Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
I've loved every visit I've had to BGW, but I hadn't been in about ten years. I did almost no reading on the park before going back. I knew BBW was gone, but hadn't heard anything about Verbolten, and was only vaguely aware of Gryffon.
This is still just a great park. Everything about it is well-maintained and clean. The staff were super friendly--benefit of going early in the season, before everyone's sick of it, I guess! Since it rained in the morning, there were almost no crowds, so we got to ride everything we wanted several times.
The Loch Ness Monster: I would never guess this coaster was 35+ years old. It still rides really smoothly, in the front and the back. You can't beat the way it blends into the scenery, either. Still a great ride.
Apollo's Chariot: Fun and smooth the whole way through. But weirdly, Tempesto is RIGHT THERE. It's kind of strange...it's not like they have a cool-looking interplay like Gryffon and Alpengeist seem to, it's just sort of sticking up next to it. It's slated to open at the end of April, so I'm looking forward to reading reviews of it!
Gryffon: I've never ridden a coaster with that hold at the top of the hill, and it is a GREAT effect! Very clever to have the rows so wide, too, so more people get the full impact. It's just not the same way in the back, but from the back it really yanks you over that hill. There's a lot of nice airtime, too.
Verbolten: I knew nothing about this coaster. I saw it from the distance, and honestly, from the track, I thought it looked like a little goldrusher or something. Sure, we'll ride it if we get through everything else, but it's not a priority. I didn't even bother to read the descriptions--total oversight. We go into the line, and I notice the 48" height requirement. Huh. That seems tall. Wow, this queue is really long. Interesting. Wait, these are much more intense safety features than I was expecting...
Needless to say, That Thing which most people probably already know about on here was AMAZING! I didn't know that that even existed, and it was the most surprised I've ever been on a roller coaster. If you by some miracle haven't been spoiled yet, don't Google it or search on here, because it is GREAT if you don't know it's coming.
First of all, I am immensely grateful for Seaworld Parks' waves of honor program. Since I'm active duty, they provided a free ticket for me and my dependent, easily the most generous offer from any amusement park. I know a lot of military families who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford this trip on enlisted pay, and it's a really great thing that they do it.
Otherwise, the park is a little pricey, but not too bad for what you get. Just to give you an idea...
Lunch of 1/4 chicken, green beans, a roll, fries, and a coke: $17.00
Spinach and feta crepe: $7.00
Dessert crepe: $4.00
On the plus side, all the food is EXCELLENT. It's not like some parks where you're paying through the nose for a crappy cheeseburger. An added bonus--they had a fair number of vegetarian options, so any vegetarians in your party won't be stuck with cheese pizza. Vegans might be out of luck, though.
The shows are really well put together as well. Sadly there was nothing in the Festhaus, but the Celtic Fyre show is impressive, even this early in the season. The pets and predators shows were both great, too. Overall, this is still a fantastic park with a lot to offer, even for people who don't love the big coasters. I really they get a wooden coaster in sometime in the next few years, but even if they don't, I will always be coming back here.
Great trip report!
I haven't been to BGW since 1995, so it was before I really could appreciate things like landscaping, better food, etc. All I cared about was the rides. Now they have a more impressive collection, but I'd like to go for the entire "experience". I adored BGT and felt the same way you do (beautiful, clean, exceptionally friendly), so BGW is definitely one of "must-do" parks in coming years.
I love coasters with tricks up their sleeves. One of my very favorite coasters is The Mummy at Universal Orlando for just that reason. Without the theming and effects, it probably wouldn't even crack my top 50, but it is a beautiful thing when a ride shocks me and gets a bunch of different reactions. I think, even knowing about the surprise, that I would definitely love this ride. Glad to hear you got a kick out of it in any case. Bigger isn't always better, and it sounds like Verbolten is a perfect example of this.
The Tempesto thing is so weird in general. They barely announced it, they apparently plunked it down in an awkward spot, and it is a surprisingly low capacity ride in a park that apparently really needs people eaters.
The free military tickets are fantastic. Also, if you are any sort of military service person and you have family with you, your family gets 10% off as well, or at least they did at SeaWorld in Orlando. I was very pleasantly surprised by that. But yeah, check that out. If you want to take a lot of people with you, it might be helpful.
I agree. Great trip report. That perk from Bush Gardens for active service people is well earned and deserved.
Thank you for your service AmandaT.
I admire and respect all of our soldiers...but I wish there wasn't a need for war.
Wonderful TR. Busch Gardens Williamsburg is an absolute gem of a park. My wife and I spent part of our honeymoon there, and we were last there two summers ago. Glad you had a wonderful time, and it's fun to hear about someone's experience on Verbolten who had no idea what was coming.
I, too, refrained from reading much about Verbolten, I knew about the "event building" but had no idea what happened inside until I rode it. Was *completely* shocked.
My brother had a similar experience on Maverick when we went to CP last year. He asked all kinds of questions about every coaster as we walked through the park. Of course the launch is completely hidden so he had no idea it was coming. He said that was his favorite part of the trip, being completely surprised by that launch.
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