Everytime I enter Busch Gardens Williamsburg (BGW), I feel like I have come to Disney World North. The park is spotless, the atmosphere isn't a happy fantasyland but one that takes you back to Ole' Europe. The park employees are very friendly and the landscaping can't compare.
I set off on my journey on Wednesday afternoon shortly before 2:00, hit virtually no backup leaving Washington D.C. a rarity and arrived at BGW on Wednesday around 4:30. I decided to take a quick walk around the park just to see how busy it was. I found it wasn't busy at all. Apollo's Chariott was a walk on; Escape from Pompeii a walk on, Roman Rapids a walk on and that's about all I saw before I left for the day.
On Thursday morning I was at the park about 9:45 and at the clock tower by 10 waiting for the rope drop. After the rope drop, I proceeded towards Apollo's Chariott (AC). Where I met another rope. Uh... okay... Italy doesn't open until 10:30. Well so much for making AC my opening coaster of the day. I spun around and headed out towards Ireland and France hoping to get one of the first few rides on Alpiengeist. When I arrive at Alpiengeist, I found it closed. Wasn't at the time sure of the reason but later found out from a couple of different park employees, the ride was struck by lightning the night before. The news wasn't as bad as the rumor speeding through the GP was the ride wouldn't open at all. I held out hope though, after all this is BGW. So I hung a hard left and headed toward Octoberfest and Big Bad Wolfe (BBW). Except I was met by another security guard at the entrance to Germany who was kind enough to tell me that section of the park didn't open until 10:30 and then he would head over to Octoberfest next because that section didn't open until a 11. Okay.. Okay.. Okay... I probably wouldn't mind the phased in approach to a park opening in phases. However, when a park is only open 8 hours and one of your four major coasters is closed (remind you Alpiengeist is suppose to open at 10) what is the purpose of opening a park in phases. With that in mind, I decided to head back to Italy and wait for the rope drop. I was only 30 minutes into my day and I had already got my exercise in and hadn't even rode a coaster.
Apollo's Chariott (AC)
I arrived back in Italy about 5 minutes before the rope drop. Once the rope dropped, the teenagers began running towards AC while the rest of the adults laughed at them and made jokes like "Let them be the first ride of the day and test it out". Well it ended up their intended target was Escape from Pompei and they missed the entrance and had to come back.
Finally, 40 minutes into my day and I enter the que for the front row (only a one train wait). My chariott arrives and I'm off to what seems like a 80 foot lift hill. However, the drop on the other side is a two hundred foot drop and what a rush. I feel sorry for the people sitting behind me, as every bead of sweat was blown off my face. AC has nine different hills, the lady on the P.A. said as you walked through the que and I had just went down the first one. The second hill was a real surprise as you weren't expecting the sudden burst of air. You quickly realize that this coaster knows about air and you get plenty of it in the first row on each hill. The helix is great, you don't really feel the force of the coaster. My first statement when I arrived back at the station was I have a new #1. My home park is SFA and I like Superman alot, and I haven't rode the SFNE version yet (hope to this summer) but my statement about AC may have been a little premature. While I like riding AC, I still think Kraken was a far better coaster, especially for the special effects and themeing.
After Apollo's Chariott, I headed towards San Marco and Oktoberfest and wait for the 11:00am rope drop and my first ride on Big Bad Wolfe (BBW)
Are you afraid of the Big Bad Wolfe (BBW)?
I'm not, The 11:00 am rope drop occurs and the running of the bulls begins for BBW. I enter the que and take position in the third or fourth car. I didn't know what to expect, you really can't see BBW from the midway, it is hidden behind buildings and trees. The only thing you can really see is the drop to the river after the MCBR. So my train leaves the station and I begin winding my way down a small hill, into the woods and up the lift. Then the action begins, you begin racing your way through what is suppose to resemble a small town. This coaster is a shuttle coaster and has a floor in it. But you feel the effects of the foot choppers all the way down and even the track supports add to that effect. You hit the MCBR and then begin your second journey, a fast drop and descent down a banked turn over the river and back up into the woods, an excellent effect. Then you swing back into the station. BBW reminds me of a inverted mine train ride meets wild mouse. Excellent ride with great chopping action and quick turns.
