Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town 2013: Blogger/Media Preview

From pine-scented pathways and colorful conifers to whimsical wreaths, sparkly garlands, and more than six million lights, it’s all in the details at the fifth annual Christmas Town event at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. An all-new decorating tour, animal encounters, joyful musical shows, and the park’s always delicious food and beverage choices enhance the thrills of roller coasters and family fun rides.

My family and I had the opportunity to preview Christmas Town on its opening night last Friday. Along with many other Virginia families, we’ve made Christmas Town at Busch Gardens an annual tradition, so we jumped at the chance to get in an early visit.

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To start off, I got to do something I have always wanted to do. Pet a clydesdale! I considered trying to lure this handsome fellow, Dakota, home with a path of carrots, but I figured the park might notice a 1700 pound clydesdale missing from the stables. Oh, well, maybe next time.

Me and Dakota.

Me and Dakota.

Dakota

Dakota

Yum Yum.

Yum Yum.

Somebody looks like they've been rolling around.

Somebody is having a bad mane day.

Just look at these fancy feet.

Just look at these fancy feet.

We also got to meet Molly the border collie.

Molly the border collie.

Molly the border collie.

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One of Molly’s herdees peeks through the posts.

Next came the Scottish black-faced sheep and a cute little goat.

Scottish black-face sheep.

Scottish black-faced sheep and a friendly little goat.

These animal ambassadors reside at the Highland Stables in the park’s Scotland area. I have a lot of Busch Gardens favorites, but I have to admit that the animals are at the top of the list. Where else can you go to ride roller coasters and also get up close to interesting animals?

The Highland Stables’ “Clydesdales and Collies” tour is not available during Christmas Town, but during the regular season, you can learn all about life on a Scottish farm and get up close with clydesdales, collies, and Scottish black-faced sheep.

Santa’s Fireside Feast

Koy Grant, from the park's Communications Department, welcomes everybody to Santa's Fireside Feast.

Koy Grant, from the park’s marketing department, welcomes everybody to Santa’s Fireside Feast.

Scotland’s Castle O’Sullivan is the site of Santa’s Fireside Feast, an all-you-care-to-eat feast that includes mashed potatoes, dressing, chicken nuggets (gotta keep the kids happy), macaroni and cheese (another big kid pleaser), salad, Swedish meatballs, vegetables, and the most moist and delicious sliced turkey. There was probably even more than that, but I was stuffed and couldn’t waddle my way back for a second helping. If you want recommendations, the Swedish meatballs are amazing. I could have seriously just eaten the meatballs. Oh, and if you didn’t want recommendations, I give them anyway. No charge.

Santa's Fireside Feast.

Santa’s Fireside Feast.

While we were all enjoying the delicious buffet, Santa and Jingle the Elf posed for pictures with the kids and the kids at heart.

Santa and Jingle the Elf.

Santa and Jingle the Elf.

Santa's Fireside Feast at Castle O'Sullivan.

Santa’s Fireside Feast at Castle O’Sullivan.

My duo.

My duo enjoying the feast.

Listening intently.

Listening intently.

Santa and my little elf.

Santa and my little elf.

After all of the pictures were taken, it was time for a telling of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” by the man in red himself. I have heard this story a number of times throughout the years, and I have to say that this telling was a magical experience. Busch Gardens’ St. Nick has such a great voice and gave a wonderful rendition of this classic story.

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Jingle the elf gets comfy for Santa’s story.

Santa begins "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

Santa begins “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

"...Out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter."

“…Out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.”

"...And to all a good night."

“…And to all a good night.”

Here is a snippet of the story. Please pardon my sketchy video skills.

Santa, Jingle, and Mrs. Claus.

Santa, Jingle, and Mrs. Claus.

With any good story, you must have cookies and a slice of cake to top it off.

Chocolate chip cookies and red velvet cake.

Chocolate chip cookies and red velvet cake. The icing is amazing.

Here are a few festive scenes from Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town 2013.

The Globe Theater in England.

The Globe Theater in England.

The England village.

The England village.

England’s Globe Theater is all decked out to announce the British invasion of “London Rocks” in 2014.

Globe Theater.

Globe Theater.

The France village is dressed in an icy wonderland, with a theme of The Twelve Days of Christmas. There are also penguins!

The France village.

The France village.

Twelve Days of Christmas-themed trees.

Twelve Days of Christmas-themed trees.

France village.

France village.

Yes, there are even penguins. They traveled from sister park SeaWorld as well as the Columbus Zoo. You can watch a video of in-flight antics on Busch Gardens’ Instagram page at www.instagram.com/buschgardensva.

Ice Palace: A Penguin Paradise

Ice Palace: A Penguin Paradise

Hello there.

