Here's more from today's Virginia Gazette:
Tower ride powers Busch
Busch Gardens plans to build a 26-story “tower” coaster that will easily eclipse the 205-foot peak of Griffon.
Blackstone to invest millions to remain competitive
By Cortney Langley
Modified: Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010 2:17 AM EDT
JAMES CITY — Busch Gardens plans to build a 26-story “tower” coaster that will easily eclipse the 205-foot peak of Griffon.
An application to the county for a height waiver describes a “thrill attraction of a single tower not to exceed 260 feet above ground level.” That strongly suggests a drop coaster, along the lines of “Tower of Terror” at Universal Orlando or “Drop Zone” at Kings Island in Cincinnati, which tops out at 315 feet and holds 40 passengers.
A similar drop coaster ride is in Germany’s Hansapark. “Monte Zuma” lifts 30 riders 160 feet in the air, and either drops them, catapults them up, or goes up and down like a yo-yo.
The Busch application is timely, since the theme park tends to roll out a new ride every three years. A balloon was lofted last Thursday to gauge the visibility of the ride.
Expansion reinforces Busch’s place as the driver of tourism in greater Williamsburg.
The new ride will be located in Germany, next to Der Wirbelwind swing ride. The plans suggest the ride will not be built on the site of the Big Bad Wolf, which has been retired.
The Griffon was the last coaster, in 2007. Typically thrill ride blogs are loaded with speculation long before the rides open, but those websites have focused on the “Europe in the Air” simulation ride that Busch Gardens will debut this year.
The investment of millions in a new coaster shows that Blackstone Group, which bought Busch Entertainment’s 10 parks last year, is willing to invest heavily in new hardware before attempting to flip the park. Last week Blackstone released its first-quarter financials for 2010, reporting a $360 million profit. That’s a big turnaround from an $82 million loss a year earlier.
I'm sure that Universal will be surprised to find that it has a "Tower of Terror."