As with Howl-O-Scream, Busch Gardens puts on a seasonal celebration for Christmas that they call Christmastown. Christmastown opened on the Friday after Thanksgiving and like a Black Friday sale at your favorite electronics superstore, it was packed to the limit in a short time. As with Howl-O-Scream the park had to close the front gate due to reaching capacity. Most of the rides are closed during Christmastown. During Howl-O-Scream the water rides are closed but the roller coasters and such stay in operation. With Christmastown a few more coasters are closed to make ready for the off-season and some of the carnival games are replaced with crafts and merchants, some local and some from out of state. This is pretty cool, really, as I support small businesses and like to see a thriving cottage industry...yeah, I used to go to ren faires...you wanna make something of it?
Pardon my misplaced belligerence. Please come with me and enjoy my poorly snapped photos of our family trip to Christmastown on the day after Thanksgiving.
We were still sated from our huge meal of roast boar's leg and venison sausage cornbread stuffing, cranberries, roasted vegetables, deserts and chicken. We needed a good long walk. We set out in the SUV around 1:30 PM and headed up to Williamsburg, normally a mere half hour drive, but we hit massive traffic that slowed our trip. As it was we arrived at the parking lot gate around 2:30 PM with the park proper opening at 3:00 PM. Once we had gotten past baggage check and into the gate it was 3:15 and things were open for business. We started in England, as that is the entrance and made our way toward the Festhaus for a bit of dinner. Of course that is not as simple as it sounds as the Festhaus is on the complete opposite end of the park, meaning we had to travel through other locations, which you can see in the pictures below:
A simple stream in fall. This is past England and Scotland and heading to Killarney.
The Killarney gate as seen for Christmas. I admit that Killarney at Halloween seems more appropriate somehow.
I've never, to my knowledge, noticed this bench before. Perhaps it is because there has usually been more to distract me. I believe this is chunk of Arsehenge, very famous in the British Isles.
The Irish carollers performing Greensleeves. Or at least one of them is. The young lady announced the tune, then let the guitar player play for something like 2 minutes, finally joining in as I walked off, bored.
In case you are wondering, I'm looking at a penny I had just smashed in that shop behind the tree.
Canadian tree deer!
Another shot of the "New France" decorated flora. New France (Canada) is already a rustic, trapper, smokehouse sort of place, so this feels very 'American'.
If you've read the Celtic Pumpkin Howl-O-Scream articles you no doubt recognize the entrance to France. Where once stood a giant Grim Reaper now stands a giant snowman, smiling and violating the park's policy on smoking in other than designated smoking areas.
This is a shot to the right of the snowman (as you face it) where the really cool hearse was during Halloween.
Ahh, Germany. The Germany sections are my favorites, I admit. Here where the vampires greeted you during October we now see steadfast Nutcracker Soldiers. I like nutcrackers as they are militaristic and have an old world charm. Plus they remind me of parts of my childhood. In the Germany section there is a store that sells them, along with steins and clocks...but more on that below.
A nice tree.
Family photo. Not picture is my mother-in-law, whose addiction to snapping photos meant that she is the one holding the camera. I'm trying to move so you can see the elf back there sawing on a piece of wood.
I mentioned the store that sells nutcrackers and clocks and such. The picture above and the two below are inside the shop. It is three shops linked together internally, one selling nutcrackers and smokers and with a dedicated Christmas ornament shop in the back; one selling clocks (cuckoo and otherwise) and one selling steins and hats. Inside the nutcracker shop, at the very back, is the ornament room, flanked by two representations of Santa. Above we see Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, a patron of children, thieves, whores, sailors, and various other things.
And here is the rustic fertility figure, a sort of Green Man Father Christmas, that stands opposite St. Nicholas of Myra, and represents the other of the great Santa components. The Christian and the Pagan, standing face-to-face, guarding the Christmas room. I don't want to challenge beliefs and notions here, so moving on...
A surfeit of Santas. I like the variation with Old World, New World and others.
The North Pole in front of Santa's Workshop
The Workshop (2 views)
Inside you can sit on Santa's lap, if that's your taste, and times being what they are...
Buy a lollipop, win a Frosty. If you are lucky. I meant to take a shot for Frau Punkinstein because she likes snowmen.
So that's part 1. It is still daylight and, much as we saw with Howl-O-Scream, we haven't made it to the Festhaus yet.
Please do check in for part 2 and keep your Yule Log lit.