Somewhere in the Sand Words and Wanderings with a Side of Surf Fri, 18 Aug 2017 00:42:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 48452175 Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream 2017: New Thrills and Chills Tue, 15 Aug 2017 01:17:01 +0000

Photo: Busch Gardens

Get ready for goosebumps, spine chills and cold-hearted horror at Busch Gardens’ 2017 installment of Howl-O-Scream. A new haunted house, escape room and Terror-tory are in the works, and they’re all destined to carve up lots of screams and scares.

New Escape Room: No Escape: Case of the Haunted Hotel

Guests must follow clues and solve riddles to find their way out of this creepy cursed hotel. Unlock the mysteries, or you may never check out. The returning escape room is the Case of Mr. Karver, which will have new tricks and riddles to solve.

Axe Alley
Photo: Busch Gardens

New Terror-Tory: Axe Alley

To go along with the park’s new roller coaster, InvadR, a new Terror-tory (or scare zone) has arisen from Viking battle cries. This new scare zone, located in New France, is all about a raiding party gone very very wrong. Desolate ruins of ashes and axe-slashed oaks are all that’s left. Watch out, or you might be next. Axe Alley takes the place of Wendigo Woods.

New Haunted House: FrostBite

The new haunted house, FrostBite, takes the place of the vampires of Bitten from previous years. Though I’m sad to see one of my favorites go, I’m excited to see what’s in store.

FrostBite will be located inside the Curse of DarKastle* ride, but it will not carry over the theming of DarKastle or use the ride vehicles. FrostBite takes guests on a freezing foray through a kingdom that has been overtaken by icy creatures. Think: “Frozen” with a macabre makeover.

Everyone in this land has been consumed with frost and ice, and anybody who dares to walk through it runs the risk of being exposed to chilling elements at every turn of the maze.

More New-Ness at Howl-O-Scream 2017

The park will have its first ever exclusive sneak peek with Pass Member Howl-O-Scream Preview Night on Friday, September 22. This event takes place from 4-10 p.m. The whole park will be open for pass members to enjoy their favorite haunts and Terror-Tories along with rides, shows and food.

While not new, per se, the park is welcoming back the Starfright Orchestra after an eight year hiatus. This 12-piece swing band returns with some of its original members singing performing songs such as “I Put a Spell on You” and “Monster Mash.”

Howl-O-Scream Haunted Houses 2017

  • New FrostBite – Germany
  • Circo Sinistro – Festa Italia
  • Catacombs – France
  • Dead Line – Pompeii in Italy
  • Cornered – Germany
  • Lumberhack – wooded area behind Das Festahaus
  • Unearthed – Scarlett’s Revenge – Scotland

Axe Alley
Photo: Busch Gardens

Howl-O-Scream Terror-Tories 2017

  • New – Axe Alley – New France (a.k.a. Canada)
  • Ripper Row – England
  • Demon Street – France
  • Sideshow Square – Italy
  • Vampire Point – Germany

Night Beats show at the CASKet Club
Photo: Busch Gardens

Howl-O-Scream Shows 2017

  • Fiends – Abbey Stone Theatre
  • Monster Stomp – Globe Theatre
  • Night Beats – Das Festhaus
  • Starfright Orchestra – Italy’s Il Teatro Di San Marco

Howl-O-Scream 2017 Details

Howl-O-Scream opens on September 23, 2017 and runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Sunday, October 29. The park will stay open until midnight on Saturdays in October, which is new. It will also add two additional Thursdays – Oct. 19 and 26 – to its operating schedule.

Howl-O-Scream 2017 operating hours may vary. Be sure to visit for schedules and additional information as well as to purchase tickets.

Note: If you’ve never attended Howl-O-Scream, please be aware that is not intended for young children. The park becomes seriously scary after 6:00 p.m. Before that, it’s perfectly fine. You can ride rides, watch shows and enjoy the fall décor with no problem. Please consider your child’s fright factor when deciding whether to bring them to Howl-O-Scream.

Check out Howl-O-Scream 2016 for a peek into what to expect.

* Also of note: The Curse of DarKastle attraction will be closed for the season starting on Sept 4. It will reopen as FrostBite on Sept. 22.

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Kenny Chesney and Blue Chair Bay Rum Invite Fans to ‘Take a Year Off’ Wed, 09 Aug 2017 21:05:13 +0000

Photo courtesy of Blue Chair Bay(R) Rum / PRNewsfoto

What would you do with a year off? Travel? Start that novel? Finish restoring the classic car you started years ago? Learn to play the guitar and join a band?

Blue Chair Bay, Kenny Chesney’s premium rum collection, is inviting fans and followers to live out whatever dream they might have. One lucky winner will receive a cash prize of $50,000, the U.S. median annual salary. No resume required. There’s also no guarantee that Kenny will let you join his band, but how cool is that?

All you have to do is write a short essay and complete a couple of easy tasks. The easiest of which is purchasing a bottle of Blue Chair Bay Rum. Even if you don’t win, you’ll still have the rum. Win/win, right?

Blue Chair Bay’s “Take a Year Off” contest is currently underway. It runs until September 30, 2017. An expert panel that includes editors at Rolling Stone Magazine and Parade Magazine will pick the winner.

