Busch Gardens Williamsburg
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
General Park News - (5/29/21) According to Screamscape sources, not only will Battle for Eire not open this season at all, but the only current plans for the attraction space will be to become home to a new ‘haunt’ for this year’s planned Howl-O-Scream event.
(5/23/21) Has Busch Gardens Williamsburg decided to retire yet another dark attraction? While going over the list of current ride availability at the park for yesterday’s update, I could help but feel that something was missing from the list. I just couldn’t put my finger on it at the time.
BGWFans however was able to quickly figure it out. Just added in 2018, and only ran for two seasons due to COVID, there is now no mention of the Battle for Eire dark ride / simulator attraction in the Killarney/Ireland area of the park. The update there goes over the fact that Battle For Erie did not have the best guest satisfaction numbers when it opened, and struggled with a variety of issues that even brought the ride down to 50% capacity in its second season.
The story of the ride system is interesting as well, as this was the chain’s very first simulator ride, which opened way back in 1990 as Questor. Over the years the ride’s motion base platform has been reused over and over again for a huge number of new simulator style adventure rides. Most of the follow-ups have been very short lived with the occasional new gem to find popularity with the crowd. In fact, I don’t know if any other simulator ride platform at any other theme park has ever gone through so many changes over the years.
The original Questor ride ran at the park from 1990 to 1995. This was followed by King Arthur’s Challenge that opened in 1996 to disappointing guest reviews as perhaps the most disliked attraction to run on the system. I can’t even tell you when it closed down, as I was not able to take my first visit to this park until August 1999 and by then it had already been shut down, and I was told that the themed queue was being repurposed as a “haunt” experience for the park’s Howl-O-Scream event.
[Side note: my 1999 trip also had one other notable disappointment, as the infamous Drachen Fire coaster ran through the 1998 season, and then was left silently standing (but not operating) in the back of the park for the entire 1999 season, teasing me with a ride credit I would never get.]
Whenever the official final nail was put into the coffin for King Arthur’s Challenge, the next and longest running ride (2001-2009) was Corkscrew Hill. The motion base remained, but the enclosed simulator cabin walls and roof were removed, with the projected image show being shot on a large wall mounted screen in front of the platform. Corkscrew Hill was replaced by Europe in the Air from 2010 to 2016 when it shut down once again to be developed into Battle for Eire. With a bit of irony, I always found it fascinating that the chain’s first simulator now remains as the only one left as every other simulator built for the chain in the years that followed the opening of Questor in 1990 has now been closed.
As I previously mentioned, Battle for Eire did not run as an attraction during the park’s very limited operations in 2020 due to COVID restrictions. While it is entirely possible that this may also be the case for 2021, previously the attraction was still listed on the park’s website along with a notice that it was currently closed. Currently any mention of the ride has been removed entirely from the official website, which is never a good sign. As for my own research on the subject, our own sources are confirming that the early word is that it has been retired, siting high operating costs and low guest satisfaction scores, plus the obvious complications of having all riders forced to wear headgear during a pandemic.
(5/22/21) A quick word of warning to those planning a trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. While the park currently appears as if they are moving towards a daily operating schedule for the 2021 summer season, not all of the park’s rides and attractions will be running daily. A quick look at the park’s website reveals that currently a number of the park’s major attractions are only open on the more busy days of the week, and some attractions are not open at all.
Currently Apollo’s Chariot, Verbolten, Invadr and Griffon appear to be open daily.
Alpengeist is listed as only being open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Tempesto is listed as only being open Thursdays through Sundays.
Loch Ness Monster will only be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Other rides with limited operation schedules include: Der Autobahn and Land of the Dragons, and there is also an assortment of rides flat out listed as being “Temporarily Closed” at this time, including Finnegan’s Flyer, The Flying Machine, Le Scoot, Escape from Pompeii, Mach Tower, Rhine River Cruise, Roman Rapids and the Skyride.
Follow the link to pull up the official list of park rides, where the various schedules and operational status is listed. Hopefully they will be moving more towards a full park experience as the weeks go on, but as we are seeing, staffing issues are wreaking havoc on the theme park industry as major parks attempt to reopen but are unable to find workers.
(3/10/21) The NEXT Big Coaster Project Is On Hold
(2/27/21) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has revealed the next big event as the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration that will take place on Select Dates from March 5 through March 28. This is another limited-capacity special ticket event where you can enjoy fine irish food, beer and some exciting thrill rides!
