KD/BGW 6/5-6/6 2018.... Part Two

Monday, June 11, 2018 4:01 PM

Hello again.
After a minor technical difficulty involving me accidentally deleting my first post, Jeff kindly restored it for me so now I’m back for round 2.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg was next on my list. The drive from Doswell isn’t bad, it’s maybe an hour. And once again the Virginia foliage was so beautiful. Even on the interstates and major highways, tall trees border each side of the road. It’s like driving down a beautiful tree-lined hallway. There may be a Sheetz at the next exit, but you’d never know. It made me wish Ohio driving was as scenic.

I hadn’t done anything about a ticket and I subscribe to the theory that anyone who pays gate price is stupid. So I jumped on line and found a 25 buck discount which brought me down to 70 plus change. Yikes! When I got to the park they handed me a card announcing Nessie’s birthday (which was that very day) and a celebratory rate of 40 bucks, on-line only. Fml.

But in I went, and tried to forget about the 30 dollars I wasted. Just outside the entrance they had a nice display about Nessie and there was a car there to climb in for photo opportunities.

BGW is a beautiful park and they do a fine job with rides, animals, and themeing. I walked down to Loch Ness Monster thinking it would make for a good first ride of the day but it was closed. There was a private birthday celebration in that area until noon or so. Ok, let’s head over to Italy for some Apollo’s Chariot and we’ll go from there. Once again no, and I had forgotten about that park’s damn staggered opening times. The young man at the rope was directing guests to Grover’s nearby area, or Ireland, or Alpengeist, or InvadR. While I intended to visit those places, a quick analysis told me to hang out right there and wait. My feet were still aching from the previous day’s activities. By the time the area opened there was quite a little crowd of school kids (more backpacks) and grouchy families with strollers. So at the rope drop there was a bit of a stampede and I resigned myself to another poor decision. Not so, though, half those kids ran to the Pompeii splash ride. I hoofed along and found the rest of the parade stopping at Apollo. I kept walking and found myself at Tempesto. All alone.

Truth told, I was a little nervous about that ride, but more about that in a minute. When that ride was announced I was in the “what are they thinking?” camp. It seemed like a cheapy, first of all, and I argued about the placement right there in front of and blocking the view of Apollo’s Chariot. But when I got there, it all came clear. The ride is themed to an Italian carnival stunt man, Tempesto the Great, and his act was a looping bicycle ride around the inside of a barrel. Or something. The area around the ride had the appropriate canvas awning tent structures, and the entrance was through a slice of a wooden barrel. Not bad, I thought, actually more clever and cute than I had imagined. But then I looked up at the ride. It looked scary.
I’m ok with back and forth and inversions fall into my area of interest. But that top stretch seems so twisted and unsupported- it just didn’t look right. At all. And I was worried that my fat ass up against some little restraint would lead to disaster. But I had to do it so I went on in. There was NObody on the platform and I found myself facing a “zen” ride in the front seat. Now some enthusiasts groove on the rare solo ride, but not me. I reckon if the good lord ever wants to call me up from a coaster ride that should be the time. So my heart was pounding. The seat and restraint was comfortable for me and that made me feel a little better. I gripped on for dear life as the ride shot forward, then backward, then fast forward twisting all the way to the top. Then came the excruciating sloooow roll at, I dunno, a million feet in the air? Ugh. The rest of the ride seemed like a relief and was twisty, loopy fun. When we came into the station I relaxed and once I dislodged my 13W’s out of that tiny footwell, guess where I went? Back around for more. I fact, I went many times and tried several seats. The ride in the back was quite different from the front. The front was good for a view and some hangtime. The forward/reverse launches experienced from the back set the seat at peculiar but fun positions.
And here’s the best part. Heading to my last lap I noticed a large basket at the entrance. The man ahead of me asked what those things were and the young lady said “those are for your keys, phone, etc.” Turns our, it was a basket full of lightweight, mesh, fanny packs on loan for the ride. What? WHAT?? I’m a nervous cargo shorts kind of guy, and what a great idea! No lockers, no gripping onto the outside of your pocket, no lost or broken stuff. Simple but genius. Attention all parks everywhere!

That’s enough about Tempesto, but I will say I loved, loved, loved that ride. I got busy in my mind trying to place one of those machines in all my favorite parks. (Like, bye bye Wicked Twister). Seriously, everybody should have one of these Sky Rocket ll models from Premier Rides. It was slow at the park that morning, so I can’t speak to capacity or wait time, but for high volume maybe there’s a transfer/dual load option or something.

I spent more time in the Festa area to ride Apollo a couple of times and the flats that are left there. The Tradewind (Musik Express) and the Mack teacups are both great rides, fast and with long cycles. The Roman Rapids Ride wasn’t operating, and that was fine with me.

