Inflatable prop blows in front of Griffon with approaching storm at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Posted Sunday, August 8, 2010 9:46 PM | Contributed by ridemcoaster

Several guests at Busch Gardens got quite a scare during the storms that barreled through the area late Thursday night and into the early morning hours on Friday. At around 7:30 p.m. a strong, sudden gust of wind knocked an inflatable prop into the path of the Griffon which forced it to get stuck at the top. Riders were helped down by emergency crews some time later. Several guests were treated at the park; five were taken to a nearby hospital.

Read more from WAVY/Portsmouth.

Sunday, August 8, 2010 9:46 PM

So why were people transported to the hospital? Because they were scared?

Sunday, August 8, 2010 9:50 PM

Yeah, I don't know. I think we're missing a few pieces here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010 10:00 PM

I can't tell if the prop somehow hit the train and "forced" it to stop, or if the prop was sighted and the train was E-Stopped... Maybe the video clarified that. (I haven't had a chance to watch it yet)

If it was the former, I could understand some minor injuries, but I can't imagine an inflatable prop getting 205 ft in the air without some very substantial winds.

Sunday, August 8, 2010 10:19 PM

According to another report I read (on another site) it was stopped on the mid-course brake run, not at the top of the lift.

Sunday, August 8, 2010 11:00 PM

Considering that the article mentions that the park's storm plans are under review, could it have been because the riders sat through a storm while on the brake?

Last edited by PhantomTails, Sunday, August 8, 2010 11:00 PM
Monday, August 9, 2010 12:39 AM

I have to say I'm becoming very unimpressed with how Sea World Parks & Entertainment is running on its own... It's becoming very clear that it is "amateur hour" with the lack of spokespeople and prepared statements. While it may seem refreshing at first, a lot of the statements being issued by their executives without being fulling vetted are starting to bite them in rear.

Monday, August 9, 2010 1:07 AM

What I can say:

1) winds were substantial.. We had major tornado warnings and very high gusts.. Took down quite a few trees across peninsula

2) It was MCBR (top of second drop)

3) Inflatable had weight and speed to it and struck people in way that caused minor injuries. Its standard to take them to local hospital due to that.

4) No one sat on the track during the storm, they hit the normal run before the second drop and stopped as it always does before the dive.. The train was already on when severe storms whipped up fairly quick with a micro burst.. It took the whole peninsula by surprise.

(I had fairly decent damage to my back yard even).

Last edited by ridemcoaster, Monday, August 9, 2010 1:10 AM
Monday, August 9, 2010 1:27 AM

CPJ said:
I have to say I'm becoming very unimpressed with how Sea World Parks & Entertainment is running on its own...

That strikes me as a rather uninformed opinion since not much has changed, other than the fact that vendors get paid in a timely manner and managers are allowed to have phones again.

Monday, August 9, 2010 1:52 AM

Nice phones too.. Ironically having the phones (back) proved useful too.

Monday, August 9, 2010 5:16 AM

I'm glad there were no major injuries, but does anyone know what exactly the prop was? Be funny if it was an inflatable Fabio...

Monday, August 9, 2010 6:56 AM

I'm not sure why anyone is expected to know (or even care) that management carries phones or what kind they are. I thought the observation that was made pertained to public statements only.

Monday, August 9, 2010 8:07 AM

Well certainly the people who were injured and park officials cared because it expedited calling the needed emgergency and official people who had to be there.. Yes type is not important but that was a side comment and not relevant to this.

I dont think we expected anyone to know specifically that detail, albeit important, but I dont think that was Jeff's point (and mine was just a side comment to his). I think he was generalizing that its still the same people on the ground (and it is), no matter who the parent company is. All the statements are made by the park officials. Not the financial backers. Busch never had their "parent company" be the spokes person for them. Its always their individual park officials and their legal team. All the same people throughout 3 company changes.

Monday, August 9, 2010 10:58 AM

Jeff said:

That strikes me as a rather uninformed opinion since not much has changed, other than the fact that vendors get paid in a timely manner and managers are allowed to have phones again.

Perhaps. However I have spent a substantial amount of time in 3 of their parks and reading/watching their releases. To say that nothing has changed from late 2008 to now would be uninformed.

*edit- I guess what I am trying to say is look at this guy just sitting on a bench in the park... really? That's how a corporation wants to be portrayed in a news release?

Last edited by CPJ, Monday, August 9, 2010 12:19 PM
Monday, August 9, 2010 12:19 PM

You're missing the point. You implied that different owners have some how lessened the quality of the parks, and I'm telling you that it's still the same people running them.

Monday, August 9, 2010 12:39 PM

I'm glad no one was seriously hurt, but I have to ask: what was an inflatable prop doing at BGW? I always thought those things were hideous and tacky and I can't see one of those atrocities fitting in at Busch Gardens, often considered one of the most beautiful theme parks in the world. Perhaps this was a sign that the gods were displeased.

Last edited by Jeffrey Seifert, Monday, August 9, 2010 12:39 PM
Monday, August 9, 2010 5:21 PM

Its part of their Illuminghts parade/production. This all occurred early evening as they were setting up for it. It doesnt stay up during the day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 2:48 AM

Weird, now it's letting me post to this topic but it wasn't before. But yeah, all good points here. I have not seen picture of the inflatable myself but would be curious to see it if the vids/pics are out there.

Being a storm chaser myself, I do know the nature of Microburst winds. They can come up quick, and be even more than 10 miles ahead of any preciptation core/close cloud to ground lightning strikes. They usually show up on Radar but sometimes can show up too late to have time to prepare for them.

I did a little video workup on the event. It's no new news but there is a picture in the video that shows what one of these "Gust Fronts" as they are look like from a distance. They can look quite errie and once in a while can even produce very brief spinups that we call Gustnadoes:

They might consider closing these rides down a bit sooner when severe weather is within one county away and approaching the park. It might make some people upset, but it's better than putting their live in jeopardy.


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