According to the description guests can stroll through “ALL TEN of the park’s decorated villages” and enjoy 18 of your favorite rides and coasters, along with live entertainment, pub fare, green beer and more! Rides confirmed for the event include:
Griffon, Apollo’s Chariot, Verbolten, InvadR, Finnegan’s Flyer, Battering Ram, DaVinci’s Cradle, the Busch Gardens Railway, La Catapult, Der Wirbelwind and several others. See the full list of attractions, entertainment, food and more at the official website.
(2/24/21) Good news for waterpark fans in Virginia… the local news has confirmed that Water Country USA is now planning on opening for the 2021 season on May 22 after staying closed for the entire 2020 season.
In other news it seems like Busch Gardens Williamsburg may be preparing the park to reopen to guests in the near future as well, or at least for another limited time event. According to a tweet from BGWFans the park has scheduled a number of ride inspections to take place this week. The list includes: Battering Ram, Apollo’s Chariot, DaVincis Cradle, Flying Machine, Griffon, Trade Winds, Tea Cups and Lil Balloons.
(1/16/21) Busch Gardens Williamsburg will be trying something new in 2021… being open all year long. Just like how the park ended 2020, they will continue to operate for the first park of 2021 in similar fashion, through a series of special event programs.
Winter Weekends kicked off on Friday and will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through to January 24th. “Stroll through villages filled with tons of beautiful lights at night, brave the thrills of thirteen rides including three roller coasters and Sesame Street® Forest of Fun, encounter unique animals not normally featured at the park, participate in special kid activities, and view a spectacular fireworks finale on Saturday evenings.”
This will be followed up with an official Mardi Gras event on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Jan. 29 through to Feb. 28. “Visitors will be transported to where the “Big Easy” meets big thrills as they stroll through eight decorated villages filled with mouthwatering Cajun food, cocktails, and immersive live entertainment and music. Thirteen roller coasters and attractions, including Sesame Street® Forest of Fun will also be available for guests to enjoy.”
2021- Pantheon - (3/31/21) More video footage of Pantheon making test runs at Busch Gardens Williamsburg can be found below.
(3/27/21) BGWFans caught Pantheon making a test run this week and caught part of it on video. Check it out below. You can also find another great video of it testing below that posted to YouTube.
(8/2/20) Someone flew a drone over closed Busch Gardens Williamsburg a few days ago and posted the video to YouTube, which you can see below.
While it’s fun to see the sad and empty park, if you carefully watch the various segments of the video you can also get your first really good views of the new Pantheon roller coaster, now set to open in 2021. There is a good pass over the site at 7:28 into the video where the drone stops suddenly to avoid running right into the spike. Another good segment starts at 9:10 showing off the whole layout in good detail from higher up.
(3/2/20) Good news from Busch Gardens Williamsburg this weekend as the park posted a nice picture of the first Pantheon train sitting on the tracks to Twitter.
(2/28/20) Good news from Busch Gardens Williamsburg this week as the park has confirmed that the last piece of track has been installed on Pantheon. Now once they get the trains on the track and programming done we will probably see some testing start before the end of March if all goes well.
(1/24/20) BGWFans has posted a gorgeous photo update of the Pantheon coaster, with images shot from the air showing off the entire project area! As you will see, it appears that most of the track for the new coaster has been installed, giving us our best look at the fun to come!
(11/21/19) A quick update as a few readers quickly responded to my question about which current coaster holds the record for fastest multi-launch coaster in the world, and that would be Taron at Phantasialand, which has a top speed of 72.7mph according to RCDB.
Another reader brought up a point worth mentioning, as Intamin’s Soaring with Dragon coaster in China hits 77mph, and lanches forwards, backwards and forwards again on the launch track. This is apparently not counted as “multi-launch” in the terms here, as Taron and Pantheon each feature two entirely separate launch track areas, thus the “multi-launch” definition, while Soaring with Dragon launches back and forth across the same piece of launch track.
While we’re talking about Pantheon, you can also see a picture of the lead train car on display at IAAPA this week below.
(11/20/19) According to this new video from Busch Gardens Williamsburg, they have decided to boost the speed of Pantheon in order to take a new World Record for being the fastest multi-launch coaster, with a new top speed of 73mph.
For those wondering what the difference is… it seems it’s just 1 extra MPH, which is all that was needed to bump Pantheon up from being the fastest multi-launch coaster in America to having the world-record instead. Which international coaster they just beat-out for this record, I’m really not sure. Anyone else know?
(9/16/19) A new concept art image of the Pantheon coaster was released by Busch Gardens Williamsburg this week, giving us an artistic look at some of the coaster’s primary elements, inspired by the legends of the Roman Gods.
