Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
One of the featured articles in today’s edition of Amusement Today is about BGW having to temporarily close on Saturday because it was filled to capacity. Having been there on Saturday, I can attest to how crowded it was. In fact I would have to say that Saturday night was pretty much a nightmare. Because my flight to Newport News didn’t get in until midafternoon, I didn’t get to the park until about 4:30. When I saw how mobbed it was I stood in a queue for half an hour in an attempt to purchase Quick Queue, only to learn that the $40 Quick Queue was sold out and the only option was to buy a $95 Quick Queue pass offering access to 4 coasters and all the haunt mazes. No thanks. So my day began at about 5 pm.
The first stop was Alpengeist, for a very specific reason. When I rode it about 5 years ago I absolutely hated it. That was back in the days when I had newly taken up roller coasters and couldn’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want to go upside down on one. (I was born in 1951 and for me the prototype of a roller coaster is the Coney Island Cyclone.) I disliked any coaster with inversions and especially inverts but since then have undergone a conversion. Montu, Afterburn, Talon and Batman rank among my favorite rides so I was eager to experience Alpengeist again, in the expectation that I’d have a completely different opinion of it. Well, the queue was long and somewhat daunting. It turned out to be about an hour and 20 minute wait, made more tolerable by my getting into an extended dialogue with a man and his 12-year-old son. Anyway, long story short: I absolutely loved the ride and will have to rewrite or update the review on my website.
Next up was Griffon due to its relative proximity to Alpengeist. This too had quite a queue and no, I didn’t time it but it took a considerable time to get on. Riding Griffon in the dark was a novel experience and as much as I enjoy riding coasters in the dark, I think I prefer this one in daylight b/c you get a better view of the scenery while suspended over the drop.
By this time I was starving and it took a while to navigate my way in the dark to a place where I could get Italian food and a glass of Chianti, especially with the number of park guests underfoot. Traffic in the park was beginning to resemble a cattle stampede.
From the Italy section I made my way to Tempesto and the queue didn’t look all that long so I waited. My expectations of this ride were not very high so I was pleasantly surprised. I found it highly entertaining. A short but sweet ride. With Apollo’s Chariot next door I decided to do that one but it was down. And that was the end of my visit. 6 hours at the park with only 3 rides. Plus it was cold!
On Sunday morning I returned to the park and it was a different story altogether. Sunny and warmer with short or no waits for most rides. I had purchased Quick Queue online before heading to the park but it turned out that I didn’t need it, with one exception. First stop of the day was Apollo’s Chariot, a walk-on. I rode it twice and moved on due to time constraints. I’m still on the fence as to whether it’s slightly superior to Nitro. With Tempesto next door I couldn’t resist the temptation to ride and ended up buying an on-ride photograph just to have a memento of my visit. From there it was back to Alpengeist, where I was able to enjoy 2 consecutive rides. And then it was back to Griffon, which I also rode twice although not consecutively. While I am very much a back-seater when it comes to coasters, I came to the conclusion that on Griffon the place to sit in order to get the most intense ride is front row end seat.
Verbolten was beckoning and this is where Quick Queue came in handy. I had little idea what to expect so that this ride was full of surprises, especially when the train suddenly dropped in the darkness. One thing that struck me as very cool is that each row has a camera enabling the riders to get a custom video. Alas, when I went to the photo booth and tried unsuccessfully to get my video, an attendant informed me that the cameras in the 1 and last rows – I had been sitting in the last row – were broken. Aargh!!! And on the subject of photos/videos, I realized that I’d lost my on-ride photo from Tempesto and must have left it near the exit of Alpengeist so had to go back there. Because I was going to have to cross the platform to retrieve the photo I figured I might as well ride and I did.
There was time for only one more ride before requesting that Uber pick me up and take me to my hotel to pick up luggage before heading to the airport. I hadn’t ridden the Loch Ness Monster on my one previous visit and that’s one coaster I had decided I was definitely going to do. From the way the chain was clanking on the way up the lift hill I halfway expected it to be a headbanger so was delighted to discover that it’s not and didn’t realize that it had such a long tunnel, an element I really enjoyed.
All in all it was a fun trip and besides having a good time I was able to pick up 3 coaster credits (in addition to Loch Ness Monster, Verbolten and Tempesto – which weren’t there when I last visited) in a picturesque setting. This is such a beautiful park!
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