Busch Gardens Williamsburg
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
General Park News - (6/29/18) A new interview with Busch Gardens Williamsburg's President, Kevin Lembke has been posted to BlooLoop this week where they talk about the park a little bit, and go into detail about the park's new unique VR experience, Battle for Eire. They go into detail not just about the technical aspects of the attraction's hardware, but also into the marketing approach as well as their more unique approach to maintaining hygiene standards for their VR equipment in a high throughput environment.
(6/22/18) Busch Gardens Williamsburg will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of their Howl-O-Scream haunt event this year, and to help celebrate they promise to unveil the new aspects of this year's event on June 20th, July 20 and Aug. 20th. Here's the details from the first wave:
A new haunted house will be added this year called Demented Dimensions where guests enter the "Sterling Manor", a haunted house built on top of a dimensional vortex who's energies have opened portables to other realms. Alternate worlds where monsters hunt humans, aliens have taken over and more.
A new Terror-Tory will be added called Fools Court, full of scary jester characters always looking for a laugh... but the joke may be on you.
We've also got some stats for this year's HOS:
There will be 7 Total Haunts this year, with 3 that are brand new
6 Terror-Tories... 2 of which will be brand new
2 Party Zones, 3 Bars, and 2 "No Escape" escape room experiences, one of which will be new for 2018.
Howl-O-Scream 2018 will run on select nights from Sept. 15 through to Oct. 28
(6/7/18) The Loch Ness Monster coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg officially turned 40 yesterday. As part of the celebration, riders noticed some new effects have been added to the tunnel portion of the ride, specifically a loud roar can be heard along with tons of strobe light effects going off during this portion of the ride. You can see a somewhat shakey video of it posted to Facebook by BGWFans.
(4/3/18) Could Williamsburg be home to the next Sesame Place theme park? Click here for more...
(3/17/18) I think he heard that I was talking about the new trains for Nessie, because BGW's park president posted a great picture showing off one of the new trains being put to use this season.
(3/12/18) In case you are interesting, the BGW Park President did tweet out a fun picture last week showing off a couple of new merchandise items featuring an all new "40 Years" logo for the Loch Ness Monster.
In other news... you can apparently expect to see some kind of changes made to Nessie's trains this season. It doesn't seem like they got brand new trains, but instead have come up with some kind of unique creation that seems to echo different design elements of Arrow trains over the years, while putting some unique new ideas into play. You can read a written description of what the new trains appeared to look like from someone who got a quick look at them, but no pictures as of yet have surfaced. Restraint-wise, they claim that it appears to still have the classic Arrow OTS restraint system it always had, new taller headrests are said to have been installed, like what you would have experienced on the last few Arrow loopers ever built, like Canyon Blaster at the Circus Circus Adventuredome or Dollywood's Tennessee Tornado.
(2/10/18) For potential Busch Gardens Williamsburg passholders, things just got a little weird as the park has opted to vamp their entire season pass program in favor of a new "Park Membership" program.
According to a detailed report posted by BGWFans there are some signifigant changes to the new program. For starters, all Park Memberships will come with year-round admission to BGW (including Howl-O-Scream and Christmas Town) as well as access into the Water Country USA waterpark, dropping the old One Park or Two Park pass option.
There are currently three tiered Memberships, with the lower tier featuring 80 blackout dates when you are not allowed to visit, followed by an "Unlimited Membership" tier with no blackout dates and a "Premier Membership" that comes with better perks and even gets you into the other SeaWorld Parks.
Like the old pass program, you can either pay for the entire years up-front, or go on the monthly EZpay st yle program. The interesting thing about the payment plan is that while your price is locked in for the first 12 months, it can go up after that if the park decides to raise prices. For early adopters of the new play there are currently some discounts available, but if you are currently on an EZPay payment program for the old system you also have the option of keeping your old Season Pass along with the old benefits for the time being, or until the park chooses to phase them out completely at some point in the future.
With that in mind, know that many current perks and all future ones (like Sneak Peek events) will be only for the new Membership program and not for the old passholder program.
For a complete price breakdown on the options, perks and benefits of the new program tiers and comparison to the old passholder program follow the link above to BGWFans who have covered about any question you might have.
Of course, with this new program in effect for the Williamsburg park, I wonder how long they will test it out here before looking to roll it out to the rest of the chain.
(1/25/18) I'm deeply sorry to report this unfortunate news but, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has confirmed that they have decided to pull the plug on their legendary dark ride, Curse of DarKastle after being open only a little over 12 years.
Opening in 2005, Busch Gardens Williamsburg wowed the amusement industry by creating what was essentially a clone of Universal’s mind blowing Adventures of Spider-Man dark ride system, but on a fraction of the budget. Even better, the experience added a really creepy haunted house style experience to the park that it was lacking. Without question, they had managed to create one of the finest high-tech dark ride experiences in the USA outside of a Disney or Universal theme park… something they should have taken immense pride in.
