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PhotoTR - Busch Gardens Europe 6/30-7/2/08


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Where to begin? This family vacation to Williamsburg, VA was absolutely incredible. We stayed in the very clean, fun, and accommodating Great Wolf Lodge conveniently located about 10-15 minutes from BGE. The hotel's indoor water park serves as a great early morning way to start your day before heading out to some of the area's other offerings. Our hotel room, which was considered a suite, had an indoor fireplace, a great view of the outdoor pool, and really cool loft above the main two beds that housed a third bed. For the little ones, the hotel offered an interesting wand sorcerer game that could be played throughout the entire hotel, setting off pre-triggered effects all over, even including dining areas. When you stay at The Great Wolf, you get a wrist band that acts almost as your Key to the World if you were playing things WDW style. You can charge things to your wrist band, and it also serves as your hotel key. Overall, we really enjoyed our stay at The Great Wolf, and its true convenience comes in it's great location to everything in Williamsburg and its great amusement offers to every guest.

 

Now, onto Busch Gardens. I hadn't been to Busch Gardens since I was 8 years old, and at the time, was only willing to ride The Big Bad Wolf and the old Wild Maus as far as coasters go. Since that time, I have had zero fear of whatever coaster is out there and have greatly added up my coaster count and theme park/amusement park visits around the country. Let me first say, BGE is absolutely beautiful. The landscaping throughout the park is so lush and well-taken care of. The best part of BGE is the continuous theming throughout the park, as each European country bleeds so well into each other yet each retains its unique identity. The cast members were for the most part all very friendly, and all the shows were above par. Oddly enough, the park's best and worst shows are in the same country, or as Disney fans would call it, "land." Ireland plays host to "The Secrets of Castle O'Sullivan," and it was easily the worst production BGE had. I felt particularly bad for the actor in the lead role, as he really tried his best to make the show enjoyable for the audience. I can't blame him, the script absolutely SUCKED. Now, the best show in BGE? Emerald Beat! This incredible, fast-paced, and high energy performance showcases about a dozen Irish step dancers, a handful of musicians, and two very talented singers. Usually I avoid shows at theme parks and make it my soul dedication to ride coasters, but I had to make time in my schedule to catch this show as often as possible, and saw it FIVE times. The cast changes morning and night, rotating which cast performs each day, and on top of that, a different male dancer will play the role of "Lord of the Step" at each performance, so it's never the same. This show truly helped a fairly "flat" feeling Ireland come alive, as it lacks a major coaster.

 

Let me say this, the Busch company maintains this park so well. My whole family commented throughout the entire trip about how clean the park was, possibly even rivaling or surpassing Disney levels of clean. No gum anywhere. No marker graffiti in the bathrooms. Everything seemed to have just been given a fresh coat of paint, and the railings in really old stations (BBW and LNM) were spotless and not chipped at all. This was legit park maintenance, and we loved every bit of it. For me, seeing coasters in non-faded paint was incredible. I don't know how often BGE repaint its rides, but everything excluding Griffon (whose blues already seem to be slightly faded from the sun) had radiant and noticeably strong and fresh paint jobs. Best example of this is anyone who owns a white car. White is such a hard color to keep clean. Alpengeist was SPOTLESS and a fresh snowfall white. BGE, you rock.

 

 

My one gripe with BGE is that its coasters are so incredibly overrated. Please don't take these coaster reviews the wrong way, they are just opinions.

 

Apollo's Chariot:

I constantly hear how great Apollo's Chariot is, and I was so disappointed by it. I gave it several chances, morning and night, front, back, and middle seats. It's lame! My brother and I both felt that Nitro at SFGADV, also a B&M Hyper Coaster, completely owns it.

 

Alpengeist:

I thought Alpengeist, BGE's B&M invert, was the parks best offering besides the Arrow classics like Big Bad Wolf and Loch Ness Monster. The only downside of Alpengeist is that since it is so tall and fast for an invert it tends to rattle much more than any B&M invert I've been on. On the upside, the cobra roll is awesome and the use of terrain that this ride goes through is so unbelievable.

 

Griffon:

