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Busch Gardens Williamsburg (BGW BGE) Discussion Thread

P. 467: Media Town Hall Report

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Today is a good example of why it's good to go to a park on a rainy day.

Upon arrival, a heavy shower was approaching so we scooted to the back to get in line for Darkoaster. Was over an hour wait, but perfectly timed as the heavy rain was starting to let up when we walked off. The heavier rain was about 45 mins away so booked it over to lap a deserted Pantheon until the rains came back just in time to grab some beers at the Festhaus and wait it out. Rain should be mostly done around 3 and hoping to have free reign of the B&Ms and Premiers for the rest of the day after that.

 

Recapping the day...

Darkoaster was pretty decent but yeah that throughput is brutal. I was okay standing in line for an hour because it was pouring out at the time, but that line absolutely crawls. We were fortunate that there were barely any people using Quick Queue today which kind of helped.

Pantheon...what else is there to say that hasn't been said already? Rode it twice in front and four times in back. Fun opening sequence, the launch is a lot of fun with the massive airtime on the little hill (almost painful going backwards as it just hits so unexpectedly hard), fun drop off the top hat, the outer banked wave turn is decent, and the stall has some great hangtime. Not sure it's top 20 worthy...definitely a good coaster but missing a good standout moment like the Mosasaurus Roll on VelociCoaster. And that setting is just so ridiculously bland. I can't believe a coaster in a Busch Gardens park was just plopped into a field with absolutely no theming.

That whole part of the park was a ghost town when I was there. Rode Apollo 4 times in a row without getting up. Still good fun with some decent airtime moments and I always love the drop into the helix. B&M has definitely surpassed this over time but I still prefer it to rides like Candymonium and Mako.

Rode Tempesto in front and back. I forgot how insane the forces are on this thing. Crazy ejector at the top and the positives are nuts at the bottom. 

Rode Verboten twice as it was pretty much a walk on which is rare. Love this thing and the indoor section is actually quite thrilling.

I want to love Alpie but that second half just kills it for me. If B&M took the first half of this and then the second half was Montu from the Batwing out, they would have a perfect coaster. But instead Banshee and Raptor are more complete rides and meanwhile this thing knocks your socks off at first and then meanders down the bunny slope at the end.

Griffon and Invadr still good as ever. 1 train ops on Invadr which was a bit painful with only 16 riders per train. Only line I waited in outside of Darkoaster.

The ops were overall better than my BGT trips last year but you can definitely tell they've gone downhill the last 5 years. Just feels like a good day at a really nice looking Six Flags. Doesn't have that high quality Busch Gardens feel to it. On the way out, my wife who isn't really a coaster person says "I always thought this was my favorite park, but honestly Kings Dominion is a much better park right now" and she's absolutely correct.

Hopefully will make an appearance down here again sooner than 4 years from now. Always an enjoyable couple days when I'm here.

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Interesting. Glad to hear its not a huge deal. Just never seen that before.

On a separate note, never been on Pantheon yet, but I was reading some old threads on Reddit about the restraint sensors being all over the place. Do the ops push down and help the larger folks in our are you on your own? Do they do one check of the light and say ' see ya'  if it's red? Is there still inconsistency with the way the sensors do their thing and measure?

I am borderline size for most of the tighter fitting rides and while I am ok with using test seats and not being able to ride (though this would be a real sucky one to walk off shame on) it would probably ruin our day if we one of us had to walk off of without riding.

I was fine on velocicoaster and TARON , and I fit all lap bar rides I've ever gone on, but my wife would need that extra push either from me or an op most likely. Just curious how accommodating they are in 2023 now that it's been open a bit? And if the sensors are now more accurate and reliable for the red vs green?

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The Pantheon ops push down and pull up a bit when checking restraints. I think the sensors used to be a bit buggy, but are more consistent now. If you have a problem fitting they will try to accommodate you with an extra shove or two on the restraint. I find that it helps to rent a locker and empty my pockets, as the restraint tended to hit my bulky old wallet.