Next I headed over to Germany. Oktoberfest comes first and I had to laugh a little because in the meantime I’ve visited real Germany and the actual Oktoberfest in Munich. Ah well, theme parks are just that and the area is still fun and beautiful. Verbolten was down with a lot of people waiting in the station so I decided it was time for lunch. Outside the Festhaus there was a banner that said Draught Beer, 40 cents. Yay! The day just keeps getting better and better. I went in and picked up a roast chicken dinner, a pop, and a slice of cake as big as your head. When I sat down I noticed a guy heading to a nearby table carrying two tiny mouthwash sized cups of what looked like beer. Think Kinzel-era plastic water cups. I said “Excuse me sir, but is that the .40 draught?” He looked at his wife and said “Yes. It’s Coors light and I’m drinking both of em.” We all had a big laugh and I thought well, what the hell, cheapskates? “Limit two per customer per day” no less. Jeez. I did go in the beer area for a look-see. It was nice, like a pub or tavern, and they had probably 15 or 20 good beers on tap, offering actual full pours at high prices. I opted out, though, since I was alone and eventually driving somewhere. Otherwise I could’ve spent the day. And when I emerged from the hall Verbolten was back up. I like that ride a lot. They were using 4 trains and only one load-unload platform. The ride’s gotten somewhat rough since opening, but I still like it. I also rode the Mach drop tower. It’s not extremely tall but let me tell ya. Once up there the view of the park and the river is spectacular.
The rest of the park was pretty much as usual, and Darkastle is no more. I rode Alpengeist, watched the new, improved LeScoot from the bridge, then headed to my last new ride of the trip, InvadR.
I don’t know what to say about that ride except “gosh, what a terrible idea” or maybe “whyyyy? whyyyyyy?” The park is quick to promote the ride as “the first wooden coaster at BGW” and in spite of that good intention, there was very little good about it. Is it a family ride? A family thrill ride? Or just the lamest thrill ride ever? It’s positioned horribly, the theme is bad, and the entire ride and station looks like it was done on the extreme cheap. Off the lift is this odd flat section that I think bridges the train track. Once again, wasn’t there a better design solution? Or a better location? Or a better concept? After the action starts it’s low to the ground, full of laterals, and poorly paced hills and mild but jerky drops. As a side by side comparison, Mystic Timbers has it all over this one. I don’t complain a lot about rides, but this one is a serious waste of space. One and done.

I took a lap on Griffon, which seemed faster and a lot zippier than that behemoth, Valravn. I watched the cute rescue pet show and went through Ireland. I got in line for my first VR experience ever, and man was that strange. Briefly, there was a silly helmet that you wore in the queue, then once seated in the theater you find the phone/lens part that magnets to the helmet. The show was that old box simulator with a movie about fairies or something and we were expected to save the day for the poor gals. That’s all I know because I started to feel nauseated. And the movie was blurry and terrible. There were some action sequences and the goblin things jumped right up in front of your face, but that was about it for thrills. The good news for me is now I know to never put one of those things on again and to certainly never waste a perfectly good coaster experience with that nonsense.

I finished the day with a visit to the Clydesdales and finally that ride on Nessie. The tunnel effects have been restored so that was fun, but otherwise it was the same old girl. That day I saw quite a few birthday party attendees throughout the park and they were noticeable by either their 70’s attire or their bright green and yellow tie-dyed shirts. Some of the folks seemed older and I wondered if maybe they weren’t at the opening 40 years ago, or perhaps at that first-ever ACE convention. There was special anniversary merch and food, so the park seems to be making the most of it.

That was all, the park closed at 6. I toyed with the idea of staying somewhere and hitting Colonial Williamsburg the next day, but decided to hit the road instead. I made it to Beckley WV before pulling over for a cheap hotel and much needed rest. The next day I slept in, and left the hotel close to noon. I made my usual stop for a West Virginia classic, Tudor’s Biscuit World, which is pretty much as it sounds. Yummy biscuits a million ways. I spontaneously made the decision to swing by the park from my youth, Camden Park. Well, by the time I fiddle-farted my way up 79 thru Charleston, then over construction-delayed 64 to Huntington the damn place was closed! Then I was stuck wondering what to do, as there is no straight shot from Huntington to Columbus. Not really wanting to spend another hotel night for nothing, I pointed the truck toward home. I got home about 11 pm, after a long but fairly stress free trip. Remember, I’m the guy that can turn 7.5 into 10 or 12.

So that’s it for my adventure. I gained three new rides, visited two of my fave parks, met nice people, stayed out of the casinos, and had a blast.
Thanks again for reading!