It's a cool ride. My first dive coaster, and after my first ride I was like...this is nice. It didn't blow me away. Was the 90 degree drop cool? Of course. Were the trains pretty sick? Yeah. But that's really it. If you've been on Kingda Ka or Storm Runner and have been on Medusa or Hydra, you've ridden Griffon. Seeing the floorless technology used on a super wide train was great. Being held over the edge of a 90 degree 205 foot drop was great too, but the ride feels like it's missing something. Its Immelman's pack ZERO forces. It's drops don't really give you that crazy stomach in your throat feeling. I feel like had the ride had a zero-g roll (if this is even possible for a dive coaster train to maneuver safely) before the splash down it could've really made the ride that much better. Maybe I'm asking for too much, and you know what, I'll admit I am. The main thing here is this, BGE has a new fan favorite and the general public is gobbling it up. It's a great smooth ride, but it's nothing that would rank in my top ten. If you do go to BGE anytime soon, ride Griffon AT NIGHT. It provides a far more intense feeling ride even though the ride lacks any true intense forces. Furthermore, I don't know if this has ever been mentioned before online, but what holds you over the edge of the track isn't even a break, it's an incredibly slow moving chain, which can be seen easily from the front row or from anyone watching the train from the side, you'll see it never fully come to a complete stop but instead just moving reallllly slowly. Also, the floorless aspect of the ride truly does grant everyone a "front row" type of view on this ride, partially because the stadium seating the trains have and also because of the fair greater gap between cars than on regular B&M floorless trains.

 

Big Bad Wolf:

It's a Schwarzkopf/Arrow classic. It has been beautifully maintained and IMO offers the best suspended coaster ride out there. Its use of the terrain is impeccable.

 

Loch Ness Monster:

Happy 30th Birthday Nessie! For a 30-year old Arrow it's not terribly rough and both of its loops (interlocking goodness!) offer a fairly forceful ride. I wonder what that first loop would be like if those trims were off...because those loops really do give you a nice forceful ride. Like Big Bad Wolf, it's a coaster classic.

 

Now, while I was slightly disappointed with Griffon and Apollo's Chariot, the beauty and photogenic factor of the park's coasters makes up for that greatly. Nitro's odd color scheme (blue, magenta, and yellow...) and zero theme consideration make it not the nicest thing to photograph. Apollo's Chariot, on the other hand, has a beautiful royal purple, crimson, and yellow-gold scheme that makes it stunning to behold from the parking lot, Festa Italia, or the boat ride. For a five coaster collection, BGE scores heavily. None of its coaster offerings are weak, and the public can't seem to get enough of any of them. Furthermore, the crews on all the rides BUT Alpengeist crank trains out like it's their business. I don't what was up with the crew, they seemed to know nothing about the ride they were operating and wound up stacking THREE TRAINS nearly every day I went. They didn't even know Big Boy seats were in Row 5, and instead had to embarrass the poor guy next to me by having three attendants jump on his restraint so he could buckle his belt. They could've asked him if he'd rather wait for the next train and jump in row 5 instead of embarrassing the guy in front of his son. (The ops meant no harm, I just wish they had used their brains a bit.)

 

BGE, in my eyes, you rank below Disneyland park but on level with the Magic KingdomT. You easily take out EPCOT in its current state since you offer country education and theme elements while combining it with state of the art coasters, great park maintenance and atmosphere, great cast members, great shows, and an overall awesomeness. (I know I'm going to take heat for what I just said, but remember, it's just an opinion!) It's nice seeing a non-Disney park prove to the world that with the right amount of care an amusement park can be THEMED and maintained just as well as a Disney offering.

 

We also spent a day at Water Country USA, easily one of the best water parks I've ever been to. Hubba Hubba Highway and Rampage were great, and the parks new Rock and Roll Island slides actually punch a pretty nice rush.

 

In-Park Coaster Rank:

1. Loch Ness Monster

-rarely a line and it's still running great for a classic

2. Alpengeist

-a solid B&M invert with a unique layout and forceful cobra roll

3. Big Bad Wolf

-Another BGE classic, one of the best if not the best suspended coaster built

4. Griffon

-I know I'm being harsh on Griffon, but it just didn't WOW me the way I wish it had. Floorless diving is cool nonetheless.

5. Apollo's Chariot

-I don't get it.

6. Drachen Fire

-RIP you empty station!

 

 

What this park really needs is a coaster in Ireland. Ireland is a land with so much potential to kick ass, but all it has is Emerald Beat (WOOOO!) and next to it a really crappy show. Corkscrew Hill is eh. You sit on a hydraulic floor (think simulator pod) and watch a screen, it's good, not great. My other feeling is that BGE desperately needs a woody of kick-arse proportions, think El Toro meets Balder or something along the lines of Thunderhead. There's no good wood or wood at all at BGE, and a great woody would really complete the coaster collection at BGE and would give it a nice mix of Arrows, B&M's, and an Intamin or GCI woody. (Sorry CCI or whatever you call yourselves these days, your woodies usually rock but they can be maintenance NIGHTMARES!) Theme the coaster to some form of Irish Celtic folklore and you've got yourself a real winner. (Think Braveheart and yes, I know he's Scottish...but think of an Irish legend with that type of artistry, theming, and backstory)

 

If you're going to see any shows at BGE, see these:

 

1. Emerald Beat (see it once in the morning and once at night on the same day or twice in the morning on two different days, both casts are INCREDIBLE!) The show's soundtrack will possess your mind for days. It's in Ireland.

