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An Illuminights Evening at Busch Gardens Europe

Busch Gardens Williamsburg: The Reichley's take an evening to enjoy the Busch Gardens Illuminights shows and catch a few rides.

From Charles Reichley
Posted August 23, 2010 at 8:14 AM
We made a quick trip to Busch Gardens-Williamsburg last Thursday to enjoy their illuminights mini-shows (we actually were in Williamsburg for 3 days, doing museums and water parking).

We arrived about 4:45pm, and headed for Celtic Fyre, since we hadn't seen this new show yet. We grabbed seats, and my wife and son ran outside to see the 5pm Ireland Leprechuan show. (I'd seen it already). Then we watched Celtic Fyre -- I liked this new show, the singing and dancing were nice and a welcome change from the previous show.

Not sure about the "tap-off" between the two styles though, it seemed contrived.

Then we ran over to Italy to watch 4 girls do contortionist tricks and stand on each other in different ways, kind of a mini-Kinetics show. I liked how we were so close to the stage, as the stage was set up in the fountain by the DaVinci Cradle ride, and we sat at a bench just by the fountain.

After that show, we headed over to Germany, where it was a walk-on to the DarKastle ride, still one of my favorites. Unfortunately, the first moving movie wasn't showing (where the mother says she'll lead you out of the castle). Without the video, it really doesn't feel like you are moving at all.

After DarKastle, we caught parts of the Octoberfest show, and rode the bumper cars, before viewing the 7pm Cuckoo Clock show. I didn't like this as much as I thought I would, from the set-up. It was OK, but a bit cheesy.

Then we ran off to ride Griffon, which while not a walk-on only took us about 10 minutes. But because some people cut in line to "join" their friends, we ended up in the middle instead of an end, so my son and I went around again. This time we were in the two side seats.

We then bought ice cream at the New France shop (the one with hard ice cream, I got cookies and cream hot fudge sundae). We ate our ice cream on the steps of a shop waiting for the 8pm New France parade.

The parade was entertaining, with a lot of little vignettes including bicycles, can-can dancers, dancing waiters, and chefs.

After the parade, we headed on to Europe Air. My daughter and I did this when we were at BG for the Bangles concert, but my wife and son hadn't yet. This was the longest line at the park, and we waited over 20 minutes for the ride, which has taken over the old Corkscrew Hill 3-d show.

It still has the same moving seats, but no 3-D effects. I liked this the 1st two times I rode it, but don't expect I'll want to do this any more now that I've done it 3 times; unlike Corkscrew Hill, which I did every time I was at the park.

After that ride, we left for the night, having not even made it back to ride Apollo's Chariot , which is my favorite coaster and I think my wife's as well.

BG-Williamsburg is getting just a bit "tired" in my opinion. The loss of Big Bad Wolf, the replacemend of Corkscrew hill, the removal of the Castle O'Sullivan show for the kiddie eatery have all lessened the value of the park. The prices of most food items went up enough to make it just seem like they are ripping you off (I used to think the Pizza at the Festhaus was a good deal at just under $5; now if you want it without fries it's still $6 -- you might as well buy the fries, but who eats pizza with fries? At least the Mozzarella sticks are still only mildly overpriced).

The ice cream is still the same price, but that's a small consolation. And at least their cut refills are only $.99, not like the $1.99 "refill" price at KD which is more than I would like to pay for a regular soda to begin with.

Hopefully, the new attraction for next year won't be some boring drop tower, but I don't hold out much hope for a ride that comes close to rivalling the Big Bad Wolf that they removed. BGW is still one of my favorite parks, but it is getting harder to justify driving over 2 hours to spend a day there, or to pay money for a hotel to spend two days.


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