Hey TPR, this is Alex Mann again. I love this website and love any chance I can contribute to it! This weekend I got a behind the scenes coaster tour of Busch Gardens coasters! It is mostly kept on the down low, but you can find it on the Busch Gardens Site. Heres the link...
It costs a bit much but it was worth every penny and is totally worth it. You get to enter the park at 7:45 before the park opens. Behind the scenes tours of restricted areas and maintenance bays are provided, as well as Q&A sessions with a Loch Ness Monster mechanic, ERT on Nessie, Griffon and Alpengies. One of the more unique features of the tour is walking on the catwalks at the top of Griffon. And guess what, at the tours end, you get a fast pass that allows you to ride any coaster with no lines in the row of your choice for the rest of the day, EVEN after the doors open.
Remember, I am using a crappy outdated Coolpix camera from 2001, and the exposure gets worse and worse. In some of the early morning shots of Loch Ness, the exposure was going a little haywire, so please try to ignore those terrible shots. Also, many of the photos were taken in a split second without planning since the tour was moving so fast. Some of the shots i wasn't able to get the flash on the right setting fast enough so a few of the maintenance bay shots could seem a bit washed out. If you are interested in checking out my other two TRs, here they are.
Thanks, and remember I'm only 14 and still have a lot of improvement in my coaster photography, so be nice....
I have honestly never seen these gates so empty.
This is such a beautiful coaster. Somewhere in the world, Fabio is cringing...
The first coaster we checked out was Nessie, which was running really well. This might be because the just put a few new wheels on and also replaced the chain dog...
Alpengiest is honestly my favorite inverted coaster. I don't really know why, it just always has been.
This shot didn't really come out how I wanted it to, I only included it because I thought the sun looked really cool poking through the ride...
I think this is one of Arrows better coasters. Funny story, Arrow screwed up when they first built it. When they shipped the piece of track curving into the station to BGE, BGE discovered it was curved the wrong way... Kind of embarrassing
This is actually the most photographed ride in the world. I'm surprised it wasn't Corkscrew at Cedar Point!
They were testing empty trains.
Yes. Yes they were...
This is one of the shots where my camera's exposure screwed up. Please try not to judge the entire TR by this crappy shot.
Just in case you forgot what ride this was...
This guy was an ex-marine/trucker who worked on Loch Ness Monster. He gets up every morning at 4:00 am and checks to make sure that the chain dog and anti rollback are secure. He also checks each wheel and inspects the breaks. He is actually explaining how the breaks work in this shot. LNM uses primitive pneumatic brakes.
These are the wheels. Can you tell which road wheel is worn and which is new? (insert email Dan comment that only Robb can do and I won't even attempt) These wheels are so small! In a bit, you will see how much bigger Griffon's are!
This is the chain and chain dog, and in the back you can see the anti-rollback.
This chassis is under maintenance right now...
There are Arrow blueprints all over. This is a goldmine for a geek like me!
It's good to see what bangs my head around deconstructed.
This is what they use to test the rubber in the wheels. Often times, after extended use, it hardens and changes shape. If it no longer fits this device, it is replaced with a new wheel
Ah ERT. The most wonderful feeling in the world. Riding a coaster without a crowd.
Yes, this train is retro. That's what makes it awesome.
This is an area normally restricted to the public.
Griffon time!!!! Okay, check out the wheels. the entire set of wheels is able to rotate 360 in order to negate those awesome B&M turns. Loch Ness Monster doesn't have this kind of wheels, in fact, these wheels are unique to Griffon. Without them, Griffon would probably shuffle. If you don't know what shuffling is, sit in the front of Nessie
Anyone who is not in awe of Griffon needs to go on this tour! The technology that keeps this ride smooth as glass is purely amazing!
These water scoops not only creates a cool effect, but they are essential in slowing down the coaster at the end of the ride. It's funny how some B&M elements are so technologically advanced, and some are as simple as skimming water to slow down!
The wheels on Griffon are more awesome than you think! Seriously, take the tour and you will never look at this ride the same again!
THESE ROAD WHEELS ARE HUGE.
This tire gets the train out of the station house. I am very regretful that I didn't get a photo of the train coming out of the storage area. IT IS SERIOUSLY SUCH AN AWESOME PROCESS! Take the tour and you will see.
At first, these train had floors. But testing proved that the floors made the trains too heavy because of the extra seats, and so B&M decided to make the ride floorless.
MUST. PRESS. BIG. RED. BUTTON.
I am just going to smile and nod...
Alright. We are now in the trolley that takes us to the top of Griffon. It is there to take riders DOWN if the ride gets stuck. We start on the ground, and slowly get higher...
And higher (sounds like a Bob Dylan concert)
BEER BEER BEER! Wait, wasn't I in the middle of something? Oh right. And higher...
And all of the sudden we are on top of Griffon! And yes, we were pulled up backwards.
