Monday, June 18, 2012

Entwined and Verbolten...disappointment at the Gardens

Greetings gourds, long time no post.

Frau Punkinstein and I ventured forth to Busch Gardens this Saturday (16 June 2012) with our friends the Cains to enjoy our first BG trip of the season.  There was much to recommend a trip to BG and as our friends have a young daughter I was able to experience portions of the park I had never seen before, such as Dragon Land or some such.  It's a kid thing.

Times change, tastes change and it is important that parks change with them.  Disney updated POTC to conform closer to the films with a disregard for tradition and quality so flagrant that you'd have thought Johnny Depp animatronics were on sale that year.  Should not Busch Gardens also change with the times?

Of course they should?

For as long as I can remember the Festhaus in the Germany section has featured good food at reasonable prices and average beer at premium prices and topped all of that off with an Oktoberfest polka show.  The show, kitschy but fun, fit the atmosphere and environment of the zone.  Starting last year BG remodeled Germany a bit turning their more Bavarian side of Germany into a full Oktoberfest section.  This was a nice touch as a beer and pretzel shop opened with some truly tasty selections.  This year they continued the trend by changing the decor in the Festhaus and replacing the polka show with a new fairy tale inspired show called Entwined.  With Once Upon a Time on ABC and Grimm on NBC this seems timely and topical.  Entwined is a show that, well, entwines several traditional fairy tales into one show where Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel get lost in the woods and an evil queen looking like a peppermint bedecked version of Malificent entices them with song and sweets and the good fairy godmother is about sodding useless.
It sucks.
It is charybdic.
The musical selections are Disneyfied versions of pop songs performed semi-competently (the evil witch's cover of Willy Wonka's classic Pure Imagination song was particularly insipid) by the cast held together by one or two lines of weak dialog.  The Big Bad Wolf looks like a basketball mascot in purple and gold lederhosen (a Minnesota Vikings fan no doubt) and the three bears look like teddy bears.  The gnomes have no beards and the dancing gingerbread men...well at least they were creepy.
The whole show really is an insult to both the source material and musical theater everywhere.

I'd rather have my nuts slammed repeatedly in a door than have to endure it again.  I'm all for a fresh show, but it is entirely inappropriate to the setting and the world of good taste.

Then there is the Verbolten, BG's newest roller coaster experience which took over the real estate from the Big Bad Wolf which was taken down due to being too old.  Verbolten is a pun of sorts, a play on the German word verboten meaning forbidden.  If I'd had my way, and I did not, replacing the beloved Big Bad Wolf would have been verboten.  The Verbolten is a multilaunch coaster that reaches a top speed of 53 mph and is themed as an automobile tour of the Black Forest with attendant spooky-weird effects.  The queue is impressive being decorated with vintage televisions, luggage, maps and touring items.  The backstory is told through the running loop on the televisions and the setting has many auto related features.  The coaster cars are built to look like an extended car as well.  The majority of the ride takes place in a dark tunnel (building) with psychedelic multihued blacklit leaves and such plastered around the walls.  The high point is when the car stops dead in the dark and then the entire track drops several feet.  Exhilarating but ultimately disappointing, I'm afraid.  The ride has 3 different themed effects, but I experienced only one (and sadly it was not the Big Bad Wolf theme).  The reason I find it so disappointing is that the ride does not do justice to the theme.  Now that coasters are themed so thoroughly with interesting queues and immersion tactics I expect more of a full immersion ride experience.  The Verbolten tries but it fails.  Space Mountain with its old projector effects on the walls or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with its canyon walls and old west feel provide far more immersion than does Verbolten.  The ride it replaced, the Big Bad Wolf, whisked riders through a German hamlet as the sounds of wolf howls accompanied the ride.  As a suspended coaster the Big Bad rocked and swung with the track.  It was a great coaster and ultimately a more satisfying ride to me.
But I might be biased.
I guess taking the Big Bad Wolf out of Germany was why they ended up with that neutered cartoon wolf in Entwined after all.

Till next time keep your pumpkins lit.


  1. Ha Ha. This Entwined seems to be the classic accident analogy. I must look upon it, even though I shouldn't gawk at the carnage.

  2. Does the supplied picture not provide enough of an experience to keep you from wanting more?

  3. Yep, saw Entwinded, not enchanted, although my 8 month old niece loved it! Seems like BGW is catering more to the 3-9 crowd now. I miss the old shows, like the Broadway style one's in Hastings, and of course, This is Octoberfest, not to mention the country show in New France (do they even call that area New France anymore). Oh, and don't even get me started on the atrocity that is now in Italy. We used to eat in Italy all the time to watch the original show with the Italian musicians, singers and dancers. We don't even stop in there anymore.

    As for the rides. What the heck is that poor ripoff of Epcot's "Soarin" in Ireland? Corkscrew Hill was fun, had a good storyline and was imaginative...where is it now? Gone, along with my beloved Big Bad Wolf...although I did enjoy Verbolten, I feel it could have been done in the area where Drachenfire used to be.... another coaster I sorely (ok, I know, pun intended) miss. As for some of the other offerings, they really do need to work on the the lack of smoothness on Alpengeist. That used to be a really smooth coaster, now it is a free trip to the chiropractor! Just because there are new coasters doesn't mean you ignore, or worse, tear down the old ones! My last gripe is the slowing down of the scrambler type ride that used to be inside in Hastings and known as the Catapult. What a great concept.... they took a carnival ride, put it inside with black lights with images of mideval torture devices coming at you. It always had a it is a character meal...REALLY? It is now completely ruined and located in New France. My guess is that it is so they would have something else to cater to the 3-9 crowd.

    Lastly, I was asked to take a survey on my way out of the park. I was only asked for one instance of something that needs changing. I, of course, asked for the return of This is Octoberfest.... but there were so many other aspects I would have liked to have discussed. It seemed that the interview mostly wanted to know if the park was now more fun for the 3-9 age group. While I agree it used to be there wasn't much for the little ones to do, now it is trying to alienate the very people who kept it alive before it was known as The Most Beautiful Park in America. STop the insanity before Busch Gardnes Williamsburg as we all used to know and love is little more than fading pictures in a memory book.

    1. I concur on all points. Very nicely put.
      This year's Howl-O-Scream is a mystery to me. Last year the "scare zones" ruined it for me as it was too easy to simply avoid them. I am hoping for at least a little better Howl this year, but with the loss of Monster Stomp I can't see the park doing much to retain its older crowd appeal.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    2. i am a Busch gardens enthusiast and for one thing i know is that monster stomp was taken away for major renovations of the show and will be back soon

  4. the reason the place is more like an Oktoberfest because that part is called Oktoberfest village. the new ride i think is awesome to me bits better than big bad wolf.also BBW was taken down because that ride type is not easy on parts and the company that built the ride shut down making it harder to buy parts for it not because its old.

    1. That is interesting information. All I had to go on, I admit, was the official press releases which used the term past service life.
      That being said, to each his own, right? I do not like Verbolten. I feel so much more could be done with it and thus it is, to me, wasted potential. I love classic coasters and dark rides and feel that Verbolten is a marriage of elements from those but poorly executed. I am well aware of why it is called Oktoberfest, I just disagree with it. Thank you for dropping by, comments are always appreciated as well as insights into the topics discussed.