East coast earthquake shuts theme park attractions

August 23, 2011, 12:30 PM · What's shakin', east coast theme park fans?

(Sorry, but we in California feel it our duty to make fun of people on the east coast when they freak out after a quake. Welcome to our world, kiddos!)

Seriously, today's 5.8 earthquake in Virginia was felt on most of the east coast and has shut down attractions at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion, the theme park closest to the quake's epicenter.

Busch Gardens says it has reopened the slides at Water Country, but we're still awaiting word about ride inspections in the theme park. Neither park reports any injuries at this time, to visitors or employees.

Please post your observations in the comments.

Update, 3:27 pm ET: Kings Dominion just announced "Hurler, Dominator, Flat rides and waterpark have re-opened."

Update, 4:41 pm ET: Everything's back up at Busch Gardens.

Update, 6 pm ET: Kings Dominion says "Most of the rides are back up, only a handful remain."

Replies (11)

August 23, 2011 at 1:15 PM · I know that stationary amusement park rides dont have standards for government inspection, but are the rides built to code for regions, or for the worst possible scenario? Like are coasters in California made to withstand earthquakes, but ones on the east coast not designed for that because the local governments wont expect or check for that? I was planning to go to kings dominion saturday, but it was supposed to rain alot, now there may be earthquakes and nuclear power plant issues in the mix. what kind of inspection is done that allows the rides to reopen so quickly? I would think they would be checking all the nuts and bolts which could take some time. It probably would have been awesome to be on a rollercoaster when the earthquake happened though, or on darkcastle at bge. Has anyone ever been on a rollercoaster during an earthquake?
August 23, 2011 at 1:30 PM · Building codes do vary by community, but even the California parks usually stop operation to check everything out after a quake.
August 23, 2011 at 7:00 PM · Weird, Im in Florida and I didnt feel it. BTW< Ill be at Universal saturday. Thankfully hurricanes will be in the Carolinas by then.
August 23, 2011 at 9:00 PM · Well you have to remember that rides at well managed parks such as Busch Gardens are extensively inspected and tested daily. This includes all support for the rides and all tracks on coasters, etc, so a follow-up inspection for support issues would be rather quick. With major attractions there is so much movement due to the ride movement that some natural sway is built in as well as dealing with winds and other things. So I would say that the parks did right by shutting down and doing inspections on top of their normal inspections.
August 24, 2011 at 7:27 AM · To the first poster:

I wouldn't think you'd feel an earthquake of this magnitude if you were actually RIDING a coaster whan it hit, due to the vibrating shaking and rumbling already present.

Funny how the mind works. Once I heard it was an earthquake (I was eating lunch at Wendy's and felt my booth shaking) my first thought was for a few friends I have in MD and VA. Second was relief that it was not catastrophic. Third was for the people who were at the parks Robert mentioned, as well as Six Flags in Maryland (how'd you miss that one, Robert?) Fourth was for my OTHER friends in those states..the mechanical ones. I'm planning to hit KD and SF in two weeks for my birthday weekend, and I hope Intimidator 305 and Superman were not injured...they're my #1-2 steel coasters!!!

August 24, 2011 at 7:22 PM · I was at KD today, and it looked like everything was up.

One thing though -- Intimidator 305 was running with only one car. Thus, the line was really long (well, for that right, and for a wednesday morning).

Got me wondering if the other car had some sort of problem from the earthquake. Of course, it could just be they didn't have the personnel to run two cars; the lines were getting long enough that I would assume they'd be running the 2nd car if they could.

August 24, 2011 at 8:28 PM · Funney story I WAS LEAVING CONEYISLAND LUNAPARK about 15 minutes before it happend had just gotton off a spin ride and thought it was me still dizzey from the ride but no the nthe car felt like it was about to tip. but anyway I did check no rides in CI were affected everything stayed up and running.
August 25, 2011 at 7:07 AM · Charles, I've rode Intimidator 305 about 25-30 times over two visits, and will again in two weeks. I have never seen two-train operations. I have also never waited more than 20 minutes.

Incidentally, a friend of mine was at the park yesterday too, and told me it was not at all crowded.

August 25, 2011 at 6:36 PM · Interesting. This is my first time I can remember them not having two cars running, one loading while the other is on the track.

And the park was not crowded, just the ride, because at over 2 minutes per train, we had more people coming into the line than riding, so it just kept building up.

In all the other times I've ridden, I've never had to wait more than 3 cars or so except when I waited in the front, where it might be 5 or 6. But Wednesday, by the time we gave up and left the line (after only about 10 minutes, but we had hardly moved and as I said there were still at least 8 groups in front of us), there were easily 10 people in every queue line.

Also, they were calling for single riders to come forward -- that's the first time I can remember them doing so, but obviously they wouldn't bother when there's only a 10-minute max wait anyway.

I wonder when they stopped running two cars. I'm usually on the ride first thing, and as I said they always had two trains running. We were late this time because we were down for processing for our haunt jobs, and didn't make it to the ride until 11am.

August 25, 2011 at 9:35 PM · I guess it's like us freaking out when we get a little "weather." All's fair. But being a California girl growing up with "Sylmar" and "Northridge," we just roll with it.
August 26, 2011 at 2:49 PM · There had to be people on some rides that felt the quake, love to hear from them. And those Cali quake riders should be thankful they don't have to live with the disasters that are hurricanes like we do here in Florida and the east/gulf coast.

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