Busch Gardens Williamsburg TR (VA Trip Part 2)
So finishing up my DC/Virginia trip report...
Date: Tuesday, June 26 - Busch Gardens
As with KD, Mike and I arrived at the park when it opened (10am). The difference here...summer had definitely arrived at this park. Coming off the highway, there was a steady stream of cars leading into the parking lot. It was obvious the park was going to be running at close to capacity that day...not surprising given the Verbolten hoopla and the overall destination nature of the Williamsburg area...yes summer and crowds had definitely arrived. I’ll tell you right now, that despite the crowds, the lines were amazingly manageable throughout the day. I credit that with the great ride operations at the park.
Again, like KD, this was my first trip to Busch Gardens. Mike had been when he was a kid, but didn't really remember too much of it. Anyway driving into the parking lot...there was Apollo's Chariot. Admittedly, this was my first B&M hyper on THE first B&M hyper...so very appropriate. That said I was very excited to finally be taking a spin on one of these. Now Mike is not really a coaster enthusiast, but he definitely gets into it as we've taken several coaster trips over the past few years. He loves B&M floorless coasters. So I already knew that out of all the coasters we'd ride on this trip, I knew Apollo's Chariot was going to be his favorite...but getting ahead of myself here.
We were in the park gates (after parking and tram ride) by about 10:15. Once in the gate, it was immediately apparent whey BG is voted the most beautiful theme park consistently....not going to go into details here as we all know BG is more than a notch above non-Disney parks....truly!
One other detail...signs saying “Verbolten not operating today”. You can guess my internal reaction, but shook it off and held off hope it would open at some point….more on that later.
Anyway, we cut left and head straight to Apollo's Chariot. One thing I did notice about the park is that it’s really just a series of "pathways" that can be kind of like a maze...so we did make a few wrong turns on the way to AC...But when we finally go there, it was pretty much a walk on despite sizable crowds already in the park (they all probably all got lost on the way!)
I'm pretty much a back car junkie when it comes to airtime machines...so first ride on AC was in last the last car...and soon we're headed up the lift hill. As we climb I can see Alpengeist and Griffon off in the distance. I was struck by how large and imposing both coasters were...very cool. Anyway, soon we're over the top and AC played out exactly as I'd always imagined it to be. Smooth, fast, floating air, "nice", fun, enjoyable, and exhilarating at the same time. I understand the "bashing" the B&M hypers have gotten over the years from some purists...but for me...I LIKE Apollo's Chariot a lot. We get off with big smiles and decide to take a spin in the front car. Great ride as well, definitely feels like your flying with the abrupt climb/right turn/dive element on the return being the best part in the front.
Next up was Loch Ness Monster. Wait time was about 20 to 25 minutes. There was no way I wasn't going to ride in the back on this one. I wanted the full effect of the two vertical drops and knew that would only happen in the back. Again, what can I say?...this is classic Arrow at its best and it only took me 34 years to finally ride it! Even more so, after this tally I feel like I've now ridden what I would call the three most influential coasters from Arrow’s Golden Age (Loch Ness Monster, Orient Express and Vortex).
Alpengeist was next. What struck me most about this ride was the scale and sheer size compared to other B&M inverts. It definitely ranks up there in terms of B&M inverted coasters…and I’m pretty sure it’s the best one I’ve ever been on. But I guess, I’m just not as thrilled from these rides anymore. I suppose I’m suffering from B&M inverted coaster fatigue. (I’m sure that’s what many B&M hyper bashers also suffer from!) I did like this coaster, but I guess I was still basking in the glow of my ride on Volcano two days earlier.
Took a nice cool ride on the Le Scoot log ride and then trekked on over to Griffon. This thing is incredibly intimidating…again, scale, sheer size and SCREAMS. In line and 20 minutes later, we’re in the second row and climbing up 200 feet. I truly didn’t know what to expect and admittedly was nervous as we rounded the turn before the impending hang/drop! The drop is amazing…yes I screamed! The ride although short is brilliant and I like the unexpected pops of air that you get through the course. Brilliant, thrilling and unique ride…very happy with this one!
We then hopped on the Skyride to Oktoberfest. Very cool vantage of the park and its coasters. You truly appreciate the uniqueness and layout of Busch Gardens from the Skyride.
Lunchtime at Das Festhaus…wow, this place was huge. I don’t remember exactly, but we ordered these crazy platters that had an insane amount of German meats and stuff and cabbage and dessert and washed it down with beer…I felt like Augustus Gloop.
After lunch we decided to head over to the Curse of DarKastle. This was the longest line of the day so far. We probably waited about 45 minutes. It was a fun ride but not nearly as good Spiderman at IOA in Orlando. (We haven’t been on Transformers yet, but we live 10 minutes from Universal Hollywood and looking forward to it).
Ok, let’s head over to Verbolten to see what is going on…and lo and behold it is in testing mode. They are cycling trains through at a normal pace and they’ve got ride attendants on the platform...things are looking up. We ask about if and when it would be open and of course there’s no definitive answer…and they encouraged all passers-by to go check back later. But since we had already been on everything we decided to wait, and wait, and wait…
Finally we gave up and chalked up a ride on the Rhine River Cruise, another plunge on Griffon, trek through animal exhibits and caught the cheesy but curiously enjoyable Celtic Fyre “Broadway” style clogging show.
So here’s how the rest of the day plays out. We go back to Verbolten and its up and running…woo hoo! We get in line and the waiting time is 50 minutes. Okay, not bad we can handle this and we will get to ride Busch Garden's newest ride after traveling 3000 miles. 10 minutes into our wait, Verbolten goes back into technical difficulty mode (something it experienced more often than not in June) and breaks down again with no ETA.
Long story short, we decided to wait it out. We’ve been on everything else and it’s not like we’re going to have another opportunity anytime soon to ride it….fast forward to two hours later and we were literally at the loading platform. We moved through the entire queue only because of people dropping off like flies and finally giving up. By then, the handful of us who stuck it out were completely bonded with each other and were cracking jokes about how foolish we all were. Seriously, what else could you do? In the end, it was only after more than two hours that they were finally able to tell us that Verbolten would not be opening and apologized. By then it was 8:30PM.
We laughed, left the line, I grabbed a beer, chugged it and we ended our day on one last night time spin on Apollo’s Chariot…it was awesome and as I predicted, it became Mike’s favorite coaster on our Virginia trip!
I agree with you about AC, I thought it was a very nice ride. I am slightly biased for this coaster because I had so many rides (10-15 in a day) on this compared to Nitro (where I got only 3 rides).
I've been on both Alpengeist and Montu, but despite the intimidating height, I still have to say it's sister at BGT is still my hands down fav of any B&M inverts that I've been on. The overall ride on Montu is just perfect from start to end. Alp's ending was disappointing and I just hate how the MCB just 'kills' the momentum.
VB, I feared this sort of problem would happen. I just hope next year all the issues are fixed, so problems can be kept to within the day.