Details on entering Blue Chair Bay Rum’s “Take the Year Off” contest

  • Surf on over to You must be 21 to enter.
  • Submit a 200-word (maximum) essay on how you would spend the year off.
  • Enter the bottle code printed on the back of your bottle of Blue Chair Bay Rum. (Hint: it’s the set of numbers and letters printed in black at the bottom of the bottle).
  • Wait impatiently for the announcement on November 5, 2017.

If you haven’t tried Blue Chair Bay Rum, now is the perfect time to check it out. This premium line celebrates Kenny Chesney’s love of the Caribbean and island life. In fact, the name comes from his song “Old Blue Chair.”

Key Lime Rum Cream

Memories of beach vacations with family and friends and the spirit of freedom from everyday commitments is what inspired Blue Chair Bay to create this unique contest. Flavors include coconut, banana, vanilla and key lime cream as well as traditional white rum.

I’m only slightly obsessed with the key lime cream. It’s really smooth and well, creamy, with a nice key lime kick. I’ve always been a margarita and tequila kind of girl, but Blue Chair Bay has won me over. I’m seeing lots of mojitos, painkillers, rum swizzles and maybe some pina coladas in my future. National Rum Day is coming up …

Another thing I’m obsessed with is the gorgeous bottle. I love the small details like that propeller, anchor and seashell on the neck sticker. I may just have to buy all of them for the bottle. Yeah, that’s it. I’m buying it for the bottle.

Blue Chair Bay Rum

Blue Chair Bay Rum

What would you do with a year off? I’m pretty sure my year off would involve islands, soft sand, swaying palm trees and maybe a boat drink or two.

Visit for lots of creative rum recipes. If you’re looking for a little background music to go with your rum rendezvous, turn up Sirius XM’s No Shoes Radio. Yes, Kenny has his own radio station. No, I’m not affiliated. I just like good music. And rum. Don’t forget the rum.

Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum Cream

Fine print: You must be 21 to enter the Blue Chair Bay “Take a Year Off” contest.

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Redheads, Rogers and Renegade Behavior: Just a Regular Day at the National Gallery of Art with Museum Hack Mon, 31 Jul 2017 23:38:55 +0000

Photo: Museum Hack

When was the last time you went to a museum and posed with statues, matched emojis to portraits and participated in impromptu displays of tableau vivant? Add to that tales of a lesbian queen, redheaded mistresses and muses, conspiracy theories and male artists who would be unheard of without the help of female counterparts.

If any of the above piqued your interest (as it did mine), then Museum Hack should be high on your radar the next time you’re in New York City, Chicago, L.A. or D.C. (which, by the way, has the best museum in the world – hashtag fact).

I took Museum Hack’s Un-Highlights Tour at the National Gallery of Art. When a tour is described as being for somebody who enjoys speed walking and secretive, salacious and scandalous stories, how could I resist? They also have a Bad $$S Bit%&%& Tour that focuses on the super bad (in a good sense) women in art.

We’ll start with the renegade behavior, because, well, doesn’t everything good start with renegade behavior?

Tableau Vivant

If you watch Gilmour Girls or Modern Family, you may have seen tableau vivant and didn’t even know it. Check out this pic for an example.

Tableau vivant with Copley’s “Watson and the Shark,” 1778

Tableau vivant is a real thing where people dress up and replicate paintings. There’s even a whole festival dedicated to this art. It’s called The Pageant of the Masters, and it takes place in Laguna Beach, California. Leave it to the Californians.

While the modern version is certainly interesting, the concept started a long time ago – centuries to be somewhat exact – as a way to tell others about a painting or to “sketch out” a scene. Back then, it wasn’t so simple to whip out an iPhone from your pantaloons and snap a selfie with a Renoir. So they would invite friends over for dinner and “act out” the painting.

The painting we so eloquently re-enacted is John Singleton Copley’s “Watson and the Shark.” Brook Watson is the guy, a cabin boy, getting attacked by the shark. He lost his right leg but survived the attack. Now, surviving a shark attack is a big deal, so he commissioned this painting.

“Watson and the Shark”
Photo: National Gallery of Art

The setting is Havana Harbor, Cuba. Sketches were done of the men who helped him (there were three, not nine, in the boat), and they had maps of Havana Harbor to make the background authentic to the time. The African American man in the back is who saved him, which is why he’s portrayed so much bigger. They also didn’t really know what sharks looked like – as you can probably guess from this depiction – so they based it off of a set of shark’s teeth. Seems legit.

Bonus Info: The Gilmour Girls tableau vivant episode featured Renoir, Parmigianino and da Vinci. Modern Family delved into Norman Rockwell with a Thanksgiving-style family photo.

More Renegade Behavior

We were given the task of matching a random emoji with a portrait. The purpose was to really look at faces. Here’s mine. If you know me, I will always gravitate to dogs. Always.

I matched my emoji to this cute little dog. I’m imagining his tongue out.

Here, we were asked to find a sculpture that spoke to us in some way. I chose this pretty little lady. I couldn’t find a dog.

Posing with Randolph Rogers’ Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompeii

This beautiful work by Randolph Rogers is entitled Nydia, The Blind Girl of Pompeii. Other than this activity, we didn’t spend much time in the sculpture gallery. So I did a bit of research on my own – because that’s just the type of thing I do. I also needed another R for my title. Alliteration is my life.

It turns out that Mr. Rogers (the sculptor, not the best neighbor ever), has a connection to my home city of Richmond, Virginia. He was the artist behind this majestic statue, aptly named The Virginia Washington Monument, which stands at the Virginia State Capitol building. As grand as this is, I’m going to stick with Nydia. She’s a much better listener.

