Busch Gardens Williamsburg
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
General Park News - (10/16/21) A bit of a warning to anyone headed to Busch Gardens Williamsburg currently. According to a reader who just hit the park on Friday, while there was nothing to indicate as such at the entrance to the park, upon entering they discovered that a large number of rides were not running at all, some of which did not actually open until 3pm, on a day where the posted park hours were Noon to 11pm.
I’m not talking about the water rides, which are often closed in the fall and winter months. According to our reader the only rides they found open between Noon and 3 were the train, one of the coasters, and two flat rides, with the rest of the park’s rides sitting quiet as a mouse. By the evening when Howl-O-Scream was in full swing and more rides were open, but they indicated that at least three of the park’s major coasters were still sitting closed for most of the night, if not all, including Apollo’s Chariot and Tempesto.
According to the park’s website however, all of the coasters (except Pantheon of course which doesn’t open until 2022) are listed as being operational. The only rides listed as closed are the three water rides (Le Scoot, Pompeii and Roman Rapids) as well as Battle For Eire, Da Vinci’s Cradle and The Flying Machine. I’m not sure if this is a ride issue or a staffing issue at this point, or a bit of both, but when they asked staff about the issue, the blame was placed on “bees” as the reason for keeping the coasters closed. While this could be true in the daytime, bees aren’t usually a problem after dark.
Also new, Aquazoid Amped confirmed for 2022 at Water Country USA
(9/25/21) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has posted a new official “bag policy” that will affect anyone visiting Howl-O-Scream for the rest of the season. According to the new policy, “Effective Sept. 24th through Oct 31, bags will NOT be permitted with entry after 4 p.m.” On a side note they do confirm that “wristlets” and small packs (less than 8” x 5”) will be allowed but are subject to a full security inspection, which should cover those who have medical needs. This is similar to the a No Bag policy announced at Carowinds for their own Halloween event last week as parks are looking to cut back on potential security problems that seem to be on the rise across the industry during evening events.
(8/16/21) Busch Gardens Williamsburg revealed all the details for this year’s Howl-O-Scream event at long last. Howl-O-Scream kicks off on September 10 and runs on select nights through to October 31, 2021, featuring five haunted houses, four scare zones, four shows and two party zones.
The haunts this year include three brand new haunts (Witch of the Woods, KILLAarney Diner and Nevermore) and two returning favorites (Kystopia and Circo Sinistro). Two the four scare zones will be new (Hexed Hollow and Meat Market) along with the returning Garden of the Souls and Ripper Row. Visit the official site for all the details for each, as well as the dates it will take place.
(8/10/21) BGWFans has leaked a good portion of the Howl-O-Scream 2021 lineup for Busch Gardens Williamsburg this week.
According to the post, they think they’ve uncovered a total of five haunts:” Circus Sinistro (returning), Dystopia (returning), KILLarney Diner (new), Nevermore (new) and Witch of the Woods (new). Follow the link to read all the details of what these new haunts are about as well as live shows and the scare zones.
(7/10/21) We’ve got a quick update on that Fox attack at Busch Gardens Williamsburg with actual details this time in this report. The attack of the rabid fox apparently took place in the park, shortly after opening in the morning, as it ran from the bushes to attack a family visiting the park. Obviously this was a wild animal who had gotten onto the property, and after first attacking one adult and biting his pant leg, they fought it off a couple times and “ended up throwing the fox back at the cabin and bush area” before it came back a third time and bit their son, causing a small puncture wound before they could get away from it.
Since there was a good chance the overly aggressive fox may have had rabies, the family went to a nearby hospital to get some preventive shots before returning to the park to finish their day the right way after such a crazy morning. The fox was soon captured by park staff and handed over to the local health district who were able to confirm that it was indeed rabid.
(7/8/21) The local news is at it again with crazy news stories involving Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I wouldn’t have mentioned it at all, except it just sounds so crazy. According to the report two people (doesn’t say if guests or employees) were attacked by a ‘rabid fox’ at the park. They go on to say that the fox was captured and died shortly after the attack, but no further details are given.
I guess we’ll never really know, just what does the fox say? (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…)
(7/6/21) In our last update about Busch Gardens Williamsburg we mentioned a news report about how emergency crews were brought out of the park because a train full of riders on Griffon had to be evacuated from the B&M Dive Machine coaster when a train had become stuck on the course. At the time, I was imagining that somehow the train had valleyed somewhere in the middle of the ride, but the reality is, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. A later news photo was released showing the exact location of the train, parked perfectly at the very bottom of the lift hill next to safety stairs and access catwalks. Clearly the local news stations seriously overplayed the nature of what was taking place, elevating something that is essentially a non-incident to sound like something truly horrible was taking place.
(7/3/21) As you might expect, the regular media is making this sound worse than it was, but from what I’m told a train on Griffon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg stalled out with 28 riders aboard that had to be evaced from the coaster. As a result the local fire and rescue squads were called out to the park to help oversee the rescue, but they did not have to use any kind of ladder truck to reach them as the train stopped in a position low to the ground. In the end, I believe it was the “Floorless” nature of the coaster trains that made things a little more complex, but all passengers were quickly evacuated from the train and back to the ground safely without issue.
No word on if this was just an issue of a “valley” situation where the train maybe just came across an usually high gust of wind that may have slowed it down, or if there was a technical issue with one of the wheels that caused it to lose speed.
In other news, BGW completed a whole laundry list of needed inspections on their new Pantheon roller coaster according to a tweet from BGWFans. They point out that this did not include the final operation permit needed to open the coaster, but that can happen very quickly at this point. Of course that doesn’t mean BGW is ready to open it just yet, but once everything is done they will be able to open it whenever they are ready fairly quickly.
(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.
2022- Pantheon - (9/8/21) Busch Gardens has now confirmed that Pantheon will open in March 2022.
(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.
2022 - Aquazoid Amped - Confirmed - (10/16/21) We had heard this was coming and now it is official, the popular Aquazoid waterslide from Water Country USA will become Aquazoid AMPED for 2022. The slide tunnels will be enhanced with new lighting effects and a pulse-pounding soundtrack to amaze your senses as you travel down the 864 feet of slide. Due to the number of possibilities, every ride down Aquazoid Amped may be an entirely new and unique experience. Look for it to open in May 2022.
(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 Gemini - Planing - (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.
???? - 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.