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Monday, June 11, 2018 6:20 PM

40 cents for a Coors Light? I'd pay that...for a six pack maybe.

I just watched a POV video of InvadR. First time I've actually seen the thing since hearing the announcement. It looks like a coaster I'd throw in an RCT park with no thought to layout or placement, for the sole purpose of meeting a park objective in the final minutes before the end of October, Year 2 or some crap. Looks really disappointing.

Last edited by Vater, Monday, June 11, 2018 6:30 PM
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Tuesday, June 12, 2018 9:30 AM

Love your Tempesto review. That’s exactly my thoughts from watching videos online. They look like an absolute blast, with just enough terror thrown in to keep it interesting. Imagine the models without the spaghetti strap harness?!? I see these as what the Intamin Impulse coaster could have evolved into. Hope to ride one soon; looks like Tempesto or Phobia Phear Coaster @ Lake Compounce are the closest models to me.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:03 PM

Great report again. I too loved Tempesto but liked Phobia Phear better b/c the restraint on Phobia is only a lap bar. I thought that maybe this was the new improved version of the Skyrocket II model but see that the latest installation, Electric Eel, has OTS restraints like Tempesto and wonder why. If Phobia can operate with a lap bar, why not all subsequent installations? As to Alpengeist, that was my 1st invert.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:34 PM

The restraint is a Sea World parks thing. They call them “comfort collars” but I’d imagine the real reason for their existence is for liability reasons. I haven’t ridden any other Sky Rocket 2 models, but I don’t care for Tempesto, and the non-comfort collars would be my primary reason why.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:47 PM

Funny, it didn't bother me one bit. Getting in an out is sometimes a challenge. I wear glasses and if I forget to take them off sometimes they get knocked off for me. But thinking about riding with only a lap bar makes me nervous all over again.

And like I said, I always associated these rides with other production model crap that’s around these days. Now that I’ve ridden one I’m a big fan.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018 11:08 PM

RCMAC said:

I don’t know what to say about that ride except “gosh, what a terrible idea” or maybe “whyyyy? whyyyyyy?” The park is quick to promote the ride as “the first wooden coaster at BGW” and in spite of that good intention, there was very little good about it. Is it a family ride? A family thrill ride? Or just the lamest thrill ride ever? It’s positioned horribly, the theme is bad, and the entire ride and station looks like it was done on the extreme cheap. Off the lift is this odd flat section that I think bridges the train track. Once again, wasn’t there a better design solution? Or a better location? Or a better concept? After the action starts it’s low to the ground, full of laterals, and poorly paced hills and mild but jerky drops. As a side by side comparison, Mystic Timbers has it all over this one. I don’t complain a lot about rides, but this one is a serious waste of space. One and done.

Oh RC, you seriously broke my heart here! I spent the majority of my brief carrier with GCI working on this ride, my pride and joy, my one and only credit (kinda) as a coaster designer, and here you are crapping all over it. Shame shame.

Snark aside, I'm sorry you didn't like InvadR, but I can shed some light on how it came to be.

To my understanding from BGW's point of view, the park found several million between some couch cushions and decided kind of on a whim to add a cheapish wooden coaster to their lineup. Once GCI was awarded the business, we were given a few edicts on what exactly the park wanted: the ride needed to be roughly 2000 feet long to fit within their budget, and it needed to be no more than 60 feet above the ground at its highest point in order to avoid additional permitting required by local ordinances. The rough location of the station was predetermined, as was the plot of land where the ride was to be located.

It's hard to imagine a more challenging project, especially for a newbie. 60 feet is not a tall ride, and actually, since that limit applied to the highest point on the entire structure, and since the handrails sit 3 1/2 feet above the ledger, the highest point of the track itself was a little over 56 feet off the ground. Despite this, Larry Giles, the park's VP of engineering, was adamant that the first drop be as big and thrilling as possible, realizing how important it was to start the ride off with a bang. Moreover, the site had an extraordinary set of challenges. The log flume and choo choo train were hogging a good portion of the land right off the pathway, where the station and lift hill had to be. The terrain was very uneven, with some fairly steep hills and a valley that contained the access road used to service the flume. There were numerous other access roads in the area that had to be maintained.

The location of the top of the lift hill was chosen because that's where the highest point of land was on the site. That allowed us to get the most bang for our buck in terms of potential energy while still adhering to the 60 foot mandate. My initial concept had the first drop right off the top of the lift, landing between the railroad and the perimeter fence. The resulting drop was about 50 feet. Mr. Giles was not pleased.