Randolph Rogers’ Virginia Washington Monument


It’s a modern fact that redheads are a force to be reckoned with. They’ve also been in the paintings and portraits (not to mention the beds) of a multitude of artists from de la Tour to Whistler.

We visited James McNeill Whistler’s “Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl” early on in the tour. Notice that beautiful red hair? Her name is Joanna, and she was Whistler’s mistress.

James McNeill Whistler’s Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl

This particular piece is not a traditional portrait. In other words, she did not go to the salon, dress up all fancy-like and sit and pose. All sorts of artistic conjecturing (read: gossiping) was done about this woman in white. Was it her wedding day? What was she doing the night before? What did this mean? What did that mean? Pretty much what goes on these days but in fancier language.

Due to all of this over-analyzation, Whistler coined the phrase about “art for art’s sake.” Basically, he said there was nothing more to it than all those beautiful shades of white, which, by the way, are quite majestic to see in person, even with the dead bear beneath her feet.

Note: While Whistler loved his mother, he was not very nice to other women. We’ll just leave it at that.

We were given the task of finding a BFF for Joanna from among the other paintings and portraits. Can you guess who I chose?

Of course I chose a dog.

Conspiracy theories are all around us. We’re looking at you, Free Masons. But somehow one of my obsessions made its way into our Museum Hack tour. As you may know, I’m a major Disney fan. From the art and animation to the parks, history and Walt himself, if it’s Disney-related, I’m going to be all over it. That’s why this part of the tour was the highlight for me.

This is an interpretation of Mary Magdalen. I don’t know if it’s the beautiful candlelight, all of that negative space, the homage to memento mori or the pop culture connection, but I really love this one. Also, did you notice the red hair?

Georges de La Tour’s The Repentant Magdalen (1635/1640) Photo: National Gallery of Art

Have you ever seen this painting or something similar to it? Does it look familiar? Take a look at this …

“what’s a fire, and why does it, what’s the word?.. buuuurn?” #georgesdelatour #magdalenwiththesmokingflame #thelittlemermaid

A post shared by micahanthonyjohnson (@micahanthonyjohnson) on

Yes, along with all of those dinglehoppers and thingamajigs, Ariel managed to snag herself a de La Tour. This one is called “Magdalen with the Smoking Flame,” and it caused quite a stir when the art community and conspiracy theorists figured it out. Why in the (part of your) world would Disney do this? The mermaid, that firey red hair and all the other symbolism supposedly conveyed in the movie. Why, it MUST be a conspiracy!

Perhaps it was just that the movie is set in France (de La Tour was French), animation is art in itself or that artist and Disney Imagineer Glen Keane simply needed a way to convey the concept of fire … under water. As Whistler would say “Can’t it just be art for art’s sake?”


Now you’re probably wondering about that lesbian queen mention. Admit it, you are. Okay, so here’s the story, because you won’t hear this one on any traditional museum tour. The painting entitled “Countess Ebba Sparre (1652/3),” by Sebastien Bourdon, was commissioned (most likely) by Queen Christina of Sweden. Queen Christina introduced this woman, who probably served as her handmaiden, as her lover to everyone she met, with absolutely no shame, in the 1600s.

“Countess Ebba Sparre” by Sebastien Bourdon

Countess Ebba was eventually married off by her family and the two never saw each other again. But this story only gets more interesting. Ready for more on Queen Christina? Well, she became Catholic. With Sweden being a Lutheran country, that could not happen. What do you think she did? As any renegade would do, she abdicated the throne and moved to Rome. The Pope was so impressed, he invited her to the Vatican. She is now buried at the Vatican. A lesbian queen buried at the Vatican. Who knew? Museum Hack, that’s who. Oh, and her internal organs are in a jar upstairs at the Vatican. You’re welcome.

Details on Museum Hack Tours

Museum Hack does tours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Private team building tours, public tours and special events – like the Game of Thrones-inspired tour at the MET – can all be found by surfing on over to They also have a great Instagram feed, which is full of the most irreverent and interesting things you could imagine.


I can’t end without sharing a few of my fangirl faves from the visit. I will forever be a fan of van Gogh, and impressionism in general. It was totally worth battling D.C. traffic and participating in sketchy parking procedures to be able to stand in the same room with these works.

I have to also mention that had it not been for van Gogh’s sister-in-law, his paintings would have all been burned by his brother. Go Johanna Bonger. I bet she was a redhead.

Vincent van Gogh’s “Green Wheat Fields”




Mary Cassatt’s “Children Playing on a Beach”


The National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.

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Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival 2017: India, the Mediterranean, and Chef Presentations Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:54:07 +0000

India kiosk

Between roller coasters, musical shows and animal encounters, there’s always something fun and exciting going on at Busch Gardens. And right now, one of my favorite events is taking place.

The 2017 Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival takes place now through July 2 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Park guests can sample and enjoy food and beverage items from around the world. This event is part of park admission, though food and beverage samples are at an additional cost.

New for Food & Wine 2017 is India, the Mediterranean and the Island Freeze frozen beverage stand. The Mediterranean takes the place of Greece, though many of the menu items remain the same. You’ve got to try the baklava.

The park has also added some fun chef presentations, which are conducted by Williamsburg area chefs. This allows guests to get an up-close look at how to prepare some of the dishes. They give out samples after the dish is prepared. Hang around for that! You can also visit the park website for recipes to try on your own.

