Over the last weekend in September, the BF and I took a trip from here in Boston down to VA to go to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion. We had a great time at both parks, rode all the coasters lots of times, and had an unexpected blast at the haunt events! TR and pics below (pics are after the TR):
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
I hadn’t been to BGW since Drachen Fire was still there (and before Drachen Fire got modified), so it’d been a while--my BF had never been. I was so excited about going back to this park. All my memories of it were that it was gorgeous, and it definitely lived up to my excitement. I was also anxious to get 4 new credits at this park, having never been on anything that’s currently there except for LNM. BGW is still a really gorgeous park, and I was impressed with how great the rides look, how clean the park was, and how nice the theming still is. They’ve done a great job keeping the park looking amazing.
Since we went down there from Boston, we sprung for the QQ Unlimited—we only had one day at the park, and this QQ included the haunt mazes as well, so it was completely worth it. Even on non-busy park days, if you only have one day at any park and you’re from out of town, I think getting “fast passes” (meaning any variation of FP, FL, QQ) is completely worthwhile, because you can ride other non-fast pass rides like flats and some coasters that aren’t included, without having to worry that the wait for those rides is eating into sweet, sweet coaster time.
The park wasn’t very busy for the first part of the day, but around 3/4pm, it started getting crowded with people coming in for HoS. We did all the coasters multiple times, and got some great night rides on all of them too. We also did Curse of DarKastle, which was OK (needs some TLC), the sky ride (BGW and BGT both have awesome sky rides!), and saw the animals and some shows (the pet show was so good!). We also did almost all of the haunt stuff, which I’ll get to in a bit… Mach Tower didn’t show a single sign of life all day, but we expected as much. I held out some hope that we’d at least get one ride on it (because we both LOVE drop towers), but oh well.
Alpengeist: We went to this first because I’d been dying to ride it since it was built. We rode it a bunch of times throughout the day, switching between front and back seats. I really liked it, and enjoyed the speed of the ride, but like most others, thought it was a little lacking in forces/intensity. Still a very fun coaster—I preferred the front seat to the back. Talon and Montu remain my favorite inverts. We also got stuck on Alpie’s lift for about 15 minutes—computer problem that was quickly reset and we were sent on our way. When we got stuck, we were sitting in the very back, and weren’t too far up from the station, and passed the time watching the haunt actors scare people on the street below (which was hilarious).
Griffon: We went to BGT a few years ago and loved Sheikra, so I was looking forward to Griffon to see how they compared. I really liked having the 2 inversions, although the first drop into the inversion wasn’t nearly as intense as Sheikra. Still a great ride. These coasters have some of my favorite first drops.
LNM: Still fun, still awesome, still my favorite Arrow after all this time.
Verbolten: I wasn’t sure how much I’d like this coaster, since I still bore resentment that it replaced BBW, but I ended up loving it. It was just a fun ride—obviously there’s not a whole lot to it, but we laughed every time we went on it, and riding it at night was even better. We prepared ourselves for the head bang during the launch after the free-fall (especially when riding in back), and it still got me every time—didn’t really affect how much I enjoyed it though.
Apollo’s Chariot: Fun, but… I got bored (I know, I know, I’m sorry!). There are some really sweet pops of air, but other than that I wasn’t impressed. It may have had to do with the fact that we couldn’t use QQ for any other seat than the 2nd row, so maybe we weren’t in a “sweet spot” to get a better ride. Apollo had been down for a portion of the day, and when it reopened the line was just too long for us to take the time to wait for the front or back, unfortunately. That being said, I LOVE Nitro, and find it way more exciting (and I find I get more positive and negative G’s on Nitro). Now that I think of it, maybe I was biased going in…
Howl-O-Scream: So, we really don’t go to parks for haunt stuff, and to be honest, we weren’t really planning on doing any of it while we were there (at either park). The only park haunt I’ve been to is the one at Canobie Lake, which is fun, but sort of minor-league compared to these bigger parks. Our introduction to the haunt was walking through the different terror-tories just on our way to and from rides, and we really liked it—we were impressed with the level of detail BGW put into their decorations, costumes, etc. Our favorite areas were Demon Street and the Vampire Point area in France/Germany. The costumes and actors in these areas were really great, and the scenery was awesome. We were enjoying it so much we decided to take advantage of the fact that our QQ bracelet got us front-of-the line to the mazes and checked out a few. We did 13, Deadline, and Bitten. All 3 were really fun, but if I had to rank them it would be Deadline, Bitten, 13. The only haunt-related show we saw was “Night Beats” which was pretty good, the performers were all excellent, and the fact that they had a live band was a plus. Overall, we had a blast doing HoS and I would definitely make a point to do it again!
