Larry Giles, Engineering Vice President, explained the concept as the greatest trick by one of the best Italian daredevil pilots. The Sky Rocket II model coaster from Premier Rides is expected to be one of the most intense, exhilarating rides in the park due to its speed and compact layout, as noted by Park President Carl Lum. The turquoise blue track and orange supports were erected in just a couple of months with the final piece bolted into place in late January. The ride has an anticipated debut on April 25, 2015. During our behind-the-scenes look at the coaster, they were already performing preliminary testing on the train and launch systems. Ride engineers noted that they had not yet done a full circuit launch, but they expected to do so very soon with load testing to begin in the next couple of weeks.
Tempesto is a linear synchronous motor (LSM) shuttle coaster that will launch the train forward up a twisting track. Once the forward momentum is gone, the train will roll backwards and be accelerated through the LSM launch until it again stalls. Finally, the train will be given one final boost of acceleration through the LSM launch at speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour so it can reach the top of the track. Once at the top, the train will slowly roll through one of the highest inversions in the world, 154 feet above the ground. After the roll, the train will be slowed by a set of magnetic brakes before gravity pulls riders down a 90-degree drop, through a non-inverting loop, back through the station, partly up the first twisting spike, and backwards into the station. Guests will be secured with a lap bar with integrated leg restraints (shin pads) and soft, padded over-the-shoulder belts that will buckle independently to the lap bar. The anticipated ride time is expected to be about 55 seconds, and with a maximum of 18 riders per cycle, the park predicts that the ride will be able to thrill at most about 700 guests per hour.
For an attraction that expects to draw a crowd, that capacity is going to be an issue, and the park has already done what they can to make the ride as efficient as possible. The other versions of this coaster design — Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Sky Scream at Holiday Park in Germany — have just 12-person trains, so Busch Gardens has increased the capacity of the design by 50% by using 18-person trains. Also, the park expects to have extra staff in the station to expedite the loading and unloading process to keep the coaster running at peak efficiency. However, even with those considerations, I would expect significant waits for this ride, and the park has already noted that Tempesto will open with no single-rider line, and with no Quick Queue (the park’s upcharge line avoidance system) available for purchase. However, they will be offering front of the line passes as prizes for a Plinko-style game administered just outside the ride entrance, which is a strategy introduced by Cedar Fair for their most popular attractions.
Tempesto is a roller coaster, and is being billed as such by the park, but I look at it more as a flat ride. The speed at which the line is likely to move will be more like a very popular flat ride than your average roller coaster, particularly compared to Busch Gardens' other coasters that all have high capacities. Additionally, the location of Tempesto in Festa Italia, literally in the shadow of Apollo’s Chariot, and its compact footprint contribute to the flat ride feel. When rumors started flying about this new attraction, there was a lot of criticism of the park adding a coaster with such a low capacity. However, with a 54-inch height restriction and intense elements, it’s likely a good number of typical Busch Gardens Williamsburg guests will probably not be interested in experiencing the thrill ride. Only time will tell – whether the park sees two hour waits and repeat riders, or if the capacity issues and extreme elements chase potential riders away. If nothing else, the park has added something that I feel that it lacks - more intense, thrilling flat rides to spread guests around the park. With mostly smaller flat rides and the towering Apollo’s Chariot nearby, Tempesto represents a good alternative for those wanting to test their mettle. It’s just a question of how long the lines will get and how long they will be willing to wait.
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AJ - The park noted that they expected to get closer to 500 guests per hour, and that the 700 number was more of a theoretical maximum. However, I disagree that this is a "major coaster". It is dwarfed by every other coaster in the park except for Grover's Alpine Express.
Court - In general, I have found that launched coasters from Premier do not have very intense launches, especially when compared to Intamin (both their LSM and hydraulic launches). I don't think this coaster is about the launch as much as it is that slow roll element at the top. A lot of coaster aficionados are already complaining that the OTSRs on Tempesto (the other installations of the Sky Rocket II are just lap bars) will further degrade an already "meh" experience.
Again, we'll have to wait and see, but I do think the park recognizes that this should not be considered a "big" addition to the park. The fact that they waited until the first day of the season, and less than 6 weeks before they plan to open, to announce it should say that they don't want to get people too excited about it. Much like the "Giant Loops" that Six Flags is adding to many of its parks this season (which aren't even technically roller coasters - they don't actually "coast"), Tempesto should be viewed as a flat ride like Mach Tower, Falcon's Fury, a Huss Giant Frisbie, or a Top Spin. However, I think Tempesto is satisfying a need in the park of newer, more intense flat rides to give thrill seekers something to do between the coasters. If you look at it, aside from Mach Tower, all of the other true flat rides in the park are all over 2 decades old and more geared towards families (Catapult, Tradewind, Turkish Delight, Battering Ram, Flying Machine, Davinci's Cradle, Das Wirbelwind, and the Kinder Carousel), and are all pretty tame by modern standards. Tempesto represents the park trying to give guests who want something more intense without having to build something really big, take up a lot of space in the park, or remove an existing attraction (only the rarely open Splashus Maximus water balloon battle area was lost to build Tempesto).
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Did they mention that they would be assigning rows in classic Disney fashion to keep things efficient? Seems to me that assigning rows is the only way to ensure every seat is filled on every train if they are not offering a single rider line.