BGE 5-19 Griffon is good but the park let me down in some ways

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A few years ago, The Rollins Band released a live CD called The Only Way to Know For Sure. It was Henry Rollins not so subtle reference to bands who might sound great in our digital age of ProTools and Autotune, but not be able to pull it off live. It was with that state of mind that I entered into the drive down to BGE. I didn't want Griffon to be all hype; I wanted to know for real if it was any good.

A few days prior, the drive down to Williamsburg looked like it would be a potential washout with showers and thunderstorms. Well, all of the sudden everything changed and the weather was looking very good indeed. But the day of the trip, things weren't looking so good for me. My stomach was having some pain and I saw a gastronologist recently and will have some testing done in a few weeks.

In the meantime, I've been taking some Protonix (for Acid Reflux disease) and it's been helping out with the pains and indigestion. Since it was still early in the morning, the pain tends to be worse (since you've been on your back all night) and it took a little while for the little yellow pill to kick in. Don't worry for those of you reading at home, I asked him if it was o.k. to ride, and he said yes.

I took my younger sister Cindy along with me whose twenty-six. She's been once before, but that's when Big Bad Wolf was a relatively new coaster. So, it took a little while to print out our tickets and parking ticket (you save $2) from home. I was printing out at 1200x1200 to make sure that I had a good barcode off of my inkjet printer. I gambled that it would be much faster to print at home and go directly to the electronic turnstile, than it would to get down there and possibly lose an hour in line to get tickets.

The drive down from Baltimore was fairly uneventful, and with three bathroom stops we hit the Mapquest time of 3hrs23m almost exactly on the button. It also helped that they had the HOV lanes open South in Virginia on I-95 with no restrictions which allowed for five lanes of traffic for quite sometime. Once out of the HOV lanes we started hitting some pretty heavy traffic near Richmond. And then once we got to 64 East we met up with two-lane traffic. Ugh. This significantly slowed things down as tractor-trailers could be in any lane.

Arriving at the park, I see three trains on Apollo's Chariot go over the lift in like two-minutes which makes me optimistic that even though it's crowded, things will move smoothly today. So we get to the parking booth and my home-printed ticket wouldn't scan. The woman had to manually punch the numbers in, which I'm sure made everyone behind us happy. I'm now worried that we'll have issues with our actual tickets.

So it's now around 12p.m. and it's time to get a parking spot. My sister asks "What happens if they run out of parking?" I tell her I've heard they have another parking lot near the brewery plant. So we keep driving around and around following all the parking people's directions while not seeing a single train go over Griffon's lift and the chain isn't moving. Uh-oh. We're weaving all around the parking lot and finally crossed the road, when Cindy's question is answered "We park in Scotland." We were some of the first people to park across from the brewery plant. Luckily, they had the tram ready to go for our ride over to the park's entrance. We take our pre-printed tickets to the electronic turnstiles, and both are scanned without problem. It was nice that they had people at each turnstile just incase you had problems.

Oh boy, there are a whole lot of people here. And as we found out quite quickly, it's bandcamp competition day. We went to the back of the park and hit our first ride of the day Alpengeist. We put Cindy's camera bag and my cell phone in the single-use locker. We wound up waiting quite a while, and they were stacking trains like a pancake breakfast:) [Side note: My sister really is not a big fan of the B&M trains and she finds they are quite wasteful in the number of empty seats that go out on each train. You have to admit that she's got a really good point].

While we were waiting in line, we finally saw Griffon start to test empty-seated around 2 p.m.. And then we heard screams, and we knew it wasn't from Alpengeist. Our next destination was assured. Back to Alpengeist, I wasn't as thrilled with the ride as I was in the past. The cobra-roll in particular was fairly rough. I think I prefer the smaller inverts such as Great Bear, Talon, and any B:TR. They're much more intense. Next up was Griffon.

