Busch Gardens Williamsburg
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
General Park News - (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.
(1/3/18) According to a report at BGWFans, the New Year's Eve fireworks show sparked a small blaze in the theme park, burning some of the train trestle over the Rhine River and spreading to the nearby brush on the southern side. Fortunately crews were able to put out the blaze within 15 minutes. Follow the link to see some incredible pictures of the fire in action though and read up on the latest details.
(11/4/17) First The Curse of DarKastle was closed before the end of the busy summer season because the park was going to fit a new haunted house experience inside of it for Howl-O-Scream. Now it seems that trend will continue and the evil castle structure will be somehow repurposed as part of a new Santa meet & greet area for Christmas Town.
According to a report posted at BGWFans, the famous dark ride may actually never reopen it seems, as the park was having difficulty maintaining and operating it within their budget. According to a statement from the park, while the ride remains intact and able to reopen, it seems that it is true that they are considering the possibility of not reopening it next season, but as of this moment a final decision has not been made.
This is sad... because really while coasters are king at most theme parks, what really sets the top shelf theme parks apart from the crowd for me is the inclusion of some epic dark rides. The Curse of DarKastle is no exception... and while it may have flaws (who doesn't?) the attraction had set a pretty high bar for itself when Busch Gardens set out to make the world's first "clone" of the dark ride concept created for Universal's "The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man"... but doing it within a Busch Gardens level budget.
To that end, they succeeded in grand fashion, though as the linked report mentions, time has been taking it's toll on DarKastle, along with obvious budget cutbacks from the park as the SeaWorld Entertainment chain continues to struggle in the post Blackfish world. Given how things are likely being handled internally, the maintenance of the ride has probably been in what I like to refer to as "firefighter mode"... where non-safety related parts and equipment are ridden to the point of failure and only then fixed or replaced. This would be the opposite of "prevention mode", where much of the equipment is upgraded or replaced on a set schedule... such as the projectors for the ride's many screens which would ideally be refurbished or replaced after a certain number of hours of operation. Much like performing an oil change on your car after so many miles is ideal, rather than waiting for your car to burn up the old oil and start to grind metal on metal before you stop to fix it.
So now we are at the crossroads... will Busch Gardens spend the needed money to maintain and reopen The Curse of DarKastle or will it become another rusty junkpile sitting in the driveway on blocks? I can only hope they opt to fix it, and perhaps work on a budget to improve it down the line as well, because a good dark ride is not something to just throw away... it's what sets your park apart from your competition down the road.
(10/27/17) Just a reminder that Busch Gardens Williamsburg will be open for the annual Christmas Town event on select dates between Nov. 24, 2017 and Jan. 1st, 2018. The good news is that the new InvadR wooden coaster will be open for Christmas Town this year. Follow the link to the official site for information about this year’s event and how to buy tickets.
2018 - Battle of Eire / Action VR Ride - Under Construction - (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.
2018/2019 - Madrid / New Country / New Coaster - (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?