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Festhaus Park image

Busch Gardens Williamsburg has announced several new additions for the 2010 season, including a new simulator ride that is similar in concept to Disney's Soarin'.

The new additions include Europe in the Air (a new flight simulator ride over European landmarks), a new Irish music show for the Abbey Stone theater, an extreme stunt show in the Germany area of the park, plus a new fireworks show - IllumiNights. The park is aiming to boost attendance during its 35th anniversary season, which kicks off on March 26.

Unlike Soarin', Europe in the Air will not feature a dedicated "handglider-style" ride system to simulate the sensation of flying. Instead, it will be based in the park's existing motion floor theater, replacing the current Corkscrew Hill movie with a new one featuring aerial scenes of famous European landmarks. The park is aiming to emulate the success of Disney's attraction, albeit at a fraction of the cost, with a new show that will fit well with the park's overall European theming.

The updated simulator experience won't be completely identical to Corkscrew Hill, as Busch Gardens is investing in a new projection system that features a resolution nearly seven times greater than broadcast high definition television. Perhaps for this reason, the popular Corkscrew Hill will be dropped altogether rather than running in parallel with Europe in the Air.

Park General Manger IllumiNights John Reilly promises in a YouTube video (embedded below) that IllumiNights will feature "amazing visuals" and spectacular fireworks. Busch Gardens will extend its opening hours by one hour every night during the summer season to accommodate the new show.

Also set to run during the summer is a new extreme stunt show, Ramp Jam, which will take place in Festhaus Park. It will feature stunts from BMX riders, skateboarders and inline skaters.

Few details have been released of the new production for the the Abbey Stone theater, which will replace the current Emerald Beat show. It is known that it will be an Irish-themed musical production.

The new additions to the park mark a positive beginning for new owners Blackstone, who purchased the Busch Gardens chain along with the SeaWorld parks last year. Blackstone has so far shown a willingness to spend money on new and upgraded attractions, with the company investing in an extensive refurbishment of SeaWorld Orlando's Journey to Atlantis and rumored to be adding a major new rollercoaster to Busch Gardens Tampa in 2011.

You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions through Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section, and by signing up for our weekly newsletter using the box on the right of this page.

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