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News & Rumors


Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment




----    THE LATEST BUZZ    ----
    (9/29/2023) Busch Gardens Parks Voted #2 for Best Halloween Theme Park Event (MORE...)
    (9/10/2023) Busch Gardens Williamsburg Confirms Restoration of Loch Ness Monster for 2024 (MORE...)
    (8/13/2023) Busch Gardens Williamsburg May Overhaul Loch Ness Monster For 2024 Season (MORE...)
    (6/10/2023) Roman Rapids Return to Busch Gardens Williamsburg (MORE...)


icon_STOPGeneral Park News - (9/29/2023) Congratulations goes out to the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks this weeks as the SeaWorld park’s Howl-O-Scream was voted as the #1 Best Halloween Theme Park event, followed by the Busch Garden’s park’s own Howl-O-Scream event coming in at #2.
    (6/10/2023) Guests at Busch Gardens Williamsburg can now get a break from the heat by enjoying the park’s Roman Rapids ride once again. The park’s river rapids ride sat closed during the first years of COVID, and ahead of an attempt to reopen the ride for the 2022 season the park replaced their entire boat fleet with new 9-passenger rafts, retiring the old 6-seater fleet. Unfortunately the slightly bigger boats had numerous issues traveling through the flume, which had to undergo an extensive makeover as well, keeping Roman Rapids closed.
    The good news is that Roman Rapids finally reopened to guests a couple of weeks ago, and you can see a POV of the new experience in the video below. Comparing this video to some other videos shot in 2019 or before, it appears that the the various ramps and weirs remodeled and the water depth had to be increased by several inches and to accommodate the heavier load of the new 9-passenger rafts.

    (5/26/2023) Busch Gardens Tampa and Williamsburg will be offering their guests “free beer” at both parks over the summer season as part of a special thank you promotion. According to Marc Swanson, CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, “This summer will be better than ever at our parks with new rides in both Busch Gardens locations, Serengeti Flyer, the world’s tallest and fastest of its kind in Tampa and DarKoaster North America's first all-indoor straddle coaster in Williamsburg. We’re introducing new shows, amazing special events and unique experiences at our parks, and an ice-cold beer is the best way for adults to take a break, cool down and select Busch Gardens as their destination of choice this summer.”
    At Busch Gardens Williamsburg, refreshing fun is on tap all summer long. From May 26 through Aug. 17, Members and Annual Pass Holders 21+ can enjoy one 7-ounce beer per visit to the park from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Plus, all guests 21+ can enjoy up to two 50 cent 7-ounce beers. The complimentary drafts from breweries such as Anheuser-Busch and Coors Brewing Company, will be available at Willkommenhaus, located in the Germany area of the park.
    (5/3/2023) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has sent out a notice that the park will be going cashless, like so many other theme parks in the industry throughout the past couple years. The start date will be May 11, 2023 for the switch to all cashless payments, which will include not only all restaurants and stores within the park, but also the ticket booths out front and the parking toll plaza.
    Once you are in the park, they will offer several “Cash-to-Card” kiosks that will transfer your cash for free onto a prepaid Visa debit card that you can use not only in the park, but anywhere Visa is accepted outside the park after you leave as well. Visit the official website for all the details.
    (1/29/2023) Based on new pictures taken at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, it didn’t take the park very long at all to take down the former Mach Tower drop ride that just closed for good on January 8th. What’s interesting is that they left the small themed structure that surrounded the bottom of the tower in place, so they must have a plan to repurpose it for something else.

