Six Flags Williamsburg TR

September 25, 2023, 11:31 PM

Going with a two year old I figured BGW would be a great park because of the nice weather this time of year and the fact that they have some great family rides like the Skyride, Rhine River Cruise, and Railroad. I have been to BGW several times in the past those were some of my favorite attractions in the park so I was excited to able to just relax and enjoy a nice fall day.

However, knowing Sea World has a horrible reputation for staggered opening, random rides being closed for budget reasons, and generally poor ops I was also skeptical of those being open so I went to their website to see if it had any info if they would be closed. The website said Rhine River Cruise is only open on weekends (no problem we went on a weekend). It didn’t say anything about Skyride or the Train being closed. Also I figured there was no point calling because I know those people don’t actually work at the park and just look at the website to answer those kind of questions.

So we get to the park and make a few observations:

Yes they do staggered openings and they are even worse than Sea World. There is an A-Frame sign after you enter the park with the posted opening times: Festa Italia, France, New France, Germany, and Octoberfest ALL open 15-30 minutes after the scheduled park opening time. So basically at the parks advertised opening time the only areas that are open are the areas that don’t have any of the big or new rides.

WTF Busch Gardens. Seriously, you charge $30 to park, however much to get in, and you are trying to chintz out on 15-30 minutes of operating time?? Just open the park 30 minutes later and don’t false advertise when you open. I know this seems like a minor annoyance, but so many people get there for the opening and then just walk around for another 15-30 minutes waiting for the rides to open its like a slap in the face. This is seriously Mt Olympus level BS. We went to the park two days and they did this both days.

That’s not where it ends. So the website didn’t say anything about Skyride being closed, however it was down all day with the cars put away and no staff anywhere in sight. One of the entrances had a sign that said “this ride is closed today” and the other two entrances had signs that said “this ride is closed due to the weather.” It was 70 degrees with no wind whatsoever.

Remember the website that said Rhine River Cruise is open “weekends only.” Well we went on a weekend and there was a sign out front of the ride saying it would be operating from 12-6.
…yet it sat closed with no staff and no sign of activity all day. With the sign out front saying it was open from 12-6. I wouldn’t even expect this at Mt Olympus.

So we get in the Scotland station for the train. Over the next 20 minutes or so more and more people start to fill in and wait for the train. There is a ride op standing there in the station who appears to be waiting for the train to come in so no one really questions anything. After about 30 minutes the station is packed and everyone is wondering where the train is, so someone goes up to the ride op and asks. She says “oh the trains not running yet.” And of course the next question: “so when will it be?” And her answer: “Oh I’m not sure.”

Wow. Here I am, drove all the way to Virigina with a two year old and 0/3 of the best family rides in the park. And A+ to that employee for just standing there next to the train track letting people file in while the rides not actually running and not saying anything to anybody.

So we walk around a bit and figure maybe we’ll try out the treat trail. So we get over there and there is an A-Frame in front of it that says “The treat trail is closed for weather and will re-open Sunday.” It is Sunday. There is no sign or employee anywhere that says what time the trail actually opens.

Went to Land of the Dragons…2/3 of the rides in that land are closed. Well at least we got on one ride.

Eventually the train did open so we got on that. But in all seriousness this park is a Six Flags Park. Yes it has a great collection of big coasters, but that’s all it has (that are actually operating). It has some great family rides but they apparently are not fond of operating them…so why go there with a family? Yes they did have the Sesame Street area with some hastily put together Halloween stuff (which was fine but nothing you can’t do at a SF park...and TBH the Sesame Street Halloween show was atrocious and there were many people in the crowd were complaining. They didn't even get the audio levels right as one side of the stage was blasting and people had to cover their ears). The treat trail did open eventually…but overall I left with a sour taste in my mouth.

Also I want to add that much like SF Parks the place has a very "this place probably used to be awesome" vibe when walking around because there are A-Frame signs everywhere trying to advertise and sell you things, and it looks like they recently re-painted stuff but did a horrible job. Like the Germany/Octoberfest areas all the buildings were repainted but the colors make no sense. Looks more like Mexico than looks ridiculous.

BGW is one of those parks I want to really like but I left with a sour taste in my mouth. Will I go back anytime soon? I would go if my friends wanted to go and ride coasters. I will admit they do have an excellent collection (I went on Friday night and rode the coasters as the rain held off long enough to the point where I could get on all of them multiple times). Will I travel back there with my family? Hell no.

Replies (5)

September 26, 2023, 10:55 AM

BGW has been doing staggered land openings for at least 2 decades - in fact, I even recall an old Discovery Channel show back in the day where a park official was interviewed about it and the program noted that it was ingenious because there was no reason to staff and open lands/attractions at the back of the park when the gates open. I will say that BGW could do a better job communicating the staggered opening system that they use, but what they do is not new or underknown to most guests who frequent the park.

It is a shame that a number of the attractions you were looking to experience were closed or inconsistently operated, and you're absolutely right that staffing and communication about these lesser attractions are substandard. I don't necessarily get the Six Flags vibe from this park, yet, but standards have definitely slipped over the past few years primarily due to budget cuts and more of an emphasis on thrills over story/theming.

September 26, 2023, 11:31 AM

If they have been doing that for decades that is a BGW exclusive, i've been to all the major parks in the world and never seen a park schedule every single popular ride to open 15-30 minutes after park opening time. Literally the only coaster open at park opening time is Loch Ness Monster and the only major flat ride is Finnegans Flyers, and who goes to the park at opening to go on those? When the park opens people want to go to Pantheon (Festa Italia scheduled to open 15 minutes after opening) and Darkoaster (Oktoberfest scheduled to open 30 minutes after opening).

