All throughout Busch Gardens®, hundreds of “elves” are scurrying to prepare the park for Christmas Town™, which opens Friday, Nov. 22. They may not have pointy ears and jingle bells on their feet like the elves recently featured in the #sELFies hashtag on the park’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels, but their work is equally as important.
In late October, Busch Gardens wrapped up its annual Howl-O-Scream event and now the park has taken on a stunning new look for the holidays. Teams of fast-paced “elves” began illuminating the park’s 300 acres of holiday fun. Down came the spider webs and pumpkins and in their place, park employees began assembling more than six million lights, hundreds of wreathes, garlands and lighted trees, including O Tannenbaum, a fifty-foot tree whose many twinkling lights dance in time to music. From big changes to tiny details, it takes help from all park teams to get Busch Gardens into the holiday spirit.
Shops full of toys for good girls and boys start to sparkle with a little “magic” from the Merchandising team, including Assistant Visual Merchandiser Allison Duncan. Duncan, who recently moved to Virginia from North Carolina, is directing a team who is in charge of store decorations in the England, Italy, Scotland and New France areas of the park.
“It’s my first time at Christmas Town so I don’t know what to expect,” said Duncan, “but I think our team’s done a good job executing the designs we’ve developed .”
Some stores, like the Emporium shop will be getting yuletide makeovers. “This year it’s going to be very Victorian and just gorgeous,” said Duncan, hinting that the store is likely to be her favorite and a hit with guests as well.
In the bakery, the culinary teams are preparing to bake cookies for Santa as well as park guests who will visit Christmas Town.
Along with gingerbread cookies, snowman cupcakes and red velvet cake, guests visiting Christmas Town will be able to satisfy their sweet tooth with a new Black Forest cake dripping with chocolate ganache and topped with a chocolate-covered cherry.
For Maria Rubino, an entertainment technician from New York working on the installation of Christmas Town, a day’s work may require hanging wreaths and stringing garland or checking light bulbs on Big Ben.
“During Christmas Town I also maintain the lights by walking through the park troubleshooting and repairing decorations,” said Rubino, “so I get to see Christmas Town from a guest perspective too.”
Rubino said she is most looking forward to guest’s reactions to the holiday celebration, “because as fun as it is putting up all these decorations, I love the reactions from people when they see everything, especially the kids.”
“I’m so happy to be here now working with this team,” said Rubino, “because we really do feel like little elves.”
Allison Duncan, Durell Council and Maria Rubino represent the hundreds of the team members involved in transforming the scares of Howl-O-Scream into the winter wonderland of Christmas Town. The lights of Christmas Town turn on Nov. 22 and twinkle select days through Dec 31.
Pay for a day and enjoy unlimited access to the holiday celebration with a Christmas Town Fun Card. For more information, including a complete operating schedule, visit www.christmastown.com/va.