BGW March 26

The weather was cool (10 C / 50 F?), but luckily, there was no rain. We checked into our hotel (Quality Inn at Kingsmill) early and immediately called for a cab to take us the park. Cab fare was $6 including tip each way. (It would have been cheaper to park and not drink the beer, but what fun is that?)

We arrived at noon, starving. We planned to go to the Das Festhaus for lunch, but the Trappers Smokehouse in New France smelled too good to pass up. We shared a delicious smokehouse platter – a great sample of southern fair (not at all like the authentic French-Canadian meal we had at a sugar bush the week before – see a sample menu at The bread pudding was good, but would have been better if it were made with maple syrup instead of brown sugar.

After lunch, we decided the best way to settle our stomach was to wait in line for the front seat of Alpengeist. About 50 minutes later, the perma-grin began. WOW! We have a new favorite invert! The first half of the ride is much like other large inverts, with fast drops and spectacular loops (like Raptor, Talon, Great Bear, Montu, Dueling Dragons, Top Gun, etc.), but the second half of the ride is totally terrain hugging and much more thrilling than the second half of the other big inverts. I would compare the 2nd half of Alpengeist to the much smaller, tightly twisted inverts like La Vampire (a Batman clone). Overall, it’s a terrific ride. Bravo Alpengeist!

Next, we rode Big Bad Wolf. There were a lot of kids in this line, including several going on their first big coaster. :) After an initial wait of 10 minutes, the crew stopped letting people on and added the third train. This took nearly 15 minutes, but once it was done, they were running fast and we were aboard in less than 10 minutes. The Big Bad Wolf has two elements – the first is a terrain-hugging, fast-turning ride through a German village, and the second half is a very large lift hill and drop over the water before returning to the station. Overall, it’s a very good ride. BGW made excellent use of terrain with this coaster.

We headed to Apollo’s Chariot next. The queue was fast – we were quickly on the platform and in a middle row (4 train wait?). Apollo’s Chariot was unique. I’ve never ridden a hyper-coaster so smooth. There was a lot of air-time, but no ejector time. I thought it was good, but my wife thought it was weak. “No butterflies in my stomach!?”

It was cold that day and we needed a warm-up. We decided that Das Festhaus was the best place to go. Besides, sauerkraut and sausage are some of my favorite foods. The restaurant was warm and clean, and the food was good. The only fault we could find was staff putting way too much Dijon mustard on the sausage. We got to a table just in time for the show and sang along while we ate. Good food and good fun.

Our plan was to go through the Land of Dragons and ride the gondola to Loch Ness Monster. Unfortunately, they shut down the gondola at that time, so we spent a few minutes playing in Land of Dragons before going on the long walk to Nessy. :)

Loch Ness Monster is a very good coaster – we were quite surprised. It perfectly suits the terrain, and it is a thrilling ride. The tunnel is deceivingly long – I tried to scream through the entire length and I ran out of breath. ? We intended to ride it again at night, but ran out of time. :(

From Nessy, we back-tracked to Ireland and registered for the 7:00 Beer School. Then we checked out Corkscrew Hill. We had no idea what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised. Unlike many 3D simulator rides, the pre-shows were also done in 3D. Making people stand on the circles of light in the final pre-show was one of the most effective ways of assigning seats I’ve seen. Unlike Shrek 4D at Universal Studios Orlando, this simulator has seat-belts and a lot more movement. The horse-ride scenes in both were quite similar. The water-in-the-face was not totally unexpected, and thankfully mild. (We weren’t drenched like we were in R.L. Stine’s Haunted Lighthouse at BGT.) The story was predictable and the adventure was fun. Overall, it was a pretty good attraction.

With an hour to kill before Beer School, what better thing to do than re-ride Alpengeist and do some shopping. The line was much shorter, but we opted to ride in the middle. The ride was still lots of fun. One of the shops in France had 50% off last ticketed price. I paid $3 for a Loch Ness Monster T-shirt, and my wife bought a “Sit Down, Shut Up and Hang On” sweatshirt for $6. Of course, we paid more than that for our Alpengeist and Big Bad Wolf shot glasses, but it’s all good!

