I had a couple of last second things to do at work before the long 4th of July holiday, so I wasn’t able to leave Washington, DC until 12:30 PM. I hopped in the car with my wife and my three cousins and we were on our way down I-95 South towards BGW. It was around 100 degrees so we weren’t sure what to except crowd-wise. It was either going to be extremely packed because of the closeness to 4th of July or it was going to be moderate because of the heat and humidity.
When we arrived at the parking gate at 2:30, I was happy to see that the line for Apollo’s Chariot was only in the station. That always means short lines for the rest of the attractions.
We decided to start our day with a ride on Apollo’s Chariot. My youngest cousin had never been on it before so it was great to see her reaction. This is my favorite coaster on the planet and the rides I took on it today reminded me why. There was maximum airtime on all of the drops and the trains were as smooth as ever. The only problem was that I noticed they were using the trim on the third drop. I don’t think I had ever seen them do that before.
After that, we stopped at Da Vinci’s Garden Of Invention to take a spin on Da Vinci’s Cradle and the Battering Ram. On a crowded day, I usually pass these rides by, but today they were both walk-ons. These are fun flat rides!
Then we headed to the Festhaus and enjoyed some decent food (for a theme park) and the cool air conditioning. I wish more theme parks had huge air-conditioned restaurants like this one.
Next, we headed to The Big Bad Wolf, which was giving a wild ride. There were a few rough spots, but the ride seemed faster than last year for some reason. There is no doubt though that this is the best Arrow Suspended anywhere. The drop towards the Rhine River can’t be beat.
Then it was time for Alpengeist. As I walked into the station, I saw something that I had never seen before; it was practically empty except for the queue for the front row. Instead of taking the walk-on ride, we decided to wait three trains to sit in the front row. Sometimes I have waited 1 ½ hours for this thrill, so it was great to get on so quickly. I have ridden a lot of B&M Inverts, but this is still one of my favorites. From the front seat, you feel like you are totally out of control. Last year, I had a little head banging during the final two inversions, but today it was totally smooth. They also seemed to be using the breaks during the break run pretty heavily. Some of the trains looked like they were coming to a complete stop before entering the rest of the course. As a side note, while we were riding, we met a kid from Hershey, PA who was riding Alpengeist for the first time. He was convinced the Great Bear was going to be better. After the ride was finished, he looked at us and said, “Great Bear is nothing compared to this!”
After getting spun around by Walter and Claude’s masterpiece, we took the long walk to Ireland and caught the Irish Thunder show. If you are at all interested in lighting effects, this show is worth seeing. The cast of step dancers was brought over from Ireland, so it was very authentic. This was probably one of the best theme park shows I have ever seen.
Next, it was time for The Loch Ness Monster, which was a walk-on. In the past, I’ve had some great rides on Nessie. Other times, the rides have been rough. Today was a rough and painful ride. The first drop, as always was beautiful and fast, but during the first turnaround, I slammed my shoulder into the harness hard. The two loops were rough and the tunnel didn’t have any of the fog and lighting effects turned on. As I was walking away from the coaster, I had a vision. If Nessie ever gets too old and needs to be dismantled and replaced, wouldn’t it be cool to have a B&M floorless that followed the same track layout, except with a few new twists and inversions? Just a thought. Still though, I love and respect this coaster. It’s one of the most picturesque in the world.
It was starting to get dark, so we stopped by Apollo’s Chariot for another ride, but it was down. So, we went to San Marco and ate spaghetti while listening to the “Holiday In Roma” show. This was a decent show and something entertaining to watch while eating, but I would not have stopped if I were just walking by. The theater is a nice place to eat at though.
After dinner, we heard that Apollo’s Chariot was still down, so we took a ride on Der Katapult (Scrambler) and Die Autobahn (Bumper Cars.) There was no line for the bumper cars, so the Ride Op gave us 5 minutes to drive the cars around.
It was completely dark now, so we walked over to Wild Maus, which had a short line. Many people in the theme park community say this ride is a waste of time. I beg to differ. Last night, our car was traveling faster than ever on the first set of unbanked turns. This is the best part of the ride for me. I actually even caught a bit of air on the first major drop. They also were trimming the ride a little less than last year.
We were getting tired and wanted to head back to the main gate, so we walked by The Big Bad Wolf. Of course, it was calling our name. So we hopped on for what turned out to be the best ride of the day. Riding this coaster in the dark rivals any coaster experience I have ever had. It was almost impossible to see where we were headed. The village was lit up, so that in combination with the darkness made it seem like the cars were going to slam into the village. The drop towards the dark Rhine River was excellent. People were raving about the ride when they got off.
We decided to take one last look at Apollo’s Chariot and luckily, it was operating again. While we were waiting, three line jumpers tried to get into the front row without waiting. A lady behind them started screaming manically “LINE JUMPERS! LINE JUMPERS!” Finally, the Ride Op noticed what was happening and had them escorted from the station. It was fantastic. Apollo’s Chariot gave a great night-time ride, full of speed and air. It was a great way to end our day.
Even though the heat was oppressive, this was one of the best days I have ever had at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. There was no wait longer than 10 minutes, even for the front row on the coasters. The staff was friendly and efficient. The park was clean and as beautiful as ever. Now they just need one more B&M or a wooden coaster and we’ll be all set.
84 coasters in Track Record!! Hypersonic XLC # 100 in July. Waiting for the 305 foot drop tower in 2003. Thank you PKD.
*** This post was edited by SFgadvMAN on 7/4/2002. ***
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