 

2. Kinetix (amazing acrobats and pretty solid singing/music) It's in France near Griffon.

 

3. American Jukebox (1950's-1970's popular music, solid show with great singing...whatever cast performs that day will also be the cast of the Kinetix music cast) It's in New France near the train station.

 

4. The Festhaus German dinner show...great food AND a great show!

 

 

Enjoy the pictures*, and if you have any questions about the park(s) or hotels please ask!

 

 

*They will be in the next post

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Welcome to Busch Gardens Europe!

 

Join us as we celebrate the Fourth of July throughout the park!

 

A great ride with great theming! Ominous clouds definitely help

 

The Griffon at sunset.

 

Alpengeist at sunset.

 

B&M's are beautiful, riders here trying to kick the sky in the first part of the Cobra Roll.

 

Interlocking...

 

...goodness.

 

FESTHAUS!

 

Old school Arrow suspended still kicking butt.

 

I like to terrorize German villages in my spare time.

 

BIG BAD WOLF. Anybody else miss the eyes on the front of the first car?

 

I be one of Griffon's Immelman's. I pull ZERO forces, but I still manage to be fun.

 

The Curse of Low Audio and Water Effects. (But still a lot of fun!)

 

At this point in the inverted vertical loop, the train starts to slow down, and I go "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

 

I hated these block breaks (MCBR), but they helped me get a nice picture.

 

Insert "Learn to Fly" by the Foo Fighters

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ZERO G!

 

What up lifthill? Check out that Zero car!

 

Look at that crazy mess of SUPER CLEAN white track. LOVE IT. You're going almost 70mph at this point.

 

Probably the most beautiful to watch element on all B&M inverts that have them, the Zero G Roll!

 

This flatspin/corkscrew gets very little love, probably because it's mad hard to photograph, but it really sneaks up on the riders and catches them off guard.

 

IMMELMANN. (<-finally remembered that extra N)

 

Holding *CHAIN*

 

Apollo's Chariot at dusk

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If you rode in every single row on Griffon, then I understand your views and respect your opinion. But, the last row gives the best ride. You get TONS of air on the first and second drops.

 

How could you not like the drop out of the block on AC? It's the best part. I'm at a loss for words. How could you not like it? I admit, I was there on Thursday, and both trims were on, with the first being on a little hard, but my butt was still never in the seat when going over the hills. You gotta do it in the back every time, or you probably won't like it.

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Great Pics! I've been to BGE the year before Griffon & my favorite coasters (at that time) in order were:

1. Alpengeist

2. Loch Ness Monster

3. Apollo's Chariot

4. Big Bad Wolf

 

Can't wait to go back on the East Coast trip!

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I don't understand you not liking Apollo's Chariot! I love that ride! the open cars make it a lot of fun and the bunny hills at the end made my stomach spin. One of my favorites at Busch.

 

I do know what you mean about Griffon though. I didn't hate it but it didn't wow me like I was expecting either.

 

Great pics though.

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i agree that Apollo's Chariot isn't the best ride out there. Probably the weakest at the park, although overall it's still a fun attraction. I wouldnt know how it compares to Loch Ness Monster as the ride's chain broke later in the day and it never opened up. Guess I should have gone on it first.

 

But what really impressed me about the park is that no ride is just "average." Although by looks you would assume that it would just be an average attraction, but there's always that added element to it that just blows you away. Example: Escape from Pompeii. I thought it was just gonna be an average chute the chute water ride with some sound effects and people screaming that the ride was gonna explode and then you drop. And while the ride was pretty lame, the fire effects at the same time made the ride interesting. I must have gone on it like 10 times when I went. A lot of rides there are like that. Its a really cool park.

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I agree with you Gnome, there's a lot of attractions that Busch takes from mediocre to memorable by adding a simple element that Six Flags or Cedar Fair doesn't bother spending the extra buck on.

 

Like you said with Pompeii, the fire effects and ride effects once inside the show building take it from a mediocre splash boat ride like Tidal Force at Hersheypark and instead turn it into a really memorable experience. The effect with the flames climbing across the ceiling really sticks out in my mind. It's little things like that that separate Busch Gardens from your average amusement park; it truly is a THEME park.

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coastergirl26 said:

Great TR and nice pics. Man how you can say that about AC. The back seat has the best airtime. Im assuming they must have had the trims on bigtime. I have ridden Nitro at SFgradv, and I must say I enjoy AC more!!!

 

I gave Apollo's Chariot several chances over the span of three days in the park. The trims weren't on too terribly, as you could hear them just kissing the trains...not making the sucking sound B&M hyper trains usually make as a train passes over them. I tried sitting everywhere on this thing, and still wasn't overly impressed by it. I just feel that Nitro puts it to shame. My only wish is that the time and consideration into Nitro's placement in Movie Town at SFGADV had been as well thought up and conceived as Apollo's Chariot's placement and mythological backstory in Festa Italia.

