Busch Garden Williamsburg give-a-ways: Season pass included!

One wonderful detail about summer travel is that it can spill over into autumn and beyond–particularly if it comes in amusement park entertainment.

In the spirit of the summer is not over yet, and when it is, don’t stop the fun, Gadling has paired up with Busch Gardens Williamsburg for some give-away action. Williamsburg, Virginia, known for its colonial past, is steeped in American history.

Pairing a visit to Colonial Williamsburg with a visit to Busch Gardens Williamsburg (and Water Country USA) adds amusement park excitement and a step into Europe to an American history lesson.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg, with its European inspired theme, boasts rides such as: Escape from Pompeii–a water ride, Griffon, a roller coaster that has a 90 degrees, straight down drop, and The Curse of DarKastle, a haunted house. Rides are set in settings reminiscent of European countries. The photo is from Da Vinci’s Garden of Inventors.

Along with rides, there are animal attractions like Eagle’s Ridge, a sanctuary for injured eagles, and Jack Hanna’s Wild Reserve, a section where exotic and endangered animal exhibits highlight the importance of habitat preservation.

For people who aren’t particularly fond of rides–and those who are, there are shows to enjoy. Emerald Beat, an Irish step-dancing performance, is one of them.

Because Busch Gardens’ season extends past Halloween, certain events reflect the time of year as well. On two September weekends, Bud & BBQ “celebrates great food, great beer and great music.”

For Halloween, there’s Howl-O-Scream. It begins in September and runs through the last weekend in October.

So, dear Gadling readers, what can you win? There are four different prizes.

  • Prize 1 – Season Pass Voucher to Busch Gardens which also gets you into Water Country USA, the water park that is part of the Busch Gardens family– a $154.95 value and a Busch Garden’s T-shirt (T-shirt value, $10)
  • Prize 2- Season Pass and a Busch Gardens visor (visor value, $5)
  • Prize 3- Exxon Mobile Gas Card for $25 and a Busch Gardens T-shirt
  • Prize 4–Exxon Mobile Gas Card for $25 and a Busch Gardens visor

To enter, leave a comment below telling us why you need a longer summer vacation and what you’d do with the time.

  • The comment must be left before Friday, August 15, 2008 at 1 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Winners will be selected in a random drawing.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.

See the complete rules here.

Good luck!!

The great American road trip: Montana here we come

With gas prices fluctuating between $3.95 and $4.09 in Columbus, Ohio, we’ve embarked on a road trip to Montana, cruise control set at 65 mph.

Right now we’re driving into the sunset on I-80 near Fremont, Ohio, home of Rutherford B. Hayes. My laptop is resting across my lap. We’re passing yet another white farmhouse with a barn silo. Our goal is to make it to La Quinta Inn in Madison, Wisconsin. It has a pool, WiFi and free breakfast. Wheee!

If we don’t make it, we’re out $100. It’s 8:52 p.m. If you do the math, you’ll notice that we won’t roll into the parking lot until at least 2:00.

The relatives we just left in Brunswick at a high school graduation party for one of our ten nephews gave us hugs and waved us off. “Of course, you’re driving to Madison tonight,” was the general response.

The graduation party stop, two hours after I shoved our last belonging in the car in Columbus, was a quick one-just enough time to say our congrats, have a swim in a backyard pool, eat our fill and head out.

The stop was a chance to regroup. Leaving Columbus was not the smoothest. We left pillows and umbrellas behind. By the time we made it to the entrance ramp of I-71 north, I was ready to call it quits. This was not even a mile from our house.

My mom just called to tell me the things she did that we forgot to do. Things like emptying the coffee grounds, turning on an inside light, changing the bulb of our porch light and turning that on, and watering our flowers. The neighbor kids will be by in a couple of days, but the flowers looked limp as we pulled away.

But, we are off in our Ford Taurus station wagon with a new set of rear brakes and an oil change. This car has made the trip two other times, the first time all the way to California and onto New York when our son was a year and a half and our daughter was ten.

