After driving up from North Carolina, which took about four hours - a little longer than expected thanks to a semi-accurate maps.google.com printout - we got a little worried after finding a decent line at the parking booths and a fire truck going past the cars. We never did find out what that was for. After a few minutes we paid and were handed an event flyer. I got a little worried when it said that they expected the park to reach capacity and waits would be lengthy, etc. I expected it to be crowded on a beautiful fall Saturday, but capacity?
Well if the park was at capacity, which I wouldn't doubt, it was an "enjoyable crowd" and never a problem and I had much more fun with a ton of people there than I have had at some nearly-empty parks. Getting in was a breeze and wait-free with our tickets we bought at my college. After entering we checked out some of the great decorations, the wolves and falcons and found ourselves putting our stuff in a locker next to Griffon.
GRIFFON - This ride looks amazing in its location. It's hard to believe that the area was a huge mud pit just months ago. I love the colors of the ride and how you can get great views of it from the area. It's especially cool to look up the drop from the line. We waited about 50 minutes outside and in the fantastic station before boarding the front row. I was a few seats in but my friend was on the edge. While I feel B&M hasn't exactly been churning out their finest work in the last few years, I must say that Griffon really got me back into them. The ride is flawlessly designed and 100% fun. Hanging over the first drop is actually pretty damn scary, and that never happens to me. The drop itself is forceful and the immelman is fantastic. You don't stop completely on the mid-course, giving a nice pop of air into the second half. I like the airtime hops and the water splash is impressive. It's great watching the coaches slide gracefully into the magnetic brakes at the end. The dive machine represents a new standard for B&M and they should continue to explore it. Griffon was as good as, if not better, than my expectations and a winner for Busch. We rode later in the back seat at night, which was also a lot of fun and gave more air. Before this ride there was a ten minute breakdown which puzzled me. They let people off and cycled the trains a few times, so I couldn't understand the problem. There was never a point when the trains didn't dispatch. On a separate note, I like the strobing lights when the trains hit the lift. Griffon: **** 1/2 (out of *****)
Alpengeist: After the newbie we went to Alpengeist, which I had ridden once on my previous visit. This is the appropriate place to start my praise for the staff of BGE, who were incredible. Alpengeist was running three trains and trains did not stop on the final brakes 90% of the time. One train would clear the lift and the next would immediately leave the station. This was Raptor crew good, if not better. The person at the board constantly praised the team's efforts of making their marks. The ride is something different from other inverts and places in the middle of the pack for me. I love the size, but it seems that the elements go by very quickly. The ride made my legs tingle in multiple spots, which is a good thing. I loved the Cobra roll and the inline twist. The midcourse was not on hard, but the trim at the top of the drop was. The train would crawl until it had escaped the clamp, which was weird in the front seat, as I was pushing against my restraint for a bit. We rode a total of 3 times, two backseat and one front seat. The backseat night ride was the best - forceful and seemingly out of control. Alpengeist is a very good inverted coaster. APLENGEIST: ****
Big Bad Wolf: I love the theming for this ride, which was also running three trains yesterday. The first half is intense and a little dizzying, flying through the village. We got stuck on the second lift for a few minutes for some reason. The second part, with its dive over the river is very special, although the trims are undesirable. Overall, BBW is definitely my favorite Arrow suspended and runs very well for its age. Big Bad Wolf: ***1/2
Apollo's Chariot: Sorry Nitro, you've been replaced as my favorite B&M Hypercoaster. We rode this three times during the day, all in row 9. The night rides were the best. The first drop is fantastic and I got a ton of airtime, not just floater pops. The trim was on moderately before the dive by the lake but the mid-course was not on strongly. The trim before the twisted dive was on lightly. I like how the ride gets you with several false calms, especially the small piece of straight track before a larger than expected final drop. The ride was running three trains, no stacking and sending riders through the circuit without ever fully stopping. A fantastic ride. Apollo's Chariot: ***** (yes my scale is messed up since I gave my favorite coaster, SROS, the same mark but I'm tired and maybe that just deserves six stars)
Loch Ness Monster: I remember my mom riding this when I was younger and me being in awe at the massive structure. The ride is in a perfect setting and I love the interlocking loops, though I've yet to see trains in both simultaneously. The crew was actually dispatching trains too fast to interlock. They would pass on the first drop and the second loop. Three trains, great crew and barely stacking. The first drop is great but the trims before the first loop are new since my visit. I love the enclosed helix. Running well for its age, although the trims are a little much. LOCH NESS MONSTER: ***1/2
Griffon: front row, back row night
Alpengiest: front row, back row, back night
BBW: back row
Apollo's Chariot, 3x back row (2 at night)
LNM: first car second row
We also waited over an hour for the Never After , which was pretty decent. Three areas, one in Drachen Fire's station, one in its transfer shed, and one in a field. I like the haunted town outside the best. It was good fun and although not extremely bonechilling, worth the wait since its almost Halloween. We also enjoyed the characters after 6 p.m. all around. We were waiting in the haunted Dark Castle line to ride but the ride broke and we never got back, which is too bad.
After the visit, we decided that Busch Gardens is just a whole different experience, more akin to Disney than Six Flags or Cedar Fair. The park is absolutely gorgeous, natural and man-made structures alike. The Halloween decorations looked great and the park was even better at night. The staff, other than a couple unfriendly food employees, were great. The rides were running at maximum capacity and waits were minimal even though the park was packed. BWE has much to do for thrill seeks and families alike. I do believe it's the best run park I have seen. It's spotless.
After hearing a mediocre review of BGT recently, which I have also been to, I am glad that BGE was in top form for my visit. Griffon reaffirmed the flawless engineering possible by B&M and the park has what I consider to be a perfect coaster line up. That's not to say they couldn't have other good rides, just none of the ones they have are weak, they are all great.
BUSCH GARDENS EUROPE (WILLIAMSBURG) ***** (!)
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