India kiosk at Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival 2017

The first thing you’ll notice about the India kiosk is the incredibly colorful exterior, including that adorable elephant. The second thing you’ll notice are the scents of curry, cardamom, ginger and coconut floating through the air.


India kiosk


Colorful elephant sculpture at India kiosk

India menu items include:

Samosas – India

Samosas are an Indian pastry filled with curried potatoes and peas and mango chutney. This is a vegetarian item.

Tandoori Chicken – India

Tandoori chicken is spiced yogurt-marinated chicken with cardamom ginger rice and cucmber raita.

Spicy Potato Curry – India

Spicy Potato Curry is a combination of garbanzo beans, sweet peas and potatoes stewed in coconut milk with curry spice. This is a vegetarian item. This particular sample is what I received at the Chef Presentation. The actual sample from the kiosk is bigger, however, this is a great way to test your tastebuds to see if you want to try a bigger portion … as well as portion control so you can try even more items.

Mango burfi is a mango and coconut snowball. I did not get the chance to try this item, but I plan to go back.

Beverage choices at India include a mango mint lassi frozen cocktail and a Masala chai iced tea (non-alcoholic).

Mediterranean kiosk at Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival 2017

The Mediterranean kiosk

The Mediterranean region replaces Greece from previous years. Most of the menu items remain the same, including this marvelous baklava.

Baklava – Mediterranean

Baklava is a sweet pastry with nuts and honey between layers of thin crispy filo pastry.

Lamb Burger Slider – Mediterranean

The lamb burger slider is made of seasoned ground labm on pita bread with feta cheese spread, cucumber, tomato and olive.

The falafel is a chickpea fritter with seesame dipping sauce.

Halloumi is griddled Greek chesse with clover honey and crushed pistachios.

Wine, cocktails and specialty beverages include Elios Mediterranean red, Elios Mediterranean white, Ouzo and iced cafe au lait.

Island Freeze frozen drink kiosk

Island Freeze frozen drink stand

When you replace the S in island with CE, you get Iceland. And that’s exactly what Hans has done with Island Freeze. As the backstory goes, Hans is the surfing (snow, not water) son of Verbolten’s proprietors. He decided to take his love of the frozen stuff and turn it into a boozy beverage business. Choose from rum runners, daiquiris, sangria, mojitos and more.

This is on my list to try the next time I’m at the park. I just couldn’t stuff myself any further on my first visit. It’s surprising how full you actually get with those sample-sized portions.

Island Freeze details

I love the details – snowboards and goggles – displayed all over this kiosk.

Chef Presentations in Pictures

I had almost as much fun watching the Chef Presentations as I did eating the food. These talented folks are so much fun. When I grow up, I want to be a chef. I’m thinking that’s bound to make me interesting by association, right?

Chef K prepares India’s spicy potato curry

Chef K demonstrates how to prepare the spicy potato curry from the India kiosk.

Spicy potato curry in the making.


Chef K presents the final product.

Visit Chef K on Facebook.

Chef Erica Rouse prepares Asia’s lettuce wrap

Chef Erica Rouse


Asia’s lettuce wrap ingredients – vegetables and tofu

The lettuce wrap consists of vegetables and tofu wrapped in tender butter lettuce with toasted almonds and sweet chili dipping sauce. For this presentation, Chef Erica did not use the lettuce, but the sample purchased from the kiosk does have the lettuce.

I had never had tofu before, and I really enjoyed the chance to taste it. At the risk of sounding cliche, it reminded me of chicken. Chef Erica also showed us a great way to slice an onion to make perfect slivers.

Meet the chefs at the Busch Gardens website.

Food & Wine Festival facts:

  • That beautiful blue dome on top of the kiosk is made out of foam.
  • The park has one artist who paints all of the kiosks. I think she deserves a huge round of applause.
  • Many of the soups and sauces are prepared ahead of time in locations around the park. When there’s this much volume, you have to get creative.

I won’t go into all of the other countries in depth. Check out these articles from previous years to get an idea of what to expect from the other kiosks. The menus have remained deliciously similar.

On a final note, Busch Gardens has created a really unique culinary experience with Pairings of Note. This tasting experience takes place inside Castle O’Sullivan and features live music and a six-course sample meal, paired with wines to go along with each course.

Pairings of Note

Pairings of Note menu

Chef Justin

No, Chef Justin will not be personally conducting Pairings of Note presentations. But there will be a food and wine expert on hand to explain and discuss each course and its paired wine. This unique experience is at an additional cost. Bottles of wine can also be purchased to enjoy at home.

My best advice when attending Busch Gardens’ Food & Wine Festival? Purchase a Food & Beverage Sampler pass. It includes 10 entrees, desserts and (new this year) wine or beer. Frozen drinks, shots and cocktails aren’t included. Another option is to load money onto a Cashless Wristband. That way, you can just scan without having to dig into wallets, bags and backpacks.

Food & Beverage Samplers can be purchased at any Food & Wine Festival kiosk.

Cashless Wristbands can be purchased/loaded at the Welcome Center, Castle O’Sullivan, Bella Casa, Acadia Traders, the Main Gate, Guest Relations and Guest Services.

Bon Appetit!

Photo: Busch Gardens

 Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to the park as part of the Food & Wine Media Day event. All opinions are strictly my own.