Sadly, we got word that Curse of DarKastle closed down to guests at the end of the summer of 2017. The initial explanation was that the building would be used to create a new winter themed haunted walk-through maze experience for Howl-O-Scream. Ok… not a bad idea, and they left the ride system intact to do it. Soon after the ride was repurposed into a Santa meet & greet area for the Christmas Town winter festivities, but that’s when the evil rumors started, claiming that chain wide budget cuts had slashed into the attraction so much that they felt they couldn’t keep it open without a major injection of capital in order to renovate and repair everything that had broken down and wore out.
Today the park confirmed on Facebook that the Curse of DarKastle was no more, the building would be gutted and transformed into a new special events venue, leaving the park dark-ride free once again.
2018 - Battle of Eire / Action VR Ride - NOW OPEN - (4/14/18) Good news from Busch Gardens Williamsburg, the park has posted on social media that the new Battle For Eire attraction is now open starting this weekend.
(4/2/18) Footage shot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg the other day during the Battle for Eire attraction's media day preview was sent over by JForces, showing off some of the media event in one (words from the creators) and then below that some on-ride preview footage (with a reverse pov window) of the attraction itself in action.
The animation and world sure look nice... so I can only hope that it holds and converts well when viewed through the VR headgear. While it wont open to the public until later this month, I'd love to hear some feedback from anyone who had ridden it as to what you thought, as this concept seems like a possible idea one for the future of VR attractions in theme parks, rather than trying to add headgear onto existing fast-moving coasters. Did this experience work for you? Were you immersed into the story and visuals to the point that you could forget that your real body was simply sitting on a simulator platform wearing VR headgear?
(3/8/18) A fun collection of behind the scenes photos taken at BGW of the new Battle For Eire ride can be found on Instagram posted by ThemeParkCentral. There appear to be nine different images to scroll through contained in the post.
(3/1/18) Busch Gardens Williamsburg tweeted a brief video clip showing off how the new VR gear setup for Battle For Eire will look, which includes the "Emerald Mask" which you wear, and how the "Enchanted Lens" (VR Headset) will attach to it. A second tweet also shows off the interior of the ride and how the VR headgear will be stored and hardwired into a podium next to each of the seats.
(12/30/17) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has posted a new blog and video update about the making of Battle for Eire this week.
(12/21/17) BGWFans has posted a nice article showing off plans they've discovered for the new Battle For Eire attraction coming to Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 2018.
(11/12/17) A few more details have been released about the upcoming Battle for Eire at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, including a video introducing some of the characters you will meet in the attraction such as Balor, who seems to be the big-bad villain for the attraction. Plus you can get a peek at Balor's minions and Addie sidekick Ollie the Dragon who will battle for the Eire and control of Otherworld.
(9/27/17) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has confirmed Battle for Eire as the name for the new VR Simulator attraction coming to the park in Spring 2018. They call this an Action VR Ride, and it will feature a fierce fairy warrior named Addie who will lead guests on an unforgettable adventure through Ireland as she attempts to rescue the Heart of Eire.
They have released Chapter 1 in a video series about the making of the new attraction which you can see below.
(9/13/17) I discovered a new trademark application filed by SeaWorld Entertainment in the past month for something to be called “Battle of Eire”. With an Irish sounding name, this sounds like a sure fit for Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s mystery new VR Simulator attraction project that was announced earlier this year as replacing the park’s closed Europe in the Air simulator attraction with a new Irish themed attraction full of mythical characters, more in the vein of the previous popular ride there, Corkscrew Hill.
(3/21/17) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has chosen to spill the beans early about what they are working on for the 2018 season. According to the park they will open a "first of its kind" ride experience, that will blend the use of VR headsets with the use of a true motion simulator platform, to be built on the site of the park's former Europe in the Air simulator. The new ride hasn't been named yet, but it was a given that with the location in the Ireland section of the park, the park has confirmed that once again this attraction area will take guests through a portal into a hidden world of mythical characters, all set with an Irish theme.
While VR on Coasters have been seen by many as somewhat of a new and probably temporary gimmick or fad... to put the VR gear to work on a motion simulator platform is something else entirely, and could provide for a very cool and unique experience, especially if accompanied by 4D style in-theater real-world effects enhancements. Look for the portal to the "Otherworld" to open in Spring 2018.
2019/2020 - Ireland Expansion - (6/14/18) BGWFans has uncovered new documents that point a clearer picture about what kind of new ride the park may be planning for 2019. While the details are still very vague... what is known is still leading to the conclusion that the park may be adding something from S&S Worldwide... just not the tower rides as I was previously thinking. Instead, what would you say to a giant park-sized Screamin' Swing attraction instead in the Ireland section of the park?
Follow the link to read up on the latest details that have leaked out about the project and what has led them to come to this conclusion thus far.
On a side note, you can also check out BGWFan's lengthy report on this year's Food & Wine Festival as well.
