Busch Gardens primps for new season

Spring is in the air and with that comes the start of a new season at Busch Gardens. The theme park reopens on March 24, but employees have been preparing months in advance for it.

“We actually start prepping for the new season right after Howl-O-Scream in late October,” said Erick Elliott, director of operations for Busch Gardens. “Locations and venues not used during Christmas Town are prepped for the new season, which gives us a head start to make sure we are on target for opening. We also begin reviewing and updating our ride standard operating procedures with changes uncovered during the operating season.”

During the off-season, maintenance workers overhaul many of the park’s rides. They stay busy painting ride exteriors and replacing mechanical components, seat pads, safety buckles, headrests and other parts as needed.

“Our electricians and tech services teams also replace and repair monitors and sound systems,” Elliott said. “Our carpenters and painters refurbish queue lines, restaurants and shops.”

Meanwhile, Busch Gardens has not been honored with the distinction of World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park for nothing. The landscape team has also been hard at work readying for the new season.

Jason Ingram, Busch Garden’s landscape manager, said his team has been “working tirelessly in all kinds of weather to accomplish the many tasks required to get the park ready.”

The landscape crew maintains roughly 390 acres. After Christmas Town closes, workers first need to remove all of the holiday décor. In January, workers also had to clear out snow and ice from the grounds. The landscapers also install 14,000 spring flowering tulips and daffodils throughout the park. In addition, other duties include pruning; installation of more than one thousand annuals in beds, hanging baskets, and window boxes and hayracks; cleaning up leaves; layering fresh mulch; and maintaining and inspecting more than 2,000 trees along pathways, ride corridors, and buildings.

“We are looking forward to the start of warmer weather and getting back to making the park look beautiful again to hopefully win the World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park award for the 28th straight year and the Amusement Today Golden Ticket award for Best Landscaping for the 21st straight year,” Ingram said.

Later this spring, Busch Gardens will also open its newest attraction, Battle for Eire, a virtual reality ride, in Ireland village.

“Riders will be completely immersed within the story and be able to see, hear and feel actions happening all around them, both through the virtual reality headsets and within the motions of a simulator,” explained Ron Vample, a spokesman for Busch Gardens.

“We have so many exciting new things planned for 2018, including a new summer event, the details of which we’ll reveal soon. We also have some special things planned for some major anniversaries, including the Loch Ness Monster’s 40th Anniversary, the 20th Anniversary of Howl-O-Scream, and the 10th Anniversary of Christmas Town. Our guests can expect some great new things surrounding all of these terrific benchmarks.”

Copyright © 2019, Williamsburg Magazine