Two Park TR: BGW 7/18/04 & PKD 7/19/04

Associated parks:
None

Wednesday, July 21, 2004 2:57 PM
At the request over a month ago from my Virginia Tech friend Ryan to go to a park with him (since he knew I was a coaster buff, and I went to a VT game with him last year), I made the 6 hour trip from Cincinnati, OH to Blacksburg, VA, and the 5 hour trip from there to Williamsburg to begin our two park tour of Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Paramount's Kings Dominion. I had never been to either park, and my PKI pass would get me into PKD for free, so it sounded like a pretty good trip was ahead of me. After travelling friday and saturday for a combined 11 hours on the road, and still not getting in a park yet, I was ready to hit the rides on sunday.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a relatively light crowd for a sunday in July at BGW. I had heard from several sources that BGW was the best looking park in the nation, and I immediately began noticing how much detail the park payed to everything. Even the stream that flowed along the path heading to the entrance intrigued me! Since Ryan had not been on a coaster in several years, and had ridden little before that, I started him out on what I assumed would be the gentlest coaster: The Big Bad Wolf. We bothered to wait the extra ten minutes for a front seat ride, and it turned out to be worth it. I'm used to Top Gun at PKI back home, and even though TG has better pacing and less dead time than BBW, I really enjoyed BBW! The cruising through the faux town was great and the dive over the Rhine River was the best experience I've ever had on an Arrow suspended. It turned out to be ranked my #2 coaster of the day.

Ryan loved BBW, so I decided to skip my plan of heading to the Loch Ness Monster (I was guessing that was the next step up in intensity), and we headed straight for Alpengeist. The Raptor is my favorite steel coaster, and I had never ridden another B&M invert before, so I was very anxious to experience the tallest and fastest B&M invert in the world. I didn't want to give Ryan shell shock, so I opted for the back seat. A few minutes later and we were hooked on the ride! It would become both our favorite ride for the whole trip. We eventually rode three more times that day, two of them in the front seat, and bought the on-ride photo of one of them. I was impressed by the power and speed the ride delivered. My only complaints are the mild head-banging on the cobra roll and the twist onto the mid-course brakes. I also preferred the zero-G roll on the Raptor to the one on Alpengeist. In the end, I couldn't decide between Alpengeist and Raptor, so the two are currently tied for my #1 steel. I'm just a sucker for B&M inverts! The Raptor feels like it has a little more finesse, but the Alpengeist makes up for it in pure speed and better theming, as well as including an immelman in the layout. Needless to say, Alpengeist made my #1 for the day and the trip.

We headed to the Loch Ness Monster, which I wanted to experience simply because I consider it one of the most asthetically pleasing rides I've ever seen. The interlocking loops over the river with the arched supports looks beautiful to a structural engineer like me ;) . The ride certainly lacked much luster, but it was one of the more enjoyable Arrow loopers I've been on. It got #4 for the day, but #1 for good looks.

Finally, we were ready for Apollo's Chariot. I had never experienced a B&M hyper before this trip, so I was anxious to find out how my favorite designer handled a classic out & back layout. Much to the disapproval of many here, I'm sure, AC turned out to be the disappointment of the trip. I found the ride to lack any real power, and had very little airtime. The speed and the view were the only real enjoyable parts of the ride to me. I classify it as definately fun, but nothing really special. Nothing I would drive a long way to ride again anyway. I would like a cross between Magnum and AC. Something with a little more force than AC, without the castration I always get from Maggie (I'm 6'2", and Maggie always kills my thighs).

Overall, beyond just the rides, I found the park to be absolutely beautiful. The bits of shows that I caught all were great. I loved the different uniforms used for each country. The shops had interesting items for sale beyond the normal park-related 'stuff'. The employees all seemed very friendly. We loved the pep band that played by the fountain in the German area enough that we watched them play twice! The only thing I feel the park really needs to be world class is one or two more high quality coasters, and they would have me coming back as many seasons as I could manage. I enjoyed all 4 coasters, and hate to rank LNM and AC low when they're really fun rides. Two big thumbs up from me for the day and BGW!

On monday we drove the hour and a half trip to PKD to arrive about an hour after the park opened. I was anxious to try Hypersonic as S&S Power was one of the few coaster designers I had not yet experienced (I've tried the towers, though), but I didn't want to scare the enthusiasm out of Ryan just as I was getting him really interested in coasters. So we headed first to Volcano. We waited for front seat after what would be our longest wait of the day (about 45 minutes), and a strong boost later we were off! Volcano turned out to be my favorite ride of the day. I enjoyed the lauch/big swooping turn/launch/blast straight up. The rest of the ride after the initial inversion out of the volcano was mediocre at best IMHO, but was still enjoyable. I felt like there was so much more than could have been done with the layout after the launch besides inline twist, turn, inline twist, turn, inline twist, turn, brakes.