They're very strict about loose items on Pantheon, anyway. They used to allow cell phones in zippered pockets, but not anymore. Now they want all your pockets empty.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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Fear the Five: Howl-o-Scream 2023 Begins

Maniacs, swamp people, chainsaw-wielding clowns, and more took over Busch Gardens during the opening weekend of Howl-o-Scream 2023. Theme Park Review was invited to the Media Night on Friday, September 8 for a reception and a chance to experience this year's fiendish goings on.

So, what's new for Howl-o-Scream this year?

  • Lost Mines: The Descent (new maze, Escape from Pompeii building)--a group of miners are possessed with desire for the gems they unearth and become freaky mutants with bad attitudes. The park did a good job redressing last year's somewhat generic Inferno maze with claustrophobic earth-and-rock walls and shored-up tunnels.  As usual, some of Howl-o-Scream's best sets are in this building.
  • Fest-Evil (new TERROR-tory, that is, "scare zone," Festa Italia)--this party of fiendish, soul-stealing Mardi Gras revelers ties into the Death Water Bayou maze nearby. Watch out for evil harlequins, gator people, and voodoo masters.

The returning four mazes have been "revamped," as Busch Gardens likes to say--that is, they've been tweaked and reworked a bit.

  • Death Water Bayou: Full Moon (Festa Italia near the Roman Rapids)--I don't think this voodoo maze has changed all that much from last year, although that's OK, because it's still the best one. I did notice some more blacklight effects, so this indoor/outdoor maze is best experienced after dark. It's the best haunt they've put in this space since the original Ripper Row maze.
  • KILLarney DIEner: Infested (Ireland, Battle for Eire building)--looks like the cannibal diner has a bug problem, so pest control been called in. But be careful. They're not too picky about who or what they exterminate. Nice sets and creatures, but there's still that long exit walk where nothing happens.
  • Nevermore: Chapter 3 (Germany, old Drachen Fire station)--more creepiness courtesy of the stories of Poe. There are a few slightly different scenes, and I think they made the maze a bit more disorienting than last year (more twists and turns). I'm a fan of Poe, so I always enjoy this one.
  • Witch of the Woods: Scorched (Germany, entrance on the left of the Festhaus)--the local villages tried burning the woods to get rid of the witch with predictable results; that is, they just ticked her off. The maze does have a scorched look and smell to it now, although it really hasn't changed much otherwise. This outdoor maze is best after dark. But be warned--it's a bit of a hike from the Festhaus to the entrance, which is behind Verbolten.

You can still run from fiendish childhood characters on Scary Tale Road (Germany); be served up on a platter in the Meat Market (New France); get stoned in Gorgon Gardens (Italy); and survive being harassed or offered a "good time, dearie" by the denizens of London's Whitechapel at Ripper Row (England). The Terror-tories were pretty active last weekend, and there was a roving Hack Pack of chiansaw-carrying clowns. These "scare zones" used to be a weak spot for Howl-o-Scream, but they've been improving over the last few years.

All rides, with the exception of water attractions, are running during Howl-o-Scream (including Verbolten, which had been closed for over a month). The kiddie rides and Forest of Fun shut down at 5:00 pm, though. Three Howl-o-Scream shows are currently running all day: Jack Is Back (of course) in Ireland, Phantoms of the Festhaus (Germany), and Skeletones (Italy). Monster Stomp on Ripper Row opens on September 28 in the Globe Theatre. The mazes and TERROR-tories usually open at 6:00 pm.

My Media Night experience was disrupted by a thunderstorm. I was waiting for it get darker for the outdoor mazes and ran out of luck, so I went back Sunday night to check out the rest of Howl-o-Scream. Despite the stormy weather, they're off to a good start. 

My thanks to Busch Gardens Williamsburg for having TPR at this event. I look forward to Howl-o-Scream each year.

 

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"Fear the Five" . . . what? There are five mazes and five TERROR-tories, which makes 10. Just pick the five you're most afraid of, I guess.

 

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The Virginia Beer Company strikes again!  This time, it's a nice cream ale. The park put out a good spread that night.

 

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All this terrifying merch can be yours if the price is right!

