Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
I had been thinking of hitting Busch Gardens Europe since they announced the removal of Big Bad Wolf. I wanted my wife, Leslie, to experience it since she had never been their before. I also invited my good friend, Randy, as well for the same reason.
We arrived in Williamsburg, VA about midnight on Friday since we needed to be at park by 7:45 am for the VIP Coaster Tour.
We got to the park about 7:30am and got in line behind a couple of other cars already there. We then got an escort back to the Preferred parking area right up next to the walkway leading into park.
The park had our tour guides already there. There were three guides along with an additional employee to take photos of the tour. The tour cost $74.95 on top of the cost of admission. But, did include the parking and copy of the cd with all the photos taken during the tour. Once everyone was there, which we had about 16 people in the group, we headed into the park.
While walking from ride to ride, the guides were telling us tidbits about the park and next ride we were coming up to. Our main guide was Josh, from Wisconsin. He was pretty good at talking and walking backwards. Jon is from Hawaii and Shawn from Germany, I believe. They were very friendly and encouraged us to ask as many questions as we wanted. They also took any photos we wanted.
Our first stop was Loch Ness Monster. We stopped at the entrance for photos before heading down the stairs to the river. They were warming up Nessie as we chatted and took pics by the loops. We then headed up and down into the maintenance area under the station. They had wheels layed out for us on a bench along with a chain dog and anti-rollback. They also have a 4th train chassis down there as well. Two maintenance workers were their to answer any questions we had. They showed us how they they check over the trains while in operation. There were holes accessing the train from underneath. Of course, I climbed right up the ladder and had my hands up there! I was grinning ear to ear like a kid in a candy store! I also saw a couple of should restraints without padding on them, which I had never seen before. I can't imagine riding an Arrow looper with those!
Once finished in the maintenance bay (BTW every one we went into was spotless, clean enough to eat off of!), we were ready to ride Nessie. Each coaster we went to, we got two rides so we could change seats.
After our rides on Nessie, we were taken down into the restricted area to head over to Griffin via shortcut. Here's where the fun began! The service cart that goes up the lift holds 10 guests along with one operator. So, the group was split in half. 1st group went up while the rest of us went into the maint. bay. I was in the latter. Josh was holding road wheel talking about it and then asked if anyone else wanted to hold it. I set my drink down quick and grabbed the wheel. These are the largest B&M wheels. I would say it was about 20-24 inches in diameter, and heavy!! We Saw the mechanics underneath the train. Now it was our turn to go up top. You read that right: WE GOT TO RIDE THE CART UP TO THE TOP OF GRIFFON AND WALK ALL THE WAY AROUND TO A CAR NEAR THE 1ST DROP!!
Once buckled in, we were going up. From the service cart, there are a few steps to the actual top walkway. We hung out for a few as the 1st group was finishing up and getting ready to head back down. We walked along over to where they had a car parked for us to see up close.
After coming back down, it was time for our rides. It was now about 10am and the rides were ready to open to the public.
We then headed over to Alpengeist and rode before checking out the maint. bay there. Then we were off to BBW. We gathered for a discussion and photos before riding.
The final stop was Apollo's Chariot. We rode 1st, and I will say that I think this is still a much better than Diamondback at KI. We went down into maint. bay afterwards. They talked a lot about safety at the park and how they go above & beyond what is required.
Once we were finished there, we gathered by Apollo's entrance one last time. We were given ride passes to ride each of the big coasters through the exit/quick queue. They said our cd's would be ready for pickup later.
It was now noon. This tour lasted 4 hrs! I highly recommend it to anyone. They do it each Saturday. Go to VIP tours on their website and then choose Rollercoaster Experience. You will not regret it! It is worth every penny!!
We decided to head over to the new Sesame St area and ride Grover's Alpine Express to have all coasters out of way. The whole area is really great! The coaster was fun as well. We then thought about riding Escape From Pompeii, but they would not allow you to ride barefoot due to it being unsafe to walk around that particular area. We were not going to chance walking around in wet shoes all day. So, we skipped it. We will take in sandles next time just to ride it. I am not a big fan of those water rides. But, the theming of that ride is awesome!
Now was time for food. We went to London area and got in line at the Grill. But quickly changed our minds. We headed back toward the Festhaus. Hit up Dark Castle first. Very cool ride! After eating, chatted with friends awhile before finishing loop around park.
It was starting to get dark so we decided to finally hit up the coasters again using our ride pass. We hit up Alpengeist first. I don't know what it is about that ride. But, I still do not care for it. I love the theming. But, the ride doesn't deliver. It was actually running a little rough. Either it's the wheels or track, but had a bit of vibrations throughout the entire ride. It does not have the smoothness and intensity that the other B&M inverteds have.
Next was Griffon. But, it was not running. We took a break for a bit because we did not want to have to come all the way back to ride it. After about 10 minutes, it started up again. By that time it was very dark out.
We then hit Apollo and BBW before closing. We had about half hour to close. We waited around so we could get last train out of the night on BBW.
I would have loved to stay for a 2nd day cause I love the park and there is so much to do there. But, we had to head out Sunday morning to get home. Leslie had to work Monday morning.
It was a great trip! Took 2 BGE newbies, hit up 3 more Famous Dave's on the trip, and said our goodbyes to BBW. BTW - it did had some roughness to it. A lot depended on the person and where they sat. When we sat in front, Leslie popped her neck when we hit the bottom of drop over river. I didn't notice anything.
As soon as I get the pics resized, I will post a link to them.
I completely agree with you on Alpengeist. I rode Great Bear at Hersheypark and it was a much smoother ride, my wife also agreed. I've noticed Alpengeist being violent and rough for about three years now. It's also the only ride that has stalled on me every time I've given it a ride (I think I'm up to 4 times only because of how rough it was).
I personally love Alpengeist.. I do agree that it's not nearly as smooth as some other B&M Inverts (Silver Bullet!), the 270 degree drop into the Immelmann is just incredible.
And I also very much agree that Apollo's Chariot is better than Diamondback. The third hill, and the last hill on Apollo just dominate.
Alpengeist is still my favorite steel coaster, which is odd seeing as I love airtime. However, especially in the front seat, that first half (drop, Immelmann, Vertical loop and Cobra Roll) is so amazingly disorientating and has moments of air in them that no steel coaster so far has been able to move above it.
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