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TR: Busch Garden's Williamsburg Ultimate Insider Tour


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When LivingSocial advertised a half off deal on Busch Gardens' Ultimate Insider Tour, I couldn't resist. $80 for me and my son to go to an 8 hour tour, sort of a celebration of his ongoing great grades.

 

Waking up at my normal work time on a Saturday sucked. Waking up then, after seeing Steel Panther last night REALLY sucked. But, our Summer is really filling up, and I don't know when else we can do it for sure, so we did it today. It's a nice change from Houston when I knew each Summer consisted of Schlittercon, and staying inside for air conditioning.

 

We get to the park at 8:15, and wait until about 8:40 for the last folks, who didn't show until later, and missed free cookies, so we left the Tour Center. We had two guides. Kevin and Jarryd. We started by walking all the way to the back of the park, which seemed like poor planning, but did make sense. The bakery is back there, and it was bustling with folks make cakes, rolls, cookies, including a free plate for us, and other various kitchen tasks. They had a huge walk in oven, and were pressing pizza crusts. They must prebake them, at least partially, unless those were just going to wait somewhere. Sorta surprised we could go into the operating kitchen with no hair nets, but who am I to say.

 

We then went to Darkastle for a tour of maintenance. I guess safety rules recently changed, so we didn't get to see a chariot in action, but we did get to walk most of the track, including the projection area. All the projection is from the rear by dual projectors. The sets of course are much more simplistic than you think, but it was still cool. Then we went to the control room for the startup, but didn't get to ride... BOO! We were running ahead of schedule, so were stalled by stories of how bad of a job the glasses cleaning gig is for Darkcastle. THey said thousands of pairs of glasses disappear each year, but they do find real sun glasses in the bins regularly. They also said that they found over 20,000 cell phones last year in the park, which was hard to believe. And that did NOT include smart phones, which they try and get back to the owners any way they can. They have a whole department dedicated to it! Note to self, write wife's cell phone number inside my cell phone battery area.

 

We headed out, and walked passed Verbolten, where one group member, also wearing a Star Wars shirt for May the Fourth, said there is a Star Wars reference at Verbolten. Sure enough, Yoda is quoted as saying "Do or do not, there is no try" in German on a banner. WTF? We also noticed Nacht Tower was testing, and we got to test it for them for our first ride. All throughout the day, our hosts were taking pictures of us, especially on ride, which was nice. We then got a DVD full of pics to take home, for free! Take that, Disney!

 

We walked to Italy, and along the way would get little nuggets of information about various rides and the gardens, etc. Getting to Apollo's Chariot, we got two VIP rides, one in the front row, and then one in the back row, which was nice, but no big deal for an empty station. Did run into Chuck, the keeper of this thread, in the back row.

 

Then some folks did some spinny rides, and we headed to Escape From Pompeii. We headed up a LOT of steps to the very dark control room where a very quiet asian girl was watching boats go by, and not answering the hosts questions. But, best I could tell, she had to be pushing two dead man switches for the flame effects to go off. We then watched boats approach the drop. ONly one had riders, since it was chilly, but they were excited to see us peeking out the wall.

 

We then headed to Loch Ness Monster, where the maintenance room was locked. So, we did a VIP ride. I'm sure the folks in the front row queue were NOT happy that they watched two trains loaded from the other side. By then the maintenance bay was open, and we got to touch chains and wheels, and perform chain dog porn.

 

We then once again made the jaunt up Heart Attack Hill back to Germany again for lunch in the Festhaus, and the new Entwined show. I never saw it last year, but did see the sparse stage, and fairy outfits. This show had a bigger cast, an amazing gymnast in the "Jacque and the Beanstalk" role, and was overall quite entertaining. We got free food, appetizer, entree, dessert, and drink. I had the very good turkey sandwich platter with fresh chips, mozzarella sticks, and chocolate cake. The boy had a pizza, fries, and Oreo cake. We probably got about half of our money just in the free lunch. What a deal!

 

Now, it was time to ride! First up, VIP for Verbolten, where we took over the front half of a train, but weren't allowed to go to the back row, which was odd. Then Darkastle. Then we took a front row VIP Alpengeist ride. By this time, the VIP rides were all skipping pretty healthy lines, even for a chilly day. And, we could take front row, so we were skipping even more queue. We were ahead on time, so most went for a second Alpie front row ride. Then we went to Griffon for two front row rides. Hell, in about 60 minutes, we got 5-6 hours of rides!