Yes. Another thing about Griffon, is that when it gets stuck it HAS NO FLOORS. There are little slides that go between the rows already up there, in case employees have to BUILD A FLOOR to get riders down.
These are some seriously bulky anti-rollbacks. I should have put something in there for scale.
Careful now. In order to take this picture I had to put both hands on the camera which meant not holding onto the railing.
James River shot.
The put a train up there just because they love us. Those road wheels don't seem so big now do they?
OH HI THERE
Big immelmans make my dreams come true. (I don't know how to spell it, and neither does spell check).
Once we were done with our Griffon ERT, we headed to Alpengiest.
The liars at Busch Gardens told me that no one had ever died on one of their rides. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THIS, HUH?!?!?!?
How did this photo get here? Oh well, here it is anyway.
The ERT on this ride was delicious.
This water pump was exactly where they wanted to put Alpengiest. It couldn't be moved, so they scooted the ride over a bit.
I don't have a shot of it, but one of the things that make Alpengiest cool is that originally, the lift hill didn't fit the jagged terrain. So, instead of putting the classic B&M poles, they used a four post lattice system.
Just in case you didn't know what nuts and bolts looked like.
And if you haven't guessed yet, we are in the Alpengiest maintenance bay.
Lonely Alpengiest road wheel.
They keep these around. Sorry if it's a little blurred, it's hard to tell with a thumbnail.
This guy was up to something...
Not really sure if this photo was invading his privacy but I posted it anyway...
A sight that is hardly ever seen. An unthemed side of DarKastle.
BGE is VERY conservationist. The condensation from the mist machines in the ride is put into this tank, where it settles into water and is used to water plants. That's right, BGE plants are watered with fog from DarKastle.
NOTED! Wait, am I even aloud to do that?
As the only Jew on the tour, they decided to play a game where one them got into one of the German planes and chased me around in circles till I passed out.
This bit of track had the ability to flip completely over for some reason.
Busch Gardens Europe scenery is awesome.
It had to be taken.
Boat boat boat boat boat boat boat. Original caption, am I right?
Take your last look. Big Bad Wolf is being removed.
I think this bridge is part of the Railroad.
NOO PEOPLE ARE HERE. Oh well, we still don't have to wait in lines. They handed us each a special kind of fast pass you CAN'T get on their website. The only way to get your hands on them is to take this tour.
I'm Kanye West...
Cringe again Fabio!
It has been ten years since Apollo's Chariot opened. It has also been ten years since Fabio broke his nose at the bottom of the first drop via GOOSE.
Italy theming is pretty yummy.
Why yes, yes it is.
THE. MOST. INTENSE. RIDE. IN. THE. PARK!!!!
Like I said, Italy is awesome.
Running out of caption ideas. OH NO!
I like to notice little things like this topiary.
GERMANY TIME.These guys were there.
Yes ladies, he's single.
I think this is New France.
O HAI THAR DROP! NICE TO MEET YOU!
Griffon was very Griffony today.
I wish the ride was in my backyard
A rare sight. A horse without an erection. Seriously, every time I come here the Clydesdale is VERY happy to see me.
AHA! SLEEPING ON THE JOB?
I will leave you with this LNM theming... It took me 2 hours to upload and caption all these photo's so give me some feed back and make it worth while. Leave me some comments!
Outstanding TR, my man! I feel like I've taken the tour myself now. It was really cool to see all of that behind-the-scenes stuff. And I've never noticed the extra padding on the shoulder harnesses on the first row of each car on Loch Ness Monster. I'm guessing they put that there to keep back-row riders from getting their fingers pinched when getting in?
And you did just fine with the photography. I've been taking pictures of rides for almost 20 years, with everything from disposable to film to digital cameras. You just have to do what the professionals do: take tons of pictures. And frankly, for TPR, you just have to make sure you get your "through the trees" shot and your "nerd" shot of wheels or chain dogs or lift motors, which you did quite thoroughly here.
Totally amazing and VERY well done. I really enjoyed seeing your behind-the-scenes tour, and just so you know your pics are really great! I almost even felt a little dizzy looking at your photos from the top of Griffon haha.
Thank you guys so much! I might be uploading some Dorney Park photos soon as well. And for those of you thinking about taking the tour, you simply must, it's too awesome to pass up. Even if you saw a lot of the stuff on this TR, I couldn't possibly get a photo of everything, and you can't experience ERT and flashpasses and free parking with photos... seriously, the set back about theme parks is that most of your time is spent in line. On this tour, just about none of it is! This gives you a lot of time to really experience the ride for what it really is. And many things that I learned I just can't describe. like just how awesome Griffon really is. The only way to get all this is to take the tour yourself. It is only on Fridays and Saturdays and they only accept 16 people at a time, so I would advise getting your tickets early. It costs about 75 dollars and you still need to have a ticket to the park, so it helps if you either have a season pass or lots of spending money. But it is really, really worth it!
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