East Coast Trip Part Three - Paramount's Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Associated parks:
None

Friday, September 2, 2005 5:18 PM
PARAMOUNT KING'S DOMINION - August 18, 2005

After eating a terrible Subway lunch in the car outside of a truck stop, we trekked into PKD. Just to make sure we tried, we attempted to use our PCW parking pass to get into the parking lot, to no avail and a rude employee. Oh well.

We immediately headed towards Volcano, and were met with a line that filled all of the queues and nearly entered the tunnel through the mountain. How nice. The last time I was at PKD, Volcano was still in it's "down" phase, before it opened up to the public. It turns out that it opened to the public for good [well, barring any other technical problems] the day after I was there last. So, to say I was excited to ride would be an understatement.

After just over an hour in line, we boarded the front seat. The launch was excellent, as was the fly-out of the volcano. In fact, the entire ride was GREAT. I absolutely loved the drop into the mountain, and was gearing up for a tremendous finale.. and then it was over? That's IT? I assume anyone who has read my last review, of Hershey, knows that I thought Storm Runner was over too soon. However, after riding Volcano, I would think that this is almost the pinnacle of shortness. Why would you have the coaster drop down a GREAT hill and gain tons of speed, only to have it enter a brake run? It makes no sense! Anyway, I really loved this ride, but was completely dumbstruck by the finish, which helped that love be drowned out by a lingering feeling of "WHAT THE F!!!"

Next, we moved on to Avalanche, which had a much shorter line. My girlfriend was very excited about this coaster, as she's an avid bobsled fan. Yeah, I'm still trying to figure that one out, too. I did think this coaster was fun, and a lot better than Disaster Transport [the only other bobsled I've been on]. It wasn't overly braked, and it seemed to FLY around the course. Of course, we rode in the front, and in the Canada car, because really - why would we want to be represented by anyone else?

We trekked over towards Anaconda, but then realized that Outer Limits was up here. [Bear with me, I know it's called Flight of Fear, but Outer Limits just sounds so much cooler.] We headed into the building, thinking that if the line was too long, that we'd just skip it and move on. Fortunately for us, the line was really short, and after just a 15 minute wait, we hit up the front seat and were off. Now, at PKI, I thought the ride was pretty good, however overly braked, too slow, and slightly jarring. Despite the fact that this one was heavily braked as well, it seemed to be longer and faster than the PKI version, and I did enjoy it moreso. It also seemed darker, which may have elevated the enjoyment factor somewhat.

Anaconda was next on our list. The ops were stacking the hell out of this, and we waited about eight minutes for a couple of trains to be dispatched before we got on. I remember hearing terrible things about this ride, but last time I was here I enjoyed it, so I wasn't expecting the painful ride we got. The first half was okay - the drop, the loop, the uh.. Immelman? But those brakes, OUCH. They just killed the speed of the ride, and as the train trudged through the butterfly turns and corkscrews, I smacked my head a few times and was generally in discomfort. Not the same ride I remember, but much worse.

We walked it off, and headed towards Rebel Yell, which we saw was almost racing - something I had not expected! Up the back side first, and it was a little jerky and rough, but not too bad. No real air or laterals or anything, but riding backwards is always a different sensation and something that I always like to experience. I liked this better in 1998, but it was still decent. We went on the front side next, and thought it was better, faster, smoother, and just more enjoyable. There weren't really any pops of airtime or anything, however it wasn't a bad ride.

We were going to head over to Ricochet next, but we noticed Hypersonic running and instead decided to get our ride in on that, in case they decided to shut it down later. The line was painfully long, though we did meet a nice father and son from North Carolina, who were telling us about Carowinds, almost making us want to sidetrack our trip and head over there for a day. We waited about 45 minutes for Hypersonic, and boarded. In the line, we noticed the terrible vibrating of the passengers, so we were braced for a rough ride. I did NOT expect the terrible pain that followed. Firstly, the restraits were TERRIBLE, leaving dents in my shins and just being generally uncomfortable. The launch was good, I won't fault that. However, the track was just terribly shaky and rough for the entire ride, especially after the first hill. It was just a bad ride, and not something that I'd ever want to experience again. From the reviews I've read, it appears as though people actually like this thing - so maybe I had a bad experience, or maybe you're all on crack.

After sitting down for a few seconds, we made our way back to Ricochet. We ended up riding with a father/son combo, and as we navigated the course, I helpfully yelled out "BRAKES!" before every set of brakes, so the father could grab his son and prevent him from flying forward into the restraints. The kid loved the ride and wanted to go again, which I liked hearing. However, the ride itself sucked. It paled in comparison to PCW's mouse, and again was heavily braked like apparently every other mouse ever.

