Busch Gardens Williamsburg - July 25th and 26th, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009 7:51 PM

Saturday was my 34th birthday. Thanks to Moosh for remembering and sending the e-card! :) My twin sister passed away last September, so the day was bittersweet. In an effort to prevent my birthday from becoming some kind of dark anniversary, though, my boyfriend planned a getaway weekend for us to Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

We left town on Friday and unfortunately due to some uncontrollable scheduling constraints, we ended up hitting DC traffic right at the rush hour...or 3 hours as it ended up being coupled with an accident that created a bumper to bumper crawl. Crazy. No big deal, though, as we had each other's company and we were even entertained by a field mouse who made a Frogger-like break for it across the 4-lane highway. I like to believe he made it. :)

Anyway, we arrived to town with little other trouble and on Saturday we headed to the park. I know, I know... Saturday in July at the amusement park! What were we thinking? I had the same concerns, but was pleasantly surprised. The park was crowded, but not unbearable and much to my surprise I was even able to ride most of the coasters with little much of a wait.

I didn't go in on Saturday expecting to ride much if anything at all. We didn't even bother heading in until after 11 or so. But when we wandered over to Griffon, we discovered next to no line and ...drum roll please... a single rider line! Sweet! My boyfriend doesn't ride coasters, so this was perfect. I headed over to the SRL which was pleasantly not being overrun with couples and such and I only had to wait one train and I was placed in a front row seat! Woo hoo!

I had a good time on this coaster. There's surprisingly not much to it, so my expectations might have exceeded reality a bit. But it was smooth as silk and offered a lot of fun down the vertical drops. I caught a second ride on Sunday with a similar experience via the SRL and decided it was easily my favorite in the park.

I caught rides on Alpengeist and Loch Ness, but really don't have much to say about them. I'm glad to have been able to ride them. I enjoyed them. I wouldn't make a great effort to ride them again. In fact, I didn't even get in line again for Loch Ness. I did, however, try for a front row ride on Alpengeist on Sunday evening, but as I was next in line, a thunderstorm put an end to that hope. My back row ride will have to suffice...and I think it does.

I was fortunate enough to catch a couple of rides on Big Bad Wolf. I'm not surprised to see the news article about its closing as the park was openly discussing its last ride on Septemeber 7th. I rode in the back car for my first ride. Then later Saturday night I was blessed with a front row night ride.

So, what did I think? (enter CBuzzer voices in my head... it was rough, no it wasn't, it was rough, no it wasn't! ;) ) I thought it was a good ride. My first back car ride was fairly smooth. My front car ride offered one spot toward the end where I physically slid forward in my seat and hit the shoulder restraints. I could see it going both ways for folks depending on how they rode, where they rode, and when they rode. But in the end, it's a great coaster and I'm glad I was able to experience it before it goes away. And the night ride from the front was priceless!

Saturday night we caught The Little River Band performing as part of the Summer Nights Concert series. I only knew one of their songs, but it was a really chill way to spend an hour in the evening as we relaxed on lawn chairs in the field. Good times. Incidentally, I highly recommend catching a few shows at this park. We saw Emerald Beat and really enjoyed it. The park entertainment is as great as any other part of the park experience!

The Curse of DarKastle has got to be one of the best dark rides out there. I have to say that haunted attractions aren't really my thing (I didn't even wear my 3D glasses for most of it...*hangs head in shame*), but this was well done. The theming is spectacular with amazing detail. Even the way the car doors get slammed shut offers an element to the haunting experience. There was one point when I verbalized an "Oh Wow!" and it wasn't even because of the story. It was out of appreciation for all that went into this ride. I'm surprised I haven't heard more about this, but am open to the idea that I wasn't paying enough attention. :)

The other 3D attraction (or was it 4D?), Corkscrew Hill, is another must-do attraction. Yes, it is a bit hokey. But if you go into it not expecting anything, you might be surprised. I was. It was very enjoyable and quite honestly offered a 'rougher' experience than any of the coasters I rode!

Last, but certainly not least, was Apollo's Chariot. I waited until Sunday to enjoy this coaster and I was very excited to do so. I rode first from the front and had a great time. Then I rode a second time from the last row. I will say that I experienced a lot more vibration from the back row, but Apollo more than made up for that with time spent out of my seat. I love that kind of coaster experience! It was a lot of fun.

The other notable thing for this park would be that the parking lot operations are above average, I think. We were sent to two different lots for each day and both times we parked quite close to a tram which was running constantly and dropped us off and picked us up right at the entrance. And both nights we were leaving with the masses and still did not have any trouble reaching the exits and getting out to the main road. I think that's really sometihing.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is an amazing little park. It is gorgeous! I really don't think there's any other way to describe it. The landscaping is phenomenal and the midways are beautiful. I will say this though...*braces self for reaction*... I think in some cases the trees and such got a little in the way for finding attractions and navigating the park. I know...I just said that the charm was a little much and actually deterred a little from the experience! :) That's what I thought. There were a few times when I literally couldn't see the attractions (read: forest) through the trees.