(5/5/18) Lots of strange news about Busch Gardens Williamsburg uncovered by BGWFans this week. For starters the park has filed a height waver to build a new 90 foot tall structure near the Ireland section of the park, calling the project "Ireland Expansion". While it could be for a small coaster, the terrain here and available space could make things difficult. Of course, this got me thinking way back to an old ride plan BGW once drew up and never built about 15 to 20 years ago that involved installing a couple of S&S tower rides sticking out the top of castle towers. Think of it as an Irish version of the Dr. Doom's Fearfall ride at Universal's Islands of Adventure. Back in the day, I think these could have been taller towers, but S&S does make a compact 80 foot tall DoubleShot tower that would fit nicely into the height waiver, which would be the same size ride that Hersheypark just put in last year for the smallest of their three Hershey Triple Tower rides.
2019/2020 - Madrid / New Country / New Coaster - (5/5/18) Another interesting item was found in the documents filed for the Ireland Expansion height variance. While nothing was directly even mentioned about this, if you look at the overhead drawing of the park, the Festa Field area, which was previously granded a 315 foot height variance in 2017 appears to have a massive structure drawn into that location. The problem is... it doesn’t look anything like a thrill ride, or anything that would be 315 feet tall. Instead it looks very much like a large semi-circular amphitheater. Based on the size of it, this would be an even bigger venue that the current Royal Palace Theater, and I suppose could serve as a good replacement for the older entertainment venue if they were looking to free up space on that side of the park for another future expansion. Anyone know more about just what exactly is going on here, as this seems to be going against their previous plans to build something tall in Festa Field.
(8/12/17) Good news for Busch Gardens Williamsburg... the Board of Supervisors approved the park's request to build their new 315 foot tall attraction. Now if only we knew what this was, or when it might be coming...
(8/3/17) The local news reports that Busch Gardens Williamsburg will request the height variance for a new 315-foot tall attraction at a 5pm meeting on August 8th at the County Government Center Board Room (101 Mounts Bay Road). If anyone is local to the area and wants to attend, you might get a sneak peek. If granted, the park has 36 months to begin construction, so this doesn’t necessarily mean that attraction will open in 2018 attraction. According to a local news report, photos submitted of the height balloon test show that the new attraction would be no more visible than Mach Tower, Griffon or Apollo’s Chariot from outside the park.
(7/7/17) Some interesting news has come to light regarding the future expansion plans of Busch Gardens Williamsburg over the past few days. For starters a permit for an attraction height wavier was submitted by the park for a staggering 315 feet, which is kind of surprising for BGW. As rumored, the location for the permit is a site referred to as "Festa Field" which is currently used for animal use between Festa Italia and the Rhine River.
You can see an image of the permit posted to Facebook on the BGWFans page, which is where the next interesting factoid comes up... the title of the permit is "Busch Gardens Madrid". It's been no secret that the park has long been rumored to have plans to expand by building a new country area themed to Spain. Over the past decade I think Screamscape has posted rumors that a Spain themed expansion was on the way no less than three times, only for the project to get delayed or be put on hold for a variety of reasons. As I recall, the last time we had heard about a Spain expansion, the rumor was that it would be built up in two phases, one phase would include the majority of the themed land and some smaller attractions while the other phase would involve the construction of a very large roller coaster. Could this finally be coming to pass?
And could we be seeing a new B&M Gigacoaster at last?
2021?? - Sesame Place Williamsburg - Rumor - (4/3/18) Ever since SeaWorld parks mentioned in May 2017 that their extended partnership with Sesame Workshop included a plan to build a new Sesame Place theme park somewhere in the United States by 2021, the big question everyone has been wondering about is, "Where?"
We know it wont be in Florida, because at the same time they also announced a plan to open a Sesame Street themed land within SeaWorld Orlando by Fall 2022, and California's crowded theme park landscape also seemed a bit unfriendly to the concept.
So would you believe... Williamsburg, Virginia? According to an excellent posting at BGWFans, SeaWorld Parks has been sending out online surveys to guests of Busch Gardens Williamsburg asking for their feedback on the possibility of adding a Sesame Place park to their Williamsburg park property, creating a third gate.
Please do jump over to BGWFans to read the details and see some of the graphics included in the survey, which show off a basic layout of the park where the existing Forest of Fun area of Busch Gardens would be walled off from the rest of the park and linked up to three new lands to create this new mini park property. The new lands would include a separate main entry land, full of shops and restaurants, a couple of lands with dry rides, shows and other attractions and finally a wet themed land with water fun and a couple of waterslide attractions. As a whole, it looked like this new park would take up the current "France" parking lot.
The idea is interesting, as there has been past interest in building a new park focused on small children in the Williamsburg area in the past, as the region was considered as a possible location for the first Legoland park in the US before the California site won out. Disney too was almost lured to the nearby region with dreams of building the "Disney's America" theme park concept once upon a time. The Williamsburg region has proven to be popular with tourist almost year-round, so perhaps there is a need here. BGWFans also continued with a second article sharing their own thoughts about the Why and Why-Not aspects of building a Sesame Place park here... though perhaps the biggest reason not to build it may simply be because the existing Sesame Place park may be a bit too close for comfort, located just a 5 hour drive away, just north of Philadelphia.
Again, this is just a survey to get feedback on the location, and in reality they may opt to build in an entirely different location. Time will tell...