Friday, October 28, 2011
Fear Grows on the Dark Side of Busch Gardens
As I was strolling across the Italy Bridge in Busch Gardens Williamsburg last August, a peculiar feeling crept down my spine as if I were being watched. Roses were twisted around the railings, and as I got closer, I spied eyeballs staring back. An eerie voice floated past, singing "the dark side of the gardens, there's so much you will find ... the only thing that you have to lose, is a little of your mind."
Later that night I did some digging to find that the bridge was a preview for their Halloween event, Howl-O-Scream. And two months later, the Ogre and I went back to Virginia and immersed ourselves in the ghostly spirit.
The park was a madhouse - it was nearly at capacity when we arrived around 3 last Saturday afternoon. We ended up in Bavaria, their farthest parking lot. Surprisingly, it didn't take too long to hitch a ride on the tram and get greeted by the Lady of the Gardens. In addition to the sculpture above, she was plastered on signs around the park that read "Beauty by day, fright by night!" Charming, isn't she?
We didn't have the stomachs to stand in the insanely long lines for rides we'd already experienced in the summer. We simply walked while waiting for daylight to fade and the spooks to come out. Even in the sunshine, many of the decorations were creepy.
Some were funny! The vampires guarding Germany's gates made me bare my own teeth in a smile. I did indeed heed their warning. Also, they had a fun and free photo opportunity just inside. I couldn't help but be touristy and pose inside the open coffin.
Night fell and the haunted park was illuminated in a hazy glow. Several themed scare zones were set up throughout the gardens. Werewolves were Unleashed in Ireland, clowns were Grin and Scaring It in Festa Italia, and zombies were Stitchin' Time in Germany. The most harrowing spot was Widow Makers in New France - loggers were chasing people around with chainsaws and just the sound frayed my nerves. There were also a handful of haunted houses set up, but waiting in a 2 hour line was too scary for us.
I was more excited for the shows, anyway. Monster Stomp Revamped in Ireland was amazing. My favorite number was the dancing glow-in-the-dark skeletons. However, I was impressed by how so many performers could keep in sync with such complex beats created just by banging broomsticks, knives and other objects. The Fiends show in Oktoberfest was fun, too. What's not to like about a mad scientist, his scantily clad nurses and dancing creations? Any set list that includes the "Time Warp" from Rocky Horror Picture and "Hungry Like The Wolf" by Duran Duran gets my seal of approval.
We were exhausted by the end of the night, but I wouldn't go so far as to say dead tired. The Grim Reaper let us leave alive.