United States.
- Jack Hanna’s Wildlife preserve is an okay zoo attempt within a theme park. Seems like BGE needs to give this area more love and space, or just forget it.
- Land of the Dragons is a decent play area for the very young.
- Loch Ness Monster is a fun but dated coaster. To make it better, they should really ease down of the heavy brake usage. Every time the ride gets going, the brakes are applied and steal all the fun.
- Pirates 4D is a decent movie attempt, but not really worth a second visit. And it is another example of the low volume issues at BGE. Maybe I do need a hearing aide?
- Roman Rapids is an average white water ride, and the four waterfalls at the end are a cheap way to soak riders when the rapids themselves are not strong enough to do the trick.
- This Is Oktoberfest is an excellent dinner show. Energetic, fun, and a perfect compliment to some very good theme park food.
- Viva Italia is another great dinner show, although it would work much better indoors. I felt sorry for the excellent performers who had to work in the extreme heat wave during the week we were there.
A couple things we did not do at BGE: we did not ride the train or the Rhine River Cruise, and we did not get a chance to see all of the shows, having missed Castle Sullivan, American Jukebox, and Pet Shenanigans. We also did not feed the Lorikeets, but that is because we have a similar event at our local zoo and we needed that time to accomplish other attractions on the itinerary.
We had a great time at BGE and would love to visit again. If BGE were my local theme park I would be very, very happy. The park is beautiful, has several top-notch attractions, great shows, good food, and excellent themed areas. I wish it had more immersion, less carnival games, and a few more indoor eating sites, but those are minor complaints for a great theme park, one that is worthy of all the praise it has received on this, and other websites.
And I am very happy that BGE is my home park!
I like any TR and I only wish folks would post more of them…
And I also just commented a couple of weeks ago about how fabulous an indoor seating area would be for Trapper's. We usually walk across to the tables near Griffin to watch the splash down while we eat. It is not as crowded, and always shady. But that is a long walk with a heavy tray full of food, and having to dodge a steady stream of people walking through New France as well. I don't necessarily think that BG needs a full service restaurant. But if you are going to have great food, why not give people a better environment for enjoying it?
Anyways, I am glad that you and your family enjoyed your vacation.
Tyler, I think the DarKastle preshow room can be remodeled a bit, maybe cut in half, size-wise, then used for an actual preshow again. As it is now, I think they probably did the right thing, as it is too big and would cause a serious ride slow down on busy days. So what is the story of the Curse of DarKastle, anyway????
Missy, a full service restaurant would be a nice to have...not a gotta have. If they had more indoor seating, then it would almost become moot. And, I think we sat in those same seats as you watching the Griffon splashdown while eating lukewarm brisket.... ;)
Ahh...I sure miss those days of waking up in my resort and heading out for a day at BGE....vacations are such sweet sorrow...
Here are two letters for you – F.O.
You are the biggest but hole on the planet…
I would love to meet you someday, but I am sure you are just a little internet Bitch who hides and never shows your Pimply 14 year old face….
Based on his proposed love of mega coasters, my guess is Jake is overcompensating for a strong fear of speed and heights. Which means he probably only rides the Jr. Gemini all day and still wets his pants with fear. And as for his friends, my guess is they don't ride coasters at all, but instead just just sit around all day hoping for a reduced sentence, early parole, and soap-on-a-rope.
We also spent a half day at Water Country USA, and it was a blast. Just as pretty and well maintained as BGE, with plenty of slides and fun for the whole family. If you get a chance, hit WCU as well.
I never really thought about it too much until my family visited Sea World Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa, where there were several indoor, air conditioned seating areas. The food line was basically the same cafeteria style as BGE, and the food was very similar in quality and variety, except we had the pleasure of enjoying it in a more temperate environment. That was when I realized what we had been missing at our home park. The Festhaus is great, but they really need one or two more air conditioned seating areas.
All I can do is hope that maybe the next major area that BGE builds or remodels will include this. Time will tell! Until then, I will keep my seat next to Griffin slashing down, and enjoy my fried dill pickles! I still love BGE, no matter what!
And regarding Jake, I am not sure what the policy is here, but as a moderator of other forums his activity would be considered grounds for removal. His contribution to the site pales in comparison to the drama and negativity that he brings. I love this site and hate to see it ruined by such juvenile, rude, and inconsiderate behavior. Robert, is there not something we can do about this? Your input and taking action would be greatly appreciated.