SeaWorld and Sesame Workshop announce extended partnership and new Sesame Place theme park Tue, 23 May 2017 17:11:33 +0000 Friendly faces, furry hugs and lots of counting fun … it’s time to take a magical carpet ride to where the air is sweet. There’s only one street where we could be going, and Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and the rest of the gang are ready and waiting.

SeaWorld Entertainment and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street,” has announced the extension of their 37-year partnership, which will include the development of another Sesame Place theme park in the United States. No location has been disclosed as of yet.

Photo: PRNewsfoto/SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

Located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, the current Sesame Place is the nation’s only theme park based completely on the award-winning educational series “Sesame Street,” which has been entertaining and educationg kids since 1969. Families can cuddle with furry friends like Big Bird and Elmo, ride Grover-themed roller coasters (kid-sized, of course) and enjoy musical productions and parades.

The new license agreement between Sesame Workshop and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment extends SeaWorld’s status as Sesame Workshop’s exclusive theme park partner in the U.S. The second Sesame Place is scheduled to open in mid-2021 in a to-be-determined location. After it opens, SeaWorld will have the option to build additional Sesame Place theme parks in the U.S.

Photo: Seaworld Parks

This agreement also makes it possible for Sesame Street characters to continue to appear at the existing Sesame Street lands inside Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Busch Gardens Tampa, SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld San Antonio. There is also a Sesame Street land planned for SeaWorld Orlando, which should be complete by fall of 2022.

Under the license, the two companies have agreed to extend their collaborative relationship through December 2031.

“We know that the magic of theme parks gives families a unique and powerful way to experience and delight in the Sesame Street characters,” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, Chief Executive Officer of Sesame Workshop. “Building more Sesame Place theme parks will enable us to connect with even more families and provide funding that supports our nonprofit mission.”

In addition, Sesame Place extends Sesame Workshop’s commitment to social impact work with its Sesame Place Cares annual series of events both in and outside of the park. This includes its 30-year partnership with Variety – The Children’s Charity, which is focused on providing events in a safe and fun atmosphere for children with disabilities and their families.

“We share Sesame’s goal of education and entertaining generations of children, and the extension of our partnership furthers SeaWorld’s mission to provide guests with experiences that matter,” said Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “We are thrilled to be able to grow the presence of Sesame Place theme parks in the U.S. and help our company diversify its brand portfolio and expand into new areas.”

Photo: PRNewsfoto/SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

“Expanding our Sesame Place theme park footprint will both deepen our relationship with longstanding fans and help us to connect with new families,” said Steve Youngwood, Chief Operating Officer of Sesame Workshop. “This partnership will also enable the Workshop to continue producing high-quality educational programming for the next generation.”

This post was brought to you by the letter P … for “Please build it quickly.”

Have you been to Sesame Place or any of the in-park Sesame Street lands? Feel free to share your thoughts or fun-filled adventures.

Conquer Coasters and Dominate the Day: ‘Battle for Kings Dominion’ augmented reality app is now available Fri, 19 May 2017 15:12:40 +0000

Battle for Kings Dominion game app screenshot

Have you ever wanted to rule a theme park? Now’s your chance. Following on the footsteps of the popular Pokemon Go craze (Is that still a craze?), Kings Dominion has just launched a brand new interactive gaming app.

Developed by experiential design experts Holovis, The Battle for Kings Dominion app is a combination of augmented reality and traditional gaming (similar in nature to the aforementioned Pokemon Go) that is designed to take the in-park experience to the next level. Guests will be able to declare loyalty to a coaster alliance and then “battle” against each other to take virtual control of the Kings Dominion realm.

From the press release …

“We are excited to introduce our guests to an entirely new digital layer of the park experience,” said Gary Chadwick, Kings Dominion’s Vice President and General Manager. “Being able to gamify the park through the Battle for Kings Dominion, from interactive queue lines and midways to the personification of rides, will make for an even more engaging day.”

Battle for Kings Dominion game app screenshot

How it works:

  • Choose from five coaster alliances: Dominator, Flight of Fear, Intimidator 305, Avalanche or Volcano. Each alliance has its own unique character avatar and a custom battle shield.
  • Compete against other guests and attempt to defeat the other alliances for dominance of the park throughout the day.
  • Earn points in various ways such as playing mini-games in special parts of the ride queues, taking over territory from competing teams, answering trivia questions and riding roller coasters.
  • Game players can monitor the Battle Map in real-time to see which alliance is winning as well as to challenge other alliances to regain control.
  • Level up and unlock new customization options for your character.
  • At the end of the day, the champion alliance will be announced.
  • Augmented reality moments from the experience will come to life on the guest’s Apple or Android device and can be shared with friends on social media.

Battle for Kings Dominion app Screenshot


“Extended Experiences are the future of entertainment,” said Amy Steele, VP of Development at Holovis. “This is where every element is connected together allowing guests to discover hidden narratives and gamify what are traditionally passive moments. They can even continue to customize their Coaster Alliance avatar from home as people prepare for their next visit.”


Battle for Kings Dominion game app screenshot

The Battle for Kings Dominion app is now available for download on Apple or Android devices. To make the gaming experience even easier to play and connect, Kings Dominion has added free park-wide Wi-Fi.

Battle for Kings Dominion game app screenshot

So, where does you alliance lie?

The Taste of Virginia food and wine event is going on through May 21, so it would be a great time to get in some game time and try out samples of Virginia food and beverages. Visit for the full 2017 operating calendar and special events.

