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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gluten free at Busch Gardens Williamsburg Howl-o-Scream

In Honor of our 9 year wedding anniversary my husband and I bought 2 year season passes to Busch gardens Williamsburg as well as the water-park. I thought to share some gluten free advice as well as my park experience.  Hopefully, this can help those that live in the Virginia/DC area or are going to be traveling to this area and wish to experience the "Most beautiful theme park in the word"

Last weekend we were able to attend Howl-0-Scream for the first time.  Now if you are like me, going to these parks are a lot of fun.  However, there is only so long you can live on Nuts and popcorn while being afraid to eat the food in the park. Not only that, but it can get expensive to snack badly all day.  There are a few Gluten friendly options available at the park.

Grogan's Grill has a gluten free menu that is fantastic, my personal favorite meal was the Grogans sampler that comes with pork loin, sausage, a baked potato, and braised cabbage (feeds 2 if you wish to share)   they also sell these allergy friendly snack packs in a large size for about $9.00 or the smaller size  for around $6.00. You can carry these with you and snack safely.  A fantastic fresh snack idea was fresh strawberries dipped in raspberry vinaigrette.  Weird I know, but really great tasting and also available at Grogan's grill. For Gluten Free alcoholic drinks Grogan's serves RedBridge Beer.  

If you head to Lulu's in france, you can have a gluten free turkey leg that comes from a turkey that could have eaten me (feeds 2).  They also sell the GF, allergy friendly snack packs.  I found small GF items just about everywhere I went that I could eat or snack on (not that I did since I can't afford that).  The key is that you have to ask questions about the items and personally read labels.  I highly recommend both Lulu's as well as Grogan's Grill to those who wish to play it safe.

We went to Howl-o-scream on the first Saturday of it being open or September 15th.  We decided to go all day, which is 10AM to 10PM.  It was a very long day but it was a lot of fun.

Note: Remember to keep hydrated as much as possible since you should avoid sports drinks and cannot use them to replenish fluids.

We started over at the griffin; since we started early there was no line.  It is a smooth enough ride for those that have long standing and stable neck injuries.  I love the drops, yet they make the bottom of the drops smooth enough to be great for those sensitive people.  (I don't deal with jerky rollercoaster’s)

Next we went over to the Alpengeist to traverse the terrifying alps,  This coaster has some jerky stops but is still  smooth enough for a healed neck injury, take the "no loose articles" rule seriously, since are a lot of turns and corkscrews on this one.   

We moved on to the Le Scoot: log flume.  The oldest coaster in the park, we had three adults in our log and got pretty wet on the drop.  However, it is fun, there was no line since it was slightly rainy in that morning.  Now wet and needing a small break we moved on to have a snack.  This is where the turkey legs came into play.

We tried to hit dark Kastle at this point but quit after looking at the lines.  

After that break it was off to Italy for Apollo's chariot.  This is my favorite coaster since it is smooth and it gives you a feeling of being weightless for at least a few seconds.  We went on this more than once since there was little line and like I said it is my favorite. 

Since escape from Pompeii was closed for Howl-o-scream we didn't try.  My husband and my friend hit the Roman rapids and soaked themselves silly.  I didn't want to be wet so I stayed behind and held everything. Not that I don't love the ride, if you wish to get wet this is the one to do it on.  However, it can get jerky depending on how your raft goes down.

Then we went back to Dark Kastle, the line was shorter and we were able to get on quickly.  My partners in fun hated me since they were soaked and this ride is air conditioned.  This ride is a moving 4D experience that may be scary for young and impressionable children.

After this we moved to Loc Ness monster, this is the second oldest coaster in the park.  While it is still a fantastic coaster with a smoother ride it is starting to rust a little, I will hate the day when they have to replace it.  This is a looping coaster, however, you feel more secure due to the type of seating. 

Please note we avoided the Mach Tower and Verbolten.  The reason for this is the line for the Verbolten is so stupidly long that you can spend that time having fun elsewhere.  Also there is a drop on the verbolten that made my neck hurt.  This coaster is not recommended for anyone who has had a major neck or back injury.  When I did go on it, I spend the rest of the day in pain. We were on our fourth visit to the park and the Mach tower has not worked any of the times we have been there.  The tower has a tendency to get stuck a little way down and keep the unlucky people on it for a lot longer than they wanted.