As for Jake, I honestly think he is Robert Niles' alter ego...you know, whenever Robert feels he needs to spice things up, he logs on as Jake and gets the ball rolling. ;)
I have to say, I've never found the volume a problem in Corkscrew Hill, and I have some hearing loss. But definitely agree DarKastle could be turned up quite a bit. And, as has already been pointed out, in its first season, passengers were admitted only in groups to get the full pre-show experience. But the lines were significantly slower then. I guess I'm the impatient type because I'm glad I don't have to wait. I feel I could always hang back and watch the movie again if I don't see it automatically while waiting -- but that's just me.
Dunno why a full service restaurant has never gone over well at BGE, at least since I've been visiting (first visit was in 1999 for AC's opening season). I do think they need to NOT hide the entrance to Bistro 205 so effectively, and not restrict the hours, if they really want it to succeed. How was the buffet there, anyone? As I mentioned before, we've never grown tired of Festhaus or Trappers, with occasional La Cucina or della Piazza visit thrown in, to seek out Bistro 205 or what it was in previous incarnations.
I've also been very surprised that calling another poster profane names apparently is allowed on this site. Vociferous disagreements are one thing, but leveling profane names at a specified poster is not acceptable on any other forum I frequent. Definitely bringing this forum down a bit. Not that I think anyone is seriously bothered by juvenile behavior, but it is annoying and takes away from otherwise fun discussions.
Seriously, man, you're a f*cking douche. Come out of the closet already.
As for our friend JR, if he just cut out the personal attacks against people who post, I don't mind him sticking around. I like laughing at him and the things he writes. He is so over the top, no one could possibly take anything he writes seriously.
Can you imagine one of his trip reports???
I actually went to the BG website and played the intro video for DarKastle as you can't hear it over the crowds when waiting in line.
I'm guessing the number of midway games is to help bring in more revenue as parking is covered with some of the season pass options. I'm guessing the rental lockers would also fall into that category.
Too bad you didn't ride the train, that's actually one of my favorite things to do in the park. It's pretty cool at night also.
I understand that midway games bring in revenue, but they just seem so out of place in a beautiful park like BGE. Disney has few if any in their Orlando parks, and I don't remember many in the Universals parks either, but I could be wrong about that. Too bad BGE can't put all their midway games behind closed doors and out of sight in a themed area called Leprechaun Games or something...
And we are kind of sorry we missed the train too, but when it came down to it, it was either ride the train in the dark or ride Apollo's Chariot in the dark...we went with AC....next time we will do the train!
I think the main point about the games bringing revenue means that there are a lot of people out there that do like them there.
I think that there a lot more "interactive" than most of the parks offerings, and that adds something special.
And I understand that some folks like the carnival atmosphere that midway games bring, I would just rather keep that atmosphere at the carnival and leave it out of the theme parks. Midway games just seem so cheap and "Six Flag-ish", to me.
Again, I did say it was a matter of personal preference, but who wouldn't rather have a top notch attraction instead of a collection of pay extra carnival games?
Maybe a topic for another discussion thread?
Thanks for your input on your BGE visit. Some interesting observations made.
In your brief comment section regarding Apollo's Chariot, there is a single rider line. You may have missed it in view as you climb the last set of stairs up to the rider platform. It is on the left, but I know that is is not in use unless rider volume is within a certain excess number. This means you will mostly see it available during a Saturday or weekend operation. They may have removed it, but I doubt it. May be hard to notice since it is rarely needed to use. I have used it in the past, but not yet this year during any of my 3 previous pleasure and/or work related visits.
I also understand your comments regarding the games section of Germany. Yes, there is revenue made over these, but being that I have been to the actual Octoberfest in Munich, Germany....I find that BGE has done a decent job of replicating what one may experience if they were to visit the same. Keep in mind, BGE was built back quite a few years ago and things in this area still replicate the "midway" section of the German Octoberfest. Instead of small food and game stands, different merchant stands, etc....BGE decided to place just games in that one section. The rides are considered to be mostly @ the Wolf coaster. ie.....Swings, scrambler, bumper cars, and store that you can walk through to either the midway games or rides pending your approach in Germany at BGE. The Curse of Dar Castle use to be mostly garden area and had a wild mouse type coaster called Wild Izzy during Olympics a few years back. Then the name changed to Wild Maus, and I now believe is located at the Tamps park (BGA) Of course, the main attraction Das Festhaus ends up being the last or centrally located icon, as is the largest beer hall/tent in Munich, Germany. Search for pics/photos of the Munich celebration and maybe you might be able to see the relation BGE used.