After BBW, I decided to head over Apliengeist and see if it was going to open. A couple of test runs were occuring, so I would watch the "It's Octoberfest" show and eat lunch.
I ate lunch at the Festhaus. Since I'm 5'7" and weigh 235 lbs, I have readopted what I term my Super Hero diet (I need to get down to the rumored 220lbs to ride Superman in a week or so). Lunch consisted of a freshly carved turkey sandwich, salad with ranch dressing and Strawberry parfait. What happened next just about put me in a hospital. Normally at SFA, I would eat a salad and grill chicken sandwich for less than $10. My lunch at BGW was $15 including my premium pass discount. I guess this shocked me because my wife and I usually eat at Trappers Smokehouse for less than $20 (we usually share a sampler platter). None the less, I proceeded to watch the "This is Octoberfest Show" (got bored about mid-way through and left).
As I left, I begin to realize my stomach wasn't up to riding Alpiengeist yet (as I stared at the steel structure of the beast (this monster has some pecs)). It was running, which goes to show you, never believe what the GP says. So I trotted off to Corkscrew Hill.
Corkscrew Hill 4-D Adventure Ride
I wasn't sure what to expect as I followed the long passage fully equiped with blinking lights and sound effects. Once I arrived, I received my 4-D Glasses and followed the rest of a large group into a small 4-D theater to watch the opening spiel and then we entered the 4-D Theater and took our seats. Before I knew it, the room goes dark and we are being taken on a galloping horseback journey where you encounter several people that shake us, through us, toss us and yes we even end up in the ocean where we were squirtted with water. Corkscrew Hill was a fun little ride, I will do again.
After Corkscrew Hil, I continued to let my stomach settle a little bit, so I headed off to Escape from Pompeii.
Escape from Pompei (EP)
I entered the que to EP in somewhat of a daze. I was concentrating on how I was going to avoid riding with a group of rowdy teenagers that was in front of me. I didn't realize I was walking through a wet zone when one of the boats came down the drop and splashed me with water (you never expect that while standing in the que, wonder what would happen if there was a long line, would get splashed repeatedly?). Needless to say that was a surprise, I hadn't even gotten on the boat yet and I was already wet! I told the ride attendant I didn't want to ride with the groups of teens and waited for the next boat. Well, the next boat had some people in it that wanted to ride again, so I let them go again, the next boat the same thing so I took another seat and began to Escape from Pompei.
After a very slow journey up a lift. Which I have to give props to BGW for doing something I wish more parks would do, add speakers and music going up the lift. I noticed this both on AC, EP and Roman Rapids. After coming off the lift you enter a room full of special effects full of, well... I don't want to ruin the ride for you, just imagine your worst nightmare on a dark ride and you will begin to hope, everything is just special effects. BTW, I found it odd to be smelling natural gas.
As the ride comes to a close, two big doors open and you slide down the drop and splash everyone on the splash bridge with water, and you manage to get a pretty good soaking yourself. Myself, I was soaked pretty much where I was hit as I entered the que and missed most of the splash in the fourth row, middle seat.
After EP, I continued my journey to get wet and decided to take my turn on Roman Rapids. Roman Rapids is preciously themed as a ride through a "roman" garden. I thought the statues at the beginning of the ride were a nice touch. I managed to get my back side pretty wet and my left leg was wet as well. But I never really got soaked. In fact, I would say I have seen more people soaked coming off of Renegade Rapids at SFA. In all, I thought Renegade Rapids is better at my home park. But nothing could beat CrackAxle Canyon at SFFT. After my ride I dumped about $5 worth of quarters in the water guns and had a blast squirting people with water.
Okay, so I'm now partially soaked, time to dry off. My stomach has settled, time to ride Alpiengeist.
Alpiengeist is one monster of a coaster. I arrived at the station, and noticed there must have been at least a 30 minute wait for the front row. I settle in on the second row, second seat from the left. I begin going up and make the first drop and quickly begin to think, I hope the straps on my sandals are tight. Apliengeist is just one turn and dive after another. If you can't see what is coming then you could easilly get very disoriented. Before I knew it, we were going through the loop and then the cobra roll and headed for the MCBR. Wow! What an incredible coaster. There was some headbanging but not to much, in fact, much less than you would experience on Mind Eraser. Excellent coaster and a must ride at this park.