We hit a few shows; one of these was Dig-it-up.  This was fun, there was not really a straight story line, however, it had great songs and even the people who worked at the "museum" were able to dance and act well.  It was wholly entertaining. Great instrument playing as well as dancing, I particularly loved the first custodian; he was my favorite in the show.  Only one note to be had was the timing of the globe near the end while the cast did a great job of covering for the mistake it was hard to miss. 

The other show were able to hit was Fiends, it was very adults only and parents should not bring children or younger teens who are uncomfortable with sexual situations.  The singing for the most part was fantastic.  The main female singer, was either highly nervous or not really a great singer, (I am a collage trained singer so I tend to get critical) however, she is a great actor and dancer.  I guess it must hard to find someone who can do everything really well and look great in a skimpy nurse uniform.  The rest of the cast was entertaining, and the show was funny,and well done.  I enjoyed it immensely.

Haunted Houses:
Note: these are NOT suitable for young children, in fact there was a poor mite who peed his pants while being taken into one of these, even though the actors were trying hard NOT to scare him.  Please, if you have young children take them to the family friendly attractions or leave before Howl-o-scream starts.  Yes you have the right to bring your child, but most children under 8 or 9 really can't handle it.

Root of all Evil: This was a great work in progress, the actors were fantastic and I want to have this job.  (I was offered to audition but it is a long drive. However, if you live in Williamsburg they are currently hiring and all you have to do is apply on the site and pass the audition.) this house came off as a really nightmarish trip through ace hardware.  The greenhouses and actors were great, however the "maze" was under grown to give the right effect, I am sure that this time next year it will be better. The wait was about an hour and a half to get into this.  They did keep the house open until the line went through which is great since we had to leave the park about 40 minutes after 10.

13 your numbers up: If you have a real fear of the dark or  have serious claustrophobia, do not attempt this.  My friend almost had to leave since it really does trigger these fears.  Another note is that if you have a fear of heights this can be an issue.  This was one of the best houses of the night.  I had a great time even while worried about my friend.

Deadline: in my opinion this was the best house of the night.  There is a place where you swear at first glance you are in a subway train.  They really did an amazing job on this and the location and set up were perfect.  Great job Busch Gardens on this one.We had no wait for this since we arrived right before 6pm, but I heard that the lines got ridiculous.

Catacombs: this is your more advanced basic haunted house.  Ghosts and ghouls scare you in a cemetery scene.   Sometimes the classics can be well appreciated.  This house is more fun than scary, that doesn't make it any less of a great stop.

Bitten: The vampires in this haunted house don't glitter, although some are really great looking.  (Well one wore a dress that glittered) The timing on these jump outs is wonderful, again this one is more fun. Downside was the wait was long.  It took over 45 minutes to get into this house. 

Fear Fair: I ran out of time waiting in other lines, and was unable to see this.  Since Howl-0-scream is only 4 hours long and the lines are more than an hour per house after 6:15ish you have to pick and choose what you are going to do. We ended up on the wrong side of the park to see this one.

Scare Zones: While they have roving bands of ghouls in the "Scare zones" they are mostly unpopulated.  This might be due to a lack of employees or lack of thought.  There is a lot that could be done in the ghost area, the pumpkin area or on the streets of France that was never followed through on.   The clowns were a nice touch though. 

We will be back on the 29th to celebrate our anniversary.  If everything works out we may be able to afford the fast pass.  I hope to bring you more information about great Gluten free food options as well as attractions after that day. 

Note: a Fast pass is around $40.00 per person and is limited on the amount of times it can be used for specific locations.  However, if you only get one shot at Howl-o-scream.  It might just be worth it if you can afford the extra cost on top of the tickets, drinks and food.

Also you might want to get a refillable souvenir cup.  This allows you to get 0.99 refills on regular drinks.  It will save you a lot of money over the day. I choose lemonade, iced tea, or water (water is free) to keep hydrated.  Try to consume some salt to compensate for the inability to drink power drinks.

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