Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Official (But Not Really Official) Illustrated Guide To The Mascots Of Busch Gardens The Old Country

Surprisingly going against type and following up on a promise made in an earlier post (see below re: "Bevo And Buford Do America!") I've not only dug out that old souvenir map of a 1970's era Busch Gardens Europe complete with costumed mascots, but I've also scanned said mascots, dug up every little last bit of information I could find on them (absolutely nothing) and have assembled scans and info together in what is perhaps the greatest undertaking ever undertaken in the history of internetting- The Official (But Not Really Official) Illustrated Guide To The Mascots Of BG:TOC!!!

That totally deserved three exclamation points.

At the time these cartoon mascots roamed Busch Gardens: The Old Country (as it was called way back when) the park consisted of four themed European 'countries': England, Scotland, France & Germany. There was no Italy and no Ireland as of yet, and the Wildlife Preserve was not even a twinkle in Jack Hanna's eye. There were, however, free brewery tours featuring free beer samples and if seeing the word 'free' twice in the same sentence with the word 'beer' isn't enough to tell you how great a thing that was then you don't deserve beer, free or otherwise.

Each of the four 'countries' were comprised of smaller 'hamlets' some 'countries' being more 'hamlet-y' than others. I'm going to stop putting quotes around the words countries and hamlets now because I think you're probably savvy enough to realize they weren't really either of the two. England and Germany both had two hamlets each, 'Banbury Cross' & Hastings' for England & 'Rhinefeld' & 'Oktoberfest' for Germany. Scotland just had 'Heatherdowns' which consisted of nothing more than the Loch Ness Monster roller coaster and the stables for one of the Busch Co.'s team of Clydesdales. Nowadays there is also a Pigs-In-A-Blanket stand. Scotland's getting screwed.

Now France, depending on how you looked at it, either had two hamlets or one. 'Aquitain' was definately Frenchy, but 'New France?'... that looked suspiciously Canadian to the casual observer. Busch Gardens has never laid claim to Canada as being one of their featured countries so for the sake of arguement we're going to say that 'New France' was a part of 'France' as a whole and not it's own independent organism. Very confusing. I have much more sympathy for separatists now.

Why such concern over things like countries and hamlets? Because each of the costumed characters pictured below would seem to have been meant to represent one of those hamlets. As the official historian of the lot, it's my duty to sort out who goes where. Not an easy task as you'll soon see. I think you'll also quickly come to see why the mascots' place in the park's history was rather brief. To put it as nicely as I possibly can they were a little lame and kind of gay. Not 'gay' in the current lingo which is pretty much synonymous with 'lame' and not 'gay' in the original sense that they are very happy (though they certainly try to give us that impression), but 'gay' as in 'big flaming homos, the whole lot of them.' So without further ado-


The Mascots of Busch Gardens: The Old Country

St. George & Gordon The Dragon

Yes, George and Gordon do appear to be walking arm-in-arm. No, I do not actively pursue evidences of homosexual behavior in the costumed characters of major theme park chains. Sometimes that evidence just walks right up and bitch slaps me in the face.

So, St. George and the dragon (Gordon by name. How very dragon-ish) seem to be close buddies at the very least. I have no problem with that, but it does make we wonder what sort of a falling out they could have had that eventually led the saint to run a blade through his bestest friend's heart. I'm betting it wasn't over some icky girl. Or maybe Busch Gardens was just hoping we'd forget that little part of the legend. Like Disney did with the whole Hercules killing Megara thing.

Anyway, George and Gordon were the "Big 2" in so far as the BG mascots went in that I believe they held dominion over the park in its entirety and not just one little nicely decorated corner. They are also the only two mascots who have still managed to maintain a small prescence in the park today, mostly via children's clothing and other souvenirs.

Buford Beaver

Buford was one of the two mascots that we met in an earlier post. Buford, as we have previously established, is Clearly Canadian. He's a beaver, he's wearing plaid, he has on one of those McKenzie brothers caps and he's flashing a peace sign. Buford's designers could not have beaten us over the head with the fact of his Canadian-ness any better than if they had rammed a hockey stick up his hairy beaver ass.

Bevo The Fox

He is not man, he is Bevo!

Bevo, the fox-in-the-Robin-Hood-outfit-who-thinks-that-his ass-isn't going-to get-sued-by-the-Walt-Disney-company, was the other of the two mascots I talked about in the earlier post. I also used that exact same 'sued by Disney' joke in that post. I'm using it again because it was very, very funny and I know that you aren't ever going to bother to scroll down and read that other post. I'm recycling for the environment.

Bevo is most probably British. I'm sticking him in Hastings because that was the more medieval and woodsy of the two British hamlets. I had made another joke in that previous post about Bevo and Buford Beaver being a gay couple, but I'm starting to think that they may have been the only straights in the entire park. Witness-

Francois Flambe

What can I say.

If you have ever sat through ten episodes of "Are You Being Served?" then you've seen Mr. Humphries wearing an outfit almost exactly like this one in at least eight of them. I don't know what Busch Gardens could have been thinking in having a mascot who's so obviously... French.

"Francois Flambe, What can I say?" sounds like the start of an old nursery rhyme. If I was any type of clever I'd have made one up and swore that it was real.

Tallulah Toad

Drag queen.

Ha! I kid. Tallulah was another Frenchie and although I had said earlier that she was a frog she was not actually a frog, she was a toad. Frogs and toads are two completely different species of amphibions. Tallulah was a toad, not a frog and thus, not a mean-spirited and cliched stereotype.

She may have been a hooker.

Alfie, Rufus & Robes-Pierre

Also known as 'Things One, Two & Three.' ARR-P were three very similar looking... mice? Maybe bears. No mice, I'm pretty sure they're mice. Alfie's snout (the only one in complete profile) is most certainly rodental. Mice they are.

Could be bears.

Whatever they are I'm betting that the costume shop where Busch Gardens purchased the other characters threw these three in for free.

As far as assigning things to places, ARR-P present a small problem. The name Robes-Pierre rings of the French (and he's wearing pink leather and feathers for God's sake!) but we already have Francos coming out of our noses. Where are we going to put another one. Alfie screams cockney so I'm putting him in Banbury Cross. That leaves Rufus without a home and Germany without any mascots at all. What kind of name is 'Rufus' for a German? Shouldn't there be a Klaus or a... Klaus is the only name I can think of. Okay, I'm sticking Rufus in Oktoberfest. Whatever nationality he may be he looks like he can enjoy a good party. Robes-Pierre is going into Rhinefeld because it's close to France and I figure maybe he hangs there to get away from Tallulah and her 'uncomfortable touches.'


So there they be. Everyone with a home and a home for everyone.

I don't think it will be too forward of me to say that with the publishing of this post, 'Plastic Pumpkins' becomes the foremost website devoted to this particular subject matter and even though I didn't know the first little thing about these characters beyond their names I can safely continue refering to myself as the unquestioned authority on Busch Gardens Europe's 1970's mascots. And I do refer to myself as such on an almost daily basis.

Seriously, if anyone has any more info on these guys or pictures of them or souvenirs featuring their likenesses, I'd love to see some scans!

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