I was too green to make any wild suggestions, but fortunately Mr. Giles was ready with a somewhat bold solution -- going under the flume service road at the bottom of the valley. That would add another 25 feet or so to the drop, thus making it something more than a high-end kiddie ride. We really had to thread the needle, given that we were dealing with overhead clearance with the railroad that sat right on the edge of the ridge before the valley as well as overhead clearance with the coaster track as it passed under the service road, but we made it work. That's why the odd turnaround after the lift hill; the top of the lift needed to be where it was to maximize potential energy, but the drop needed to face the other direction to get to the bottom of the valley and maximize speed.

The rest of the ride was mostly at railroad level, which is why it isn't quite able to keep up the speed it achieves at the bottom of the first drop, save for the final helix, which is the second lowest and second fastest point on the ride. My role was to develop the preliminary layout, which consisted of drawing basic curves representing the ride layout over the site that we were given. Once it's decided that the elements are what the park wants and that construction is feasible, we move into final design. That responsibility fell to Jeff Pike, who has done a couple of these in the past. The final, engineered ride profile follows pretty closely to what I sketched, for what that's worth. Once the design was handed back over to GCI, I was tasked with producing the details for all the structural steel members, every piece of which was modeled in 3D and fully dimensioned so that they could be prefabricated prior to delivery.

Unfortunately, I have yet to ride the finished product. I'm hoping to make a vacation of it sometime soon, and I can't wait for my daughters to ride it next to me. That'll be a special moment. In the meantime, I'll have to settle for enthusiast reviews, most of which have been positive. Then there are those like RCMAC, who's clearly just a poopy pants hater. ;)

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018 12:35 AM

Oh. My. Goodness.
When will I learn to keep my trap shut, especially knowing we have one amongst us? :)
I don’t know if I could’ve hit this one any closer if I had tried. (... sigh)

Thanks for the story, as knowing more about the process is insightful and I appreciate your candor.
I generally like GCI coasters and I think you guys and gals are producing some of the finest true wooden rides in the world. I happen to like a bobs-style coaster and GCI certainly delivers in that regard. My experience on your rides at both Efteling and Europa was top-notch, and a lot of that was due to the park(s). I’m afraid that for me this coaster missed the mark and I don’t put the entire blame on GCI. I tend to study rides and I could tell that there was quite a bit of engineering and “fitting in” involved, but in the end it didn’t seem worth the effort. New France can use an e-ticket, but that area of the park isn’t the most scenic and now it’s even less. The theming was an afterthought. The station was fake log cabin. There were a couple of arrows stuck in the siding.

So then I guess my question would be for Busch. What’s up with the chintzy 40 cent draught beer?
Oh, and also, if you found a small stash, had a limited space, an ordinance to answer to, and constraints due to budget, why bother? Why not save that money, wait until you can iron out some of those difficulties (you do have rides taller than this one, right?) and do a wooden coaster on a grander, Busch Gardens Attraction scale?
As I finished my lap around the park, toward Ireland, I once again noticed a rather empty stretch of pathway and a wooded area to the inside of the park with a swath of trees cut out. I though to myself, “Now, there’s the spot for an awesome GCI twisty, out and back. What gives?” I even took a picture of it and sent it to a friend. Granted, I don’t know anything about the mechanical workings of the park and for all I know that area is a utility corridor or a drainage site or something that can’t be utilized. There’s also wildlife nearby that would have to be relocated, so there’s that. Anyway....

Chris- please don’t get me wrong, or feel dissed. Or beat me up when we meet. I’m glad you guys landed the contract and I’m proud of you for landing your first assignment on a major. It’s been a road for you, and congratulations. (Truth told, there ain’t one of us here that isn’t more than slightly jealous of your success breaking into this field.)

May I stop with the pitiful back-peddling now?
Thanks.... and good night....

Last edited by RCMAC, Wednesday, June 13, 2018 12:37 AM
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Wednesday, June 13, 2018 8:23 AM

No worries my friend, I was just busting your chops.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018 10:17 AM

Yeah, I can't put the blame on GCI at all (and granted, I based my opinion of the ride on a video...and RCMAC's brutal, unmerciful review ;) ). I just think for BGW's first wooden coaster, they would've gone for something much larger, more thrilling, and not skimped on theme. To me, that's not the fault of the designer.

Good to know the backstory...thanks Bakeman.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018 10:34 AM

I like the ride and think it's fine.

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Friday, June 15, 2018 8:18 PM

RCMAC we agree Tempesto is a great ride and I see why they are adding them to the other parks in the chain. Front seat is my favorite. The pop of air at the top of the first hill is pretty intense(especially the first time.) We typically visit in the off season so not a long wait. Last July 4th we didn't even brother trying to wait.

Nice TR. BGW is one of our favorites.

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