Note: This article was originally published at Examiner.com in December 2015.
If you haven’t yet made plans for Christmas light viewing, weekend getaways or day trips, be sure to put Busch Gardens at the top of your holiday travel itinerary.
The Williamsburg park just opened for its annual Christmas Town event. Eight million lights, festive food, dazzling decorations, pine-scented pathways and inspiring musical performances are just a couple of reasons to visit during this Christmas season. One of the biggest reasons is the park’s all new ice skating show.
The stage of the Royal Palace Theater, the concert venue in the France village, has been transformed into a glistening ice arena complete with dancing sugar plum fairies, dashing soldiers, reindeer, exciting effects and a surprise ending. I’m never one to give away a good ending, so I will just say that it is awwww-inspiring.
The narrator, Papa in his cap, is played by none other than Olympic silver medalist Elvis Stojko. Mexican figure skater Gladys Orozco, also known as Mrs. Stojko, plays Mama in her kerchief. The rest of the ‘Twas That Night cast consists of a talented array of figure skaters and performers.
Created by the same team behind London Rocks and Scrooge No More, ‘Twas That Night is based on the 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Moore. Busch Gardens’ creative team has outdone themselves with this production. Aside from turning a stage into an ice skating rink, much kudos goes out to the costume design, stage design, choreography, music and special effects teams. I’ve always wondered just how Santa gets down all of those chimneys. Well, now we know.
Figure skating fans will of course remember Canadian figure skater Elvis Stojko. Elvis was in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway and the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Elvis Stojko holds a number of achievements to his name, including three-time World Champion, two-time Olympic silver medalist and seven-time Canadian champion.
While my family and I enjoyed the whole production, I must point out a couple of my favorite scenes and moments. The entrance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is completely magical with its floating scarves and dreamlike setting. I also really enjoyed the dancing reindeer and Santa in his sleigh.
‘Twas That Night does a great job of retelling a classic tale while keeping it contemporary and fun for all ages. Kids will just adore those dancing – or rather, skating – deer.
If you go
Whether you’re bringing the whole family, planning a romantic weekend away or just want to see what eight million lights really looks like, you can’t go wrong with Christmas Town. Even if you don’t set foot on a single ride, the festive atmosphere of the park’s decked out European villages will have you humming “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.”
Christmas Town musical shows include Gloria, Miracles, Deck the Halls, Scrooge No More and ‘Twas That Night. All of the shows are excellent as are the elaborate decorations and delicious food and beverage options. If I had to narrow down just a few not-to-be-missed experiences, they would be as follows:
Must-do at Christmas Town
- Take in the classic tale and icy extravaganza of ‘Twas That Night – at the Royal Palace Theater
- Listen to a choir straight out of a Victorian Christmas card
- Witness the true meaning of Christmas at Gloria – performed in the Abbey Stone Theatre
- Reminisce about a bygone era in Holiday Hills – located in the Festa Italia village
- Take a picture with a Clydesdale
- Relive Christmases Past, Present and Future at Scrooge No More – presented in England’s Globe Theater
- Walk down a pine-scented pathway while snacking on a warm, hand-baked German pretzel
I can always find a way to work in those pretzels. They are my weakness. Hot chocolate, soups, delicious desserts and a traditional Christmas buffet are also available.
Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town is open on select days from November 27, 2015 through January 3, 2016. While season passes aren’t valid for Christmas Town, passholders can use their active pass for parking as well as food, beverage and retail discounts at select locations.
Not all of the park’s rides and animal attractions are open during this time. Most of the kid-friendly rides are open as well as Verbolten. Inclement weather conditions may also force rides to close. Please click here for a list of Busch Gardens rides that are scheduled to be open during Christmas Town.
Please visit http://www.christmastown.com/va for more information, complete operating schedules and to purchase tickets to Christmas Town 2015.
Disclosure: The author received admission to Christmas Town as part of Busch Gardens Ambassador Blogger/Thrill Chaser program. All opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author.