Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a park I always liked, but always seemed to go only in the beginning or end of the season, when the trees are all dead, there are few flowers, and its usually bitter cold. With the aid of my Platinum pass and the slight convincing of my fellow Coaster Team members Dorney Dude, Dorneyette, FlyerACE, and SuperEllen, we made a full weekend out of it. We would have included a few hours at PKD, but they were closed for the whole weekend for a buyout. We decided it was a great idea to stay at the newly built Great Wolf Lodge, so that even if it was rainy and miserably cold, we could at least enjoy the indoor waterpark. Well we did do the waterpark, but the weather wasn’t anywhere near cold or rainy.
Fridays after school starts back up is usually a great time to go, and this was no exception. We arrived at Busch shortly after 12 and after getting their Silver passes, we made our way in. We noticed immediately that the theming for Howl O Scream is everywhere and is pretty good. Lots of skeletons randomly chill out during the day. Our first stop was Apollo’s Chariot. We managed to walk right on and sit in the second to back row for 2 consecutive rides. We could have ridden more, but Adam and Ellen rode in the front and didn’t have the chance to stay on. Apollo was running just as good as it always does, offering great drops, floating air, and only a little slowing on the midcourse. I like it a lot better than the Morgan or Arrow Hypers. The ride is very well cared for, with no marks or chunks taken out of the restraints like at Six Flags.
After Apollo we were getting hungry and we decided to make our way to the Festhaus for some German Samplers. On the way though we decided to stop to ride the new Curse of Darkastle. It was a walk on, and so we waited only through the preshow. Soon we were in our sleigh touring the old castle. It is a terrific dark ride, on the same caliber as Spiderman and 1000 times better than Dinosaur (here you can actually see stuff!) While it lacks fireballs and all the “4D” stuff that Spiderman offers, the 3D here is really good and the story is fitting. We all enjoyed it.
Then it was on to das Festhaus for some food. On the way in we were talked into coming back to the Brewmasters Room later on. After stuffing our faces with potatoes, sausages, kraut, bread, and pumpkin cheesecake, we rolled out towards Alpengeist. We did a double ride in the backseat (yeah, it was that empty) which was running very well, but then again, compared to Silver Bullet or Hydra, lots of older B&Ms seem forceful. Luckily there was no eagle trying to build a nest on the lift like last time I rode. We then headed over to Big Bad Wolf for a ride towards the back. Afterwards we rode in the front before heading back to the Brewmasters Room.
The Brewmasters Room is something new that Busch started. Its kind of like a replacement to the Hospitality House. Sort of like Beer School, but not as long. Basically you’re taken to a backroom of the Festhaus where you get to sit in a group of 4 to 6. You get 4 different cards with selections of beer on them. I chose the Progressive Tasting and ended up with Bud Lite, Budweiser, Budweiser Select, Amber Bock, and Bare Knuckle Stoudt. They also give you different snacks to have with the beers, such as crackers, strawberries, grapes, cheese, and chocolate. If it hadn’t been free, we probably would not have done it, as none of the beers even remotely were within our tastes.
After 20 minutes in the air conditioned Brewmasters Room, we went back into the park, stopping off for another Darkastle ride followed by some Loch Ness Monster, neither of which had a line. Afterwards we headed over to Corkscrew Hill, which wasn’t as bad as my friends led me to believe. While Ellen and I shrunk down to wee person size, the rest of the gang had some infused draughts at Grogans Pub. Weak beer and tropical additives makes for a very disgusting drink. Its like drinking 12oz of Robitussin. We then rode the antique cars, which was getting a line because they were only running one track out of three. It was after 5, so lots of passholders were coming in after work. We decided to ride Alpengeist again, this time in the front seat, did Darkastle again, and then headed to Italy for some food.
Howl O-Scream was just starting, but it was still very light out, and still scorching hot. We decided to start off with the Curse of Pompeii because we knew it was indoors. The coaster geek in me was very excited to go into the actual ride building, beneath all the action. Sadly, you couldn’t see anything from above, and the ride was shut down, so there were no effects. The maze was really cool though, with a sort of Indiana Jones type theme. From hanging snakes to skeletons to shooting spear chambers, this maze had it all. It was probably my favorite maze of the night.
Next we did Sea Dog Cemetery, located where the petting zoo normally is. It was still slightly light outside, so it wasn’t as scary as it could have been. The thing was loaded with actors though. Some would try to scare you, others would know you could see them so they’d just blurt out something. One chick yelled “Chicken! I need Chicken!” so I asked her “Extra crispy or original recipe?” “Original recipe” she replied. Towards the end was a giant dude who was somewhat resembling Sloth from Goonies, only dressed as a pirate. As I looked at him, he asked “what’re you looking at?” “You, my friend” was my reply to which he retorted “I ain’t yer friend”. Quickly I batted back with “well, then I ain’t looking at you!” Despite the sunlight, the maze was still fun.
While we waited for it to get dark, we decided to ride Apollo’s Chariot again. The line was just inside the station, and about 15 minutes later we were off on a night ride in the backrow. Amazing how it got dark so fast. We then went back to what promised to be the scariest maze of the event, Sleepless Hollow Manor. It was a heartbreaking walk, as the maze was in Drachen Fire’s old station and you actually had to walk the whole DF path to get to it. Funny, no one seemed to have problems finding the maze, even though the sign was only written on a 2X4. The maze was done up nicely to resemble an old house. Bedrooms, dining rooms, kitchen, a garden all were present, as was the Headless Horseman and several hidden chambers for people to scare you. It was fairly long too.
