TR: Busch Gardens Williamsburg 04/08/00
TR:Busch Gardens Williamsburg 4/08/00
"Even the Best Laid Plans....."
I had originally planned my April season of coastering like this. 4/1- 4/2:BGW/PKD Opening Weekend, 4/8:SOB Preview,4/29:Knoebels Opening Weekend. Well the first hint that things would not work this way was when it was announced that SOB Opening would be delayed. When we realized that it would be a 12 1/2 hour drive for a very questionable operational ride schedule and tour,we decided against it. Then we learned that Tim Melago,Dave Sandborg,and Cindy Stout would be at PCWI on the 8th. Our plans then changed to PCWI on the 8th. Then I recieved a letter in the mail announcing that I was selected to be a trainer and that I would be required to report to work the weekends on March 25/26 and April 01/02. That pushed our BGW/PKD Opening Weekend trip back indefinitely until I learned I was not scheduled to work Opening Weekend at SFGAd on the 8th and 9th on April. We switched BGW/PKD to the 8/9 and canceled PCWI indefinitely. Knowing SFGAd's staffing problems,I agreed to work the rest of April so that canceled out Knoebels on the 29th. So as of this moment,this is my last trip until SRM....after work "playtime" at SFGAd not included. Anyway,enough about my wacked out April coaster plans. Here my tale of a long, weather wacky,airtime filled day at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
At 9:30,we purchased tickets and walked over to Festa Italia,where we waited at the Menagerie/Escape from Pompeii rope. Promptly at 10:00am,they dropped the ropes and all the little kiddies and disrespectful "adults" rampaged over the bridge to Apollo's Chariot.
First ride of the day and of the season? My number one,Apollo's Chariot. The weather was beautiful and it the crowds were here in abundance,no doubt thanks to the beautiful spring weather. We got two backseat rides in twenty minutes. Apollo was running three trains,and moving the GP through the queue at an amazing pace.
Apollo was running great! Even Bush brakes coudln't slow this bad boy down! Airtime was to be had on every hill and there was even airtime on the drop off the blocks! The blocks were on very lightly,considering the fact that they had three trains running. Apollo is still an AWESOME mix of smooth lateral forces,and airtime glalore. Unfortunately,the Single Riders Queue was closed. Regardless,Apollo is number one.
Taking a leisurely stroll through Festa Italia,we finally happened upon the Big Bad Wolf. Wolf was running two trains,and within mere minutes we boarded the back car back row of the Wolf. Wolfie too,appeared to be running better than normal. (either that,or that brakes were only kissing the front of the train...) In any case,Wolfie almost became my favorite suspended,but I still feel Top Gun at PKI offers a little more in terms of "bang for your bucks." The one thing that ruins BBW in my opinion is that second lift. It totally kills the ride's pacing which,up until that point,is pretty much perfect. Wolfie does score big points for the excellent theming,though! All in all though,Big Bad Wolf does offer the best "total package" of suspendeds out there. It's got the immaculate theming and unique ride.
SOMEONE PLEASE help the Alpengeist crew! Although they ran three trains,they were constantly stacking. Every time one train began it's circuit,the other two trains were sitting on the dispatch and holding brakes. Throughout my entire half hour wait,this was commonplace. Dispatch times were anywhere from two to six+ minutes. The ride however,is still in fine shape. The first half of the ride,(pre-brakes) absolutely rocks and is all out intensity. If the ride stopped right there,it might very well be my number one inverted. The post-brakes portion of the ride however,doesn't "do" much for me. The brakes weren't on hard enough to affect the ride in any way,and I was *whipped* throught the heartline. But the sidewinder and helix left me cold. (Pun not intended!) Alpengeist is a great ride,and I can think of 5 inverteds off the top of my head that I've ridden that do not come close to matching 'Ole Alpie's intensity.
After a satisfying ride on Alpengeist,we stopped for lunch at the Mackinack Cafe around 11:30. Four major coaster rides on a slightly crowded beautiful Spring day in an hour and a half! Not too shabby. Lunch was delicious and we both ordered Chopped Beef Brisket Sandwhiches.
With full bellies,we started the long trek over to Loch Ness Monster. LNM is still my favorite Arrow Looper and it's theming,long tunneled double helix,smooth ride,and interlocking loops make for an interesting,fun, photogenic,thrilling,and rerideable coaster.
Back at Apollo we took two more rides,a front seater and a back. Apollo was really hauling some ass! The blocks were barely kissing the train,and the same goes for the brakes on the second hill and the upward curve through the lift. Apollo was flying and indeed,I was getting "Maximum Airtime on the Wings of Apollo's Chariot!"
We spent the next two+ hours filming the park and taking in all the atmosphere and a flat ride or two. But, we just couldn't stay away from Apollo and ended up with four more rides in the backseat .Yes,Maximum Airtime indeed. After finishing our own little Apollo ERT,we headed back towards the Mackinack Cafe for dinner where we got the same platters as we did for lunch. But during the course of our meal,something evil happened. The skies darkened,and amazingly,the temperature dropped **40 DEGREES** in **20** minutes.From temperatures bordering on 80,it dropped to near 40 by the time we were through with dinnner. Brrrrrrrr. This we were not prepared for.
We rode Wilde Maus and as I looked around,I noticed that the cars behind us were being cycled empty and that the patrons on line were "exiting the same way you came in..." As we approached the station,the attendant,in jest told us,"You broke it!" She told us a storm was coming and that the ride was being shut down. At this point we were shivering. Unfortunately,dad's jacket (I didn't bother to bring one...Hey,when I woke up it was already in the 60's!!!!) was ALL the way on the other side of the park in.....Festa Italia. So,we waited for the train.....and waited ...and waited...all the while the wind picks up. We later learned that wind gusts reached 40+MPH. Finally the train pulled into the Caribou Train Station and we all boarded. The poor souls who rode Escape from Pompeii and Roman Rapids were in pure agony and their faces showed it. Upon pulling into the Festa Train Station,dad ran to get his jacket and I ran to buy a XL "Fear the Four" Sweatshirt. With some mild comfort from sweatshirts and light jackets,we crossed the Festa Italia Bridge and ended up at The Flying Machine. TFM was a funky little ride although the load time was longer than the actual ride. We were given a free reride since the park cleared out rather quickly when the weather turned nasty. After the Flying Machine,we headed for warmth,in the form of Pirates 4-D. We waited about twenty minutes for the next showing and finally we were allowed into the heated! theatre. Ahh. After an oddly entertaining 4-D movie,we arrived back outside. The weather had turned....nastier,windier,and colder.Time to go back to the hotel. After a quick stop for burgers,we warmed our toes in our soft beds at the Colony Quality Inn in Williamsburg. Sunburn AND Windburn in the SAME day...who'da thunk it possible?
-- Rob Vaccaro,who's learned to be weary of those "nice" April days...... Vaccaro11@mindspring.com ======================= Next Up: Paramount's Kings Dominion 4/9/00