This was our first time at KD, and it didn’t disappoint. We had set aside 2 days for KD since we wanted to get on the coasters multiple times (and knew not all the coasters were included in FL, so we’d be waiting for some). Saturday was slightly crowded during the day, and then got worse for Haunt. Sunday was a pretty quiet day (with no Haunt occurring that night), so we just rode everything and anything we could as much as we could. We had FL both days, so we got on everything we wanted (coasters and flats) tons of times. Like I said above, still worth having FL for us even on quiet days since we did end up waiting for a good handful of non-FL rides each time we went on them. Plus, having the FL took the stress away from worrying about getting on something we really wanted to.
KD was a very nice park, and I liked it much more than I thought I would. I will say though, that all the rides (especially the coasters) could use some touch-up paint and landscaping work--It looked like a lot of the rides were sort of neglected in those aspects. I’m sure things like this may be on the “to do” list for their changes next year. Other than that, I thought the park looked great. We went on every coaster at least once—here were the standouts (good and bad) for us:
i305: This was pretty much the main reason for our trip, so I can’t even begin to say how I excited I was when it finally reopened in time for us to ride it. I absolutely freaking LOVED this coaster. I couldn’t get enough of the intensity of it—I definitely grayed-out every single ride, and enjoyed every second of it. I’ve ridden Millennium Force many times and loved it, but i305 was just insane. I concluded that I couldn’t even really compare MF to i305 since I feel like they are two completely different experiences. MF is definitely more about the grand scope of the coaster, the big hills and sweeping turns, whereas i305 just focuses on sheer intensity. The twists were SO fun, and after the first few rides and getting familiar with the layout, we were having a blast throwing our bodies along with all the direction changes. I lost count how many times we rode it, and it never got old. We both found the front seat much more intense than the back, and waited for the front a few times in between using our FL to ride the back and 2nd seats (for those that don’t know, you can’t use FL to sit in the front on i305). Also, we found we liked riding it at night even better because you can’t see anything.
Volcano: The BF is a huge fan of coasters with launches (one of his faves is Possessed at Dorney), so he was really looking forward to this one. We both loved this ride because it was just a lot of fun. Thank god for FL on this ride though, because the line crawls. We went on this countless times too.
Dominator: We were on the fence about this ride. I mean, we liked it, but didn’t feel the need to re-ride more than once. I was impressed at the speed (which blew me away for a floorless), and how cool the loop was, but other than that it fell kind of flat for me. Not all the B&Ms were doin’ it for me this trip apparently.
Grizzly: This was a pleasant surprise. We had so much fun on Grizzly—it was running great (don’t know if it usually does), and we got so much air throughout the ride. We went on it 4 or 5 times—this was a great night ride too since you’re in the forest. I was expecting to come off of this beat up, but was always in one piece. The last turn before heading back to the station was crazy every time because it feels like the train is taking that turn too fast.
Hurler & Shockwave: Awful. These coasters hated us and tried to kill us. I suppose we should have run away from the Togo, but I wanted the credit… the painful, painful credit. Hurler wasn’t the worst wooden coaster I’ve been on, but it’s up there. Wouldn’t be sad to watch it go the way of Son of Beast and Psyclone (and hopefully Gwazi).