With the best out of the way, we decided to take the train, which in my opinion was boring. I sat on the far side and was as far away from the “action” as I could be, not that there was much action other than like 4 actors on the whole thing. It was very ho hum, and the funniest part was that the narrator, Jack, talked the whole time in some awful Irish accent. Then at the end he tells you “by the way, I’m back!” in case you didn’t already figure that out from his 20 minute dissertation throughout the entire ride.
We then took the long way over to the entrance, going by the Bird Gardens and Wildlife area. This was one of the only scare zones in the park and it was pretty good. While the main theme was werewolves, I was got by a bushman. It was pretty good. Arriving back at Sea Dog’s Cemetery we decided to go for it again since it was dark. It was pretty much the same as before, probably because we knew the layout. The chicken girl asked for chicken again and I said “that poor pirate girl, would someone please get her some chicken.” Who knows, I could have gotten lucky with a chicken loving pirate chick that night.
Finishing off the night, we did Last Laugh Inc. over near Apollo. Its located in the area where the rapids usually are, but are closed for the season. It wasn’t long of a wait, and one of the clowns at the beginning chased Ellen with a chainsaw, so Adam was happy. The maze was done up like a toxic circus warehouse sort of theme, with giant barrels of “sludge” as well as those bouncy things you sit on, skeletons, evil clowns, hanging chickens, roaches, and body bags. It was pretty decent, although very hot inside. All mazes complete, we decided to head back to the hotel, as we were all worn out from the heat and all were desperate for real beer.
On Saturday we decided to spend the morning at the Great Wolf Lodge and its waterpark. It was a great decision. While it wasn’t 90+ degrees outside, it was still fairly warm. We hit all the waterpark had to offer: 2 tube slides, lily pad pool, activity pool, tipping bucket funland, wave pool, hot tub, and family raft ride. It was even hot enough that they cleaned and opened the outside pool. We all proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were as white as can be by making about 4 out of 600 baskets in the water basketball court. The rest of the balls either fell short or ended up outside of the pool. I love these indoor waterparks, they are a nice temperature both water and air, don’t require sunscreen, and aren’t crowded at all. The longest waits we had were about 10 minutes for the family raft.
We’d return on Saturday evening to find the park extremely packed like a Saturday in August. We only spent like 2 hours there, only doing Big Bad Wolf, Loch Ness Monster, and Haunted Lighthouse. All the coasters were running 3 trains that night, but we were spoiled and so a 20 minute wait for the old Arrows was all we could handle. We then called it a night and retreated to Sonic for food, and then the Great Wolf Lodge for some more waterpark fun. The best part was that the tube slide and family slide that leave the building are pitch black at night and you cannot see anything in front of you until you return to the building. Awesome stuff!
Sunday was more what we were used to for a weekend in September, people in the park, but the lines for the coasters only filling the station. Darkastle had about a 45 minute wait, so we skipped it, but managed to ride each of the coasters, return to the Festhaus for some food, and then headed home. Traffic was no problem, and I was home in less than 5 hours.
A shot never before seen! Big Bad Wolf's drop over the Rhine River!!
OMG I'm in heaven! 2 vertical loops interlocking!!! Its like a dream
Darkastle had no wait. If I had to wait 3 hours for this (or any other ride) I would have probably hated it
Alpengeist does its first drop thing. Somewhere the is still an eagle P.O.ed at Robb, Elissa, and I for killing its home
Hey look at me, I'm like the world's biggest Immelmann, gimme some candy
Derek's ultimate fountain: naked chick, UF gator, and a turtle (not pictured). They may even use this water to make AB beer
The secret entrance to the Brewmasters Room, located in das Festhaus
Here's my Progressive Tasting sampler. They did not have a website showing me leading competitors prices though
Adam and Ellen are happy to get free beer
Tom is less than thrilled to be drinking Busch beer but Leann is happy because there is free cheese and chocolate
Something you may never see again, Tom smiling while holding a Bud Lite
No wonder Supercrack ditched us for Hershey, he apparently lives at Busch!
So Elissa, would you rather do Robb or Gregg?
One of the weirdest 3-D shows ever had the rest of the Team skipping out for some Busch beer. THAT is saying something!
Here's some eagles, chilling out. I think thats T.O. talking to McNabb about Sunday's performance
Obligatory B&M vertical loop photo
Tom trades in his RSX Type S for some good ole German engineering
Does anyone know when BGW's season starts usually? We hope to be going there next April.
BGW usually opens like the 2nd to last weekend in March on a weekends basis. They're also randomly opened for a full week during Spring Break in Virginia, but I have no idea when that is. Not sure if it revolves around Easter or not, but I think this year it was like the first full week of April. If you go that early, prepare for such random things as snow, sleet, freezing rain, wind chill factor, "below zero", and other things most Floridians never see or hear of.
I'm glad to hear you had a good time at the park. I, personally, am not a fan of DarKastle. No, I didn't wait 3 hours, I waited 10 minutes. I found the story lacking. It was well done until we were "lifted" up. The simulated fall made me wonder "Did we fall?"
I've yet to do the mazes, since I'm working Howl-O-Scream myself. Sadly, you didn't get me! I stand right infront of the ACEr Pumpkin for photos!
Nice job, Derek. I actually did wait three hours for DarKastle on opening day. Why? Because I'm nuts, that's why! I did have a very nice chat in line with this couple from Florida, one of whom was one of the artists who submitted designs for DarKastle's interior. Her boyfriend kept covering his ears when she mentioned her work, because he didn't want the ride "spoiled" for him. It was hilarious when when we got to the loading area and she pointed to the leaded windows behind the "golden sleighs" and shouted, "That's mine! It made it in!" (Not sure if her other work became part of the ride, though.)
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