We head over to the queue and security is really tight. No bags or loose objects allowed. They were also keeping a very strong eye on making sure everybody stayed in their assigned spots at the start of the queue. Anyone trying to make their way forward (mainly due to ignorance because the queue is very poorly designed), was sent to the back of the line. Another employee would have to stop new riders periodically to let the people getting off walk through. Cindy gets in line to get a soft-pretzel from a cart, and I probably let thirty or more people go by. I was worried that'd we'd be kicked out of the queue if I continued forward and she had to find me.

I'm looking at the drop, and it looks like all of about 50ft. or so is 90 degrees. The rest is all a curved pullout. I'm thinking the second drop will be much more intense due to its tighter design. Even the gp are asking "Is this worth the wait?" because it sure doesn't look like much from the queue. I think part of the problem is related to its relative lack of noise, and another part is that some of the pullout is under the bridge making the drop look smaller.

At first Cindy cannot figure out the water splashing. From the multiple switchbacks she can't see the water trough. She asks me "Is the water coming from the log flume?" Seeing as she doesn't really know the layout of the park that well, I let her down gently and tell her "The logflume is far away from here." Finally, we get up to the fence and the secret is revealed:)

Unfortunately, I'm noticing something that everyone else is not paying attention to—there's a train stuck on the lift with no one sitting on it. Cindy flashes me that "Is this going to be another Kingda Ka?" And of course, I had no idea. Finally after fifteen minutes, I hear the reset signal. Thank goodness. Several more trains go around before we see people onboard.

Finally into the tiny station, the young lady asks how many and after answering two, she says "Lane-One," to which I'm ecstatic. You see, for now they have assigned seating. Every train is being filled to its capacity also due to the single-rider line. A sign assures everyone that the view is great from all rows due to it's tiered-design, blah, blah, blah. Not only due we get front-row, but we're on the outside two seats, so we get wet too! It's taken an hour-and-a-half to get to this point, which I think is nothing on a day like today.

I'll admit that I'm slightly nervous, but not overly fearful. Yes, we're pretty high up here and I can see our parking lot. We're released off of the chain, and WHOOSH! we dive down at a very high rate of speed. It feels like the track bends back in on itself, but it's probably just an illusion. The first Immelan is cool, but nothing earth-shattering. It's the rise up into the midcourse and the airtime (think Medusa/Scream) that I'm digging. Again, we slowed down to do the next drop. As I figured, the second Immelan felt more intense to me (I also think there was some airtime), and than there's the little hill for some more air, the spray trough and finally into the brakes.

Both Cindy and I were needing something to eat and fast. We walked through San Marco and picked up food at Ristorante Del Piazza. We both wound up getting spaghetti, pudding and two bread sticks. I was ready for the girl to say that'll be "$25," but it was only $14.76 a person. I considered it a good bargain considering it was themepark food. After a break in the action, I joked about riding DaVinchi's Cradle, which Cindy didn't see in operation. We were both stuffed and that would've been a surefire way for projectile vomit:) So we went with the calmer Escape From Pompeii instead.

I told Cindy before we got to it that it was basically a Shipwreck Falls kind of ride. She asked how long the top portion lasted once she saw the building and I said about the same as Whitewater Landing at Dorney Park. I didn't tell her about any of the other stuff (if you know what I mean:)). The one thing that did not go over well is when the we left the lifthill. We were sitting in the front row and the front of the boat went down and took on a lot of water—soaking our shoes and socks in the process. My feet eventually dried—hers didn't. We got fairly wet on the splashdown, but we dried out.

It was time to ride Apollo's Chariot. I was really curious what I would think about this after riding Raging Bull and Nitro. Going up the lift, Cindy commented on the amount of cars in the parking lot which just stunned her. I think AC is the perfect ride for BGE, but with all the trims and such, it seemed a little bit on the tame side, much like RB. I still quite enjoyed the very last drop though. To me, the title still goes to Nitro out of the three big B&M hypes. So BGE people, what happened to the soundtrack that used to play going up the lift?