I had a great time, though, and am so very glad to have had a chance to "meet" this park. Even better that I caught a ride on Big Bad Wolf before it retires. Two thumbs up!

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Monday, July 27, 2009 8:19 PM

That's a bummer that you didn't get Alpengeist in the front seat, because that's really the best place to sit. My thinking is that because all of the elements are super-sized, it's kind of dull compared to a smaller inverter like Talon. But the front seat gives an outstanding visual ride from start to finish. Definitely makes up for it.

I think Apollo is the best of the first generation (i.e., four-across) B&M hypers.

So what about the food? What did you think?

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Monday, July 27, 2009 9:02 PM

Sweet Carrie.. Glad to hear you had a good time there. Oddly there are certain CBers I look forward to reading their opinion of their park experience. Yes you are one.

My wife got a huge chuckle out of the the park beauty getting in the way comment. I dont think we have ever heard that "complaint" before.

But I think being voted most beautiful theme park for 19 years, I doubt they will change that. :)

Its funny, I was there as well as we came back from Carowinds this past weekend and we had to pick up one of our cars we left there. I knew I sensed a disturbance in the force ;)

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Monday, July 27, 2009 9:52 PM

NIce review. Glad you appreciated the greatness that is the Big Bad Wolf.

Having so many trees you can't see across the park is a good thing IMO. It makes it all the more interesting to explore and see where the path takes you.

Can't wait to go back myself this weekend. :)

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Monday, July 27, 2009 10:51 PM

I thought the food was great. It's expensive, but it's keeping in line with the prices at other major parks. I thought the portions were huge, but that's the name of the game these days. Charge $6 - $8 dollars, but give you enough food for the entire day! :)

I liked that you could eat meals according to the country you were visiting. That's a nice touch. It was delicious.

The thing about the landscaping is that it's hard to imagine what it takes to keep it looking so beautiful. That effort is likely lost on a lot of people. It really is gorgeous!

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Monday, July 27, 2009 10:56 PM

You should see the place for Halloween. They have a fantastic puplely light they shine on practically every wooded area (and the parts that arent get orange lights) that make it seem very outworldly.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009 2:59 AM

Great TR! I keep forgetting that BBW is going away soon...I really gotta get out there. I remember that being a lot of fun. Of course, I remember Drachenfire being a lot of fun too, and apparently, it was brutal. LOL

Did you find that Apollo gave you more airtime than Nitro? I have heard varying things about the two coasters, I'd really like to ride BBW before it shuts down, and I've been curious about Apollo's Chariot for quite a while, but I don't know that I want to drive down that far for a one-day event for coasters that aren't really that spectacular. I know Griffon is "meh", Loch Ness to me wasn't all that great, Alpie seems to get mixed reviews...would Apollo's Chariot push you over the edge to make a lengthy trip to this park again?

Of course, then you guys all had to start talking about the food...now all's I can think of is how bad I want a Reuben. LOL

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009 8:27 AM

Touchdown said:
You should see the place for Halloween.

...and for Christmas :)


Carrie M. said:

The thing about the landscapingis that it's hard to imagine what it takes to keep it looking sobeautiful. That effort is likely lost on a lot of people.

Possibly. But people comment on the beauty all the time.. So regardless of the effort and whether people know what it takes or not, its always one of the greatest appreciations of that park, and why they continue to do it.

Also thats Williamsburg in general. The whole city has strict codes on look and such.. When I lived there, I likened it to a giant Home Owner Association.

Last edited by ridemcoaster, Tuesday, July 28, 2009 8:36 AM
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009 9:22 AM

bunky666 said:

Did you find that Apollo gave you more airtime than Nitro?

Absolutely, yes! But then, I've never ridden Nitro. ;)


I know Griffon is "meh", Loch Ness to me wasn't all that great, Alpie seems to get mixed reviews...would Apollo's Chariot push you over the edge to make a lengthy trip to this park again?

Well, I wouldn't describe the coasters as 'meh' myself. They were a lot of fun. It's just that they don't stand out as much as some other signature coasters might.

I recommend this park for the entire park experience. It is unique in that way and definitely worth the trip. If coasters are your only draw, then your measure of worth may be different.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009 12:59 PM

They may only have five major coasters, but all of them are exceptional rides IMO, and they have fantastic water rides, lots of flats, and DarKastle is the best dark ride around. They have great food and beautiful scenery and good shows. That's a lot more than most parks can say.

It's a five to eight-hour drive for me depending on traffic and I'd go down there once a month if I could afford the gas, but I'll easily be making three trips down there this year with the second one being this weekend. It's worth it to me just to ride Big Bad Wolf.

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