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Ultimate Rollercoaster > Discussion Forums > Roller Coasters, Parks & Attractions > TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012

TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012

leviathan leviathan Profile

Posted:
8/24/12 at
10:27:26 AM

So, we had originally planned to bring the kiddos to Six Flags America (SFA) for the day, but much to our dismay (or maybe as luck would have it?), SFA closed for the season on weekdays starting 8/20. Instead, we found a $20 Burger King discount code for Busch Gardens Williamsburg (BGW) and decided on a whim to substitute it in place of SFA. I guess I should have planned a bit better!

We were vacationing at our friends' house in Woodbridge, VA and it was a rather dismal 2 hour drive with on-and-off rain the whole way. Thankfully, the rain seemingly ceased as we were pulling into the rather uncrowded parking lot at 10:30. The weather turned out to be a real winner as the rain kept the crowds light in the morning while the sun ended up coming out in the afternoon.

After scanning our pre-printed meal and admission passes, we decided to circle the park in a clockwise direction starting with Escape From Pompeii. I really want to love this ride, but it is simply too short. If you're going to go to the trouble of theming a boat ride through a mountain, then go big or go home! For what it is, a boat ride inside a mountain (a la Splash Mountain), it is still fun. There was not a soul in line so we were off to a good start!

We decided to skip the Sesame Street area for now and hoped to come back to it later, as my wife and I had not been to BGW in about 13 years.

So next, we hit Apollo's Chariot. I was pleasantly surprised by this coaster. I had heard so much about it through the years but have also ridden on many hypercoasters at this point. I like the unique little hump at the top of the lift to give the train a little momentum as it plummets over the first drop. It is one of those thrilling take-your-breath-away drops. Not a ton of airtime on this one for me, but a really fun and certainly rerideable coaster. No line at all either with a two train operation.

After a few flats, we headed over to Verbolten. I had no idea what to expect with this one. I had heard nothing about it...after all, we really didn't plan on going to BGW until the last minute. My initial thoughts are that it is a fun ride, but not a signature ride. The queue/ride theming is well-done up to the point that the ride begins. Then, in my opinion, it comes apart a little. Supposedly, you're supposed to be racing through the Black Forest. But I didn't really get that impression...what should have been dimly lit trees seemed like a disjointed bunch of florescent random designs. And the end, while fun, is a little bizarre...what the heck is that structure supposed to be? I will say that the "surprise" element mid-way through the ride is just that...surprising. A really unique and fun ride, despite what I feel are a few shortcomings. 4 trains and a 15 minute wait...clearly one of the busier rides in the park. The crowds had started to pick up at this point also.

Next we headed back towards the Curse of DarKastle only to find out that it was down. So we decided to come back to it later. On a side note, one thing I would like to point out about the transportation-style rides (skyway and train) is that they willingly accommodate strollers, which is fantastic.

So we continued over to Alpengeist. I was so looking forward to riding this again as it had been so long since I last had. Amazingly, we
actually were able to literally run onto the train that was loading as there was an empty row (the last row) and nobody in the station. 13 years ago, I recall waiting over an hour in the hot sun! The ride itself, while slightly trimmed, is still very good and the best inverted I have ever been on. The sheer speed at which you take the elements is amazing. However, I haven't decided yet if this still rates as my #1 steel coaster...I'm thinking due to its age (it is slightly rougher than it used to be, but not so much as to ruin the ride) and the number of really good steel coasters around now, it will probably slip a little. But still a top 5 coaster with great rerideability. Two trains I think...we weren't there long enough to count!

We let the kiddies ride a few more rides and then headed back to DarKastle. I imagine this is one of the longer waits in the park based on the style of ride and the inherent capacity, although our 45 minute wait was really unjustified since they were inexplicably running at half-capacity. Again, having no idea what the ride was or was about, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed it. They did a good job with the 3D effects throughout the ride. I liken this one to Spiderman at Universal Studios. Well done.

Two things I would like to point out about the flats here...first, they have a great collection of what appear to be mostly HUSS flat rides and they are placed and landscaped like each one of them was made for the exact location that they reside in. The colors and theming are always spot-on. Secondly, it is ingenious that the kiddie rides are sprinkled throughout the park rather than all in one remote area. Because of this, we did not feel guilty riding the big rides while the non-daring adults took the kids on nearby kiddie rides. Superb planning and layout.

Next we took a dinner break at Trapper's Smokehouse. The food here is pretty good for theme park food. On a pure BBQ scale, it's maybe average at best. But the helpings are very generous. Two people could easily share a sampler platter, reasonably priced around $14. Includes BBQ chicken, 2 types of ribs and some brisket.