    (12/18/2022) Christmas Town has returned to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Guests can enjoy a visit to Santa’s Workshop (through Jan 8th), enjoy the “‘Twas That Night!” ice skating show in the Royal Palace Theater or dine at Santa’s Fireside Feast, stroll through displays of over 10 million lights throughout the park and enjoy all your favorite tasty holiday dishes and sweet treats. Don’t forget the rides, as not only can you enjoy a trip along the rails of the Christmas Town Express, the park also is running the new Pantheon roller coaster amongst other fan favorites. Other major coasters open for Christmas Town include Verbolten, Apollo’s Chariot and InvadR. Oh, and as mentioned yesterday, get your last rides in on Mach Tower as it will close for good after Jan 8th.
    (12/17/2022) It looks like the rumors from August were all true. Busch Gardens Williamsburg has confirmed that they are closing their Mach Tower ride for good. The last day of operation will be January 8th before it goes away forever. No word yet on what, if anything, the park may have planned to take over the small space where Mach Tower currently sits.
    The closure of Mach Tower would technically be the third attraction the park has opted to close for good this year, following the confirmed closures of Da Vinci’s Cradle and Battle for Eire in the Spring.

    (8/22/22) BGWFans has an interesting new article, this time going over the rumor about a possible future ride removal for Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Speculation on rumors is usually something they stay away from for the most part, but in this case they feel it is worth sharing that there is a chance that Mach Tower future at the park may be growing short.
    This is definitely not a 100% claim that the ride is doomed, only a warning that the park is growing more and more frustrated with it and that management may be getting to the point where they may just choose to wash their hands of it entirely and have it removed. Of course, those familiar with the news and rumors around Busch Gardens Williamsburg will know that Mack Tower has always been an attraction that failed the park on many levels. In addition to reliability issues, especially in the early days, the ride has failed to generate high guest satisfaction scores and has generally proven to be unpopular with many a park guest.
    While a final choice doesn’t appear to have been made, I know a large number of parks out there have been looking more seriously at their own list of attractions and making short lists of the ones that are the most frustrating from a mechanical or operational standpoint, along with those that also have low guest satisfaction scores. If any attraction checks all the boxes, then it makes the list of something they would be better off without, and options are looked at for either selling it, or just being prepared to remove it the next time the cost to repair is too high.
    It’s all just part of the business side of things in this biz, so as I always say, if you like Mach Tower or have never ridden it, get your last rides in now. You just never know when something is going to close for good.


icon_STOP2023 - DarKoaster: Escape the Storm - (5/20/2023) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has opened their new DarKoaster ride experience, and you can see a POV and Reverse POV video run through the ride as posted by Coaster Studios below. While we know that the DarKoaster experience is made longer through the use of a creative track-switch in order to send the train through the layout twice, each run is made different through the use of creative special effects and lighting effects.
    Meanwhile Theme Park Insider has also posted an off-ride video showing the ride in action as seen from an non-public accessible viewing point within the dark ride itself.

    (4/21/2023) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has confirmed that park Members will be able to experience exclusive early ride sessions on the new DarKoaster ride starting on May 11th, which will then open to the public starting on May 19, 2023.

    (4/20/2023) While we wait to find out the opening date for DarKoaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, the park has released a new behind the scenes video about the creation of the DarKoaster storyline and attraction concept. In a fun way, this will be a second chapter for the story and characters from the original DarKastle dark ride, giving us a modern look at what has become of King Ludwig. Plus you get a great look at the inside of the attraction building with the lights on as well as more concept art and construction footage.

    (4/16/2023) According to a local news report, the new DarKoaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is expected to open sometime in May. No better date was given, but if I had to guess, I wouldn’t be surprised if they opened it on Memorial Day Weekend.
    (2/19/2023) According to a local news report, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has opened a temporary Preview Center for the park’s newest attraction, DarKoaster: Escape the Storm. The walk-through preview center opened yesterday and will be open on weekends from 12:30 to 5pm until we get closer to the opening of the new ride later this Spring.

