Labor Day Trip (BGW & KD)

Saturday, September 9, 2017 8:09 PM

Took an extended Labor Day trip from Chicago to Virginia to hit up Busch Gardens, Kings Dominion and colonial Williamsburg. I chose to drive, taking Ohio/Pennsylvania turnpike, made three stops along the way to stretch legs (two gas refills). Left on Thursday morning took about 13 hours driving solo, plus an hour leap forward for time zone. Would definitely recommend a driving buddy; solo wasn't the greatest experience. Flying into Newport News and getting a rental is also an option, but this was a spur of the moment trip, thus the drive. Stayed at Hampton Inn Williamsburg, a nice serviceable hotel, three miles from colonial downtown, and two from Busch Gardens. Arrived at BGW Friday morning at opening. Unfortunately a drizzle of rain started the day, which subsided around noon, then resumed late in the day (7 pm?). I can't say enough about the beauty of the park. Gorgeous greenery between the wonderfully reconstructed European villages. Entering through England, I made my way through to Loch Ness monster, first Coaster of the day. While not a special steely, it does incorporate a novel muti 360 loops through a completely dark cavern/tunnel. What I noticed was that ALL of the coasters seemed to incorporate either a unique scenic ride, or a unique ride feature, or both. So while the ride would normally rate a middling review, the added element pushes it into unique/novel territory, greatly enhancing the ride experience. Next was a walk through Scotland, viewing the magnificent Clydesdale horses. After stoping for a while, I made my way past the wolves and wild animal show (which I viewed later and was entertaining), through Ireland, which sadly didn't have much to do, the stone abbey theater was being set up for Halloween, and the Europe flight simulator was being rehabbed for 2018. Into France brought me to Griffon, a great dive Coaster, though I do think it's a bit of a short ride; the view of the river (York or St James?) was worth the proverbial price of admission alone. Best of all; the forecast of rain all day must've chased away people, because EVERY ride was walk on; most allowing front of train within two or three trains. Moving on to Invadr, I was anxious to experience the woodie generating all the hoopla. A nice ride, but nothing spectacular, ended up being the only ride I wasn't WOWED by. Took a ride on Le Scoot, a neat log flume with two drops, novel element for a flume. Across the bridge into Germany/Octoberfest, my first stop was the festhaus for Lunch. Wow. Not your standard TP fare of pizza and chicken fingers. Cafeteria style, serving knock wurst, bratwurst, German ribs, etc. Phenomenal food, though I would recommend springing for a dining plan, I didn't and each meal ran me around $20 each, I think they offer a dining plan for the day for $35. Sitting down, I was treated to the Oktoberzest live show as I dined, which I thouroughly enjoyed. After lunch I zipped over Verbolten, an awesome experience with a surprise ride element that puts the ride over the top. (I won't spoil the surprise, but just say it's a thrilling element). Over into Italy I rode Tempesto (not a fan of backwards/forwards rock coasters; but the complete circuit makes it enjoyable. Apollo's Chariot was phenomenal, the ride experience is standard Hyper, ala Diamonback, but the scenic route, with two or three water pass overs, make it unique, and quite the ride. Also tried Escape from Pompei, a neat water drop ride, but incorporating specials effects that just made for a great experience. Saw two additional shows, Britmania music experience in England, and All for One (3 Musketeers riff) stunt show in France which only plays once, at night, hour before close, but was a phenomenal stage production. Don't miss it. Saturday was another rainy/drizzle day, I made the drive (bout an hour) up to Doswell to King's Dominion. Used my PPass for early entry (10 am, 1/2 hour before Gen Public). Not a sole in the park. Rode Dominator (nice hyper, lots of barrel roles), then hopped on Volcano, not knowing what to expect, I was only rider, front seat, man what a ride. My Coaster credits include SF GA, SF St Louis, Cedar Point, Carowinds, Kings Dominion etc, over 100 coasters, and this is THE BEST. A truly exhilarating experience. On over to Intimidator 305, solo, front car, painful experience. Eyes closed entire time due to rain hitting my face like needles. Fun ride, but I'm thinking MForce is superior. Backlot stunt Coaster was a clone of the one at KI, as was Flight of Fear. Rebel Yell was a rickety uncomfortable woodie, think Blue Streak at CP. Grizzly was a nice wood Coaster, nothing phenomenal, but a nice ride. Log Flume was fun, all told, multiple rides on everything, all done at 1 pm, a nice trip, but a smaller Cedar Fair park I can't see spending an entire day in. Back to Williamsburg, got to colonial Williamsburg at 3pm, saw the gunsmith and a few others before 5 pm close, drove to Busch Gardens, arrived at 5:30, stayed til close. Walked onto everything, drizzling, but had my raincoat. Fun time. Sunday drove home. Tips, BGW is a great 2day park, Colonial downtown is more a full day experience, Kings Dominion a 1/2 day park (depending on lines). Buy a BGW meal plan, see the shows, KI take advantage of the early entry, you'll ride Dominator, Volcano and Intimidator before GP enters park, easily do park in 1/2 day.

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Saturday, September 9, 2017 10:03 PM
Tommytheduck's avatar

Just a few replies.... Haven't been to BGW in 15 years, so not much to say there.

Kings Dominion:

Dominator - I agree, one of the best floorless out there. Loved it when it was at SFWOA, and rode it all the time. (I live in Cleveland, it was a home park.)

Volcano - One of my favorite coasters of all time. Lines get very long, you were smart to ride it early in the day.

I-305 - Not a good coaster, IMO. Honestly, I think it compares closer to Maverick than it does to Mil. Force. Both of these coasters would be amazing at 5-10 mph slower than they currently run. CP being my home park, I'm quite familiar with both, and I just feel Maverick and I-305 are a product of the era where Intamin had a massive string of complete engineering failures and could do no right. Just like the music snob, "The early stuff is awesome, the new stuff sucks."

Oh, and not to be a jerk, but paragraphs would help immensely.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017 9:08 PM

Kings Dominion a half-day park? Not on a typical operating day. There are only 7 parks in the world with more coasters.

I'm not sure what was going on this Labor Day Saturday, but I know crowds were surprisingly low at Carowinds and Holiday World as well. And the weather ended up being perfect in both of those parks. Go figure.

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Monday, September 11, 2017 2:30 PM
Bobbie1951's avatar

I-305 not a good coaster??? IMO it's one of the best out there. I rank it #3 on my list of top steel coasters, after Iron Rattler and Leviathan. Love the speed, length of drop and twists in the track.


Bobbie

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Monday, September 11, 2017 10:05 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

To each their own, but neither Iron Rattler nor Leviathan make my top 20 steel. And I haven't been on I-305.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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