 

We walked to Ireland to get a control room tour of Europe in the Air. It's odd. THere are windows on both sides of the control room, but only one looks into a show room. The other looks at the back of the screen? I really doubt the screen was moved. My guess is that the ride was designed to have the theaters in mirror image positions, but they were ultimately both facing the same way, so the screen blocked the window. They said the seats are the same as they've always been, but they did upgrade the hydraulics for Europe in the Air. I never rode Corkscrew Hill, but did ride Questor. I think it was my first motion simulator, in fact, back in 92 during my post college graduation coaster trip where I hit Busch to stupidly ride Drachen Fire a ton of times, with both corkscrews. But, I also got lots of BBW rides, so that was good. I assume the guide was wrong, unless my memory is off. I recall Questor as being similar to the Star Tours rides, with an enclosed box motion base. CSH and EITA are open motion bases with a large curved screen. EITA sucks pretty hard. I don't recall it bothering me the first time we rode, but I got BAD vertigo. The ride film is obviously sped up for some reason, as you can see in a lot of the action, this causes slight camera wobbles to be very pronounced and nauseating, especially since the camera is much more active than the motion base. I doubt I'll ever ride it again.

 

We were supposed to have table seats for Celtic Fire, but a snafu prevented that. We did get a pass to return to use for a table reservation later this year. Do you have to pay for these? They were making a real big deal out of it. Can't you just show up early for the show? Although, it was basically packed. The babes were hot for sure, and the dancing impressive. This was my first time seeing any "Riverdance" stuff.

 

THis was essentially the end of the day for us. We could have stayed, but the boy was going to Spamalot at his High School tonight. So, we stopped to get our photo CD, and headed out.

 

This was a PHENOMENAL DEAL at half price. Quick Queue Unlimited, which is essentially what we had for 8 hours, is $50 a person. We paid $40 a person for everything. NOrmal QQ, which wouldn't have included Verbolten, or multiple rides is only $20, which does really surprise me. They must heavily limit the sales of those in the summer, or the QQ crowd would be enormous. But, I think QQ isn't the same as VIP loading, and only gets you to the station without a wait.

 

We may buy the LS deal again, for later in the year when family is visiting. For a visit in the Summer, this would be an even better deal.

 

-R

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Too bad the park didn't stay this empty

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Free cookies!

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That's a lotta dough

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Sexy! They said that the movements in Darkastle are actually pneumatic, not hydraulic. The four bladders on the corners are pumped up or let out as needed.

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Never noticed the eyes before.

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Group photo photobomb by Jarryd

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The dreaded glasses cleaning room

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Darkastle controls

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Group shot

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VIPs baby!

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No gooses were harmed in the filming of this trip report.

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Pompeii

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Real fire!

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Survived the Arrow

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Oooooo! Kinky!

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Virtual coaster

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Entwined, not Tangled. Very kinetic show.

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Pompeii controls

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I could get used to this.

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45 minutes, no way!

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We claim the front row as ours

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Europe in the Air controls

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Roller coaster wheels. For Darkastle. ANd they were MUCH heavier than the ones for the coaster, which was a bit scary!

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Pompeii boat

Edited by Rastuso
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Great report, I knew BGW had a half day tour but didn't know they had an 8 hour one as well. The LS deal sounds really neat and I would definitely like to buy a couple tickets for this. Would you be able to PM me a link?

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Yeah, we took the Nact Tower test ride!

 

I of course had my Vader and Stormtrooper riding a coaster shirt, but it was jacket weather most of the day.

 

As for the two tours. I was told that obviously the big draw of the Ultimate Coaster Tour is the pictures from the top of Griffon's lift. You also get double VIP rides on everything, although we got almost that too. Normally our tour would have included the 3 water rides too, but because of the cold, we got more coaster rides. Normally, we wouldn't have gotten Verbolten, and neither does the UCT, I believe. There is a separate Verbolten tour. I also don't think you get Pompeii and Darkastle tours, instead you get Apollo's maintenance area, I think.

 

And finally, the Coaster tour doesn't include lunch, or either show, which to me is a big deal, since it was a HUGE lunch with app and dessert. For the day we did it, we essentially got both tours, minus the Griffon lift hill experience and water rides. It was a hell of a deal.

 

I'm hoping for a similar deal on the Ultimate Animal Tour soon. C'mon Busch!

 

-R

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Pompeii and DarKastle are included in the all-park tour. Not sure if they incorporated it into the coaster tour. Verbolten had its own separate tour last year, but I believe it was integrated into the coaster tour this year.

 

I don't recall the tour going into any of the maintenance bays outside of Griffon and Loch Ness.

 

- Check your PMs.

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