After some walking around, we made an obligatory stop at the Loch Ness Monster. I was debating whether I even wanted to ride considering most of the Arrow loopers from this time period leave me reaching for the ibuprofen afterwards. But this one is running surprisingly well after all these years. Granted, it is severely trimmed before the first loop, but it really seems to have good momentum in spite of this. It was a little irritating that they were only running two trains as the wait, which started inside the station, was still a good 15-20 min. It is a pretty long ride with 2 lifts, for those that are not familiar.

Lastly, we headed to the coaster that I most anticipated on the day, Griffon. I had never ridden on a diving coaster before. Griffon uses 3-row trains with maybe 10 seats per row. Sadly, the front queue was moving too slowly with a 2 train operation (I don't think they were filling rows very well) and at this point in the day, we didn't want to keep the others waiting too long. So we opted for the third row, promising that we would wait for the front when we return maybe next year. The ride is super smooth and the drops are outstanding. The rest of the ride seems kind of lazy though. But I wasn't expecting much out of the rest of the ride, so my disappointment was curbed. Extremely rerideable. Only running 2 out of 3 available trains.

Sadly, we did not get a chance to head back over to Seasme Street area. The park closed at 8 pm and we kind of fell behind the proverbial 8-ball having only 1 day to spend at the park and wanting to get all of the big rides in. Next time, we will be sure to hit that area first!

The park was probably not expecting to be very busy and as such, many restaurants and some rides were running at lower capacities. This drives me nuts. On a thinner day, I would like to be able to get through the park a little quicker, especially one the size of BGW.

All told, despite my criticisms, I love BGW. It was a great day and I can't wait to return when the kids are big enough to hit the 3 big coasters! (my boys are just under 52" right now, so they still miss out on most B&M coasters...my daughter has a few years yet!)

Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by Fatsoccerguy191 Fatsoccerguy191 Profile at 8/24/12 6:07:08 PM
Nice Trip Report!!!, and those are some swell rides you rode!, I love Apollo's Chariot, and the Griffon, hands down best floorless
Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 8/24/12 8:09:13 PM
Fatsoccerguy191 said:

Nice Trip Report!!!, and those are some swell rides you rode!, I love Apollo's Chariot, and the Griffon, hands down best floorless

Griffon's not a floorless.

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by frontrow frontrow Profile at 8/24/12 8:20:11 PM
Great TR, we were just there last month. Like you I didn't think we would make it to Busch Gardens this year. My last visit, prior to last month, was in 2005; so both Griffon and Verbolten were new to me. I wasn't expecting much from Verbolten, but the ride really impressed me. I agree with you on Griffon. The drops are incredible, and the itself is impressive, but the inversions were a little weak. Apollos Chariot is still my favorite ride at Busch Gardens. Now my daughter agrees with you; her favorite ride was Alpengeist. The crowd was small the day we went. Verbolten and Curse of Dark Castle had 20-30 minute waits, but everything else was less than 10 minutes. We really rode a lot. I totally agree about Escape from Pompeii. The ride is done so well, but it's so short. Curse of Dark Castle is just an awesome ride; my son loved it. I also noticed the trims on Loch Ness Monster. I've been to Busch Gardens multiple times, but that was my kids first visit. They absolutely loved it, and so do I. Busch Gardens is a park I wish I could visit every year. It sounds like you had a good time. Our Busch Gardens visit was the most fun that I have had since visiting Six Flags Great Adventure last June. It really is a world class destination.
Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by leviathan leviathan Profile at 8/24/12 9:55:47 PM
beastmaster said:

Fatsoccerguy191 said:

Nice Trip Report!!!, and those are some swell rides you rode!, I love Apollo's Chariot, and the Griffon, hands down best floorless

Griffon's not a floorless.

It absolutely is! It's probably more correctly categorized as a dive coaster, but it is also floorless...especially the further outside of the track you are!

Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by leviathan leviathan Profile at 8/24/12 9:57:31 PM
Fatsoccerguy191 said:

Nice Trip Report!!!, and those are some swell rides you rode!, I love Apollo's Chariot, and the Griffon, hands down best floorless

Thanks! I love love LOVE B&M coasters and those 2 are no different. Griffon was quite unique and so exhilarating!

Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by leviathan leviathan Profile at 8/24/12 9:59:59 PM
frontrow said:

Great TR, we were just there last month. Like you I didn't think we would make it to Busch Gardens this year. My last visit, prior to last month, was in 2005; so both Griffon and Verbolten were new to me. I wasn't expecting much from Verbolten, but the ride really impressed me. I agree with you on Griffon. The drops are incredible, and the itself is impressive, but the inversions were a little weak. Apollos Chariot is still my favorite ride at Busch Gardens. Now my daughter agrees with you; her favorite ride was Alpengeist. The crowd was small the day we went. Verbolten and Curse of Dark Castle had 20-30 minute waits, but everything else was less than 10 minutes. We really rode a lot. I totally agree about Escape from Pompeii. The ride is done so well, but it's so short. Curse of Dark Castle is just an awesome ride; my son loved it. I also noticed the trims on Loch Ness Monster. I've been to Busch Gardens multiple times, but that was my kids first visit. They absolutely loved it, and so do I. Busch Gardens is a park I wish I could visit every year. It sounds like you had a good time. Our Busch Gardens visit was the most fun that I have had since visiting Six Flags Great Adventure last June. It really is a world class destination.

Thanks. You hit the nail on the head...it is a World Class park. From the moment you enter the parking lot, you know that you are in for a real treat. SFGA is a park that I haven't visited since...oh...maybe 2000 or so...but it is on our radar!

Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 8/25/12 5:20:22 AM
leviathan said:

beastmaster said:

Fatsoccerguy191 said:

Nice Trip Report!!!, and those are some swell rides you rode!, I love Apollo's Chariot, and the Griffon, hands down best floorless

Griffon's not a floorless.

It absolutely is! It's probably more correctly categorized as a dive coaster, but it is also floorless...especially the further outside of the track you are!

OK...point taken. In the middle of a row, it certainly doesn't feel like a floorless to me.

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 8/26/12 9:23:16 PM
leviathan said:

It absolutely is! It's probably more correctly categorized as a dive coaster, but it is also floorless...especially the further outside of the track you are!

Imo, I'd count them separately. When a dive coaster has more than just a loop and 1 or 2 immelman loops, then I'd count it in the same group as a floorless.
That said, nice tr! Honestly I don't think you really missed much by not making it back to the sesame street section.

I too loved AC. I only wished I got more hypers under my belt to compare it to other than just Nitro.

One day you should visit BGT. Imo, Montu is up there among my fav B&M coaster. I love Alpengeist but 2 things works against it: the hard stop at the MCB and the cobra roll (which i hate on inverts). Batwings should be there instead. Otherwise Alp is totally worth going back on.

DarKastle, is a nice ride, but I say that Spiderman's effects were much better especially when it comes down to the feel of the flames.

I was last there in 2009, so I can't comment about VB.

Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by Overbanked Overbanked Profile at 8/27/12 8:06:49 AM
Thanks for the TR. I'm gonna give Apollo's Chariot another chance whenever I get the BGW with multiple rides, because too many people are giving positive reviews of it for me to base it on one potential fluky experience, which honestly left me rather underwhelmed. B&M megacoasters are sometimes known for giving unpredictable rides, esp according to where you sit. Hopefully all of the stars will be lined up next time I give it a shot.

* This post was modified at 8/27/12 8:10:55 AM *

Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by leviathan leviathan Profile at 8/28/12 8:56:22 AM
Overbanked said:

Thanks for the TR. I'm gonna give Apollo's Chariot another chance whenever I get the BGW with multiple rides, because too many people are giving positive reviews of it for me to base it on one potential fluky experience, which honestly left me rather underwhelmed. B&M megacoasters are sometimes known for giving unpredictable rides, esp according to where you sit. Hopefully all of the stars will be lined up next time I give it a shot.

I agree...they are sometimes unpredictable. I expected more air based on what I have read and heard, but I did not have that experience in the 3rd row. However, it is still a very good ride and totally rerideable.

Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by frontrow frontrow Profile at 8/28/12 9:27:39 AM
leviathan said:

Overbanked said:

Thanks for the TR. I'm gonna give Apollo's Chariot another chance whenever I get the BGW with multiple rides, because too many people are giving positive reviews of it for me to base it on one potential fluky experience, which honestly left me rather underwhelmed. B&M megacoasters are sometimes known for giving unpredictable rides, esp according to where you sit. Hopefully all of the stars will be lined up next time I give it a shot.

I agree...they are sometimes unpredictable. I expected more air based on what I have read and heard, but I did not have that experience in the 3rd row. However, it is still a very good ride and totally rerideable.