Hello there.

Should I stay or should I jump?

Should I stay or should I jump?

Don’t worry, he didn’t jump.

Santa waves hello with Pompeii in the background.

Santa waves hello with Pompeii in the background. I think the purple might be my favorite.

Blue and green make a beautiful color scheme in Italy.

Blue and green make a beautiful color scheme in Italy.

Holiday Hills is a tribute to the traditional Christmas celebrations of the mid-twentieth century. Classic decorations, twinkly garlands and tinsel deck the buildings, streets, and rides of the Festa Italia area. I particularly enjoy the blow molds in shapes such as Santa’s head, reindeer, and candlesticks.

Holiday Hills is a stroll down retro lane.

Holiday Hills is a stroll down retro lane.

Snowman Summit.

Snowman Summit.

Countdown

Countdown to Christmas.

Classic Coke and big bright bulbs.

Classic Coke and big bright bulbs.

Retro Reindeer

Retro Reindeer.

Our last project of the night was painting a piece of pottery. Caribou Pottery, in New France, is the perfect place for when you’re feeling crafty. Paint your own pottery pieces or capodimonte (made in the Italy village), or hand-dip a candle in colorful wax.

Both big and little hands can have fun painting pottery.

Both big and little hands can have fun painting pottery.

Paint your own pottery.

Caribou Pottery has a large selection of paint your own pottery.

Capodimonte pottery pieces are made in the Italy village.

Capodimonte pottery pieces are handmade in the Italy village by a master sculpter.

Caribou Pottery is one of my daughter’s favorite things at Busch Gardens. The whole process works very similar to places like Gather and Glaze or All Fired Up. You pick out an item, choose your paint colors, and go to town with your own unique brand of creativity. After you’ve painted your pottery, the item will be fired in a kiln and shipped to you. The price of the item includes all firing, shipping, and handling charges. I can’t wait to see how our poinsettia ornament turns out.

My little artist really enjoys the hand-dipped wax candles. Watch out, the wax is very hot.

Hand-dipped wax candles selections.

Hand-dipped wax candle selections.

Hand-dipping a colorful wax candle.

Hand-dipping a colorful wax candle.

Let the wax dry in between dipping. It dries pretty quickly and you can take it with you right away.

The finished product.

The finished product.

Christmas Town Musical Shows

  • Deck the Halls – Performed in Das Festhaus, Deck the Halls is a festive collection of classic Christmas songs accompanied by spirited dance numbers. Frosty the Snowman, a troupe of soldiers, and gingerbread gentlemen join the park’s talented performers.
  • Gloria! – Experience the retelling of the joyous Christmas story through contemporary and traditional songs and music in Ireland’s Abbey Stone Theater.
  • Miracles – Witness an uplifting performance of classic and contemporary song and dance in Italys’ outdoor Il Teatro di San Marco Theatre.
Deck the Halls performed in Das Festhaus.

Deck the Halls performed in Das Festhaus.

Busch Gardens’ Rides Open During Christmas Town 2013

  • Battering Ram
  • DaVinci’s Cradle
  • Der Autobahn
  • Der Autobahn Jr.
  • Der Wirbelwind
  • Flying Machine
  • Kinder Karussel
  • Le Catapult
  • Li’l Clydes
  • Little Balloons
  • Little Gliders
  • Nacht Tower (Mach Tower)
  • Peppermint Twist (Turkish Delight teacups)
  • Reindeer Run
  • Roto Baron
  • Skyride
  • Snowman Summit (Trade Wind)
  • Train
  • Verbolten
  • Wirbelwindchen

If You Go:

  • The Christmas Town Fun Card – Pay for a one-day admission ($30.00) and enjoy unlimited visits to the park during Christmas Town 2013.
  • Santa’s Fireside Feast – Enjoy a classic Christmas story told by the man in red himself while feasting upon an all-you-care-to-eat buffet. Santa’s Fireside Feast is $30.00 for adults and $20.00 ages three to nine. Ages two and under are free.
  • Exclusive tours are available at an additional cost and include holiday decorating, penguin encounters and wolf training up-close.

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens is open on select nights through December 31, 2013. Please check out the Busch Gardens Williamsburg website for specific dates and times.

Just like Grandma’s pumpkin pie always has the perfect blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other scrumptious spices, Busch Gardens has mixed in all kinds of memorable moments in its 2013 Christmas Town display. Come on out and start your own tradition. And yes, there is a pathway that is actually scented with pine. Like I said, it’s all in the details.

Thank you, Busch Gardens Williamsburg! We had a festive time.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Disclosure: The author received complimentary admission to Christmas Town 2013 as part of the Blogger/Media Preview Event. All opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author.

 

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