Being right next to it, Hurler was obviously our next hit. It's another ride that I had enjoyed on my last trip, however I haven't heard anything good about it lately, so I didn't expect much. I still have to say that the drop and the huge first turn are a great combination aesthetically, and something I never get tired of watching or looking at. Another thing, what the hell is up with the station? Baby arms and legs being put into a meat grinder? They really need to do something with this - it makes absolutely no sense, especially since there is no connection to Wayne's World anymore. After shenanigans involving a group of kids trying to steal seats, and then pick up both the pair of girls in front of us, as well as the ride op, we were treated to a rough and jerky ride. I did enjoy it more than I had expected, though my girlfriend didn't particularly care for it. I would've taken another spin on it, had there been more than one train in operation.

After another long walk and some photo ops, we ended up at Grizzly for a ride that I had missed riding last time I was here. I had heard very good things about it at the time, and since I knew that the layout was very similar to the old version of PCW's Wilde Beast, I was anxious to see if it could match up to one of my favourites. Unfortunately, it did not. Again, another ride that was jerky and rough, however not too rough to be enjoyed. There was very little airtime, however, and the laterals were non-existant. It's a coaster that doesn't suck but has little re-rideability, which pretty much sums up every coaster we've been on so far.

Shockwave was next, and I really don't even need to say much about it. It was rough, it was jerky, it was just plain BAD. It's not quite "don't even bother for the credit" bad, but it's pretty damn bad.

The only credits we needed we Ghoster Coaster and Taxi Jam, and since we're both opposed to asking kids to ride with us, we headed for the Ghoster Coaster. While not being as good as the version at PCW, or the Comet at Waldameer, it still was a good kids coaster, and something I'll always take a spin on if the line is short.

After getting our credits, it was time for re-rides. However, there really wasn't anything we were overly excited to go on again. We made our way back to Avalanche, scoping out the Volcano line. It was still around a 45 minute wait, and we didn't feel like waiting, so we got our final spin on the Avalanche, and headed out.

My thoughts on PKD are a bit mixed. While it's not an ugly park, it really has no charms to be spoken of. Volcano is well done, but outside of that, theming is non-existant. The park isn't "beautiful", the coasters aren't overly well kept, and seem to be placed pretty much anywhere. Volcano and Tomb Raider are located well - however Avalanche now looks completely out of place behind them. The entire corner where Ricochet, Hurler, and Hypersonic occupy seems uselessly crowded, especially the placement of Hypersonic, being almost entirely over walkways. The coasters aren't anything special, and none screamed to be re-ridden except Volcano. So really, I feel that PKD is a bland park with a couple of decent rides, but nothing worth making a large trip to. This pretty much echoes my sentiments of both PKI and PCW, so maybe it's just a chainwide thing.

We booked to our hotel in Williamsburg, a Motel 6 on the city's main strip. I was worried about the "ghettoness" of the place when I noticed a large shirtless middle-aged man drinking from a paper bag when we pulled in, but outside of an oddly placed room, the place was fine.

The next day, I awoke to rain. Rain! Today! The day I was most looking forward to! I was going to get angry, when I realized that it wouldn't change anything. So instead, I tried to make the best of it, hoping that the crowds would be light, and that the rain would go away so I could enjoy the park I had been dying to visit for a damn long time.

BUSCH GARDENS WILLIAMSBURG - August 19, 2005

Due to unforseen circumstances, we arrived pretty late, and since we had over two hours of driving ahead of us tonight, we would have to make great use of our limited time at the park. I immediately sought out Alpengeist, however as I found out later, I took the long way around the park to get there, oops.

The rain had all but stopped at this point, which was stellar, and I got pretty damn excited by now. The first impression that we got from the park was just that it was absolutely beautiful, almost stunning. We took in the environment for a bit while walking through the park towards Alpengeist, just enjoying the scenery.

We hit Corkscrew Hill first, which was an amusing experience, but nothing overly memorable. I had no clue what to expect from it, but it was still a decent ride with no wait. We hauled ass through the rest of Ireland and the animal reserve, and finally found the beast that is Alpengeist.

I waited with baited breath, as this was one of the coasters I was most looking forward to on the trip. We made our way up the hill and my excitement piqued. The drop was great, and the ride that followed was also excellent. The MCBR was on heavy, which really took away from the finale of the ride, however as a whole it was an excellent coaster. I'm sad that I didn't get to ride it in it's prime, but I'm really happy with the ride and I'm glad that I finally was able to get on it and love it and not be let down.