Battle for Kings Dominion game app screenshot

Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival 2017: What’s new? Wed, 03 May 2017 19:40:16 +0000

Photo: Busch Gardens

The widely popular, and always delicious, Food & Wine Festival is returning to Busch Gardens Williamsburg for its fifth season. The event takes place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from May 26 through July 2, 2017.

In addition to global food and beverage options (available at 15 creatively themed kiosks located around the park), park guests can enjoy live music, wine and scotch tastings, colorful decorations and cooking demonstrations. Previous events have hosted talented sculptors and artisans carving all kinds of creations out of ice, fruit and vegetables.

There is no extra charge to enjoy the Food & Wine Festival, but menu items are in addition to park admission. Food & Wine menu items are sample-sized and range in price from $4 to $10.

Hawaii kiosk

Last year, Busch Gardens added Virginia and Hawaii to the lineup, both to great reviews. Those two regions return along with many other favorites and a couple of new tastes.

What’s new at Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival 2017

The Mediterranean region replaces Greece. It’s located in Italy next to Escape from Pompeii. The menu includes:

  • Halloumi – Griddled Greek cheese with clover honey and crushed pistachios
  • Lamb Burger Slider – Seasoned ground lamb on pita bread with feta cheese spread, cucumber, tomato and olive
  • Falafel (vegan-friendly) – Chickpea fritter with sesame dipping sauce
  • Baklava – Sweet pastry with nuts and honey between thin crispy filo pastry layers
  • Wine – Elios Mediterranean Red, Elios Mediterranean White
  • Cocktails – Ouzo
  • Specialty drink (non-alcoholic) – Iced Café Au Lait

India is located in Germany near DarKastle. It offers a variety of savory Indian dishes, frozen cocktails and vegan-friendly options. Menu items include:

  • Tandoori Chicken – spiced yogurt marinated chicken with cardamom ginger rice and cucumber raita
  • Samosas (vegan-friendly) – Indian savory pastry filled with curried potatoes and peas with mango chutney
  • Spicy Potato Curry (vegan-friendly) – Garbanzo beans, sweet peas and potatoes stewed in coconut milk with curry spice
  • Mango Burfi – Mango and coconut snowballs
  • Mango Mint Smoothie – Spiked mango mint smoothie with yogurt and Indian spices
  • Masala Chai Iced Tea (non-alcoholic)

Located in Oktoberfest, next to Mach Tower, Island Freeze is a delicious destination for the over 21 crowd. It features a menu of tropical-inspired drinks, including rum runners, mojitos, sangria, ballinis, daiquiris and pina coladas.

Learn more and take a peek at the rest of the 2017 Food and Wine menus right here. You can even check out some of the recipes to create these tasty dishes at home.

Hawaii kiosk – Haupia tart

Busch Gardens Food & Beverage Regions for 2017

  • American Southwest
  • Asia
  • Canada
  • Caribbean
  • Crepes & Coffee kiosk
  • French Quarter
  • Germany
  • Hawaii
  • India (NEW)
  • Ireland
  • Island Freeze Frozen Beverages (NEW)
  • Italy
  • Mediterranean (NEW)
  • Spain
  • Virginia

Tips to enjoy Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival 2017

Purchase pre-loaded wristbands, located at several locations around the park. This allows “hands-free” purchasing power as it eliminates all of that digging through bags for wallets, cash or credit cards. Of course, cash and credit cards are accepted.

2016 Food & Wine Festival booklet

Grab a Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival booklet, which can be found at most kiosks. This handy dandy little book lists all of the food and beverage items. You can decide ahead of time where to go and what to eat as well as check off what you’ve tried. Kind of like a foodie passport, of sorts.

Virginia kiosk – Smithfield ham sampler

Food and Wine Festival menu items are sample-sized. Have fun and share a few different items to get a taste of everything.

Spain kiosk

Food & Wine Festival packages

Enjoy Busch Gardens’ 2017 Food & Wine Festival with package deals.

  • The Food Sampler Package is $45 and allows you to mix and match 10 entrées, dessert dishes, 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. wine or 12 oz. specialty beverage from any of the kiosks. Shots, frozen beverages and cocktails are excluded from this deal. This is the perfect choice for one person, or even two people, to share.
  • The Deluxe Food Sampler Package is $60 and allows you to try 15 options listed above. Both the Deluxe and the regular food sampler packages may be used on multiple trips (i.e. you don’t have to use up all $60 or $45 on one trip). They do have to be used by July 2, and they’re only good at Food & Wine kiosks. They can’t be used at the regular park food stands.
  • The Wine Tasting package is $15.95. You’ll learn about and taste four different wines from the region of your choosing – La Belle in New France, German Gifts in Germany or Bella Casa in Italy. You’ll receive a free souvenir wine glass.
  • The Wine Tasting Trio allows you to taste four different wines (about 1 oz. each) from all three of the wine tasting experiences for $31.95. You’ll also receive a free souvenir glass.

Italy kiosk

For more information, complete food and wine kiosk menus and to purchase tickets, please visit

Busch Gardens Williamsburg partners with Boys & Girls Clubs to ‘Buy a Pass, Donate a Ticket’ Tue, 04 Apr 2017 18:11:09 +0000

Photo: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA have just announced a new partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula and Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia. This exciting project will help provide unique, educational and fun experiences for area children.