 

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"Oh, I made them some lovely finger food, but was it good enough for their high-toned reception? Bah! They can be yours for a few shillings, dearie."

 

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"You! Seen any signs of the Ripper about?"

 

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"Ripper? Why no . . . no Ripper here. Why do you ask, officer?"

 

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Do I need one of those helmets with a lamp on it? A candle? Maybe a canary to check for poison gas?

 

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"Don't go in there! They ain't got no workin' toilets! Why, I barely made it out before . . . well, maybe you don't want to hear the end of that story."

 

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"We dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig dig! We did the whole day through!"

 

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"Yeah, it's hard work, but you meet all sorts of interesting people . . . who you get to eat!"

 

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Whew! After being stuck in that mine all day, I'm ready for something more festive, like Mardi Gras.

 

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Yessir, I just want to  . . . er . . . let the good times roll?

 

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"Hey, you got just the soul I'm lookin' for!"

 

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"Yes, you'll hope this party will never end . . . and it won't!" 

 

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"Helluva a party, eh?"

 

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Maybe I can lose them in the fog.

 

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"Oh, did you come from the Fest-Evil party? We know how to have a good time here, too. Just remember: . . .

 

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. . . Don't look into her eyes!"

 

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Busch Gardens has been renovating the Italy/Germany bridge all year. It's looking good.

 

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Damn! I am sick of all these @!$%!! phantoms in this @!$%!! festhaus!

 

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Shall we ponder a quaint and curious volume of long forgotten lore?

 

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"Could someone get me some Neosporin and perhaps a bandage? Thank you,"

 

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Wow! Tempesto must be a really dangerous ride!

 

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"Yeah! When they tell ya to keep your hands, arms, and legs in the ride vehicle at all times. you best pay attention!"

 

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I think I would've gone with a closed casket, but maybe that's just me.

 

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They're still partying on at Fest-Evil.

 

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I think I'll peacefully commune with nature in this fetid, evil swamp. What the hell.

 

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Hmm--when pumpkins start dismembering people, the party is getting a bit out of hand.

 

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"Gimme a shilling or I'll sic the Ripper on ya!"

 

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Somehow, I got out alive. Thanks for reading!

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Busch Gardens Williamsburg has announced that the iconic Loch Ness Monster coaster will live on with new track and an updated experience featuring an enhanced queue and storytelling elements! 

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In the year 564, the mythical Loch Ness Monster is believed to have been first spotted in the Highlands of Scotland. Centuries later in 1978, the Loch Ness Monster came alive in Busch Gardens Williamsburg in the form of a coaster so original and iconic that it became a registered landmark.  Now in 2024, the Loch Ness Monster will resurface with a fully restored experience loaded with all-new thrilling elements, dramatic storytelling and innovative effects, as it takes riders on its journey through the Scottish terrain across “Nessie’s” signature steel track, featuring over 900 feet of all-new track. 

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The adventure begins with an enhanced queue experience featuring new storytelling elements, and the quest continues during the lift hill climb, guided by an all-new soundtrack created just for Loch Ness Monster. New in 2024, while braving the first drop, guests catch a glimpse of something monstrous lurking under the water. Next, after plummeting over 100 feet, riders race towards the first of two interlocking vertical loops, traveling up to 60 miles per hour. Thrill-seekers emerge into a spiraling tunnel, traversing a helix and coming face-to-face with the monster in a shadowy cave lair. Out of the darkness and into the daylight, the train descends into the second iconic loop and makes one final turn before returning to the station.     

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After four and half decades of operation, the original Loch Ness Monster will close to the public on Tuesday, Oct. 31. For the first time in the park’s history, Busch Gardens Members will have exclusive “last to ride” access for one final weekend on November 4 and 5, in addition being the first to ride the reimagined Loch Ness Monster: The Legend Lives On when it opens in 2024. A Busch Gardens Membership is the best way to experience new attractions and fan favorites, offering unlimited visits and unbeatable benefits. Memberships are on sale now.  

 

“Loch Ness Monster has been a staple to our park since 1978, even being recognized as a registered landmark by the American Coaster Enthusiasts,” said Kevin Lembke, President of Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. “We are excited to continue Loch Ness Monster’s story in 2024 and beyond.” 

