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News & Rumors


Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment



icon_STOPGeneral Park News - (7/17/22) Has Track Arrived For The Rumored DarKoaster Project?
    (5/1/22) This is not a rumor, but just a fun bit of armchair imaginerring. While chatting with a reader about what Busch Gardens Williamsburg could replace Da Vinci’s Cradle with, I imagined that placing one of Zamperla’s new NebulaZ rides, with appropriate themeing, would be a perfect modern replacement for Da Vinci’s Crade. The rise and fall, forward/backward motion of Da Vinci’s Cradle is not only still present in a NebulaZ, but enhanced by the spinning motion of the central tower and enhanced visually by the near-miss action from all the different arms. Add an overlay of theming and the right color scheme, it could be a fitting replacement for Da Vinci’s Cradle.
   Again, this is not a rumor. Just a fun exercise in imagining what-could-be.
    (4/30/22) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has confirmed that their Da Vinci’s Cradle attraction is now closed for good. The themed flat ride (Zierer Flying Carpet) had been thrilling guests at the park since 1983, located between the Battering Ram and Flying Machine rides.
    In other news, BGWFans reports that the park appears to have conducted another height survey in the Festhaus Park area. The interesting thing is that they put up two different balloons, and according to their report, they don’t believe this was anything to do with the approved extension of the nicknamed Drachen Spire project. It’s just speculation at this point, but either the layout and concept for the Drachen Spire project may have changed over the past couple years, or this could be something for an entirely new attraction concept, possible for the park’s 50th anniversary in 2025.
    (3/12/22) The latest reports from BGWFans seems to all-but-confirm the demise of The Battle for Eire attraction. The extremely short-lived VR Headgear based simulator attractions was only open for 2 years before closing with the rest of the park due to COVID in 2020. Even when the park was able to reopen in limited form, COVID safety protocols made clear why the attraction wasn’t reopened, even with sterilization of the headgear. Last season Battle for Eire was kept closed and the queue spaced used for a Howl-O-Scream maze attraction, but guests arriving to the park this year have now found that the attraction’s main entrance sign has now also been removed from the building. While Busch Gardens Williamsburg have yet to announce the official closure of the attraction, they have removed virtually all mention of it from the website, so it seems as good as gone at this point.
    With that said, unless you were able to experience Battle For Eire in the short time it was open, BGWFans has actually posted two versions of the the actual four-minute ride video in their report, so you can virtually get an idea of what the experience was like when it was open. There is a standard video and then a version of the 360º video of the attraction that guests could see wearing the headsets.
    They’re also got a new update about the rumored “Drachen Spire” coaster project too. Follow the link!
    (3/5/22) A few interesting updates regarding future projects at Busch Gardens Williamsburg have come from BGWFans this past week.  These updates include what appears to be a greatly scaled back plan to build an Event Building behind Festhaus Park and some small updates to the proposed “DarKoster” project along with various other park improvement projects as well as when certain park attractions will be ready to open this month. (For example, repainting of Griffon and Alpengeist will keep them closed a few more weeks than originally planned)
    They’ve also discovered a new update regarding the long proposed “Drachen Spire” project, where it seems the park has filed for an extension to their previously approved height waiver. This suggests that the proposed coaster has simply been delayed and not canceled, and as they delayed the opening of Pantheon by two years, it does make sense that this project was also pushed back as well. If the application for the extension gets approved, they believe it would give BGW until 2024 to open this new coaster project.
    (1/1/22) Is a new coaster coming for 2023? Project DarKoaster Detailed Leaked


2022- Pantheon - (2/5/22) While it will be a few more weeks until Pantheon opens to the general public, Busch Gardens Williamsburg did open the ride to their employees to take the new coaster for a test spin on Thursday, offering both day and night rides. BGWFans was able to get in touch anonymously with a number of these lucky individuals to get their impression of the new ride. Overall the ride experience seems to be a winner, with a highlight experience being an extremely unexpected bit of ejector airtime in the middle of the “swing launch” in the middle of the ride. The downsides don’t have much to do with the ride itself, but more to do with a lack of theming to the area, but fortunately that can always be added later. Make the jump over to BGWFans to read the anonymous reviews about Pantheon from these first riders, along with tips about the best places to sit.
    (1/25/22) Busch Gardens Williamsburg has finally announced the grand opening date for their new Pantheon roller coaster. According to the tweet the long-anticipated ride will open to the public on March 25th, but passholders will have a chance to ride early, so check your email for more details.

    (12/15/21) Busch Gardens Wililamsburg has released the first POV footage of Pantheon, showing off the entire run, from the first turn out of the station to the final brake run. Look for Pantheon to open in March 2022.
    So, looking over the POV what are your thoughts now? Was it worth the wait?

    (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.

2020_BGW_Pantheon_logo    (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.





icon_STOP2023 - Project DarKoaster - In Development - (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.


???? - 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.


icon_STOP2024/2025 - 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.

Tickets: as of 8/25/14
Adults: $72
Child: $62
Parking: $15

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:
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 - 2022 by Lance Hart &  All rights reserved.