Through November 1st at Busch Gardens Williamsburg they are having their first ever Halloween Harvest and I got to check it out on opening weekend!
As with their other special events there will be a limited amount of spaces and reservations will be required. Season pass holders, membership holders and fun ticket holders will not have to pay for the event- otherwise single day tickets begin at $49.99. The spots have been full but as I post this there are spots available for tonight. So if you watch you might be able to make a trip at the last minute.
They are doing a special kid friendly event during the day and at a night something a bit more adult. We were only there for the evening so I can’t vouch for what happens during the day except we did the kid friendly trick or treating stations and the scavenger hunt which I thought were fun.
The Great Parts
I Met an Owl Up Close– I feel like I don’t need to say anything else about that because everyone should understand that is great.
New Rides Open– For each event the park has done this year only a portion of the park has been open. This event they opened Festa Italia allowing for Apollo’s Chariot, Tempesto, Turkish Delight, Flying Machine, Battering Ram and some games and shops to be open that were not previously.
If You Like Booze This Is Your Event– I have never seen so many different drinks available! The sangria drink was excellent!
Larger Portions for Best of Food and Wine Festival– Although the literature said that Marco Polo Marketplace would be open it was not so we had to eat what was there as part of the Food and Wine Festival. Which means as a vegetarian I ended up eating Hush Puppies for dinner as everything else was meat based. But here is our take on all the food:
The Shrimp Po’boy (bottom of the picture above) was pretty good but the bread was WAY too much. A smaller bun would have made the ratio much better. The sauce was very good.
The Fish N’ Chips (middle) was pretty standard- a fried piece of fish with some fries with pepper on them. They provided vinegar to make it more authentic and the portion size was great.
The Hush Puppies (top) were fantastic and the dipping sauce was good too. It’s fried bread so I’m not sure you could have done anything to make me not like it but I was starving so it was great. However they were huge and filling.
The Ginger Lemonade was EXCELLENT. Thumbs up from everyone!
At Vesuvius Grill the first try was the Reuben Slider. Ask for extra slaw and the meat to be heated all the way through and you would get a thumbs up from our eaters.
The meatballs were nice with SIX of them in a portion. Thumbs up again from all the meat eaters.
The Ghouls Were Out– Since there were no houses or terrortories this year I was worried the ghouls wouldn’t be that good. I was WRONG. They pulled out some of the best available. Costumes were beautiful and they were perfectly creepy even from six feet away.
If you are curious what a visit is like right now check out my Busch Gardens Williamsburg Covid Visit to see their safety measures.
The Not So Great Parts
I hate writing bad reviews for things. Especially for places that are struggling just to stay open right now. But as Busch Gardens has had to add extra dates due to the overwhelming number of people trying to attend I feel like I can offer these as more SUGGESTIONS than rather reasons not to go.
England was Dead– First impressions are important and the first country you walk into at Busch Gardens is England. It could have been any other night. While I didn’t expect it to be decked out I thought they would at least be playing spooky music. I mean it’s completely deserted and adding the sounds would have made it almost eerie by itself. Put up just a few of the normal crows and it wouldn’t have felt so neglected.
Light The Few Decorations– I will admit I had expected the park to be more decorated. I knew it wasn’t going to be Howl O’ Scream but there are some iconic things that could have been done to really help. The lit pumpkins that are usually hanging around Ireland could have been strung up SOMEWHERE. The large pumpkin I am standing in front of has a projection at night that makes it a jack-o-lantern- it wasn’t there. By Pompeii there were scarecrows you could not see and in Italy there were tombstones with absolutely no lighting. There were some pumpkins and some corn stalks around the park but it was really disappointing. The decorations were the thing I was most excited about seeing and it made me sad walking around an almost normal park.
How About a Halloween Spotify List?– One of the things Busch Gardens always nails at their events is the music. They know how to set a mood with music. And the mood at this event was Top 40. As usual they had the DJ in Italy and he/she did not play ONE Halloween song when we walking by. While in Ireland we heard two songs that could be Halloween and then everything went back to normal. Even the background music through most of the park wasn’t creepy at all. I know budgets are absolutely an issue for this event but it feels like a simple, inexpensive fix.
I have to admit that overall I was kind of underwhelmed at the Halloween element of everything. However if you want to ride those rides and have a drink with friends it is still a great night out!