After we left Kings Dominion we stopped somewhere for some hotel snacks and headed to a different hotel very close to the park, the Comfort Inn in Ruther Glen. You may recall my horror at staying at the Ruther Glen Econo Lodge earlier this year, but thankfully we experienced none of that horsesh*t this time around, the hotel was fine. Yesterday we took advantage of the hotels' average but edible continental breakfast, but today we were taking advantage of the Waffle House just thirty yards from our hotel entrance.
No trip to Virginia (or anywhere in the South, really) is complete without breakfast at Waffle House.
God I love this place. This all cost like six dollars or some sh*t. And it was wonderful. Not pictured: bacon.
We actually got off to a late start today. After such a long, full Saturday we agreed to sleep in a little on Sunday. We had about an hour drive down to Williamsburg and got to the park about half hour after opening.
Dawn had been to Busch Gardens a few times as a kid in the 80s and was particularly fond of Big Bad Wolf. I did my best to assure her that Verbolten (dark section and all) was a worthy replacement.
The plan for today was just to take it easy - no marathons, just a lap of the park, some hangs at the Festhaus, check out some animals. Just relax and enjoy the place. And that's basically just what we did.
If you're familiar with BGW you know that they open the park in stages, so we took a right into Ireland which would lead us back to where we knew some attractions were already up and running.
As huge fans of Screamin' Swings, we heavily co-sign this years' sure-to-be fantastic addition!
Our first stop was originally going to the coasters back in France, but we got sidetracked by the parks' 2018 addition, the virtual reality experience Battle For Eire. Full disclosure: I had absolutely no interest in this "ride" but was outnumbered 3-1. And while I was further disheartened by the greeter informing us the wait was "about 20 minutes", through the entrance we continued.
Yeah, I know. We look totally ridiculous. Spoiler alert:
So basically after winding through a lengthy queue, you put on these uncomfortable-and-for-some-reason-wet headsets before you're eventually shuffled into a theater where you put on a seatbelt and magnetically connect a sort-of viewfinder that the park refers to as an "emerald lens" to your uncomfortable-and-for-some-reason-wet headset, before the cast members repeatedly rattle off a checklist and safety schpeil, after which the lights finally dim and the "movie" starts.
You're basically tasked with helping some fairy nymph thing snatch back some special crystal and to do so you climb on the back of some CGI dragon and then then whole theater moves around and its all 3D craziness and you get motion sickness and your headset - I'm sorry, "emerald lens" - is leaking some weird cleaning fluid down your face and just when it all starts getting good the whole thing ends rather abruptly and anti-climatically. Meh.
Oh and I got some weird rash on my face immediately after the ride that got worse in the days after this. So yeah, good times. Is it too early to start drinking?
Trick question: its definitely not because there's no such thing.
Did you know this park has a bunch of f*cking eagles? America F*ck Yeah!!!1!!!!!
They seem to go all out with the seasonal decor. I've still never been to this park at night.
I've heard it's really dark, and given how wooded the park is, I'm sure it's terrifying during Howl-O-Scream.
Due to the staggered openings of some areas, we only had a few options as far as rides that were open first thing in the morning: a zippy little GCI or a massive B&M dive machine. You may recall when down at BGT a few years ago Dawn rode and loved Sheikra. Still, I was hesitant she'd agree to do a 20-story, 90-degree drop this early, but much to my surprise she was game!
I've only ridden these two Busch dive coasters and think they're both fantastic, but I give Griffon the edge. While I don't notice the difference in height, and the first half of both rides are extremely similar, but the end of Griffon is far superior - another inversion, the splashdown and some airtime. Sure, Sheikra drops into a tunnel, but then all it does is turn into and out of the splashdown. And imo, Griffons' second dive down into the ravine rivals the tunnel drop on Sheikra.
I'm also just a sucker for a blue paint job.
Griffon, like Sheikra, was a hit, and we kept the wheels rolling with a quick lap on the nearby InvadR. I'm not sure why I never get any good photos of this fun little woodie, but what an entrance portal. We all think this ride is fantastic as well, Dawn included. It seems to get a lot of ho-hum reviews, but I find it to be perfectly enjoyable. It's never gonna shatter anyone's top 10, but it provides loads of airtime, plenty of laterals, and the layout is all over the place.
I legit wonder if folks with severe arachnophobia could even come into any
park during October.