(7/31/19) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has announced the new 2020 coaster will be called Pantheon, and themed around the legends of five different Roman gods: Pluto, Neptune, Mercury, Minerva and Jupiter. While an exact layout or animation was not made available, the park does mention details about a number of the ride’s impressive features, and that at 72.5 mph, it will be the fastest multi-launch coaster in North America.
All together, they say that Pantheon will feature four launches, forwards and backwards, two inversions and a beyond vertical 95º drop. The overall track length will be 3,328 feet and take riders up to 180 feet in the air at the highest point. The coaster is from Intamin and will be able to run two trains at once, with each train able to hold 20 riders. You can see one layout on the official website.
2021 - Aquazoid Supercharged - Status Unknown, Likely Delayed Until 2021
(2/28/20) BGWFans reports that a small leak about something new at Water Country USA was mentioned in a corporate investor report this week. The popular Aquazoid waterslide will be getting some kind of upgrade to become “Aquazoid Supercharged” this summer, where it will reopen as a “new water slide experience” where guests will ride through color changing rings with dynamic sound and more. From the sound of things, the old slide tower is being replaced with a new steel tower, plus sections of the old slide will also be replaced with new slide pieces to allow for the new visual effects.
???? - Project 2021 / A Tall Attraction - ON HOLD - (4/4/21) According to a post at CoasterNation, it appears the next coaster project intended for Busch Gardens WIlliamsburg is still alive. They uncovered that an extension request to the FAA for the height variance for the proposed coaster project was granted on Mar. 22, 2021 for the project, which had not had time to proceed under the original timeline granted.
I’m not sure about the layout itself, other than it seems to be a launched coaster that will sent the train up a very large vertical spike track that spirals. There is an animation on the site showing off an example, but I really hope that isn’t all the park is planning, because I haven’t seen a layout that dull since Superman: The Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain. And while some park fans have been calling it Drachen Spire, they could end up calling it “Uninspired” in the long run.
(3/10/21) According to CoasterNation the long term plans Busch Gardens Williamsburg had in place for a “2021 coaster” have obviously not happened and are in some kind of holding pattern. The project was given approval to go ahead back in December it seems, but currently the project is now listed as being “On Hold” according to the permit sites.
This begs the question… how long will it be on hold before they begin to work on it? Or will it ever be revived at all? After all there is always the chance that the project could be shelved due to the current economic climate. While we wait, the park does still have Pantheon to open still in 2021 and then judge just how good (or slow) business is at the park once when the time comes to return to full capacity before they make a final choice about future expansion projects.
(1/24/20) Another new update regarding the BGW 2021 coaster project has been posted to BGWFans this week, revealing even more details!
(1/21/20) The latest updates from BGWFans on the park’s 2021 coaster project shows that they have uncovered what appears to be the layout for the coaster project. According to the description, it seems to be a multi-launch shuttle coaster, where the train will move out of the station onto a launch track, shoot forward up a hill, roll-back through the reverse-launch and up a spike, and then forward again through the launch very fast this time, over the hill and into a couple of turns before shooting up a very tall spike before rolling backwards through the whole layout and back into the station. Based on the documents, they say that it looks as if the coaster may even re-use the old Drachen Fire coaster station.
Sounds like an interesting coaster, but as a follow-up to Pathenon, which also features a multi-launch section, the design choice here is a little odd to me, as it seems a bit too similar to what the park is opening in 2020. More on this as it develops.
(10/11/19) According to a local news report Busch Gardens Williamsburg has begin filing stormwater plans for a “Project 2021”. While we don’t know what it is yet, they say that the location of these initial plans show mark a site “near the Rhine River”, likely taking over some of the empty site leftover from the former Drachen Fire coaster.
I missed it last week, but usually our goto source for all things BGW related woudl be BGWFans, who is already on the ball with this story, reporting that this seems as if it could be another large roller coaster planned for the park, which is impressive as Pantheon will open in 2020, so to add another large coaster a year later epic news indeed.
Before this, the only thing we knew about Project 2021 is that the park applied for a height wavier for something that would have a structure up to 355 feet above grade, with the tallest portion said to be in the Oktoberfest section of the park.
(4/4/19) BGWFans has posted the first update about a possible 2021 attraction project in the works for Busch Gardens Williamsburg. According to the update the park has applied for a new height waiver to build a structure up to 355 feet above grade for a project labeled as “Busch Gardens Project 2021”. The location of the tallest point of the structure is said to be in the Oktoberfest section of the park.
With a coaster in the works for 2020, I’ve got to think that the park could be looking to add something entirely different in 2021, which would likely involve a large tower. With a drop tower already in place at the park, and since no one seems to build observation towers anymore, I’ve got to wonder if they are planning on adding something like a Star Flyer or Giant Wheel to the park.