Virginia is for Coaster Lovers

Tekwardo's avatar

Last year easter came in early March, the weekend lots of south eastern parks opened since it was a three day weekend. This year, it was much later in the spring, with parks having had time to open their new attractions and get them ready. Carowinds hadn’t completely done that yet, and I’ve been twice already. Six Flags over Georgia won’t open their new for 2017 attraction till May. But Kings Dominion & Busch Gardens had their new rides open and ready, so again on Easter weekend, we headed north, this time with 2 extra people in tow.

There were some hiccups (as there so often are) before the trip, but this time not so much with me. Isaac, Stefan, and eventually Blake made their ways to my house on Thursday nite, and around 8:30 we headed north to Richmond.

Getting up early Friday morning, we got breakfast and headed about an hour east to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. This was a hot mess. After getting close to the exit, traffic stopped. We went around and tried something else, and eventually found a ‘quicker’ (I use that term very, very loosely) way in, which shaved off…an hour of waiting in traffic. But we still waited in our car. For Two (2) Hours. Just to park. Right beside the parking lot (I was literally less than 50 yards from the parking lot). Ridiculous. They must not have been in any way prepared for a busy weekend. We could see several failures in directing traffic in the parking lot that were a major cause of the problem. But there was nothing to do.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

On the bright side, the park was waiving the parking fee complementary because of the wait. Even at that, I would have had my staff waiting outside of the parking toll booths waiving people thru instead of making them stop to tell them parking was complementary. This itself could have saved a lot of congestion.

We got in to the park around 12:30, hungry and frustrated. It was packed. We had purchased the one time Quick Q, which was nicely done on the park’s app. The problem was that because the park was SOOOO…busy, and there isn’t park wide wi-fi, Verizon and ATT were both sluggish with data. One of us had Sprint, and they had the least amount of issues with Data.

We headed over in to Ireland where we had a quick bite. I had a corn beef sandwich, and thankfully Busch still has good food. Then we headed back to our first ride of the day, and my first credit of the year.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

InvadR (334)-The actual queue for the ride is on the side of the lift hill, and not very large, so because of demand, they had a temporary queue set up by the scrambler that you waited thru, then were sent over to the actual queue. I will give them credit, they were moving the line quite fast, and the actual queue was really well done. As for the ride? I haven’t been on White Lightning in Florida, nor Mystic Timbers as of this writing, but I do like some good GCI coasters and this was a good one. Short, but fast, and full of airtime. Basically after the first drop it’s a kind of figure 8 layout with small airtime hills over and over (and over), and it’s a lot of fun. I liked it, and I love the train (especially the bear). A hit, a great family ride, and one that I really want to try out at nite.

I have to complain for a second about 2 things. First, with a fairly long line, at one point, they loaded an entire train with Disabled Access bands. I obviously have no issues with people with disabilities not waiting in line, in fact one gentleman and his family that took up the back half of the train had some major physical issues. And I always try not to judge people with disabilities that you can’t immediately see, and think that disability access should be available to them as well. But I am against filling an entire train, especially as we saw half the train walk up the exit all at once. Spread them out, especially on your new ride. Also, apparently Busch has a very, very lax definition of who can get disability access, which we saw several times. This was our first time. There were three adults who had it, and as they were being boarded (with no visible disabilities, but again, I’m not one to say they weren’t disabled), they demanded the front seat. The workers said they can’t request a seat. The one woman (they were all about the same age, around mid 30s to early 40s) said they had to sit up in the front row, that it was a special needs thing. Huh? I’m open to hearing reasons as to why this was a special needs thing, and again, I understand that people definitely have disabilities that aren't immediately discernible, but after they were accommodated, the language, and way they discussed having to demand the front really turned me off to them getting any type of disabled access, when there were others with access that weren’t making demands. Rant done, for now.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

So after that we headed over to Griffon. We had issues downloading the Quick Q for Griffon, but eventually made it on and got in line for the front row. This was Blake & Stefan’s first Dive coaster, and we were able to sit in the very middle, front seat. I love me some Griffon. It’s fun for what it is, and it was running great.

We headed to the bucket ride next and rode over towards Germany, where we had a drink (and I had a snack) at the Festhaus. We tried to ride Verbolten next, but it was down. And that was another theme for the day. It seems most coasters or rides went down for significant periods all day. We toyed with Mach Tower, but decided to head over to Italy instead. Once we arrived, though, Apollo wasn’t running, and Tempesto had a very long line. We were going to buy the Quick Q one time ticket for Tempesto on the app, but again, no data. We did end up talking to a very nice young lady who worked at the park that showed us that we can actually buy the one shot Quick Q tickets on a kiosk where you rent a locker, so once we had that, we headed to the exit, where you board for Quick Q.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

And before we ride, another rant. So the Quick Q line was about a 30 minute wait. As we were standing, almost ready to board, a girl who was standing off to the side complaining for most of the time had her mother come up, who asked how much longer she had to wait. She was another Disability Access customer who had already ridden the ride, and wanted to ride again. Apparently park policy is that she had to wait one hour before she could ride again, and the mother complained, causing the employee to put her and her friend back on. Again, why can’t we just follow directions and policies? If she wanted to ride again, she could easily have come back.

Ugh. But Tempesto is another fun ride. The second launch backwards is really fun with the half inversion (much like on Full Throttle), and then you launch forward again, up, over, and then that sloooowwww roll at the top, brake to slow you down, then drop, non-inverting loop, then done. Really, really fun ride.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

Apollo had reopened. We headed over but the regular queue was long, and the quick q was also very long. I was frustrated at that. We decided to come back later. We had a bathroom brake, then went to Pompei which, after getting in line, broke down. And we never got to use our Quick Q for that one. So yet agin, we got out of line and headed elsewhere. Verbolten was back up, but both the Quick Q and regular line were over an hour. Next…

So we actually found a short Quick Q line for DarKastle. Boy, does it need to switch to the 4K projectors (and fix all of the effects). And maybe clear up the audio and story line. It was great when it opened, and I hope soon they invest in making it as good as it could be. After that we had another break where I had a (very undercooked) crepe, then we headed to Le Scoot and got soaked. The Quick Q wasn’t working, but we weren’t denied entry. Then we hit up Alpengeist.