OK people this is the moment I'd been waiting for on this crisp October Sunday. I love this ride. Montu & Alpengiest have battled for supremacy of my favorite B&M inverts, but after an astonishing front row ride in the cold during our opening weekend visit earlier in the season, Virginias' marvelous Ghost of The Alps hastily snatched that title.
I love every B&M invert I ride, but Alpengeist just has it all - height, speed, the gorgeous setting in the tree-covered valley. It's an incredibly smooth ride with forces that run the gamut from floating to snappy. Not to mention my favorite aspect of the ride: the endless barrage of foot-choppers & near-misses in the form of trees, supports, buildings, bridges, tunnels. Coming right at you, one after another after another. Non-stop action.
To the surprise of absolutely no one we waited a few extra trains for the front and were treated to a spectacular ride through the deep Williamsburg forest.
With three excellent rides under our belts and stomachs rumbling we decided we should stop and have ourselves some delectable pretzels from the shop across from Mach Tower. From here we could also point and laugh at the parks biggest (maintenance) nightmare. Naturally, we also enjoyed an adult beverage. As usual the pretzels were excellent. The SW parks don't f*ck around with their pretzels.
We also did some window shopping in Germany. I always enjoy the shop that has all the knick-knacks and the big Christmas room (totally forgetting the name). My mother collects nut crackers so every time I'm here I send her pics/video.
I feel like we rode something after this but my photos seem to tell a different story.
One that involved more drinking.
This is the best greatest bar in a park everywhere anywhere of all time.
Seriously. What a selection. I can usually find something other than swill at just about every park that serves booze but wtf. This right here
makes me want to move to VA to have BGW as my home park.
You can't come to the craft beer bar at BGW and not get a flight. There's just too much to sample here.
Yeah that's a charcuterie board. We fancy.
We may or may not have stumbled back out into the sunshine with to-gos from the craft beer bar, and we were now on a mission to brave the black forest.
Verbolten had a decent wait, probably a little over 45 minutes but since this is Busch Gardens you can bring your beers in line with you.
And there is plenty of great theming to look at while you wait.
Who is controlling the weed and where can I find them?
"Cheers! Wish you were here!
Theming - it's everywhere. Since we waited so long we waited the extra few minutes for front row.
This ride is excellent and one of my favorites in the park.
While I did warn Dawn that this ride has an indoor section, I didn't really go into details.
So you can imagine her horror when we turned the first corner and launched into almost complete blackness.
She also kinda knew about the drop track but still seemed surprised when it happened.
All in all she liked it and agreed it was a worthy replacement for Big Bad Wolf. Said it was better than Alpengeist but that's crazy talk.
I'm not sure why this photo cracks me up so much but it does.
Feeling great we made our way into Festa Italia...
Where we agreed to split into two groups. The girls went off to shop around the front of the park and met up with their good friend Aiden the Clydesdale...
While Bill and I went to get some back row action on the wonderful Apollos Chariot.
While we both love Angry Pasta Coaster, its line was a little longer than we wanted to wait, but still fun to watch. Apollo also had the longest queue I've experienced yet, stretching down and around the little bridge under the lift, but these hypers are people eaters and we were seated in the back row in less than 10 minutes.
Each time I ride Apollo I appreciate it more. Not only is that pop of air off the drop in the back row absolutely extraordinary, I've really developed an appreciation for the setting overall. And that last drop before the final brake is a great way to end a coaster... and a really great weekend.
It's always a bummer to leave Busch. It seems we always visit on Sundays and not only is it 5 hours back to Philly, Bill and Brit have another 3 hours to drive after that. I don't know how Bill does all this driving to parks all the time, but he claims to love it.
Such a beautiful park. The midways & queues filling up by this point made it a little easier to say goodbye. Oh and I forgot to mention this: the SkyRide had been down all day. We didn't really need it, since we just kinda did one big lap of the park.
But I don't think I've ever seen Bill so conflicted about something when we saw them fire it up just as we were walking out. If only I had a photo of the look on his face...
Some serious skulls you got, BGW.
This is when you know the fun has really ended.
Au revoir & Auf wiedersehen, BGW!
Apollo & Angry Pasta waved goodbye as we exited.
There was absolutely no way we were making it all the way home without some coffee and/or hoagies. #teamwawa
Such a great day of cocktails and coasters in one of the best parks on earth.
Even better that we didn't ride any crappy old Arrows.
Thanks for reading, everyone!
Battle For Eire
Apollos Charioton deck: Six Flags Great Adventures' Holiday In The Park!!!