Of course we had to take another ride, so this time we headed to the back for an intense experience, though I preferred the front a bit more. We walked by Curse of DarKastle, however it was down, and would remain down for the entire day. The only bummer of the day.

Next on our list was the Big Bad Wolf - however the line was REALLY long and they were only running one train, so we decided to pass up on it for now. We walked over to Italy and instead queued for Apollo's Chariot, which looked excellent, though I hadn't really read up on it too much. First seat, of course. The speed was pretty good, though the second and third hills seemed to take away too much speed to provide any airtime. There were a couple of pops along the way, and the turning section was pretty good, but over-all, this was quite a forgettable coaster. I'd wanted to take another spin on the back, but I was so hungry, being that it was about 3PM and I still hadn't eaten. So we went to La Cucina, where I picked up a half-decent chicken parmesan sandwich.

We walked by Escape From Pomppei, however decided to pass up on it for now, as neither of us were looking to get wet just yet. We made it around to Loch Ness, and after a far too long wait, we boarded. Another ride where brakes just kill it, however I did love the first drop, as well as the helix through the mountain. The second lift hill served almost no purpose to me, and my girlfriend [who abhors multiple lifts] hated the ride because of it. It's a lost more pleasing to the eye than it is to the thrill-seeker, but I still thought it was quite decent and smooth.

With BBW being the only credit we needed, we decided to just wander around and get some re-rides. Alpengeist, of course, was on our list, and we got a couple more rides on that. We walked by DarKastle again, still closed, and instead purchased some awesome fudge.

We finally decided to stick out the wait for BBW, even though it was still long. They were now running two trains, even though dispatch was still fairly slow. This ride is a really good and fun suspended, despite the brakes throughout the course. The swinging through the town was awesome, and taken at great speeds, but the brakes before the second lift - WHY? I screamed it out loud as we came to a complete stop and CRAWLED towards the lift. WHY would they do that? UGH. The drop off of that lift, while braked, was still excellent and created some great speed, however there was really nothing left of the ride after the drop, making me wonder again exactly what the point of even putting the lift was, since the coaster had enough speed to make it up at least HALF of that, before the unnecessary pre-lift brakes. Anyway, I had really wanted another ride, but the 30 minute line sort of negated my excitement.

Originally, I had planned to head back to Apollo and hit that, however I got pretty lazy and instead wanted to just leave, since I didn't particularly feel like driving two hours while I was dead tired. We walked by Escape from Pomppei again and decided to ride. I don't really like big splash boat rides much, however this one looked more interesting, and it was! Probably the best type of this ride one could hope for, and it didn't get us wet [thanks to our BGW ponchos!], so we were pleased enough to take another spin on it. A really good splash ride.

We walked out the exit, and immediately I tried to find a way to get back here next year. This park was absolutely beautiful. While the thrill rides were lacking, the views, the theming, and just the over-all appearance of the park were amazing, and this was easily the most beautiful park I've ever been to in my [somewhat limited] park-going experience. It's not often that I would consider returning to a park based mainly on it's atmosphere, but here I am, trying to find a way to get back to BGW based almost solely on just that [well, and Alpengeist]. Give this place a few more big time rides, and a couple more flats, and it's easily the best park I've ever been to. However, it does take the nod as the most beautiful.

NEXT: After 11 hours of driving, we finally arrive in Orlando! IOA, BGT and Universal Studios now await! SHIEKRA! MUMMY! DRAGONS! OMG!

*** Edited 9/2/2005 9:31:14 PM UTC by grind your soul***

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Saturday, September 3, 2005 1:05 AM
So when do we get to the part where you like something, grind? :) I'm starting to think you should have just stayed home and gone to PCW every day. Seems to be the only place you like.

Actually, I didn't much enjoy my PKD trip this year either. It was a stinking hot Saturday in August. Volcano had a 2 1/2 hour wait, so we didn't bother. And they shut down all the rides around 10 mintues to 5 because of storms in the area that didn't arrive until after 6. Glad I hadn't been waiting in line for Volcano at that point. We got the definite feeling they would rather have people spend money on food and games. They didn't seem to worry though about lightning striking the mikes the game barkers were using.

After the first storm passed, they still didn't open anything up, even though someone told us Flight of Fear was still operating because it was inside. That turned out not to be true. We waited in that line for over half an hour and it never moved. Soon after that it started raining again and that was it for the rest of the night. Got on a total of 4 rides that day, one of which was the Eiffel tower, which technically doesn't count.

