Busch Gardens Extravaganza!

Monday, May 28, 2012 4:40 PM

Starring Clint, Matt, and Chuck.

I’ve been watching with much anticipation as Busch Gardens Williamsburg announced and started construction on Big Bad Wolf’s replacement. Would it be just as good? What would it be? When Verbolten was announced I thought it looked really interesting. My original plan was to go ride Verbolten on opening weekend, but since Matt didn’t want to go that weekend, I changed it to the following weekend. Matt decided not to go that weekend either, so I made plans forBuschGardenson Saturday and Kings Dominion on Sunday.

Then, of course, a week before opening, Matt decided to go. But he wanted to go opening weekend, and I already had plans. So he wasn’t going. Then he was again. So finally, the week of, I made reservations for Friday and Saturday nite inRichmond. Leaving on Friday of Memorial Day weekend was rough at first since everyone was heading toCharlotte. Traffic was a mess for about 20 miles, but then lightened up. I made my way north in about 5 hours. Matt showed up around 11. I wanted to go to the diner beside the motel for a late dinner, but they closed at 11 (What diner by a motel closes at 11 on a holiday weekend?!?!). We swung by Burger King instead before heading back to the room where I was fast asleep about an hour later.

We woke up early Saturday morning to beat the rush, get breakfast, and get toBuschGardensearly enough. We were anticipating lite to mild crowds, but you never know. We stopped for breakfast at a McDonald’s about 20 minutes from the park and eventually made our way to the parking lot where we met up with Chuck, who decided to come down for Verbolten as well.

We made our way over to the park, which wasn’t looking to be extremely busy at this point. I must say,BuschGarden’s season pass processing was great. I purchased online, Matt did not. But you go to an ATM like machine, hit a couple buttons if you have to purchase one (or scan your ticket if you purchased online), and viola! Then you scan it at the front gate and scan your index finger. Quick and easy, and we were on our way toItalyto wait for the ropes to drop at 10:00am.

We waited by Escape fromPompeiifor a while until the ropes dropped. We scurried over to the bridge that leads intoGermanyand waited in the line to get in the queue for Verbolten. When they opened it up, people flooded in. The wait was maybe 15 minutes, including the time it took to walk straight thru the queue. The queue and station are all nicely themed.

Verbolten-Chuck and I ended up in the back seat of the orange train. You head out of the station and into some S curves that lead thru the trees and then to the launch section that launches you into the black forest. The launch is more powerful than expected. Once inside, there are some tight turns and fun drops, interspersed with black light theming thru the black forest. There are three different scenarios that take place in the building. We got ‘Spirit of theForest’, which ended up with the spirit talking to you just before the magic drop. I have to say, THE drop in the building was a lot more fun than I expected. Then there is a hill that drops you out of the building and then into the 2nd launch. You hop up to the ‘old bridge’, where you crawl to an almost stop, before plunging down to the river (lake), then you go back up thru the trees, hit a non airtime producing hill, turn, and hit the brakes.

Verbolten was fun. Definitely a family ride, and something that could be completely reridable. I wish there was more theming on the actual ride, though. Also, I think the audio would have been better if it were on board. I couldn’t make out what the spirit of the forest was saying. But the vertical drop was well utilized and great for what it was.

We walked over toMachTowernext. Matt rode after Chuck and I and got the Wolf scenario in Verbolten’s show building. MachTowerwas just okay. I’m still freaked out by drop towers, but this one was kind of just okay. Next up was DarKastle, a walk on. This was my first time riding since I had Lazik surgery. I wish they’d get upgraded projectors and better audio, but otherwise, I love that ride. Maybe more than Spiderman, even. Next we walked over toFranceto get our Griff-on. Chuck hadn’t ridden it yet, so we got in line for the front. The wait wasn’t very long.

Griffon-I rode in the front middle part of the train. Griffon goes up its steep lift fairly quickly, but then slows to a crawl at the top. Of course, then you’re subjected to the holding brake at the drop. This freaks me out in the front of the train, just hanging over a nearly vertical drop. It’s quite intense. Then you drop, face first, then up into the inversion, turn, and into the mid-course brake. After crawling thru, then another inversion, Griffon actually gives you some decent airtime on the last few hills. We immediately ran around and hit it again in the back of the train, where the airtime is more pronounced.

We continued thruFranceand headed over to Alpengeist, which was nearly a walk-on.

Alpengeist-I don’t get why people think it’s not intense enough. I love the first drop and inversions afterwards. Granted, they’re all pretty large, but I don’t need to feel like my feet are being pulled off every time I go thru an inversion. Still, I don’t think that makes it weak by comparison. Alpengeist has a nice surrounding, and even with complaints that it fizzles out in the end, I think it’s a really fun, solid ride.