It is about 3:00pm, I wanted to spend the last few hours, taking some pictures. As I walked through the park, I made some mental notes of how to best photograph this park and wanted to so how I did.
The park crowd was fairly light (mostly teenagers on school trips). The only negative I really found with park cleanliness was with the restrooms. I stopped in the restrooms by the clock tower and found three of the four toilets in need of attention, this as I walked in the bathroom, a attendant walked out. Parking was plentiful and not a pain with my premium pass. All of the coasters were running two trains and my longest wait was for Apliengeist (maybe 20 minutes) All in all, I would give the day a 9 out of 10.
Thanks for reading.
Good report though - you probably made BGW an extra $50 later this season ;)
They open at the end of March which makes our off season much shorter. We foolow that weekend up by processing our SFA passes. Then a few of our favorite parks open after that(Knoebels, SFGadv)
I really enjoy BGW. All of their coasters are enjoyable, and very rerideable. The landscaping is 2nd to none. My only complaint is the lack of flat rides.
We don't buy season passes just for the fact that we only make one trip there a year. We may do that on a year that we are going to go to BGT & Sea World Orlando. That won't be for a few more years since we were there this past September.
I met you at SFA this year when we were in line for Batwing, and they were having problems with the 2nd row of seats. We were the couple that got married at Knoebels.
Hopefully the lightning wasn't meant for you, but if you believe the old adage, then if you never want to be struck by lightning, just sit on Alpengeist for the rest of your life ;)
Touchdown, are you sure about that? I thought the lightning would only not harm you if you *were* touching a definite grounding surface, which would be pretty hard to find on a coaster from my limited knowledge of that stuff. Maybe the floormat on Wicked Twister would ground you (somewhat rubbery) but even the wheels don't seem like they'd provide much protection. Then again, you want proof there isn't much to ground the lightning on a coaster? Anywhere but at Lagoon, any coaster will shutdown at the first hint of lightning or thunder in the area!
Honestly, What I got for my lunch was a submarine roll with turkey on it and a small salad plate of lettuce with some onions, peperocini (sp?), black olives, a couple of slices of cucumber and a slice of tomato. It was enough to last me the rest of the afternoon and I had no afternoon snacks. At Trappers Smokehouse, the sampler consists of a 1/4 piece of chicken, beef brisket and three ribs, add a salad, strawberry parfait, a couple of ears of grilled corn on the cob and I think you will see why the price upset me a little bit.
I was just joking about the lightning, but I would rather no test anyone's theories on whether I would have been struck or not.
IMHO, the park isn't really lacking in flat rides. Italy has the most with a Music Express type of ride, tea cups, pirates ship, magic carpet, a spinning ride similar to SFA's octupus. Flying swings can be found in Octoberfest, as can a scrambler and bumper cars. However, the park could modernize their fleet a little bit with a Frisbee, Top Spin, Chaos or other flats. They need to add to the collection but they really aren't lacking.
I also liked how they mix the kiddie rides in with the adult rides. Then you have what I thought was a really cool children's play area.
They could also add a upcharge go-kart track if they wanted to in Germany and call it the Auto-Bahn or something.
No offense taken and I'm sorry if I sounded offended. I agree with you, I find the food portions at BGW, generally, are more than enough for one person (as I posted in my trip report, I usually share the Trapper's Smokehouse sampler platter with my wife, who couldn't be with me on this trip). However, on this one occassion, I feel the $15 I spent for a turkey sandwich, salad and strawberry parfait was little bit to much. Trappers Smokehouse on the other hand, I would say gives you enough food for two meals. Which is fine, I get more value from Trapper's, so I will bring a cooler the next time and bring half out to my car after I eat lunch and eat it for diner.
I also agree with you about food portion sizes in American Restaurants. I'm a diabetic and have learned to cut my meals in half when I eat at a restaurant. It's shameful the amount of food that restaurants pile on you and then turn around and offer you desert.
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