We then made our way around the park clockwise and hit Flight of Fear (I'm a PKI veteran, so this was just so Ryan could experience it). I am still a HUGE fan of the lap-bar retrofit that was made on the FOF twins. Made the ride better ten fold easily. We hopped over to Anaconda, and Ryan declared it as one of his least favorite rides of the trip. I was used to Vortex at PKI, and experienced about what I was expecting. The only downer was that the underwater dive was much less exciting that I had hoped for. Oh well. I wonder what Arrow was thinking when they put in the odd diving helixes after the mid-course brakes. They're just plain strange if you ask me. We hit Shockwave, which was a nice reminder of King Cobra (R.I.P.) at PKI. I had previously thought the two rides were twins, and was subsequently surprised to see that Shockwave has a slightly different layout. It still had the drop in the back seat that I loved from the KC. Ah, memories! ;) The rest of the ride was so-so, but that drop and the helix are still fun.

Ryan decided he was ready to try Hypersonic, so we stood in line for it before grabbing lunch. I wasn't looking forward to the long wait since the train holds so few riders, but the ride-ops were pumping out trains very quickly, so we were on in about half an hour. I knew the launch was much quicker than Dragster, and Dragster always takes the wind out of me, so I wasn't sure what to expect on Hypersonic. It turned out to be much less than I expected. I think it's because the launch is over with in half the time, but it didn't seem as strong as TTD. Overall, the ride was fun, just not as good as I was hoping. The dive straight down was fun, though!

After lunch we decided it was time for some wood! We headed for Grizzly and nabbed a front seat ride with little wait. This turned out to be our biggest surprise of the trip. This little woodie packs a punch! The curved first drop and the tunnel after the second drop produced a lot of thrills for both of us. We enjoyed it enough to ride it two more times that day. I actually liked it more in the back than in the front. The tunnel section was a lot better back there. Two big thumbs up for this ride.

We took a ride on Ricochet on the way to Hurler. It appeared that the ride was more interested in denying my right to children that it was in entertaining me. I had never been on a wild mouse ride like that before, and probably never will again. As well, I decided that the Hurler was a large waste of wood. The swooping turn by the station was kinda cool, but other than that, the ride seems somewhat pointless. I could also not figure out the correlation between the 'movie set' in the station and the actual ride. If my understanding is correct, this was the first ride installed after the Paramount aquisition, and it appears that they were trying to make it very apparent that a movie studio now owned the park. We spent a couple hours at the waterpark cooling down before a couple more rides on Grizzly and then calling it a day.

Overall, I felt PKD was rather comparable to PKI, minus the Beast of course. The Eiffel tower, fountains, and copied rides and copied theming gave me a deja vu feeling of cheapness. The park was certainly worth the visit, but not someplace I would make a genuine effort to visit every year.

I arrived home in Cincy on tuesday after putting over 1300 miles on my car in under 5 days. I was glad to have finally experienced BGW, after hearing so many great things about the park. I can see why it has the reputation it does. It was also nice to take advantage of my Paramount chain-wide pass perk. I'm hoping the 2005 addition to PKI that is coming will bring the overall quality of the steel rides in the park closer to the level of BGW!

My parks this year so far include PKI, HW, CP, BGW, and PKD, and I visited GL (SFWoA) last year. I'm a bigger fan of steel than wood, but I love a really quality woodie too. Knowing what I've experienced already, any recommendations from you well-versed veterans for a good park to visit to round out the year before my senior year in college hits comes this fall? I'm seriously considering Hershey Park. Hope you all enjoyed the TR! *** Edited 7/21/2004 7:56:35 PM UTC by CincyDJ***

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004 3:42 PM
Cool trip report. My brother and I are going to make a similar trip next year to PKD and BGW with hopefully a couple of days at Virginia Beach. I have been wanting to hear from people what they think about those two parks. Your TR just got me excited about next year...seems so far away. :(

*** Edited 7/21/2004 7:42:48 PM UTC by Dragster Freak***

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004 3:55 PM
We were going to get Virginia Beach in there too, but wound up going to a closer, smaller beach at the last minute because we were tired of driving! After 20 hours in the car, I'm glad we didn't make it any longer.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004 4:42 PM

CincyDJ said:
I wonder what Arrow was thinking when they put in the odd diving helixes after the mid-course brakes. They're just plain strange if you ask me.
I'm not exactly sure what they were thinking, either (whether it was Arrow's or PKD's idea), but the concept of those 'helices' is this: it was designed as a sort of 'non-inverted bowtie' element. Imagine a typical Arrow bowtie, but with the upside-down looping parts of the track sort of 'folded over' in opposite directions of each other to create pseudo-helices. It's hard to describe, but if you look at the elements from a few different angles you'll probably get it.

I could also not figure out the correlation between the 'movie set' in the station and the actual ride. If my understanding is correct, this was the first ride installed after the Paramount aquisition, and it appears that they were trying to make it very apparent that a movie studio now owned the park.
Actually, Hurler used to be themed to the movie Wayne's World (why, I will never know), and as such the TV-studio theme was supposed to depict the studio in said movie. It was always a weak theme, and I guess it was never fully removed because, as you said, it is a Paramount park. The coaster itself used to be a blast, however it has become almost unbearably rough over the last couple of years.