We walked over to Le Scoot and got in line for the flume. It was fun, and we all got soaked. Thankfully I was careful with my phone and camera. They got wet, but not damaged. We ended up inIrelandnext. Matt and Chuck toyed with getting food, and I was hungry, but I wanted something more. We hit upEuropefrom the Air, which was filled with way too many pre-shows and basically was a poor man’s Soarin’ (a ride which I find completely boring). Besides, Chuck had been to most of the places we ‘flew’ over. So we headed back over toGermanyvia the Sky Ride to get some grub.

We toyed with riding Loch Ness Monster, but went across the river instead to hit up Festhaus. I spent $36 on food (Ribs, chicken, mac-n-cheese, potatos, cake, beer, water, and a pickle). ButBuschGardensalways has good food, though the baby back ribs were tough (The sauce was great though). The show at Festhaus wasn’t that great, but the beer was. After eating, we walked out and toyed with another Verbolten ride but the line was extremely long.

Instead we headed over toItalyto ride Apollo, the ride that everyone tells me is great, but that I just didn’t love on my last visit. When we got to the entrance, I was taking my camera from around my neck to put in my cargo shorts when the ride’s entrance attendant jumped on me and told me I had to put it in a locker, to which I responded that I was putting it in my pocket. She told me it wouldn’t fit, and that it would mess with the restraints. I didn’t want to be a coaster geek, but she was being rude, and I told her I’d ridden every thing else with it in my pocket, and I wasn’t renting a locker just to put my camera in when I knew it could fit in my pocket. She then said as long as she didn’t see the camera, I should be good to go. Seriously? Every other attendant was fine with me putting it in my cargo pocket. My camera really isn’t that big to begin with. Thankfully Apollo had no line.

Apollo’s Chariot-It was better. But still not great. We rode in the very back, and yes, there is airtime, but I just didn’t ‘get’ Apollo. The first drop is okay, the first airtime hill is B&M Floaty air, but that’s it till you get to the end. We got off and went back around and rode again. It was still good, but nothing outstanding. Better than my last time.

After Apollo we did get a locker to put all of our stuff in, but only because we wanted to ride the water rides. These were the only really long lines we waited in all day. So we first hit Roman Rapids, where I ended up getting hit with every waterfall. Next we hit up Escape fromPompeii, which had a long line, but again, we got pretty wet. I still love the corny show in the show building.

Next up, Chuck and I got our credit on the Kiddy coaster, Grover’s Alpine Express. It was fun. Then we rode the sky ride again and went over to finally ride Loch Ness Monster.

LochNessMonster-Classic Arrow. The loops, drops, and turns are all fun. It seemed like the helix in the tunnel took forever. I really wish they’d light the monster up in there again. I’d love to see it. You get some decent air on the ride, and the setting is very unique.

We went back over for another shot at Le Scoot before riding the sky ride back toItaly. We got another quick shot on Apollo, and this time it really was a lot better. I sat in the very last seat, on the far left, and there were parts that took me by surprise. I immediately liked it better after that. We got our stuff from our lockers, made a bathroom stop, and I got another beer. We walked back over towards Verbolten, but Chuck decided to head out. I think we took the sky ride again. Once we got to Verbolten, it was down. We waited in line for around 30 or 40 minutes as we sat on a rock wall, but it never came back up, and eventually the line was shut down for the nite.

We took a train ride around the park and ended up eating at the Irish sandwich stand before riding the Sky Ride around and finally ending up in Italy. Griffon was down, Verbolten was down. We walked past Alpengeist, but didn’t ride. So we ended our nite on Apollo. It was better at nite, where we got 2 back rides, one front ride, and a 2 row ride.

BuschGardensis a lovely park. We walked to the front, where it was dark, but lit up. I took plenty of photos, and really enjoyed my day there. The food, the beer, the rides all come together to make it a special park that doesn’t feel over run by children and teens. Maybe now that I have a season pass, I’ll head back in the fall.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012 3:30 PM

I've heard a few reviews of this ride, and all of them mention the "Spirit" version. Any idea what happens in the other two in comparison?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012 4:00 PM

I rode it twice and couldn't tell the difference between the experiences. I think the differences are pretty minimal.

BTW, Verbolten's line moves quick. Both times I rode it, the line spilled out of the queue and on to the bridge and it was 45 minute each time.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012 4:36 PM

Good to know, as I plan on rectifying my 20-year absence in 2 weeks. My 6 year old is pretty excited about this and Loch Ness, as he is exactly 48-1/4".

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012 5:38 PM

Wear big shoes, just in case. ;)

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