This time we have broken our no DVD player stance. Our son is watching Chicken Little, but he had to wait to be plugged in until we left Brunswick and turned onto the highway. The idea is to parcel it out so he’ll notice the scenery and we can visit which is part of the purpose of a road trip.

Tomorrow, we’ll be in Minneapolis, the city filled with outdoor art, visiting two sets of friends. One set who used to live on our street before we moved to Taiwan. Their son was our daughter’s best friend when they were five.

The other set was friends of ours in Singapore. Back when we hung out together, they were kid-less and so were we. We spent one Christmas together hiking between Jomsom and Pokhara, Nepal.

Catching up with friends we haven’t seen for awhile is another road trip purpose. As a person who has had a life of travel and moving, these visits offer me some sense of continuity.

But, for now we’re floating on the highway, the sun is gone and the moon is up, a crescent in front of us—good company for a night of driving. [The photo is what Chicago looks like at 1:00 a.m. I would have taken the photo myself but I was in a road-hashed stupor. This shot is of evanembee’s view from his condo.]

Circus Camp in Vegas

I’ve never been one to fantasize about running away to the circus, but I certainly do understand the fascination, especially for children.

If your child is suffering from circus envy, you’ll be happy to know that there is a temporary solution. And you’ll even be happier to learn that it involves Las Vegas.

The Sandou Theatrical Circus School in Las Vegas, Nevada serves primarily as a training gym for Circus Circus and Cirque du Soleil. A few hours a day, however, it also doubles as a circus camp for kids.

While the real pros are training high above on the trapeze, kids are taught juggling, tumbling, fire breathing, aerial skills, gymnastics, and balancing. Oops, just joking about the fire breathing. They do, however, get a real taste for the circus life and the difficulty of performing such acrobatic stunts.

Kids can come in for a couple of hours while mom and dad take a break from gambling, or they can come back in the summer time where a five day camp (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) costs just $125. But be careful; if you do enroll your kids and they later grow up and really do run away to the circus, don’t blame me!

GADLING TAKE FIVE: Week of October 6- 12

Another week already? The weather shifts have me wondering what season we’re in exactly. It was 93 degrees in Columbus on Monday. Today it’s in the mid 50s and I’ve hauled out my jacket. Pumpkins started appearing at the local grocery stores and farmers markets a few weeks ago. At Gadling, you’ve probably noticed that Halloween posts are beginning to appear. Catherine, Kelly and Martha have their thumbs squarely on the Halloween what’s happening pulse. There’s more coming as the rest of us join in. Besides Halloween, there’s a lot more on our minds.

Have a great weekend whatever the weather is like where you are.

Halloween at Theme Parks: Fright-fests and Fun for All Ages, Sort of

There’s a handy guide at WeJustGotBack.com that gives a run down on which theme parks in the U.S. have Halloweeny type thrills for particular age groups. Similar to movie recommendations, the site presents details about the theme parks Halloween happenings and the age range the fun is aimed towards.

A teenager might not get a charge out of the “Countdown to Halloween” musical act at Count’s Halloween Spectacular at Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA your toddler will–even your 10 year-old. But, take your young ones to Halloween Horror Nights at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida and Universal Studios in Los Angeles and you find yourself dealing with more nightmares than you could ever imagine. This one is recommended for the ages 16 and up. Watch the video on the Web site and you’ll see what I mean. (I warn you though, it’s the exact opposite of a meditation video of bubbling brooks.) Jason, Freddy, and Leatherface are just a part of the action. If you ever wanted to know what it’s like to be in Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween, this might be for you.

Each Six Flags has Fright Fest, also meant to scare the wits out of you. This one is appropriate for middle-schoolers though, but is not appropriate for under 12. From the descriptions of the events at each park, one can see the difficulty with finding the right fit for a multiple age group family–or the kids who are moving into preadolecence. Then, it becomes a matter of finding one that is entertaining enough for your child who is past being enamored with Mickey Mouse, but too young to have Freddy chasing him or her down with a butcher knife. The great thing about amusement parks though, for a kid who gets bored with a younger sibling’s Halloween speed, there’s always the rides.

Guess which theme park the photo posted on Flickr by WeJustGotBack is from. Did you say Disney?