After getting off, we just made it in time to catch a ride on the train to Caribou. We caught a view of some of the Clydesdales, saw the empty Drachen Fire station and carried onto Curse of DarKastle The Ride. This is where it felt like time itself had just stopped. I called my enthusiast friend Matt to tell him that Griffon was awesome, and he says "You didn't get my email?!" That would be the email that was sent at 2:30 a.m. in the morning saying he had changed his mind about going on Monday. I didn't check my email because all I wanted to do was print my tickets and get on the road. Don't worry Matt, Griffon's not going anywhere:)

There was no music playing in the DK queue, just a lot of fans circulating which are capable of misting. I really wasn't quite sure what to expect, so waiting in the (seemingly endless) queue felt interminable. I dug the wolves statue though, and took lots of pictures of it with my sisters digital camera, since I'm considering buying one. There was a flatpanel screen playing the legend of DarKastle and why we'd be riding in the sleighs, but with everyone talking, I couldn't hear it.

Finally inside the building, we notice that it's cold—like you've walked into a meat-locker cold. It's part of the atmosphere I suppose, but is it really necessary? We pick up our glasses and get into a row. I see the sleighs and think "There's something really creepy about them." When the doors were open and people would enter, I was cool with it, but when the op would close the doors and they would continue on their way, it was just freaky. There was something almost funeral-like about the way they moved.

After finally boarding in the front row, there were lapbars which gave me hope that it would be a somewhat exciting ride, but I had no idea what was in store. DarKastle is basically a darkride on steroids. There are huge projection screens which give the illusion of space and dimension. Without spoiling anything, my favorite scene involved a dinner of sorts. I would definitely keep the little ones off of DarKastle as it's fairly evil/scary, and flat-ride foes beware—there is some hardcore spinning going on in one section of the ride, not to mention all the motion in the other areas.

Ironically, I'm wearing an shirt that says Ireland on it (thanks Mom & Dad), and we have yet to venture into Ireland, and it's getting to be around 7 p.m. So we head over there and to our next attraction Whiplash Hill—oops, I meant Corkscrew Hill. Again, this is another attraction where it felt like time had just stopped. We were stuck in the tunnel underground with no atmospheric music or lights (what happened to the cool lights and atmospheric music?). No, we got to listen to a bunch of screaming girls. Yeah.

CH really tests your patience. You don't move anywhere. We finally get up to the young woman who has a rope to let the next group through and we miss it by two people! Finally though, they let you into a room to pick up some 3-D glasses and you watch one screen, and then another room to watch another screen, and then yet another room to watch another screen.

Finally, belted in, the movie starts, and it's four-minutes or so of non-stop violence. As opposed to the individually tilting seats, we're on one bleacher-like device with four rows. It was actually refreshing to leave the ride. Cindy makes the painfully obvious observation that "There really isn't anything in Ireland."

We carry onto Loch Ness Monster. Cindy is promptly stopped at the entrance by an employee saying that she had to put the camera bag into a locker. Luckily, they were right behind us. Unluckily, I couldn't get my stupid dollar bill to work in either side to get tokens. Finally, Cindy tries one of hers and it works. I thought LNM had died down to a walk-on from earlier in the day, but that was a sad assumption. The station was completely filled. We go through the tunnel, and the lit-up dragon was gone:(

We were running out of time, but I wanted to ride the Skyride from England to France to catch Griffon's queue which is still filled to capacity. Oh well. Here's where I made a navigational error. Remember, it's really dark, and I wind up taking a turn through Jack Hanna's Wild Reserve. I'm confused at first, and then I remembered this section, although I've only see it during the daytime previously. And then we're back into the land of one ride—Ireland! Walking back through Scotland, I wind up tripping on a curb, because again it's too damn dark.

We head back to Germany to finally get BBW. Walking along towards DarKastle it's still really dark. I guess it would help it they would replace the one lighting fixture. Anyway, we head into the BBW station to find out the line has died down, although we still waited in some switchbacks. Cindy was a little freaked-out by how dark it was. There wasn't a single light on the course.

If part of the effect of the ride is passing so closely to the buildings and you can't see any of them, then we were losing out on a lot. On the other hand, it was pitch dark until the second lift, where a field light shined brightly. I don't think Cindy was quite a big fan of BBW's second half. Again though, it could've been due to the lack of lighting.