Overall, nice trip report. I'm glad you had a good time at my homepark, PKD, and my 'other homepark, except for the considerably inferior SFA,' BGW. Alpengeist is my favorite invert as well, and I, too was not extremely impressed with Apollo's Chariot when I first rode it. I will, however, admit that it has grown on me by leaps and bounds the last couple of years. I think if you ride it without expecting anything other than a fun, speedy, and floaty ride, you will enjoy it much more. 'Intensity' is not something AC is known for.

Did you by any chance ride BBW in the back car? If not, that's too bad. BBW is a great ride in the front, but a spectacular ride in the back...the Rhine River drop is insane.

*** Edited 7/21/2004 8:45:11 PM UTC by Vater***

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004 10:19 PM
So I'm not the only one who has a strong dislike for Hurler & think it should just be burned to the ground? just read my PKD TR to find out why I call Hurler Firewood:the ride.

Grizzly on the other hand is the flat out best wood in the park in my opinion(along with Rebel yell forward) & it gets even better once the sun goes down.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004 11:03 PM
When you all come to VA Beach, don't forget to ride Skyscraper!
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Thursday, July 22, 2004 8:05 AM

Vater said:Did you by any chance ride BBW in the back car? If not, that's too bad. BBW is a great ride in the front, but a spectacular ride in the back...the Rhine River drop is insane.

No, we didn't try the back car. We rode front both times. I can imagine how the drop would be even more insane with that extra bit of speed, though! Ryan was pretty worn out after 4 trips on Alpengeist, 2 on BBW, 1 on LNM and 2 on AC, so I didn't want to wear him too thin since we'd be at PKD the next day all day as well. Besides, I (by myself) probably would have just ridden Alpengeist 15 times in a row and THEN gotten extra rides on the others! ;)

Have you been on Top Gun at PKI? The back seat is pretty lackluster on that ride, so I didn't even think of trying the back on BBW.

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Thursday, July 22, 2004 9:32 AM
Busch Gardens' charm for me starts from the parking lot. Right from there on they make sure you will have a great day, form the parking attendants to the trams going into the park. I cant wait to go back again.

Their coasters are very good, but not great. I wasnt impressed with Alpengeist after the MCBR, or with Apollo's Chariot. BBW on the other hand I loved. I dont know, it seems like they try real hard to give you a nice, pleasant experience and rough rides would detract form that. Even the Escape From Pompei's splash is soft. Soft but loveable. :)

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Thursday, July 22, 2004 9:52 AM
What? No Drop Zone, no Scooby-Doo & the Haunted Mansion or Scooby-Doo coaster (the best woodie in the park in my opinion)? No Avalanche Bobsled, the only Mack bobsled coaster in America? No Rebel Yell? It was either really crowded, or you both skipped a lot of stuff.
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Thursday, July 22, 2004 10:26 AM
Keep in mind that my home park is PKI. We already have a Drop Zone (albeit SLIGHTLY less tall, its still an Intamin drop ride), we have the Scooby ride, we have a Scooby coaster (a clone, I think), Avalanche was closed and I wanted to try it, and Rebel Yell is a lot like the Racer at PKI, and we wanted to hit the waterpark after two hot days at amusement parks. We also had a 3 hour drive after being at the park, so we left early.
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Thursday, July 22, 2004 10:44 AM

CincyDJ said:
Have you been on Top Gun at PKI? The back seat is pretty lackluster on that ride, so I didn't even think of trying the back on BBW.
Funny you say that, because my one ride on Top Gun was in the back. BBW is currently my favorite suspended, and Top Gun is a close second, so the next time I'm in Cincinnati I'll have to give the front car a go.
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Thursday, July 22, 2004 12:13 PM

Vater said:
Funny you say that, because my one ride on Top Gun was in the back. BBW is currently my favorite suspended, and Top Gun is a close second, so the next time I'm in Cincinnati I'll have to give the front car a go.

Sitting in the front of TG, you may just witness the greatest purpose that SoB serves: a nice effect for TG. The wall of wood that is SoB gives an 'am I going to hit that?' out of control feeling to TG in the front seat as you begin the turn-around helix.

As a side note, I WILL witness that I've had two good rides on SoB, but I've also had about 6 that made me regret trying.

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Thursday, July 22, 2004 2:03 PM
Too bad you missed out on Avalanche while you were there,I guess the ride must've broke down after I got off of it,LOL.

BBW is truely a great ride especially for it's age,that last drop over the water is just the icing on the cake.

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Thursday, July 22, 2004 2:16 PM
I'm glad someone agrees about the lack of power and airtime on AC. I gave it a few rides in the front and the back -- nothing.
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Thursday, July 22, 2004 8:02 PM
I was disappointed in AC as well when I first rode it in the spring. I believe it suffers from to much hype and that Alpengeist is giving to little credit.
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Friday, July 23, 2004 10:38 AM
I must be real crazy because AC is my favorite hyper (and I've ridden S:RoS at SFA and SFNE). Actually S:RoS at SFA is my least favorite hyper. Also, Alpengeist is my least favorite coaster at BGW now that Wild Maus went to Tampa.
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