Pass Member Preview Day at Busch Gardens Williamsburg: Green Beer and Verbolten
Written by Tom Rigg
Yesterday I helped officially open the theme park season in Virginia by attending Pass Member Preview Day at my home park, Busch Gardens Williamsburg. A lot of smaller projects has taken place over the winter break. From new bathroom layouts, to a new stage and show in the Festhaus, the park looked wonderful. But all of that detail is for another discussion.Tweet
Pass member preview day also happened to be Saint Patrick's Day. As Busch Gardens Williamsburg has a European theme, the Ireland area of the park was buzzing with revelry. There was a DJ mixing up some traditional Irish music with top 40 hits, meet and greets with Leprechauns, and green beer!
The other big buzz at the park was about the nearly completed Verbolten. Built on the hollowed grounds of the late Big Bad Wolf, this coaster has really taken shape over the past few months. Most of the work remaining appears to be cosmetic. An attendant stationed in front of the entrance said that they hoped was an early May opening, but I don't know the validity of that date as Busch Gardens has often opened new attractions on Memorial Day Weekend.
While we wait for it to open, how about a tour of the work so far? First, there appear to be two signs for the ride. One on a pole that is comprised of the previously released logo design, and another that builds on the roadway theme by having the attraction name covering a road sign.
The queue for the attraction is housed in the same area that held the Big Bad Wolf queue. It looks as though the attraction designers have taken a page from the Disney playbook and are building a story with the queue. A display board out front explained that the queue is meant to be the office of a touring agency that is providing guests with vintage roadsters to enjoy the German countryside. Leaving the office, you enter into what was the Big Bad Wolf loading house. It serves the same purpose for Verbotlen, but it is now themed as a garage for the agency.
The attendant in front of the attraction also stated that there are 6 trains (I could only see 4) and they had the ability to run 3 at a time. Each train is fashioned after a different type of vintage sports car. The cars are fairly open with only lap restraints. One interesting aspect can't be seen in the photo below, but there seemed to be a clear plastic shield attached to the lap bar arm that covered the riders legs below the knee.
After leaving the station riders will cruise through the woods before entering what appears to be an abandoned tunnel. This tunnel contains the first launch which will take the train into the show building. The tunnel facade can bee seen int he background of the picture below. Concept are on display boards out front show trees framing the entrance to the tunnel which would explain the abrupt end to the facade.
Once inside the show building riders will experience a helix meant to cause lateral Gs, heavy themeing and lighting, and a drop track (the first in the U.S.)
After the drop track the train will enter the second launch which will take riders to the top of a derelict covered bridge and then plummeting to the river below followed by an "S" curve back to the station. The river drop and "S" curve bring back two of the signature portions of the Big Bad Wolf experience.
Over all there seems to be a great deal of excitement surrounding Verbolten. With no inversions, an 88' max drop, and only 2835' of track, it will have to depend heavily on its unique themeing and ride elements to bring the thrills. And from the look of things so far, it seems it will.
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