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Busch Gardens Williamsburg (BGW BGE) Discussion Thread

P. 467: Media Town Hall Report

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Verbolten Blogger Media Day

As I think at least a few of you are aware, Busch Gardens Williamsburg “officially” opens their newest attraction, Verbolten, tomorrow (May 18). But, as usual, there are plenty of “pre-opening” festivities, including today’s event, the “Verbolten Blogger Media Day” (May 17).


The park actually held a media day for print and television on May 16, but set aside a separate day for the online audience, which was a bit more low key. There was no initial “press conference,” or any speeches, but members of the Busch management team were available for interviews, and everyone had a chance for a personal video on Verbolten, complete with audio for commentary (riders will be able to purchase a more “standard” silent onride video when Verbolten opens).


There were some sound glitches with the video, which required pretty much the whole group to shoot an extra one, which won’t be available until tonight. But, what the heck, that just gave everyone a chance to ride multiple times—and possibly experience each of the ride’s three “storylines,” as I did.


So, how is Verbolten? Before I launch into my opinion, here are a few facts about the ride. Enthusiasts like facts, don’t they?


Ride Manufacturer: Zierer (Deggendorf, Germany)

Type of Ride: Multi-launch coaster

Special Features: Two launches, environmental theme elements, sound and light effects, high speed turns, free fall drop, and an 88-foot final drop to the water.

Track Length: 2,835 feet

Maximum Speed: 53 mph

Ride Duration: 90 seconds

Seats/Train: 5 trains, 16 seats per train

Ride Height Requirement: 48 inches

Location: Busch Gardens Oktoberfest Village


In fact, this ride marks the end of BGW’s “revamp” of Oktoberfest.


As for the ride itself, I think the park got what it wanted: a very enjoyable “family” coaster to replace the old Big Bad Wolf (only with a taller height requirement—the same as for the Loch Ness Monster). The launched sections are quite forceful—you really feel the “kick” in the back row (which also has a few more pops of airtime than the front, as you’d expect).


The enclosed “Black Forest” section is very disorienting—nice and dark, with some excellent lighting and sound effects. I think the “Wolf” story works best, thanks to its strong use of sound (howls, snarls, and snapping tree branches). The drop section seems to pack more punch than what they have at Legoland in Denmark, even though it only freefalls about 15 feet or so.


Sound also comes into play on the ride’s “collapsing bridge” finale, which should be particularly effective after dark.


As for the “rattle” and “roughness” some noted during last weekend’s “technical rehearsals,” the only place where I encountered this was in the very back—and it still wasn’t as “rough” as the old Big Bad Wolf used to be. No, I wouldn’t call this a “rough” ride at all, although I prefer the front seat to the back (mainly for the view). For me, this was a coaster that got better the more times I rode it.


Here's a look at what went on--if I can just get my car started . . .




Verbolten On-Ride Video:


Verbolten POV:


Time to check in.


The park is offering quite an assortment of Verbolten-inspired pins . . .


. . . as shown by our model here. There will be a special set of "puzzle-piece" pins just for season passholders, as well.


Everyone's waiting for the ride to get up and running.


I chatted a bit with Brian Morrow, corporate creative director for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, about the ride's story. The idea was to give guests a transition between Oktoberfest Village and the "legend" of the Black Forest; so, the best way to do that was through the eyes of two "locals."


And here they are: Gerta and Gunter Schwartzwald. She runs the business and sells the tours, while her brother maintains their fleet of cars (and spies on poor tourists who blunder into the Black Forest with his strategically placed "Gunter cams"). The artifacts inside the queue reflect the history of the village, as well as the objects Gunter has retrieved from abandoned cars he's found in the Black Forest.


Gunter assures me that he'll have this old Prosche up and running in no time--so no worries, Scott!


Let's have a look inside.


Looks like Gerta has a few customers already.


This gnome looks worried. Should I be?


Hey, looks like it's my turn at the desk.


Now I can "fahrt all over Bavaria."


"Gunter's creepy office" definitely contrasts with "Gerta's cheerful shop."


Gunter was happy to tell me all about his cars and hidden cameras.


"Gunter, why are you boring our guests?"


If the needle is heading toward the Christmas tree, the forest is "happy" . . . looks like we're in trouble!


Here are some more "Gunter cams"--check these out while you're in the queue (and listen for Gunter's phone messages, as well).


OK, let's make sure everybody understands the safety regs before boarding.


I love how they've made over the old Big Bad Wolf station into Gunter's garage--right down to the "oil stains" on the floor. Gerta also assured me that they will keep all their customers' belongings safe, should they ever return.


Here's a look at the GoPro camera mounted on the red train (they ran the green train, too--without a camera).


Is everyone ready for their close-up?


Did the camera catch all that?


The sexy red train returns.


While you're waiting for your assigned camera time, why not try the green train?


Yes, there's a lot to be said for the green train, too.


Remember: It's the "Year of Zierer"!


In fact, some execs from Zierer were there checking out the station.


Here's where guests can purchase their onride videos and photos . . .


. . . along with other swag.


And for those of you who were wondering, yes, the old waterfall is back. Now what're you waiting for--go ride Verbolten!

Edited by robbalvey
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I always thought they were husband and wife...and I also thought he was going to be heavy. Great photos and report! Just wondering, did they say they were going to plant any trees near the Rhine Drop? Or do they want to keep things as it is?

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Good stuff, Chuck! Everything about the ride looks completely awesome!

I too, thought that Gerta and Gunter were husband and wife, and I also pictured Gunter as an older, heavyset guy. I pictured him with a white beard, the little round glasses, and the traditional German lederhosen. Kind of funny how people build their own images in their heads. Gerta is pretty babe-like, though!


Also, I'm VERY happy to see the return of the waterfall! Thanks for the coverage!

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When I think of a Gunter, he's a stout, balding guy with a mustache wearing Lederhosen with a beer and chocolate bar in each hand.


Much like how I've never met a thin Bertha, it's a doomed name.


Good report, Chuck. I look forward to taking a spin on Verbolten sometime this year.

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Great report and pictures, Chuck!


I got a last minute invite to Media Day on Wednesday June 16. I will say, after riding 15 times, I really enjoyed Verbolten. There were a couple times when I banged my head on the back of the seat during the launch, but once I learned the ride, it was no problem. The "Black Forest," is pretty cool and I enjoyed the different themes. The first ride with the freefall drop is the best, because it is unexpected, but there is a lot to see in the event building each time you ride. Personally, I enjoyed the Wolf theme the best. Speaking of themes, the Corporate Creative Director for Sea World, Brian, was telling us that the themes can be changed and they are currently working on a different theme for Howl-O-Scream that will offer a few, "unique surprises." That will be really cool! (His team developed the three themes for Verbolten.)


I think the ride is an moderately intensive family ride, not sure younger kids will like the event building though. But it definitely grows on you. As a matter of fact, I can't wait to ride it again. Overall, I think BGW built a good coaster and there will be long lines this summer to prove it.


Oh yeah, Gerta is a definite babe. I would explore her mountains, anytime.





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What I love about all the coasters at BG Virginia is that they are all incredibly photogenic. And Verbolten is definitely no exception! Busch did an impeccable job, aesthetically, with the coaster and Zierer built a fantastic looking family coaster. I agree that the area does look a little bare, but with a little time, the trees will be overgrown and the area will definitely look like the Black Forest we expected. I hope I can head out to BG Virginia sometime in the near future!

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