In closing, I agree with you about the games section in BGE. I especially regret walking through it since they took away the only game I was good at! The golf/putting game. I can't tell you how many HUGE stuffed animals I have won for my kids when I attended the park with family and not work related. My two kids, and others have their rooms filled with them! Then, the game was taken away, probably because there was not, if no money being made on it. Especially in my case of spending 5 dollars for 3 trys/golf balls and walking away with at least 2 HUGE prizes.
I have to say that I wish the park would add at least another "flat style" ride somewhere, and maybe we might see one soon??? Who knows, I guess it has to be determined whether or not the cost of said ride justifies the removal of some of those games?
I always believed that the primary reason they moved the main walkway is because the midway games were in an out-of-the-way location, and not getting much action. So they closed the bridge, and forced everyone to walk directly down the middle of the midway games. Then everyone had to at least look at them, and hopefully be tempted to play.
And before the Wild Izzy/Wild Maus, there was a coaster called the Glissade(sp) in the area where DarKastle stands now. It was not very large, and I never rode it because I was a young child. But I remember watching my father ride it.
The Wild Maus is now at BGT, and it is called the Cheetah Chase. It is in the Timbuktu area of the park, I believe.
Fun memories. Thanks for bringing them to mind. It is fun to see the changes over the years. It makes me want to go dig out old photos!
And please understand, my family and I loved BGE and had a great vacation there. I only brought up those awful midway games in my trip report because they stand out so much in an otherwise excellent park!
Sorry to sort of threadjack the topic.
I remember being a little kid and there was a flat ride in Germany that was painted black and I believe it had some yellow color to it. It was sort of a spider/scrambler sort of ride. Do you remember that or what it was called? It has been driving me crazy. Thanks.
Scott, when I was a little girl, there were two flat rides in Germany that I remember. The first one was located where the wirbelwind is now, and it was definitely black. It was called the spider, I believe. There was paint on the ground underneath, kind of like a web. Knowing BG, it probably had a German name meaning "spider", but I just called it the spider. It went around in a circle, each individual car went both up and down, and could spin freely on its own. If you got a loose car, you could really get it going fast, too.
There was also a ride located where the kiddie airplanes are now, in front of the bumper cars. It was called the trabant. It was like a disc with the riders along the outside edges. It would spin around as one side lifted and lowered. A couple of years ago, it was located at Busch Gardens Tampa, I believe. But it may have been removed when construction began on Jungala. I am not positive it is still there. And I probably won't be going back to that park until some time in 2009.
Both were rides that I enjoyed during my "tweens", as well as the original flat rides in Festa Italia when it first opened (there were five, I believe).
Did you go to BGE early enough to remember the "fun house" that was in Hastings (Ireland now), located where Grogan's is now? When I was very young, that was my favorite thing in the park! What great memories!
I don't remember the fun house. That does sound like a lot of fun.
Speaking of midway games, I used to love the shooting galleries they had at the park. They would always have a piano player with a target on his back and if you hit it, it would play. There was an owl and a stop light and a bunch of other stuff. I'm guessing they didn't bring in revenue like some of the games now, but I believe BGE and King's Dominion both had those.
"The Busch Gardens Europe ride Curse of DarKastle features Ludwig as a king whose parents, and later, party guests "mysteriously disappeared", and who now haunts his old castle terrorizing guests riding golden sleighs. As with Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within, werewolves figure in the ride." from Wikipedia
As for Bistro 205, the week I was there (when local schools were still in session), it was only open on the weekends, and only for lunch. Now that the season is getting underway in full force, I expect the hours to expand. It would have been nice to have another air conditioned eating option, but Das Festhaus was really quite perfect!
Got my Griffon T-Shirt on today....glad it didn't break down while we were there!!!
I guess the next attractions that need to be replaced are those midway games, right?
But they'll never go away. They have awards for them (didn't Cedar Fair win something for their hideous 3-Point Challenge games?). I just treat them like I would an SLC - ignore them.
What can I expect crowdwise on a Thursday.
Specifically THIS COMING Thursday (June 26th)
(I just wanted to get into the fun of resurrecting zombie threads)
Now, can I put some money on the Steelers winning last season's Super Bowl?
And, when I said the volume was too low, I just meant it wasn't loud enough to be heard over the groups of screaming people. Disney and Universal do a better job of controlling the crowds and keeping things quiet for the preshow entertainment.
57 comments to go....
One day I hope to get up to BGW to see what that park is like. Hopefully one day soon. Now who has the marshmallows agai.. oh look juice
Oh, marshmallows! Well, bring the big white marshmallows, not those little ones, and definitely not the ones that are kind of minty - yuck!
As for BGW, it was an awesome park. Had lots of fun there last year. Beautiful too. Definitely worth a trip.
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