 

2024 promises to be a monumental year filled with new reasons to visit in every season. The fun kicks off with a grand Mardi Gras celebration and ends with anniversaries for two of Busch Gardens’ signature events, Howl-O-Scream® and Christmas Town™. Plus, stay tuned in the coming months as we unveil an all-new summer event! The new year previews what is to come for Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s highly anticipated 50th anniversary in 2025, creating new and elevated experiences for guests while restoring and refreshing the timeless legacy of the world’s most beautiful theme park. For a full calendar of upcoming 2023 and 2024 events, visit https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/events/.

 

Members enjoy exclusive benefits like unlimited admission and unbeatable benefits all year long, including free parking, free guest tickets, monthly rewards, savings on merchandise and exclusive events with a Busch Gardens Membership. Memberships start as low as $13.00 per month. 

 

For construction updates, first to ride opportunities and more information on Loch Ness Monster: The Legend Lives On, visit BuschGardens.com/Williamsburg and follow Busch Gardens on social media.  

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Well, my September trip ended up getting cancelled due to getting COVID, but alas I'm better now and we rescheduled for Sunday the 15th. We will be there the full day so it should be enough time to do the rides and shows we want to do during the day, and then hopefully hit the haunts in the evening 1x each without QQ. Any recommended pecking order for the houses? Does it make sense to go straight to the new one (looks like it's in the Pompeii building) first or will it die down later in the night since everyone goes there first? I'm not too worried about having a game plan and was going to try and take it leisurely since it's a Sunday, but maybe I'm under thinking it and hoping for it to be lighter than it actually will be. I guess we'll see.

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My full report should hopefully posted within a few weeks, but a few bullet points:

-Paying extra for a hard membership card is the biggest nickle-and-dime bullshit I've ever seen.  Just increase the cost of the pass by $7 if you're that hard up for money, SEAS.

-What happened to all of the food locations in this place?  I remember there being more, but many were sign-less or walled off.

-If you go to Halloween events for the artistry and decorations of it all, especially in the houses, you may want to divert to Kings Dominion.  Seriously, a flat printed piece of cardboard for books on a bookshelf?  Your entire circus theme scare zone getting some banners and like two physical props?  Lame.

-If you go to Halloween events for the shows, this is your parkMonster Stomp was downright incredible, and Phantoms of the Festhaus and Skeletones were both worlds beyond Cedar Fair's efforts at those themes (singing monsters and classic song review, respectively).  The Jack is Back show was kinda lackluster and corny, however.

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Visited a week ago... the Halloween stuff was very "eh" (for the love of god please get rid of the haunt that is back in the woods) but Pantheon... damn. That whip backwards over the airtime hill is probably one of my favorite "experiences" I've had on a coaster. Notable others that stand out to me that I can think of, but very different, are the final rolls on Velocicoaster and Blue Fire, triple down at night on Voyage when trims are off (or just the ride at night in general), Beast helix, intensity of i305, Goliath @ SFGAM stall, 2nd launch on Maverick for the first time... etc. -- Its a very cool and unique feeling.

Looking forward to adding the Iron Gwazi death roll in the future, lol.

Sad I missed out on monster stomp by a few minutes as there were no more shows the evening we went. I dunno, the whole night didn't do much for me overall but i have been feeling that way about a lot of haunts lately. Knotts Scary Farm and Horror Nights [actually, surprisingly] have been the exceptions this year though. I've missed going to a lot of parks and haunts this year due to weather and getting sick. I know local haunts are normally a lot better but I haven't been able to do any this year yet .

Oh and random note, if you are able to do the horror themed escape room at "red vein escape" in Ashland, VA I highly recommend it. It's closer to Dominion but it was worth the trip even from Williamsburg. Granted, it was my first real escape room, but the others I went with said it was way better than other ones they have done.

Sorry for all the randomness of this post, lol

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Busch Gardens’ Media Town Hall: Loch Ness Monster--The Legend Lives On & More

The Loch Ness Monster has been thrilling park guests since 1978. For many Virginia locals, this was the first “big” coaster they ever rode. If any ride can be considered an “icon” for Busch Gardens, it’s the Loch Ness Monster, with its interlocking loops and cave helix.