During the month of April, the “Buy a Pass, Donate a Ticket” program allows you to provide a day of fun for a child. Whenever someone buys an annual pass online during the month of April, a ticket to the parks will be donated on their behalf to a deserving child. Boys & Girls Clubs will distribute the tickets throughout the year for field trips and in-park educational opportunities.

From the press release …

“Kids are very special to us, and we couldn’t have found a better partner than Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Busch Gardens Park President David Cromwell. “We are excited to kick off this unique collaboration between our guests and team members and Boys & Girls Clubs to benefit young people in our area.”

Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA are dedicated to enriching the lives of children through special programs and animal encounters. Throughout the year, park team members will connect with local Boys & Girls Clubs members to provide experiences involving different cultures, career opportunities and conservation efforts.

“One of our priorities is to create unique experiences for our Club members, and this partnership provides just that,” said President and CEO Hal Smith of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula. “We’re thankful for this partnership with a local corporation with such a strong community presence.

Busch Gardens’ landscaping team hosted a garden planting session earlier this month with members of the organization. The Boys & Girls Clubs Garden, which is located near the France village, was designed to raise awareness about this new partnership and to show children the value of giving back to the community.

Boys & Girls Clubs

A leader in youth development since 1946, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula serves more than 1,100 youth daily in 13 clubs located in Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, Gloucester, Mathews and York County. The club offers a safe place to learn and grow with programs in five core areas:

  • Character and leadership development
  • Education and career development
  • Health and life skills
  • The arts
  • Sports, recreation and fitness

Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia serves more than 3,000 kids in seven cities, and it provides quality and affordable after school care for students ages 6-18.

“We are absolutely thrilled about the Busch Gardens partnership,” said Kevin Will, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia President and CEO. “Honestly, the opportunity for our kids to do anything outside of their day-to-day is amazing, but Busch Gardens is fantastic. This is a chance for the community to get involved by giving awesome experiences to some awesome kids. This is big.”

This is the first time Busch Gardens and Water Country USA have done such an extensive donation program.

“Not only will our pass buyers get to experience all the fun of our parks, but they can feel proud to make it possible for thousands of young people to have a special day too,” said Busch Gardens Park President David Cromwell.

Busch Gardens 2017 Events

  • Food & Wine Festival – May 26 – July 2
  • Busch Gardens Summer Nights – July and August
  • Bier Fest – September 1-17
  • Howl-O-Scream – September 23 – October 29
  • Christmas Town – November 24 – January 1, 2018

In addition to a full line-up of special events and exciting shows, Busch Gardens will soon unveil its newest, and first, wooden roller coaster, InvadR.

For more information and to purchase a Busch Gardens annual pass, please visit

Rosewood Tucker’s Point charters Mariner III luxury yacht for guest viewing of 35th America’s Cup Wed, 01 Mar 2017 19:01:07 +0000

Photo: John von Seeburg/ACEA

Yachties, water sports enthusiasts and fans of island life in general have their attention tuned to Bermuda. The 35th America’s Cup sailing event takes place for an exciting five weeks beginning May 26, 2017. Hotels, yacht charters and attractions around the island are rolling out offers and packages for this prestigious event.

Photo: Rosewood Tucker’s Point

The luxurious Rosewood Tucker’s Point is providing a unique viewing option for guests with the charter of the Mariner III spectator yacht. Guests will have exclusive access to purchase tickets for the yacht, which includes viewing from the exclusive Superyacht area in Bermuda’s Great Sound, complimentary lunch, snacks, wine, prosecco and beer.

Instagram Photo

The classic 122-foot Mariner III was built in 1926 and features teak decks, brass fixtures and elegant Parisian lead crystal windows as well as a spacious open deck for unobstructed race viewing. Rosewood resort guests can spend the day enjoying exclusive access to the race as well as onboard cocktails and cuisine by the hotel’s Executive Chef Gerry Adams.

Instagram Photo

The Mariner III departs each morning from the Harbour Beach dock and returns in late afternoon after the completion of the day’s races. Ticket prices range from $295 to $695 per person, per day, and space is limited to 80 guests per day.

During the winter months, the Mariner III is based in Palm Beach, Florida – at the Palm Beach Yacht Club – where it the travels to Fort Lauderdale, Miami and other areas along Florida’s East Coast. During the summer, it’s docked at Chelsea Pier in Manhattan, New York where it’s available for corporate events, private charters, photo shoots and other special occasions.

Photo: Rosewood Tucker’s Point

Rosewood Tucker’s Point is an 88-room, 240-acre residential and resort community with beautiful views of Castle Harbour, Harrington Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. It opened in 2009 as Bermuda’s first new luxury hotel in more than 40 years. Residents and guests can enjoy recreational facilities, the acclaimed 18-hole Tucker’s Point Golf Course, tennis courts, a croquet lawn, Bermuda’s longest private beach, a 12,000-square foot spa and The Point fine dining restaurant.

For more information and to reserve space on the yacht, please call 212-570-7189 or email Please visit to learn more about the resort and book rooms and yacht packages.

Photo: Sam Greenfield/Oracle Team

35th America’s Cup in Bermuda

The 35th America’s Cup begins on May 26, 2017 with the Louis Vuitton Qualifiers. Races take place in the Great Sound in Hamilton, Bermuda where some of the best sailors and fastest boats in the world will battle for the oldest trophy in international sport. Finals begin on June 17, 2017.

