Last month, I made a trip east with a friend to make my first-ever visits to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion. Each was a park with several roller coasters I'd been looking forward to riding for many years, so it was great to get the chance! We opted to go during the second full week of June, which was the last week of school for most districts in southeast Virginia. Because of this, and going on weekdays, the crowds were extremely light.
I'll start with BGW, and get KD pics/report up in a day or two.
Few, if any, complaints about a great day at BGW. All vehicles were being funneled into the Italy parking lot, which isn't the closest to the park, and we had our longest wait of the day just waiting for the tram to arrive. It was pretty much smooth sailing once we got into the park. The weather was great -- a 20%-30% chance of storms that did not end up affecting our area, as was most likely, and temps maxing out in the upper 80s. Almost all of the rides had one-or-two train waits, we only waited 10 minutes three times -- once for Verbolten's front row to start the day, our first ride on Griffon, and Le Scoot. I loved the overall theme of the park, and found it to be well-run and generally in very good visual condition. No surprise that they win landscaping awards, as the immersive environment was broken only briefly at the tops of the roller coasters.
Apollo's Chariot -- I think I have a new favorite hypercoaster! The only other B&M hyper I've been on is Diamondback, and I prefer this one by a small margin. I think the return leg is more interesting, even without the splashdown. The back row is the place to ride this -- the air was very forceful (we tried it once in the front and it was more floaty there). It's no contest between this and the Arrow/Morgan hypers I've been on -- this is what Magnum should be, if it were smooth and didn't kill your thighs with every jolt of air. Blasphemy for a person who lists Cedar Point as "home park?" Perhaps, but this was my big surprise favorite of the two-day trip.
Griffon -- I knew what to expect, having been on Sheikra, and found the experiences quite similar (and very fun). I prefer the back for the extra whip around the drops. Just enough force on the inverting elements to keep it interesting, but overall it's very smooth and very re-ridable. I also enjoyed the views of the James River from up top, at least until you circle to the drop and get a great big view of a beer factory instead.
Alpengeist -- I've been wanting to ride this since seeing it on a coaster show in the late 90s. Originally thinking (based on its size) that it was the king of the B&M inverts, I of course have learned that size isn't the only way to rate a coaster. I was slightly underwhelmed by Alpengeist -- it's no Raptor or Montu, and I think it's the pacing. I wasn't a fan of the first drop, which isn't particularly steep and twists way too much to make an impact. I also don't know about starting right off with an enormous and slow Immelman. The end helix has nothing on Raptor's. We found it quite rough in the back row, and much more fun in the very front.
Verbolten -- My friend went in blind on this one, and though I knew what was coming, I didn't tell him about the drop. It was worth it for his reaction the first time! I thought the first half of the ride (in the darkness) was actually pretty intense. The second half underwhelmed me -- I wish it did a little more outside, and slowing to a crawl on the bridge right after a launch was odd. Overall, though, it was fun -- and fits a niche in that it's not too "scary" for younger riders. In many ways, it reminded me of Expedition Everest, both in its "fright" level and the heavy theming -- but frankly, of the two, I preferred Verbolten.
Loch Ness Monster -- A classic Arrow, and despite its history, one ride was enough for me. My favorite part was the never-ending-helix. Overall, it wasn't particularly smooth, and I came off plus one headache and minus one cell phone (thankfully, recovered from the front seat by the ride ops, and returned safely to me when I came back just a half hour later). I'm taking that as a learning experience regarding what I thought were tightly secured pockets, but a good lesson to have before going on the big Texas/Midwest trip in two weeks. As for Nessie? Got the credit, but I can't say it did anything more for me than any of the other drawn-out Arrow loopers.
Escape from Pompeii -- If upper 80s outside weren't hot enough, all the fire up top sure accelerates your desire for a splash! This is much better than the typical soaker boat ride -- just going up and coming back down. My favorite part, though, is that it's ridiculously photogenic. Lots of great vantage points for pictures of the splashdown.
Le Scoot -- I have a soft spot for the classic log flumes, and I enjoyed the height of this one -- plus, the first drop is a nice bonus.
Europe in the Air -- Akin to watching an Imax movie in an earthquake. Do I get bonus credit for riding in what, I believe, was its final full week of operations?
Curse of DarKastle -- My first ride of this type, and I thought it was pretty fun. Had no desire to go a second time, which speaks for its re-ridability (or lack thereof), and I thought the story was hard to follow. However, the effects were really well done, much more convincing than I was expecting. The 3D wasn't working on one screen in the second half of the ride, which had everyone in the car adjusting their glasses as if it was going to help (hey, I tried too).
Mach Tower -- Closed all day. We saw the vehicle at the top of the tower once in the early afternoon, but without riders.
And now the scorecard for the day...
Busch Gardens Williamsburg -- Wednesday, June 12, 2013 In -- 10:45 AM Verbolten [Front] Verbolten [Back] Curse of DarKastle Alpengeist [Front] Griffon [Front] Europe in the Air Loch Ness Monster [Front] Escape from Pompeii Apollo's Chariot [Back] Apollo's Chariot [Front] Verbolten [Front] Autobahn Bumper Cars Alpengeist [Back] Alpengeist Le Scoot Log Flume Griffon [Back] Griffon [Back] Griffon [Back] Griffon [Back] Sky Ride x3 (complete circuit) Verbolten [Back] Apollo's Chariot [Back] Apollo's Chariot Apollo's Chariot Apollo's Chariot Out -- 7:20 PM
The Great Zo wrote:It's no contest between this and the Arrow/Morgan hypers I've been on -- this is what Magnum should be, if it were smooth and didn't kill your thighs with every jolt of air.
Magnum XL-200 is my all-time favorite coaster! And yes I have been on Apollo's Chariot. Both are great coasters, but I think Magnum had better airtime, and my thighs were completely fine on the ride. I didn't have any problems with the ride. But that's fine; opinions are opinions and I respect them.
Great trip report, I love the pictures of the animals since I didn't see then when I went last year. And great pictures of the roller coasters too!
Favourite Coaster: SkyRush Other Favourites: Storm Chaser, Lightning Run, Blue Streak (CP), Voyage, Alpengeist, Apollo's Chariot, Phoenix, Goliath (SFGAm), Storm Runner, Raptor (CP), and Magnum XL-200
cfc wrote:Great pictures of my home park--thanks! Verbolten is a very good "family" coaster and a good replacement for the Big Bad Wolf.
Thanks for reading, and totally agree about Verbolten! I missed out on Big Bad Wolf, this being my first visit to the park, but from watching a video I'd have a hard time saying it wasn't replaced by a superior ride.
yay101 wrote:Magnum XL-200 is my all-time favorite coaster! And yes I have been on Apollo's Chariot. Both are great coasters, but I think Magnum had better airtime, and my thighs were completely fine on the ride. I didn't have any problems with the ride. But that's fine; opinions are opinions and I respect them.
I'll agree that the second-half air is more intense on Magnum, but in that jolty Arrow way that isn't as smooth as a B&M. I know not everyone has issues with the lap bar, but I have yet to figure out how to ride Magnum in a way that's comfortable. Being rail thin probably doesn't help!
Nice photos, glad you had a great day at the park. The last photo of Pompeii is great! Looking forward to your report from Kings Dominion, which has more intense rides but is nowhere near as nicely themed. It's a trade-off for sure.
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