Loch Ness Monster celebrates 40 years at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

June 4, 2018, 5:35 PM · Happy 40th birthday to one of the more important coasters in my life — Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Loch Ness Monster.

The Virginia park is celebrating Nessie's birthday this week with a five-day festival, starting Wednesday. The park is offering $40 one-day tickets, 40 percent discounts on Nessie merchandise, and 40-cent popcorn next to the ride's entrance, as well as drink specials at Das Festhaus and a special interlocking double-loop pretzel in Oktoberfest, honoring Nessie's most most iconic track element.

This Arrow Dynamic custom looping coaster by Ron Toomer was the world's tallest and fastest when it opened in 1978, not to mention boasting that world-first interlocking loop combination. At 130 feet and 60 mph, Nessie doesn't come close to setting any records today, but it remains a beloved coaster that has thrilled generations of fans.

How long as Nessie been around? It was the first "upside down" roller coaster I ever rode, way back in its early days. Then, a generation later, it became the first inverting coaster my daughter ever rode, too.

Living on the west coast, I haven't had the opportunity to ride Nessie in a while. Our last visit was on one of our epic, cross-country summer roadtrips — the one where Natalie first started riding upside down coasters. (And then bagged what was then all six of Busch Gardens Williamsburg's coasters on the same day. She's a quick learner!) But Busch Gardens says that it has made several improvements to the coaster since then, including "waking up the cave" by restoring some special effects to that section of the ride, including lighting and a "Loch Ness Monster roar."

(And if you'd like to learn more about Busch Gardens Williamsburg's collection of roller coasters, don't miss Russell Meyer's recap of his behind-the-scenes, insider's tour of the park's coasters that he posted here on Theme Park Insider.)

When was the last time you rode the Loch Ness Monster? What's your favorite Nessie memory?

Replies (7)

June 4, 2018 at 6:08 PM

My wife and I rode it on our honeymoon in 1983. Even now, when I mention the Lock Ness Monster, she thinks of the one in Virginia, not the one in Scotland.

June 4, 2018 at 8:51 PM

Rode it this past Saturday! Took an impromptu visit to BGW and thought my ticket price of $65 was a great deal when I bought them on Thursday. Then I got the $40 email on Friday. *shakes fist*

Oh well. The Loch Ness Monster was better than I remember.

June 5, 2018 at 1:26 AM

I rode the Loch Ness Monster for the first time in 2010 and got a chance to return and ride it again this past March. For a 40 year old ride, it is holding up remarkably well, and while the ride quality is not up to par with what has come since, it is still a very unique ride that should be experienced by all coaster fans at least once. The park got new trains for the ride this year, and other than running a bit sluggish they are excellent.

June 5, 2018 at 10:56 AM

Loch Ness was my first looping coaster as a little girl. And in the early 80s, this was a "serious" coaster! Well still is I suppose. :)

June 5, 2018 at 4:20 PM

Nessie was my first looping coaster as well. My father-in-law took me on it back in 1983 or 84. That gave me the coaster bug for everything to come. Mostly I go to Orlando, have not been to Williamsburg lately. Not sure, but like Robert, my daughter's first upside-down coaster might have been here.

June 6, 2018 at 10:25 AM

I rode Loch Ness Monster for the first time the year before last. On my one previous visit to the park I'd skipped it, erroneously thinking that it was a kiddie coaster. (That shows how much research went into planning the trip, lol.) I'm glad that I finally caught up with it, as it offers a good ride in absolutely gorgeous surroundings. I was afraid that it would be a headbanger but that was fortunately not the case.

June 7, 2018 at 12:40 PM

This was also my first upside down coaster back in the 90's. My last ride was about 5 years ago. Looking forward to a return trip to BGW and KD when visiting family hopefully this summer.

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