Anaconda: Expected this to be horrible, and was surprised to enjoy it, even if the 2nd half of the ride was a bit boring. Seems like it has held up pretty good for being an older Arrow. The first drop into the loop was awesome.
Flight of Fear: I rode FoF’s sister coaster years ago at KI, but it was much more pleasant this time around having only the lap bar!
We also went on our first WindSeeker. It was OK… more relaxing than anything. I think I’d be more excited to try a Sky Screamer. WindSeeker did look amazing at night, and I thought it was kind of fun that it has its own soundtrack during the ride. Only went on once. We did the drop tower probably close to 10 times. This was our first drop ride that wasn’t your typical S&S tower (or old-school Intamin freefall), and we couldn’t get enough of it. We could have ridden the thing all day.
Haunt: Since really enjoying BGW’s HoS, we were excited about KD’s Haunt. The only bummer was that our FL didn’t include any Haunt attractions (they sell a separate “Fright Lane” pass), so we had to be picky about what houses/mazes we wanted to spend our time waiting for as the lines were really long at most attractions (until later on in the night). We walked through all of the scare zones—our favorites were the Cleaver Bros. Carnival and PrimEvil. As far as mazes, we ended up doing Zombie High, Cornstalkers, Club Blood, Slaughter House, the Doll Factory, and Outbreak. Zombie High was our favorite in all aspects (great actors, great theming), Cornstalkers and Slaughter House followed in a close 2nd and 3rd. The Doll Factory was our least favorite… there wasn’t a whole lot to it, and it seemed like it had the least amount of actors in it—they also allowed too many people at a time into this one which didn’t really space out the “scares” enough.
We definitely preferred BGW’s HoS to KD’s Haunt. BGW had much better decorations, costumes, and the houses/mazes were slightly better done—just our opinion though. Like I said, we’re not really haunt experts, so maybe we caught KD on an off-night (I think it was one of their first opening nights, if not THE first).
Also, BGW won for us as far as being the nicer park, but KD definitely won the coaster prize (it’s hard to beat i305).
All-in-all, we had a great trip, and I would definitely go back to both these parks—especially at this time of year! In fact, it got us both thinking of checking out more parks during “haunt” times because it was so much fun. I’m thinking a Cedar Point/King’s Island trip might be our next “coaster tour” next year—Banshee looks awesome, and I’ve yet to get on Maverick or Gatekeeper at CP. Anyway… here’s some pics from our trip:
Yay, we're here!
BGW park map with HoS info
BGW Entrance Gates
Beautiful fountain with the Vampire Hotel (buffet) in the background
Serenity at Busch Gardens...
We met this giant owl...
...and this giant Clydesdale
Poor flightless eagle--don't worry buddy, you still look majestic!
Wolves--they were howling a lot!
France with its Demon Street decor
France... I see you Griffon...
We're coming for you...
Gorgeous day to plummet 90 degrees!
Obligatory loop shot
Yes, we played in the Dragon area.
I'm not ashamed.
The rope bridges were fun.
Jack-o-Lanterns hanging from the trees--this looked amazing at night in the fog!
Scarecrows under the jack-o-lanterns
More France/Demon Street in the daytime
Demon Street skull/DJ booth
Welcome to Howl-O-Scream!
Demon Street in all its glory--this was our favorite area
Headless carriage driver in Ripper Row
the Casket Club bar
Tried to capture the jack-o-lanterns lit up, but it was so dark...
They look so cool a lit up in the trees...
Hey look, now we're at KD! So excited to finally see the fountains in-person!
I really liked the KD entrance "main street" area...
...we ate outside by the fountains each day
Here's some shots from the Eiffel Tower...
WindSeeker doing its thing...
Lots of coasters to ride...
We did get the Woodstock Express credit, and aren't ashamed.
Uh oh... it's about to get scary...
Even the dinos are dressed up...
Who knew a dinosaur could look so good in a tutu?
Even the fountains get evil at dusk.
Zombie High prom king and queen
Goodnight creepy monster tower...