I've been on Apollos Chariot a bunch of times throughout the years. I always thought the ride was good, but not great. I always felt the air time was good, but not great. Last month we rode Apollos Chariot 3 times, once in the very front and twice in the very back. Those were the best 3 rides I've ever had on it. It was like 95 or 96 degrees when we rode it, so that may have had something to do with it. Whatever the case, the air time was awesome. I really couldn't believe it. The whole ride from start to finish, never let up. The very last drop is where I felt the most intense, ejector air. I always wondered why so many people have it rated so high. Now I know.

Re: TR - Busch Gardens VA and Knoebels, Day 1 - 8/20/2012 by LoneStar LoneStar Profile at 8/30/12 11:16:43 PM
Thanks for the TR! I loved my one and only visit back in 2008.


So next, we hit Apollo's Chariot. I was pleasantly surprised by this coaster. I had heard so much about it through the years but have also ridden on many hypercoasters at this point. Not a ton of airtime on this one for me, but a really fun and certainly rerideable coaster. No line at all either with a two train operation.

I feel the same way about AC. I've only been on two B&M hypers, and neither took my breath away (Raging Bull was pretty awful). But it is fun and re-ridable. I'm waiting for a Nitro or Intimidator experience to really excite me about B&M hypers.

After a few flats, we headed over to Verbolten. I had no idea what to expect with this one. I had heard nothing about it...after all, we really didn't plan on going to BGW until the last minute. My initial thoughts are that it is a fun ride, but not a signature ride. The queue/ride theming is well-done up to the point that the ride begins. Then, in my opinion, it comes apart a little. Supposedly, you're supposed to be racing through the Black Forest. But I didn't really get that impression...what should have been dimly lit trees seemed like a disjointed bunch of florescent random designs. And the end, while fun, is a little bizarre...

What a unique commentary on Verbolten! I've heard nothing but great things about it. Rashandra loved it and had rave reviews. I'm anxious to try it out. But I love your comments!


So we continued over to Alpengeist. I was so looking forward to riding this again as it had been so long since I last had. Amazingly, we
actually were able to literally run onto the train that was loading as there was an empty row (the last row) and nobody in the station. 13 years ago, I recall waiting over an hour in the hot sun! The ride itself, while slightly trimmed, is still very good and the best inverted I have ever been on. The sheer speed at which you take the elements is amazing. However, I haven't decided yet if this still rates as my #1 steel coaster...I'm thinking due to its age (it is slightly rougher than it used to be, but not so much as to ruin the ride) and the number of really good steel coasters around now, it will probably slip a little. But still a top 5 coaster with great rerideability.

Yes, Alpengeist is definitely a top 5 steel coaster. It's how every B&M should be - super intense! The cobra roll is sooo powerful as it hurls you towards the earth on the last inversion.

My only complaint is after the MCBR, it is lack luster. Just two corkscrews and a helix...I wish it kept its intensity after the brakes.


We let the kiddies ride a few more rides and then headed back to DarKastle. I imagine this is one of the longer waits in the park based on the style of ride and the inherent capacity, although our 45 minute wait was really unjustified since they were inexplicably running at half-capacity. Again, having no idea what the ride was or was about, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed it.

DarKastle blew me away. I had no idea what to expect, and I have never been to Universal. I rode it 2 or 3 times and enjoyed each, even when I knew what to expect. Hats off to BG for this one.


Two things I would like to point out about the flats here...first, they have a great collection of what appear to be mostly HUSS flat rides and they are placed and landscaped like each one of them was made for the exact location that they reside in. The colors and theming are always spot-on.

I noticed this too and greatly appreciated it about the park. They did a wonderful job with the theming. I didn't notice any of the kiddie rides (since I don't have kids) but I can understand how that is a great touch to a park.


Lastly, we headed to the coaster that I most anticipated on the day, Griffon. I had never ridden on a diving coaster before. Griffon uses 3-row trains with maybe 10 seats per row. Sadly, the front queue was moving too slowly with a 2 train operation (I don't think they were filling rows very well) and at this point in the day, we didn't want to keep the others waiting too long. So we opted for the third row, promising that we would wait for the front when we return maybe next year. The ride is super smooth and the drops are outstanding. The rest of the ride seems kind of lazy though.

I didn't find Griffon lazy at all. It is a complete coaster and in my top 5. The immelmans are crazy, and the first drop is super intense.

You didn't miss a whole lot by not riding in the front. Yes, the visuals are amazing, but with only 3 rows, the ride experience isn't much different than in the back. In fact, in the back row you get whipped over the first drop pretty well. Sorry it didn't blow your socks off like it did mine!

Thanks for the TR! I'm looking forward to reading about Knoebels.

- Pat-O