This is a guest post by Donika Haddock!
Friday, September 25th marked the opening night for Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and once again we were able to dine at Howl-O-Scream’s famed Blood Banquet.
The Blood Banquet is a unique event to the park. Buffet style dining experience with a show. Located adjacent to the Oktoberfest area of the park, they have transformed the Wilkommenhaus gift shop to a buffet restaurant, complete with a stage surrounding the statue that is located in front of the building, as well as adding outdoor seating. Yes, it’s also the same location where Santa’s Workshop is during Christmas Town.
2015 may not be the first year for the Blood Banquet, but it IS the first year that they did not use a Vampire as the main character of their dinner show. Gone is Count Vlad and his family of vampires. If you remember Igor’s Fright Feast from 2013 and 2014, that dining experience is missing from 2015 and Igor has actually moved and taken over the Blood Banquet. What does he have to do with a vampire themed hotel dinner and show experience? I don’t really know. Opening weekend was a wet and soggy weekend with off and on rain cancelling the show. I will admit, I went back to the park on Sunday night and caught about two minutes of Igor’s show while passing through the area, and while entertaining, I still failed to understand what Igor has to do with the Blood Banquet, even though he was dancing with a group of vampires. I’ll check the show out on another visit to the park where I can time it to catch the beginning. Since we didn’t get a show, we did get to meet the characters as they came out and visited with the guests. That was a nice touch.
Now, on to the actual food.
I have dined at the Blood Banquet the previous two years and have enjoyed it immensely. As with most banquets, you get your choice of veggies, meats, breads, and desserts. Popular items on the buffet include their carving station with your choice of Diablo turkey or garlic and rosemary roast beef, their CASKet Club Chili, and baked potatoes complete with your choice of toppings (butter, sour cream, bacon bits, cheese), as well as returning desserts of red velvet cupcakes, chocolate tarts, and blood splattered cake. While going through the line and checking out the offerings this year, I thought something was missing. They have changed out some items that were offered in the past two years (pork skewers, empanadas, and roasted veggies) for some newer items (corn medley, chicken parmesan, knockwurst, and my new favorite, mustard glazed pork loin). Also gone this year is their cherry cobbler. WHYYYYY??? That was my favorite dessert out of all of their desserts!!
How was the actual food this year? Still good. Our only ‘complaint’ was that it wasn’t hot. Most was luke warm, except the potatoes. Those were nice and hot. Perfect comfort food for the rainy weather. Yes, we ate there. In the drizzle of rain. But we were hungry and to the point that we didn’t really care. So, with that said, due to the weather, and small group of people eating at the buffet, AND the fact that our reservations were set for 8:15, you can say we were set up for the ‘don’t expect the absolute best dining experience’. Mind you, the food was STILL GOOD, just not hot. What can you really expect for a dining experience with a low turnaround in crappy weather?
The diablo turkey was still delicious, the chili still had it’s spicy kick, and the desserts were still scrumptious. Would I go back? HECK YES!!! Would I go back at 8:15? Not if I can help it. Unless it’s busy. There’s also the lack of lighting once the sun is down. I like to SEE my food while I’m eating. Black plates and darkness don’t work well together. So if you plan to check the Blood Banquet out, I recommend doing it at least once, but make your reservation for as early as you can. It opens at 4pm. This will give you plenty of time to eat before Howl-O-Scream opens at 6pm. This time is also crucial if you want to go through as many of the haunted mazes as possible during the night.
The Blood Banquet costs $22 for adults and $15 for children. Pass members still get their discounts. Price includes soft drinks and water. Adult beverages available for additional cost. Reservations, while not required, are recommended, and you can book online at the park’s website or in person at Guest Relations.