September 26, 2023, 1:00 PM

Now that I got the rant out of the way here's how I rank the coasters based off how much I like them:

1. Alpengeist
Outstanding coaster. Despite the turn into the brake run, which is a bit jarring, this is still my favorite invert in the world. Love the clever theming not only in the queue but also on the trains, and its perfectly built into the surrounding area to maximize "curb appeal." Built perfectly into that little German/Scandanvian village. Also leverages the terrain really well with the massive drop into the ravine. And it's one of the last intense old school power B&M loopers. Obviously this coaster is pretty old now but is still holds up as an elite coaster.

2. Verbolten
I think this ride got a lot of flak when it opened for no reason other than it replacing a fan favorite, but it stands up as a fine replacement. This is about as good as a family coaster you will get outside of the Disney Parks. Good queue and station, good indoor section, and the outdoor portion uses the terrain well.

3. Apollo's Chariot
The first B&M hyper to ever open (built at the same time as Raging Bull but opened earlier because the park is further south), and one of the weaker ones, but I love B&M hypers. There's just something about the comfortable seats, smooth ride, easy loading/good capacity, and no drama. This is definitely more of a graceful hyper than the powerhouses (Shambahla and Goliath at SFOG, my two favorite B&M hypers), but I enjoy the graceful ones as well. It makes good use of the trees and lakes and is overall just very pleasant while also being thrilling. Also the color scheme and placement of the ride are perfect, it looks bad a** as you drive in.

4. Pantheon
This ride is perfectly adequate but the whole twisty multi lauch coaster thing is just getting overdone for me. Comes across as very "value engineered" as there is literally nothing there other than track over grass and a toothpick station with a roof. My initial reactions were very similar to Scream at SFMM when it opened. "Yep, they built the coaster and spent absolutely no money on anything else." Layout didn't do much for me.

5. Invadr
I remember going on this when it first opened and being pleasantly surprised with how good it was because I was expecting a slow, short, family coaster. Years have passed and I totally forgot what the ride was built for so I came in this time expecting it to be better than it was. Oh well.

6. Griffon
It's a dive coaster. Its built into the France area pretty well and much like Alpengeist has good "curb appeal" (though not on that level). As far as dive coasters go it's one of the better ones.

7. Loch Ness Monster
Obviously this coaster is legendary, and as much as I love my old Arrow's for whatever reason Loch Ness Monster never really did anything for me. As far as chintzy old Arrow's go there are several I can think of that I like better (though to be fair many of them opened years after LNM). Really no elements here other than two loops and some uncomfortable helixes. No doubt it looks really cool though. I do enjoy getting on it once.

8. Darkoaster
I assume they removed the dark ride to replace it with something that would be cheaper to maintain/operate, and I guess they succeeded with that, but yea this ride sucks. When it was first announced I was expecting it to be bad, but for whatever reason all the youtube coaster enthusiasts loved it and said it was better than they thought it would be. Well maybe they just wanted to stay on the media list and liked the fact that they got free food because this was a piss poor attempt at an indoor family themed coaster. Why on earth would you built an extremely low capacity 48" height requirement coaster in this scenario I don't know. I guess the coaster isn't "bad," like you can still ride it and have fun, but they market it as a major headlining attraction (which indoor family coasters certainly can be), but this one is not. I feel like all the marketing hype sets up the GP for a disappointment.

9. Tempesto
Didn't ride it, I have been on I think 3 or 4 of these in the past and don't like them.

September 26, 2023, 3:08 PM

@the_man3 - I don't see how that's dramatically different than what Disney does when they allow guests past the front gates of their parks, but don't let them filter into individual lands until those areas are ready, though Disney typically opens front gates BEFORE the posted opening time and will even occasionally drop the ropes ahead of the official time (why you should always show up to a Disney park 30-45 minutes ahead of the posted opening time). At least BGW lets you ride a few things while you're waiting for the ropes to drop, but I do agree that they should do a better job of communicating this to guests (BGT does this too, but not to the same extreme as BGW).

I would note that some of the on-ride theming on Verbotlen has been removed since its debut, namely the roof and wooden bridge theming prior to the final drop, which was damaged in a storm a few years ago, and the large fabric art at the center of the main helix inside the building.

I think a lot of coaster fans and insider have cut BGW a lot of slack with DarKoaster. To be honest, they fit quite a bit of ride inside what is a pretty small building by indoor coaster standards (I believe the roof is less than 40'). Personally, I think they could have gotten rid of the silly straddle coaster gimmick and gone with standard trains to improve throughput, but I do anticipate by next year, lines will be pretty manageable for this coaster. I do think the indoor setting and darkness enhance the experience on the coaster, and if this same layout were outside, it would be a total bore, even for kids. I don't feel that they've over-marketed the coaster - it's new, so is obviously going to headline the park's campaigns, particularly when Kings Dominion didn't add anything this year. I would anticipate that the park will put the same level of publicity into next year's "new" attraction, which is the revamped Loch Ness Monster (getting a full retrack and new effects).

September 29, 2023, 11:47 AM

I have not been to Hersheypark since the new entrance was built, but going there my entire life, the park always opened at 10:00 AM and ride operations began at 10:30. There were a handful of flat rides that ran near the entrance...but all the good stuff started 30 minutes later.

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