BGW Opening Day 3/27 (LONG)

Associated parks:
None

Monday, March 29, 2004 4:10 PM
Trip Report
Busch Gardens Williamsburg(BGW)
March 27th, 2004

Weather: Partly Cloudy/Cloudy 70
Hotel: Days Inn Busch Gardens (across from Water Country USA)
Last Visit to Park: The year they purchased Water Country USA (almost 10 years ago)

Introduction:

I have a longer version of this trip report that describes in detail the pains we went through to get to BGW from Washington, D.C. on Friday March 26th. I willn’t bore you with those details or the problems we had with the no fewer than four rooms we stayed in at the Days Inn Busch Gardens while we were down there. This hotel has really taken a turn for the worst.

Busch Gardens Opening Day

We leave for Busch Gardens at 8:45 and arrive at the parking gate by 9:00. They were holding the cars outside the gate. Being we were new Platinum Passholders, we wanted to make sure we were able to take advantage of the free premium parking at least once. At about 9:20 they began letting cars through the gate and we were able to get a decent parking space in premium parking. We made our way toward the ticket booth, purchased my Mother-In-Law a ticket and got our Premium Parking Passes. What a great season pass, free premium parking for the next two seasons, 10% off food and merchandise. We are hopeful we will be able to cover the cost of these passes with these kinds of savings. We will see. After we processed our passes, we headed for the main gate and at exactly 10:00, the bells on the clock tower struck and the bulls were off. Except, this bull that was in the bathroom. First, I wanted to go to Italy but they didn’t open that section of the park at 10:00 so we headed straight to Ireland and stopped at the Loch Ness Monster along the way.

Once inside the gate you begin to see what Busch Gardens Williamsburg has received the most beautiful park of the year aware 12 years straight now. The sidewalks are clean enough to eat off of, I don’t think I saw one piece of trash all day long. Throughout the day I found the cast to be extremely friendly and approachable. The only notable exception was the bathrooms. I know I’m going to get a lot of crap for this comment but I’m going to say it anyways. The bathrooms looked like crap at times. My home park is SFA and I have always found the bathrooms to be clean and neat. There is usually attendant within 5 feet of the bathroom at all times to ensure this. Unfortunately a couple of times this day, that didn’t happen.

My first coaster of the day and season Loch Ness Monster, row 2 seat 1. The Lock Ness monster is an Arrow Custom Looping coaster and the oldest coaster in the park. However, it still packs a pretty good punch. The theming is great. My wait time was 5 minutes. I especially enjoyed the dark cave. My goal in life has always been to ride this roller coaster. I never had the guts to do it when I was a kid and only recently developed my love for coasters. The coaster rattled me around a little bit but was definitely worth the wait. The crew seemed responsible and like they knew what they were doing. The coaster does seem to move up the lift quicker when you are riding it than if you just stand around and watch it. I loved the cave. That is where you can really loose your sense of orientation. It is almost pitch black inside the cave and the coaster feels like it keeps speeding up and up. I really enjoyed this coaster and hope to give it another shot on a return visit in the near future.

Unfortunately Loch Ness was my last coaster of the day. It’s at this point that my sinuses began to act up, drain down my throat and now I have a headache and sore throat to boot. So I called it quits on the coasters and began to develop a plan of attack for my return visit (probably at the end of May).

My wife, mother-in-law and I headed through Ireland. We saw the estate auction show which was pretty good, but I thought was a little over done with the acting. By now it was lunchtime so we headed over to Trappers Smokehouse.

Trappers Smokehouse is an outstanding restaurant. The beef brisket is absolutely divine. The chicken was a little under done for my taste and the ribs were a little tough. Other than that the food was excellent. This is where I discovered this park has Iced Tea. Being diabetic, there isn’t much else I can drink other than Iced Tea and Water. So having access to Iced Tea is a major plus for me.

After eating lunch we took a train ride around the park and then watched the log flume and Alpengeist. Alpengeist looks like an outstanding coaster. The employee at the gate said there was about a 30-minute wait for Alpengeist. While eating lunch at Trappers I had heard that Alpengeist was down for a little while. I believe they were running three trains. Can’t wait to ride it. The water flume looks like it is one of the better ones I have seen.

We then headed to the Rhinefeld section of the park. Till this point it hadn’t occurred to me that I hadn’t seen one game in the park. Rhinefeld and Italy are the exceptions to this rule. However, it was different at BGW, they weren’t ramming the games down my throat or obnoxiously begging me to play the game over a bullhorn. While in Rhinefeld we stopped into the Hummel store and took a look at the Hummel’s and the Hummel mini-museum. The museum describes a little about how the Hummel’s are made. I asked one of the employees how many of the Hummel’s get broken a day. She said it varies. Preview weekend three was broken. This particular day, none of them have been broken but it was only 2:00. While in Rhinefeld, I remembered that I ate lunch there as a kid (I believe it was Pizza) and I remember the show and the Das Festhaus hall. I was amazed at how big it was.

On my way to Italy, I took a gander at the Big Bad Wolfe and began to get chills and a funny feeling in my stomach as I watch the train swing back and forth on the final break run. This is going to be a different experience for me. Big Bad Wolfe had about a 30-minute wait and appeared to be running three trains.

Next it was on to Italy. BGW does have some nice merchandise in their various stores. It is going to be difficult to keep my wife from using the credit card. One of the places I plan to eat at the next time is going to be at the Ristorante Della Piazza. The place looks nice especially with the water fountains in a Corinthian setting.

As you make your way through Italy you pass the largest selection of flat rides in the park. Where they have a flying pirates ship, a battering ram, and a couple of spin and pukes. After passing the flat rides we headed to Apollo’s Chariot and found a 30 minute wait (but it looked a lot longer) and Roman Rapids, where I deposited my traditional 3.00 in quarters so I could soak people with the water canyons. This should be far more fun a little later in the summer when the crowds are more appreciative of the water. BTW, some guy did flip me off for squirting him with water (of course I enticed him to do it with my “Cinderella” wave).

Escape from Pompeii looks like an exciting ride as well. One of these days, some one will have to explain to me what the purpose of getting soaking wet on a 65-degree cloudy day.

On the way out, we found the worst service of the day was at guest relations. The line inside the park was four deep at times. In the end, my problems were solved to my satisfaction and my questions were answered.

Summary

Busch Gardens is an awesome amusement park and I can see where it gets such a great reputation. The parks landscaping impressed my mother-in-law and my wife was impressed by the park as well and looks forward to a return visit this summer. In fact she probably likes this park more now than she does our home park (SFA). My next trip will be the last week of May we are planning another trip in July to visit Water Country USA and see some of the night dinner shows at BGW. Look for those trip reports.

Thanks for reading.

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