    (9/8/22) A better looking video showing off the new DarKoaster attractions can be seen below and we’ve got a few more details about the story being told here. King Ludwig’s abandoned castle is at the center of it all, just as it was during the Curse of DarKastle attraction. Strange weather has been happening on a regular basis all around the cursed castle grounds and you’ve been sent out on snowmobiles to investigate the mysterious weather phenomenon. Soon after you arrive at the castle grounds, you realize there is something far more powerful taking place than a bad storm, as a supernatural force makes it’s presence known… and it isn’t happy to have guests in the castle once again.
    While the coaster will only achieve a top speed of 36 mph, while you are traveling through the darkness it will feel much faster. For comparison’s sake, Space Mountain in Florida hits a top speed of just 27mph and the California version goes 32mph. You will also maintain that high speed far more effectively, as you will travel through a total of 4 launch tracks along your journey.
    Speaking of the track… would you believe that the track for the coaster is now fully assembled inside the building? The park gave a quick tour of the site to a few invited enthusiasts groups, and you can catch some pictures taken below.

    (9/6/22) Busch Gardens Williamsburg confirmed today that DarKoster: Escape the Storm is coming to the park for the 2023 season. This will be “the world's first all-indoor straddle coaster, launching 2023”. Check it out below!

    (7/20/22) A great picture showing off huge stacks of track set up behind the former DarKastle dark ride attraction can be seen below. Elsewhere, I’ve seen a picture also shared to a private group taken inside the actual gutted ride building where several roller coaster supports have already been installed.





    (7/17/22) A anonymous reader sent in some pictures showing off what appears to be new roller coaster track sitting backstage at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, somewhere behind the former DarKastle building. If these are legit, it looks like those rumored plans for a dark roller-coaster to go inside that same structure for the 2023 season are holding true. Based on the photos, this does appear to be Intamin track.
    (1/1/22) BGWFans has posted a complete report on the information uncovered about Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s next coaster, which appears as if it will go inside the former DarKastle ride building, making this a themed or dark coaster experience. Follow the link to see their complete report on what they have nicknamed Project DarKoaster, but to give you the brief rundown this appears to be a family launched coaster crammed into the building, with two launch points. They also believe the ride system may be similar to the Wave Breaker coaster (Intamin)  they opened at SeaWorld San Antonio, and we know the SanDiego park has also been working on a snow themed version of the same basic concept. In this case of the DarKoaster however, the ride would have to be much more compact and closer to the ground. The really interesting thing however is that the coaster also appears to have a couple of track switches that would enable the coaster to bypass the return to the station and skip right back to the first launch track, allowing the train to make a whole second run along the layout, giving the experience a total of four launch boosters before returning to the station. Since it will be dark inside, an adjustment in lighting to reveal various pieces of theming along the way could make the second run through the layout  a completely different visual experience from the first run, hiding the fact that it even happened at all from your average guest.
    Nothing is known about the theme yet, but they say that from what they can tell it appears as if much of the ride’s remaining DarKastle theming to the exterior and former queue and station area is likely to remain, so this could be a nice creepy castle themed experience once again.
    The crazy thing is that so far this seems to indicate a planned 2023 opening timeline. Since Pantheon was supposed to open in 2020, well… let's just say I’m not making any travel plans anytime soon, but this will be a project to keep your eyes on as it develops.
    (12/7/21) According to a new-ish post from BGWFans, they say that the park’s next rumored coaster plans, nicknamed Drachen Spire (see below), are on hold. Perhaps as a better piece of news, they also indicate that a replacement for the park’s former Curse of DarKastle may instead now be the next big projecting coming for the 2023 season.


2023 - Riptide Race - (6/4/2023) Water Country USA, the sister waterpark to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, has now opened their new Riptide Race waterslide. Check it out!

    (9/28/22) Riptide Race, Virginia’s first dueling pipeline water slide attraction is coming to Water Country USA in 2023! Sliders climb a 54 foot tower to climb aboard their rafts that will race through 520 feet of slide with strategically placed sections where the wall between the slides is low enough for you to see your competition. 