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Interesting. I felt the complete opposite about Nitro and Apollo's Chariot. When I rode Nitro it was just as forceless as Raging Bull (except the helix, but having been on Goliath at SFMM, the helix was still nothing memorable). All of it's air was floater, whereas most of Apollo's Chariot's air was ejector.

 

Excellent tr, I agree completely about how gorgeous the park is.

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I must be a rare coaster chick that rates coasters on how much fun I had on them not on how many forces I felt.

 

I loved all the coasters at BGE and my favorites were AC and griffon, it's hard to say which I liked more because I had about equal fun on both. Having ridden Nitro recently I have to say you get tons more airtime on Apollo than Nitro(or nitro goes so fast it's hard to notice), plus since nitro is faster the ride doesn't last as long. I have to agree though Nitro's helix gives it the edge to apollo. Since apollo's older and slower than nitro it's helix and turns aren't as forceful but because of that the turns make you feel like you are flying same with Griffon's immelmen that everyone says is boring and has no forces.

 

Great TR and I love seeing pictures of BG, it's a great park!

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I love AC it;s my favorite steel coaster! I only rate Nitro second because AC has better themeing and uses the terrain better, not to forget the insane ejector airtime of the MCBR!

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Jcoaster said:

I love AC it;s my favorite steel coaster! I only rate Nitro second because AC has better themeing and uses the terrain better, not to forget the insane ejector airtime of the MCBR!

 

I felt Apollo lacked any airtime, ejector or floater...that's my main gripe with it. Nitro has some great floater airtime throughout the entire ride, especially on the three camelbacks on the way back to the station. For me, ejector air is defined by rides like Boulder Dash and El Toro.

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Jcoaster said:
I love AC it;s my favorite steel coaster! I only rate Nitro second because AC has better themeing and uses the terrain better, not to forget the insane ejector airtime of the MCBR!

 

I felt Apollo lacked any airtime, ejector or floater...that's my main gripe with it. Nitro has some great floater airtime throughout the entire ride, especially on the three camelbacks on the way back to the station. For me, ejector air is defined by rides like Boulder Dash and El Toro.

 

Well it's not fair your comparing it to the two best wodden coasters on the east coast.

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I felt Apollo lacked any airtime, ejector or floater...that's my main gripe with it. Nitro has some great floater airtime throughout the entire ride, especially on the three camelbacks on the way back to the station.

 

That's strange, I've never heard anyone say that Apollo lacked floater air. Unless the train is less than half full it's been one of the most consistent running coasters since it opened, and has floater air on every hill, especially in the back. Maybe something's changed this weekend, I don't know. Nitro is much better than Apollo in my opinion, mainly for the longer and more creative layout.

 

But yea, nice trip report, glad you had a good time. Any pictures of the Great Wolf Lodge? I have not heard a whole lot about the one here in Williamsburg, but know it's been popular.

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Griffon, my parents took a couple shots of The Great Wolf Lodge using their camera. I'll try to upload their images later tonight.

 

Jcoaster said:

Well it's not fair your comparing it to the two best wodden coasters on the east coast.

 

I think it's fair game to compare it to anything. While comparing it to two woodies might not be my best bet, I've yet to ride Millennium Force or Superman Ride of Steel and can't comment on good steel ejector air. When Car and Driver does a comparison of cars, they compare the best one to whatever they're comparing. I don't see why this should be any different.

 

And as far as to what someone posted earlier, we tried back seat, front seat, and middle seats at different points in the day over the course of three days, each time a full train, and each time the ride coasted over each hill not fast enough to produce ejector air and not slow enough to produce floater air. It felt like driving over a hill in a car when you're in a rush but then there's someone in front of you and you can't cruise past them and get that "sensation." Odd comparison, I know, but I hope it makes sense.

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Negative NegaDuck. The concierge at The Great Wolf however did offer an incredible deal for a SEVEN DAY ticket to Busch Gardens Europe. For $79.99 a person, you get to visit BGE any seven days you want. If you so desire to "park hop" from Water Country USA to Busch Gardens day by day, it's only an additional $10, raising the price to $89.99. Either way, that's a steal considering the fast that one day admission I believe was over $50.

 

I'm still working on getting those hotel pictures from my parents, they'll be posted ASAP!

 

 

EDIT:

There's a McDonald's right down the road from the park, and their large fountain soda cups (the plastic ones) offered I believe 15% off or $15 off of general admission. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

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I tend to go back and forth between Nitro and Apollo's Chariot (currently lean toward the former as the better coaster). I'm not crazy about Castle O'Sullivan either, but the little plastic leprechaun puppet at the end cracks me up.

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