We talked about doing one last ride before leaving, and I suggested we should try out to be seat-fillers on Griffon, but alas, the single-lider line was accepting no more riders. It's too dark to see if there's a queue for Alpengeist, so I suggest Apollo's Chariot again. We got lucky again and caught the train at the Scotland train station which goes to Festa Train station. It cut out a little bit of walking which was welcome. Out second wait for AC wasn't quite as long, but Cindy's not feeling the night ride since she doesn't remember the course. Going up the lift, we could see lots of stars, which I thought was really nice.

Our tram took us promptly back to Scotland—or as I like to call it—the really freaky place to park your car. I was surprised to see that the lot had gotten quite full since we arrived. The tram service was running to the lot at about every two-minutes, which made it a little bit dangerous to back-up with all the people in the way, since we pulled in next to the tram station.

Overall, we had a great time. There were some areas that let me down however. The number one thing was that the bathrooms were in fairly bad condition at times. The second was that some of the trashcans were starting to overflow by the end of the night—particularly at AC. The third was that lighting was terrible at night inside some parts of the park. I like nighttime atmosphere as much as the next person, but please make it safe.

In the nitpicking department, I'm not a big fan of the small midways when it's that crowded, and the layout is also quirky. I saw people with maps later on in the day, and I think it would have been great when our ticket was scanned, the woman handed us a map, as I didn't see any bins (I finally got a map much too late after someone left one in our LNM locker). It was also be great to see some newer flats.

Going home, I realized why I make the trip to Busch so infrequently—it's one hell of a long drive to do in one day. Even after stopping at the Pilot at exit 104 near KD and getting something to eat and some high-fuel coffee, I was just gone. Everything was getting really blurry and I turned the car over to my sister for the remainder of the trip. *** Edited 5/21/2007 8:24:39 PM UTC by Intamin Fan***

Wow that seemed like a somewhat dissapointing trip, and I hope that BGA doesnt have problems like this but I am sure its fine.

Good Trip Report.

Bolliger/Mabillard for President in '08 NOT Dinn/Summers

I'm curious as to how the ride is compared to Sheikra. So far, it looks to be better.

Something I'm also curious about, and I haven't seen much on this, but how do the floors come up and down, etc., as compared to a regular B&M floorless coaster--the trains are SO much wider.

coastin' since 1985

Jeff's avatar
You manage to pick on restrooms in every single trip report, and don't seem like you have a good time anywhere. What is it with you and crappers?

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

delan's avatar


To reply to Audioslaved, I wouldn't say that the trip was altogether disappointing per se, it was just that we experienced the park more like a regular park-goer. In other words, we got one ride on everything major with the exception of the re-ride on AC.

My sister is not an enthusiast. In other words, she doesn't really know her B&M's from her Intamins, and I try not to push too much of that talk her way. All she knows is that she counted thirteen seats empty on one train of Apollo's Chariot. So, you've got twenty-three people riding on a train meant for thirty-six, and it's insanely busy.

If it means assigning seating on days like that, then I think that's the way to go. I would make an exception for the front row if those people wanted to wait. The problem of course is how do you control where people are seated. Maybe I'll bring this up as a forum topic.

One thing I left out was that the queues for the bathrooms were really long too at the front of the park, and females always get the worst of it when it comes to the lines. I had us push on towards the center of the park where there were no lines.

To answer rablat 5's question, from what I saw the floor splits in half just like the regular floorless coasters. It happened so fast that I didn't get a good look at how the floor gets out of the way. It still has the regular folding gate that is found on all the floorless coasters. Another thing I forgot to mention is how big the road-wheels are. They're enourmous.

How could you only ride Griffon once????
I think he did it by riding it only one time.

Sorry I cant help being sarcastic.

Bolliger/Mabillard for President in '08 NOT Dinn/Summers

Jeff, if you saw the condition of the bathrooms, you would have complained as well. It's not too much to ask when you're paying $117 (it was my sister's early birthday present) for two people to get into a park that you have clean bathrooms. I didn't say there weren't enough stalls. No, Busch has plenty of bathrooms.