I know many feel it’s too big and slow, but I have always liked Alpengeist for what it is, and it is a lot of fun. We made some plans, tried to decide what to do, and eventually decided to head back over to Verbolten to see if it was running, and how long the Quick Q line was. This was about the point of the day that the issues stopped and we were able to have a little more fun with no frustration. Verbolten was open and the Quick Q was only 20 or so minutes. We got in line for the front, with me and Stefan riding first, then Isaac and Blake. We got the storm scenario on the building, and Stefan had no clue about the drop. It got him good.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

With that going well we headed back over to Italy and got in the regular line for Apollo (which was about 30 minutes, as opposed to about the same time for Quick Q). I like Apollo better than I used to, but still I don’t think it’s as great as many people give it credit for. At this point evening was setting in, and even though the park was absolutely packed with lots of issues all day, they were only open till 8pm (which was ridiculous, as the park was still packed at closing). Loch Ness was running very well. That enclosed helix seemed to take forever.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on FlickrOnce it was over, we headed out to the front of the park and found a place to eat outside of the park that was really fantastic.

I’m not sure if it was just an off day, but I’ve never had such a poor experience at this park since I started going in 2007. I hated that it was Blake & Stefan’s first times. They had fun, don’t get me wrong, and the worst day at a park is usually better than a day at work. But Busch needs to get their act together if this is any indication of a shift in management or whatever.

Saturday morning we got up and headed north to Kings Dominion. It was much, much easier to get to the park than it was Busch the day before. We got Blake’s pass processed and in to the park just as the rides were opening. We headed to Volcano first. I knew that this ride would have a ridiculous line later so we went ahead and got in the 20 or so minute line and rode in the front. I still love Volcano. I always think of how much Moosh hated the ride when I ride.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

Anyways, the launch is really powerful and I just love launching back up thru the mountain. I do, however miss the Haunted River, Time Shaft, and Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Next was a quick spin on Flight of Fear. Again, the line for this got rather large thru out the day. It was running well. Then we went over to Intimidator 305, again, another amazing ride. I love I305. It has great air and laterals, and speed to die for.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

Its actually kind of hard to write a report for Kings Dominion. I don’t know why, but it just feels generic to me. I never used to feel that way, but it does feel that way after a few years of going often. Don’t get me wrong, it has a lot of great rides. But it just doesn’t have an ‘it’ factor for me any more. After I305 we got some Panda Express. Then we went to the top of the Eiffel. I don't’ know why, usually I have no issues, but today I was terrified of being up there. We didn’t stay long.

Next we headed back to Grizzly. It was running really well (I do love me some Grizzly, it’s consistent), and as we were dispatching, Isaac saw Rob Willi in line. Once we got back in the station, we waited for him at the exit and hung out with him and the kids for a bit. The first thing we did as a group was the log flume, before heading over to the Drop Tower. I’m still afraid of Drop Towers, but its getting better.

The longest wait we had all day was for Ricochet, which tends to have a decent line. Rob and Co. headed to some other things in the park while we waited in line. Next up was Rebel Yell, which they've done a lot of work to, including retracking the first drop and rebuilding a decent portion of it. After Rebel Yell we went to the front of the park for some Starbucks, and I had a drink from the neat olde fashioned Coke Soda Shoppe thing on International Street. After lounging at both for a bit we headed over and did Dominator, the second longest line in the park (though not terribly bad). The park was getting busier at this point.

I hadn't been on Woodstock Express for a minute, so we went over there to get everyone’s credit. Then we headed over to Avalanch. It had a long line. Isaac and Blake decided to ride, but I went with Stefan over to The Crypt so I could watch him ride (I wasn’t in the mood for flipping and spinning at the moment). Thankfully they needed a single rider so he got right on, as Isaac and Blake decided not to wait for Avalanch.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

We walked over and got another spin on I305 and then walked back towards the Ferris Wheel. We rode Delirium at one point. The only issue I have with their Delirium is it could use an extra 2 swings, as the cycle is way short. At this point it was getting dusky, so we rode the Ferris Wheel after declining Anaconda and Stunt Coaster (the latter had too long of a line). Instead, as it was getting dark, we decided to call it a night at Kings Dominion and headed out for dinner (Fudruckers) and then some nite life in Richmond, a first.

Both parks were beautiful in their spring time getup. As much as I like the rides at Kings Dominion, I just feel that its a bit sterile now (I hate to use that term). I miss the Treasure Cave. I’m sure that whatever Hurler becomes will be fantastic, and the park is working on bringing back some of it’s heritage, which is a good thing (Yay singing frogs!). I just feel like Kings Dominion is lacking…something. And not really necessarily a coaster, or even a major flat.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

Busch Gardens is one of my favorite parks, an I was disappointed in this year’s showing. It was a loss all the way around, but it won’t stop me from going back (maybe even later this year, because InvadR was definitely a hit). But even the worst day at a park is better than the best day at work.

Untitled by C. E. Beavers, on Flickr

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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

We did the same trip in reverse. Invadr opening day and then Kings Dominion the next day. Love Busch Gardens, and Invadr. Great addition.

TheAcrophobicEnthusiast's avatar

Thanks for the trip report! Love getting outsider perspectives on my home parks.

The best of all the jokers is clearly Mark Hamill.

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