    (6/25/21) BGWFans has posted a new update about a new projects in the works for Water Country USA. According to the report it looks like the park is planning on replacing the closed Rampage attraction with something called Project Gemini. While they can’t determine much from the very vague sitet plans they discovered, they did come to a similar conclusion that matched up with my own first thoughts on this… that Project Gemini may be a similar style racing/dueling slide concept to the Riptide Race slides that just opened at Aquatica Orlando a few weeks ago.
    Check out the video below to see Screamscape’s coverage of Aquatica’s Riptide Race to get an idea of what may be in store for Water Country USA.


icon_STOP2024 - Loch Ness Monster Refurbishment - (9/10/2023) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has confirmed their plans to perform an epic restoration on the iconic Loch Ness Monster roller coaster for the 2024 season. Unfortunately, the details about how much this will entail are still a secret.

    (8/13/2023) BGWFans has posted a rumor regarding the future of the park’s Loch Ness Monsters. According to the post the park may be planning to perform some extensive renovations to Nessie that is expected to involve some track replacement, amongst other upgrades. The plan would see the renovated coaster reopened in time for the 2024 season.
    If anyone knows more about what might be planned, be sure to reach out and share the details… anonymously of course. Personally I’m curious if the plan may involve any new trains with more open restraints, or perhaps some theme and effects enhancements to the tunnel.



2024/2025 - Project Burgermeisters - Status Unknown - (8/31/22) BGWFans latest report confirms that the park’s plans for 2024 may be changing and growing into something even bigger than the long rumored “Drachen Spire” project. The park has now filed for a new height waiver with the FAA that is apparently very different from their previous request.
    According to the new application, construction for this ride is listed to take place between February 2023 and March 2024, with a proposed height of 220 feet above grade, with the highest point being located in the Festhaus Park area. There is also a humorous project name… ‘Busch Gardens Burgermeisters”.


2024/2025 - Drachen Spire - ON HOLD - (4/14/22) Good news for Busch Gardens Williamsburg fans. As we previous mentioned, the park was applying for an extension to their previously approved height wavier that would allow the park to build a new roller coaster up to 355 feet above “finished grade”. With the arrival of COVID and the planned 2020 opening of Pantheon delayed until 2022, an extension of the waiver was needed to keep the plans for their next big thrill ride alive.
    On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to extend the waiver for 36 months. So with the ball now back in Busch Gardens court, lets see if the rumored new shuttle coaster concept, affectionately nicknamed “Drachon Spire” by BGWFans can be turned into reality, or if the park has come up with another design concept instead.
    (3/12/22) BGWFans has posted a new small update regarding the proposed “Drachen Spire” coaster project. If the height waver extension is approved, the park would be allowed to begin construction on the coaster as late as Mid-2025, with a possible opening as late as 2026. Based on the timeline for the original waiver giving a 36 month construction start time, they believe some of that may have just been extra padding to the window and the plan may be to start construction much sooner than that however, which could see the coaster open between 2024-2025.
    Before this one opens however, remember the park is also said to be working on the rumored dark coaster to go inside the former DarKastle attraction structure as well that could be ready for 2023. If the Spire coaster were to open in 2024, that would actually see the park open three back to back coasters in three years. Of course Busch Gardens Williamsburg will also want to celebrate their 50th Anniversary in 2025… so take that for what you will.
    (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.




Track Record

Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Williamsburg, VA
SeaWorld Parks & Ent.

Abbreviation: BGW

Formerly known as: Busch Gardens: The Old Country and Busch Gardens Europe

Read our trip report & reviews of Howl-O-Scream 2007 and
Howl-O-Scream 2006.

Newest Developments:
2022 - Pantheon &
Aquazoid Amped

2019 - Finnegan’s Flyer &
Cutback Water Coaster

2018 - Battle For Eire
2017 - InvadR

2015 - Tempesto

2012 - Verbolten

2011 - Mach Tower

2010 - Europe In The Air

2009 - Sesame Street 4D & Forest Of Fun

2007 - Griffon

2005 - Curse of DarKastle




Copyright © 1996 - 2023 by Lance Hart &  All rights reserved.