*** Edited 5/22/2007 5:11:02 AM UTC by Intamin Fan***

That escaladed fast, and with out me saying something dumb.

Timbers crew 08




eightdotthree's avatar
Glad you like Griffon, I loved Sheikra. Would you agree that its more fun than a thrill? Thats how I felt after my first ride on Sheikra.

Intamin Fan said:
My sister really is not a big fan of the B&M trains and she finds they are quite wasteful in the number of empty seats that go out on each train.

BGE does a terrible job at filling the empty seats. It really bugs me when you see a row of two people in it, and no effort goes into filling the empties.

Intamin Fan said:
The number one thing was that the bathrooms were in fairly bad condition at times.

In my experience at BGE, the bathrooms are never spotless, but for corwds as big as you say I can see how they would get out of control fast. Same with the trash. The only park I have ever been to that has spotless bathrooms all of the time has been Universal.

Intamin Fan said:
I saw people with maps later on in the day, and I think it would have been great when our ticket was scanned, the woman handed us a map, as I didn't see any bins (I finally got a map much too late after someone left one in our LNM locker).

I personally think thats wastefull, I would imagine Busch thinks so as well since they are all about conservation. They usually have the maps in bins off to the sides of the gates, so if you need one next time just look or ask the gate keeper where they can be found!

This is one park I wish was a little closer, its a weekend event for us to make it down there from Pittsburgh. Its a nice getaway in the spring though, its usually 10-15 degrees warmer!

Jeff's avatar
I hope to God you're not calling me a jerk, because if you are, I'll politely show you the door.

I'm not even going to read your post, but if you slug the title with "the park let me down," that's not me implying you didn't have a good time, that's you saying you didn't. So which is it?

I just don't understand why every TR you write talks about the restrooms.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Mamoosh's avatar
if you slug the title with "the park let me down," that's not me implying you didn't have a good time, that's you saying you didn't. So which is it?

LOL! Reminds me of the recent Knotts trip report that said something like "major disapointment" in the subject and then the author went on to say how much fun he had and his only complaint was that there was "too much cement walkways."

Jeff said:
I hope to God you're not calling me a jerk, because if you are, I'll politely show you the door.

Wow, good thing your not our President.. :P

Jeff said:
I hope to God you're not calling me a jerk, because if you are, I'll politely show you the door.

"another one bites the dust..."

Haha no I'm not giving Patrick the finger

Jeff and Moosh, apparently you didn't read the full topic title. I didn't say the park let me down. I said the park let me down in some ways. There's a huge difference between those two.

There was a lot of enjoyment at BGE, but there was also parts of the day that I think could've gone much better on their end. Much like a movie, you can walk away saying that the movie was good and that you'd recommend it, but there were parts of the movie that dragged for example. That's all I was trying to say.

I re-edited the post because you didn't want to read it, but I pointed out the twenty-three parks I've been to (many with multiple visits), and there were only four where I had major issues.

eightdothree, I do agree that maps can be wasteful, but I think BGE is a little bit tougher to navigate than most parks due to all the small pathways and buildings which block your view around you. The BGE map also provides a wealth of information such as show times, dining guide and times, which way the Skyrides run etc.

Intamin Fan said:
Cindy makes the painfully obvious observation that "There really isn't anything in Ireland."

Excuse me?!

Rick_UK's avatar
I was waiting for that response from Mr. B ;-)


Nothing to see here. Move along.


Trip Reports used to be fun to read. You found out where to sit on a coaster, which rides to ride, which ones are down, signs of a future attraction etc... However, it seems since we have figured out that parks read the reports for marketing information they have taken on an aspect where we let the world know the dirty secrets of a park. Bathrooms, bad customer service, comparing one park in one chain with another park in another chain etc.... comparing Six Flags to Cedar Fair. Does anyone go to an amusement park anymore looking to be amused?

A day at the park is what you make it!

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