They did give everyone complimentary tickets as they were leaving, but I don't see myself using it. It will cost me almost $80 in gas to drive there and back-- if prices don't go up any further. Plus the $8 parking and a hotel for one, if not two nights.

The frustrating part is that there was a good hour and fifteen minutes, if not thirty between storms, and they never bothered to open a single ride. Every other park I've been in, the rides would have been going again as soon as the rain stopped. I guess that's the difference with the big corp parks. More of a CYA attitude.

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Saturday, September 3, 2005 12:42 PM
He liked the parts that involved me ;)

2 1/2 hour wait for Volcano? Ouch. I don't see why they wouldn't open the rides inbetween storms. Universal had a rule that if there was lightning within 5 miles the rides shut down, otherwise they'd open them up. We got on Hulk inbetween storms, they only had it running for about five minutes but at least they tried while they could. It seems that PKD should've used a similar rule while you were there, especially with an hour or so between storms.

I think the TRs get more positive from here on out. BGW got a pretty good review, it was a beautiful park. We actually did have fun at every park we went to, or at least I did, whether you got that impression or not :P *** Edited 9/3/2005 4:56:16 PM UTC by shesaidboom***

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Saturday, September 3, 2005 1:18 PM
Oh hey I didn't know you posted on here :P Hi! [for those wondering, that is indeed the girlfriend].
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Saturday, September 3, 2005 1:40 PM
That was the first post, but I've been lurking since before you joined. I thought you knew this :P
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Saturday, September 3, 2005 4:09 PM

shesaidboom said:
We actually did have fun at every park we went to, or at least I did, whether you got that impression or not :P *** Edited 9/3/2005 4:56:16 PM UTC by shesaidboom***

Well then maybe you should be the one writing the TR's. :)

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Saturday, September 3, 2005 9:45 PM
A lot of his observations are dead on, unfortunately. This is from someone who's been to both parks multiple times. The last time I went to PKD in August, I said to my friend Matt that we got to a point where we ran out of things to do. Thank goodness for some of the latest additions like Drop Zone, Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Mansion, and Tomb Raider which provide some fun re-rides. It also didn't help that the waterpark was closed on a scheduled day of operation which would've lessened some of the lines. PKD has been missing a great coaster for sometime. They really need a decent steel coaster besides Volcano, and even that comes up short. I completely agree that the drop into the Volcano is one of the most anticlimatic endings ever (Ironically, another anticlimatic ending can be found at another Paramount park––PKI on their mine train).

grind your soul also points out many of the weakenesses of BGW. People think that I've lost it because I find the park so boring after I've been there so many times. Atmosphere only gets me so far. The only decent flat at BGW is the flying carpet. BBW is just highly overated. It gets killed by the brakes leading into the second lift hill, and the second drop really leads to nothing except the station.

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Sunday, September 4, 2005 12:17 AM
The 1st time I rode Volcano I felt the same way. What the? Its over? Oh well. Its still a good ride. I love the double launch, the inversion out of the volcano, and inline twists(my favorite on any coaster i have ridden.) It would have been nice if they had finished it off with big helix up inside of the volcano.

You didn't ride Drop Zone? You missed out on a good drop ride. Nice view from the top.

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Sunday, September 4, 2005 12:23 AM
Oh, don't get me wrong, I loved Busch Gardens Williamsburg, even with their limited amount of rides. It was a great park, and I wish I had had more time to explore in a more in-depth manner, and even to hit up the flats that they did have. But as it were, we had but five hours to get through the park, and that just wasn't enough time. I didn't think this review was so negative!

Oh, and my girlfriend should write the TRs and save me some time. Hint hint!

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Sunday, September 4, 2005 12:41 AM
Yours are better :P
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Sunday, September 4, 2005 12:52 AM
I was referring to the whole series of TR's, Intamin. I've been ragging grind's ass over how much he hates PA, although he did like the Pottsville Motor Inn, except for the driveway.
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Sunday, September 4, 2005 1:19 AM
That driveway nearly made me just turn around and go home right there, that's the level of hatred I had for it! It made me BOIL. BOIL I SAY.

Anyway, I really liked Florida so that part will be pretty happy. And I don't hate PA! I didn't hate any parts of the trip, I just disliked certain things. No hatred! Well, I hate the Flyers, but that's besides the point.

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Sunday, September 4, 2005 2:07 PM
Spoken like a true Maple Leafs fan. :)

My mom bought her car at the Ford dealership right next to that motel, grind. Not only is their driveway steep, it's got a 90 degree turn at the bottom. Some of our hills are pretty nasty, you wonder why they built the streets as they did.

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