This weekend, BGW’s pass members have a chance to take a last ride on Nessie before she shuts down for a big makeover. Park president Kevin Lembke discussed some of these changes at a “Media Town Hall” on Friday, November 3. Here’s a glimpse at what’s being planned for the ride when it reopens in spring 2024:

  • “All-new theming and innovative effects throughout ride experience.” Innovative Studios will be providing the new thematic elements.
  •  “Over 900 feet of steel track replaced (3,240 ft. total).” Premier provided the new track. BGW is working on a way to provide “souvenir pieces” of the old track in 2024.
  • “Enhanced queue experience with added storytelling.” This won’t be the first time the park has “beefed up” the queue. The lower queue section, used on busy days, has been sporting an expedition camp for years now. It’ll be interesting to see how they expand on this concept.

The park also put new trains on the Loch Ness Monster in 2018.

But there’s more than just the Loch Ness Monster renovation going on at Busch Gardens--Christmas Town begins on Friday, November 10! Here are a few details about how the park plans to ring in the holidays this year:

  • “Gloria” will returning to the Abbeystone Theatre in Killarney.
  • “Wiseman,” a new singing trio, will be performing at the theatre in Italy.
  •  The “Polar Pathway” (Escape from Pompeii) will feature synchronized lights and music, and the “O Tanenbaum” show in Germany is getting an upgrade, too.
  • A “Build a Bear” shop will be open in England.
  • The Virginia Beer Company is brewing a Christmas Town Stout.

All this, in addition to the millions of lights, classic holiday shows, and special Christmas fare the park offers each season.

The Squire’s Grill in England is also being renovated. When this work is finished, the old “buffeteria” will resemble a rustic, old-time English tavern. A new food venue, the Catalina Grill, is also coming to Water Country USA.

And lest we forget, 2024 will mark the 15th anniversary of Christmas Town and the 25th anniversary of Howl-o-Scream. We’ll hear more about this later.

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Busch Gardens Williamsburg in early November, when Howl-o-Scream and Christmas Town collide!

 

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HOS closed on Halloween, so there are still a few traces of the "Jack Is Back" show in Killarney.

 

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The park's presentation was in the Abbeystone Theatre.

 

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Park president Kevin Lembke looks ready for Christmas Town.

 

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I took my "last ride" on Friday.

 

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Drumroll please.

 

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This is the only piece of "concept art" they showed us. The rest is still under wraps, but they are planning something for the big cave helix.

 

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Pantheon will be running during Christmas Town, as will four other coasters.

 

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The new Christmas Town Shows. 

 

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Time for a quick photo with the Big Guy . . . 

 

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 . . . before taking a "last ride."

 

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Up they go to whatever fate awaits them!

 

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The first drop to the "loch."

 

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Loop # 1!

 

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Emerging from the cave . . .

 

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. . . and into loop #2.

 

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Back to the station.

 

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Don't forget--Christmas Town starts next Friday! 

 

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You can't ride the Loch Ness Monster during Christmas Town, but you can hang it on your Christmas tree. Thanks for reading.

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29 minutes ago, cfc said:

The park also put new trains on the Loch Ness Monster in 2018 or 2019.

 

Thanks for the report!

You seem pretty well connected with this park...have you ever heard why they didn't go for the new-generation Vekoma vest-restraint trains when they bought these new trains not that long ago?  I'm pretty sure they were available then, but I could be wrong.

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I just asked if they were replacing the trains during the Q&A, and they said they were sticking with the current trains. The trains they have now were made by S&S Worldwide according to the Roller Coaster Database.

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1 hour ago, cfc said:

I just asked if they were replacing the trains during the Q&A, and they said they were sticking with the current trains. The trains they have now were made by S&S Worldwide according to the Roller Coaster Database.

Well that makes sense since they took over all of Arrow's stuff.  Still kinda disappointing; the restraints make it so you have to ride defensively, at least with my body type.  Thanks for the info though!

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