Beer School was tasty. We tried not to parrot things back at the instructor – this course was the same as the one we took at BGT in January. I preferred the regular Bud, but the wife really took to “B to the E” - a new fruity caffeinated beer. After school, we went to the pub to enjoy some Irish Stew and more beer before heading back to the park. This is the first bar I’ve ever been to where tipping is not allowed. I felt sorry for the staff.

After getting our fill, we had an hour left to ride as many rides as possible.

  1. Alpengeist in the dark, front row (2 train wait). WOW! It freaks me out to see the gondola directly below me on the first drop. Every ride was great.
  2. Big Bad Wolf in the dark. The train was full of kids doing re-rides (no line in the station). We rode in the front of the second car. Yes, it’s more fun in the dark too.
  3. Apollo’s Chariot, back row, no wait. The back row was snappier than the middle – we got a little ejector time, but not much. It remains the smoothest hyper-coaster I’ve ever ridden.
  4. At 8:59, we went into the line at Escape from Pompeii. (We hadn’t even been to this part of the park earlier in the day.) Based on an informal pole of people who were taking re-rides rides and comparing the seats, in a lightly loaded boat, the front-middle section was the driest, so we went there. The external theming is very good (reminiscent of Poseidon’s Fury at IOA). The internal theming was nothing short of spectacular! To imagine Escape from Pompeii, take the ride and suspense of Jurasic Park River Adventure, add the special effects from the Haunted Mansion at Knoebels, then add the pyrotechnics from Revenge of the Mummy. It’s scary. And then the drop – not too big, not too small, not too wet, not too dry. I guess it’s perfect. :)

No theme park day is without regrets. We didn’t ride Nessy at night. We didn't see the wolves or any of the shows besides Oktoberfest. So much to do, so little time. <sigh>

But of course, getting there is half the fun…
Actually, it was more than half the fun, but there are no coasters involved, so I’ll keep it short.

  • We visited Washington, D.C. for the first time ever. Amazing town. Connecticut Avenue North of the Dupont Circle is a great place to hang out after everything closes downtown.
  • We spent 3 hours at National Air and Space Museum and saw all kinds of neat stuff – too much to describe here. Let’s just say I’m an aviation buff and I live 3 miles from the Canadian Aviation Museum, and while the number of planes on display is similar, the US version has a lot more record-breaking history. We skipped all shows and most line-ups, but next time, we’re going to try the flight simulators – they’re not just a video screen and a bouncy car – the two-person cockpit has OTSRs because it does 360-degree rolls and loops!
  • We drove by Paramount King's Domain and wished we had more time...
  • We froze our butts off just to get a couple photos of us standing in the Atlantic Ocean at Virginia Beach. At least there was no snow!
  • We drove through the hills in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and across the pancake flatlands of Maryland and Delaware. Even though we’re from the prairies, we definitely prefer the hills.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is an engineering marvel for people and a zone-of-death for sea gulls. ;)
  • We saw lots of deer grazing along the interstate North of Binghamton, New York. When I say lots, I mean we stopped counting at 100. People aren’t the only creatures glad to be out of the snow! The deer were slightly better than the seagulls about dodging cars.

[edit for formatting] *** Edited 3/28/2005 5:45:47 PM UTC by greatwhitenorth*** *** Edited 3/28/2005 5:47:02 PM UTC by greatwhitenorth*** *** Edited 3/28/2005 5:49:35 PM UTC by greatwhitenorth***

Glad you had a good time at BGW. It really is a nice park.

If you like the Air and Space Museum, there is an Annex by Dulles International Airport that is less than 3 years old. They have additional planes and aviation history there including a Space Shuttle and the Enola Gay that because of space considerations they couldn't display at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Great Trip Report. You packed quite a bit in for an area that has so much to see and do.

A day at the park is what you make it!

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