The defending champions, Oracle Team USA (winner of 2013 race and based out of the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco, California), will compete with top Challengers from around the globe, including SoftBank Team Japan, the British Land Rover BAR, Emirates Team New Zealand, Groupama Team France and Sweden’s Artemis Racing.

Instagram Photo

If you happen to be lucky enough to be visiting Bermuda during this time, you can expect an island-wide array of attractions and special events geared toward the sailing set. The America’s Cup Village is located at the Royal Naval Dockyard where it will host team bases, food and beverage options, entertainment, concerts and a pit row.

Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget/ACEA

America’s Cup trivia

  • The first America’s Cup race took place in Isle of Wight, England in 1851, making it older than modern day Olympic Games, which were first held in Athens, Greece in 1896.
  • The America’s Cup race does not take place every year. A race takes place when the defending champion team is challenged by another team.
  • The America’s Cup trophy (called “Auld Mug”) is the oldest trophy in international sports competition. It’s made of sterling silver and is never touched by bare hands. Agents wear museum-quality white cotton gloves.
  • The names of each of the winning teams are inscribed on the trophy as well as the race course length, the winning time, location and yacht club name. Two bases have been added to the trophy’s original 27 inches to accommodate all of the winners. It’s now 44 inches tall and weighs 32.4 lbs.

Photo: RicardoPinto/ACEA

To learn more about Bermuda and the 35th America’s Cup race – including schedules, events, packages and more – please visit You can also check out for hints and tips on attractions, restaurants and hotels.

Busch Gardens 2017: What’s up for the Upcoming Season? Sun, 29 Jan 2017 23:00:35 +0000

Photo: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Exciting rides, fun events and action-packed adventure are on the agenda for the 2017 season at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, Williamsburg, Virginia. So, without further ado …

InvadR car
Photo: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

What’s new at Busch Gardens in 2017?

The first and foremost thing on everybody’s mind is, of course, the new ride. Vikings come to town as the park debuts InvadR, its first wooden roller coaster (though supported by a steel structure). Guests will fly over nine air-time hills that includes a 74-foot plunge at nearly 50 miles per hour. InvadR is located in the New France, or “Canada,” region of the park, near Le Scoot log flume. Read more about InvadR right here.

Spring into Fun

Beginning March 18, the high-energy live show “Elmo Rocks!” returns to the Globe Theatre for a limited time. Kids can also meet their favorite friends – such as Cookie Monster, Elmo and Abby Cadabby – at Sesame Street Forest of Fun.

The KIDsiderate Concert Series returns in May with musical guests Coo Choo Soul with Genevieve and more. The always popular wildlife and conservation expert Jack Hanna returns to the park March 25-26.

A new show is being planned for Das Festhaus. The yet-to-be-named show will feature traditional German music and dance with a twist.

Nighttime Fun

In July and August, Summer Nights turns the park into a cool evening experience. Presented by Coca-Cola, special entertainment, culinary experiences and a fun nighttime atmosphere give guests a new reason to stay later or to visit in the evening.

Summer Saturdays

Summer Nights Concerts will feature rock, pop, country and contemporary Christian performers at the Royal Palace Theatre, located in France. Confirmed acts include 38 Special, Josh Turner, MercyMe, Jeremy Camp and Rend Collective. Additional acts will be announced as they’re scheduled. Concerts are free with park admission.

Two special shows also join the Summer Nights lineup. Britmania, which debuts June 30 in the Globe Theatre, is a new musical revue featuring British hits from the 1960s to today. All For One returns for its second season in the Royal Palace Theatre. This nighttime action and adventure show is based on the Three Musketeers and runs from June 30 – September 3, except for Saturdays when concerts are taking place.

Don’t forget Water Country USA. Virginia’s largest water park offers fun for the whole family with a retro surf theme, resort-style amenities and more than fun and exciting 40 water rides and attractions, including lots of splashy fun for the little ones.

Photo: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Holidays and Special Events

The 2017 Busch Gardens food & Wine Festival takes place on weekends from May 26 – July 2. New for 2017 is India as a kiosk, which will add more delicious flavors to the food and beverage options throughout the park

Dazzling pyrotechnic displays send a kaleidoscope of colors into the night sky as Busch Gardens celebrates Independence Day with two days of fireworks – July 3 and 4.

Oktoberfest returns September 1-17, 2017. Raise a glass and toast the season with a variety of craft beers from around the world at Bier Fest.

Howl-O-Scream returns on September 23. Traditionally a Friday, Saturday and Sunday event, the park will expand to two Thursdays in October. The park will also stay open until midnight on select dates so that guests can get the most out of their scare time.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and friends return to Busch Gardens Christmas Town, which opens November 24 with new experiences and holiday spirit to enjoy.

Hawaii kiosk at 2016 Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival.

Busch Gardens Deals for 2017

Two very popular and online-only offers are back for the 2017 season.

  • Buy a Busch Gardens Fun Card and get Water Country USA for free with the 2-Park Fun Card deal, which is valid online only through March 31. Get unlimited visits to both parks through September 10.
  • The 2-Park Preschool Pass makes it affordable to take young children to both parks. This limited time, online-only offer allows children ages 3 to 5 to enjoy free unlimited admission to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA through September 10. Parents must register online by May 31.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit Check out some of the park’s social media channels for even more up-to-date information.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg opens March 25, 2017. Water Country USA opens on May 20, 2017.