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Sep 23, 2009
North Carolina
I went on the coaster tour on Saturday morning (at OhMyGod o'clock, but you have to :D) and let me just say, if you love coasters, GO!!!

We had to be there by 7:30am, which means you get the park to yourself pretty much for two hours until the gates open. We started on Loch Ness, first going down the stairs to look up at the interlocking loops. Nessie was the first and the only one still running. The way Arrow made coasters is so different from how anyone puts them together now. Now coasters are brought in to the park in huge parts, already assembled and then bolted together. But Arrow put them together IN the park. You can see the welds, and new welds where they've had to make repairs.

After the history lesson, we went into the maintenance shed and saw where they work on the cars. They have a car from Cobra that used to be at Tampa they acquired for parts. We saw the wheels and saw bad ones and how they sit on the tracks. They even have these trap doors that the maintenance guys use to check under the car that is in the station on the track at the time they do their checks. They do maintenance checks every four hours, and every morning, they come in and check every inch of the coaster. They even have the blueprints of the entire coaster on the wall so they know all the stats when they have to be repaired.

After that, we went up and got to ride Nessie twice. It's been a while since I've ridden in the front of Nessie. It is still an awesome coaster, even after all these years. The greatest coaster Arrow ever built. Too bad they could never duplicate it.

Next we headed to Griffon, which I'll describe tomorrow when I'm awake and thinking better. :D
Ah, I am awake this morning. I think I might have finally gotten over my weekend. It was long and fun!

So, we took a shortcut to Griffon from Nessie that went down by the railroad tracks (well, under the bridge the tracks go on before the Scotland station) and in the back side of Griffon. This is where the fun really began. There were eleven of us on the tour, but a dad and his two daughters weren't going to go up the lift to the top. Yes, the TOP of Griffon. For safety reasons, the top of Griffon, where the car turns to get to the first drop, has a floor so that if a car were to get stuck, they could unload the passengers. The lift is basically a little car that rides up the first lift. It has seats for 8 passengers, with seatbelts. We sat down, buckled up and then rode up to the top.

I will admit that I chickened out by the time we got up there. The car is very steep itself with rather high steps, and it was pretty windy up there. I am not really afraid of heights, but my eyesight isn't that great with bad depth perception and horrible peripheral vision. I almost thought about going up after the car stopped rocking, but I was rather content just standing there and looking around. I was probably 200' above the ground anyway. The walkway on top of the coaster is actually 210'. The 205' drop is measured from the rail itself. My husband went up and took some awesome pictures. I took a few with my phone before deciding that I should put that up since I'm a klutz. It really was beautiful from up there, though. You can see the James River so well. I wish the sky had been clear. You probably could have seen even further.

When I refused to walk up to the top, one of the maintenance guys came down to make sure I was all right. He's afraid of heights, too, but works on a rolercoaster! He said he rode Griffon after they had finished it and called his wife immediately to tell her. He loved riding. He was trying to tell me how safe it was and all, which I know it is. Busch goes over the top with their safety requirements. They go above and beyond the state and national requirements, which is why there have been so few accidents at their parks. To put it another way, the Rhine cruise boats are piloted by retired Naval officers who take a lot of pride in their boats. If I ride is down when you happen to be there, it's either the four hour check or someone has been stupid and done something they shouldn't have. There are all sorts of precautions to keep everyone from getting hurt. When you see a sign that says ride restricted area, do not go in! That's how you get hurt or get everyone on the ride pissed at you for getting it shut down.

Once we got down back on solid ground, we were taken into the maintenance bay. There was still one car in the bay, so we got a good look at how Griffon works. The wheels are so different from Nessie's. Jon, who was showing us around in there, handed me one of the big wheels (top wheel on the track) and man, it was heavy! My husband estimated that they are about 50-60 pounds. We were standing under the car, so you could see the roll back hooks for climbing the hill and the clamp that holds you at the top of the drop. It's amazing that one little piece of steel is keeping that huge car with all those people in place for four seconds before dropping. Each side of the car has restraint releases for the five seats on each side of the rows. The rooster tails (the water spray) are produced by open ended metal boxes at the back of each car that dip into the water. All three cars have different spray patterns. I'd never really noticed that before!

The others came back down and we went up to the station to ride. We had to wait for them to load the third car, which was so cool to watch from the exit side of the platform where the maintenance bay is. They had to cycle the cars through, so we got to go up into the control booth. It's amazing the differences between Nessie and Griffon. Nessie has b&w screens and just a couple with a huge board. Griffon has a bank of about 10 color screens that cover the entire ride and a more digital board, but still has the release buttons. It was so cool watching the cars go past each of the cameras. Then we loaded up and got two rides. We sat in the front first and then the back. I love Griffon!

Next we walked over to Alpengeist. Since the park was open, we rode first. We just went once since we'd ridden it on Friday night. It's one of our favorite rides. I think they'd gotten new harnesses, because I usually have trouble getting my harness to hit that last click until I'm going up the hill. This time it clicked right away. On most rides, I'm just about half an inch away from the next click to get the harness tight enough. After everyone finished their second ride (and our gracious host and photographer got to ride, too), we headed into the Alpengeist maintenance bay. Not much different here, just how it is more like a barn since the car is hanging from instead of sitting on the rails. They have huge crab pots that they use to heat the metal to get off worn or defective nylon on the wheels. After they replace the nylon, they have to cure for several weeks in the sun before they can even touch the rails. And then they have to run so many hours without people before they can be used on a real run. More safety at work.

We took the back way out of Alpengeist and came out beside the Festhaus. We then headed to Italy and Apollo's Chariot. Another maintenance bay much like the others, just this one is purple and yellow. By the way, the reason Alpengeist and Griffon are painted blue is so they will blend into the sky. The locals at Kingsmill don't want anything ugly in their skyline. They still aren't happy with Apollo's purple. :p We did get to see one of the lap restraints away from the car. It has a "clamshell" design and if you've never noticed it before, the under side is actually concave to fit over your thighs. There is a line on the post of the restraint that if it can't be seen, you can't ride. Very large people (height or weight) are unable to ride because of this. That's a really great safety precaution, really. We then went up for our two rides. While we were riding, Carl, our guide, was telling everyone in the station about why we were getting to bump up in the line. Our second ride was in the front with the two girls that were there with their father. The youngest girl, probably 8 or 9, was sitting beside me. On the way up the first hill, she raised her arms and I looked over and told her that she really knew how to ride this ride!

That, unfortunately was the end of the tour. Carl and Jon were super great. Jon took 220 photos and we each got a CD of all of them. We also got a QuickQueue pass for the rest of the day that would allow us one ride in any seat of the four rides (as long as they crossed it off the card). It is really well worth it to take this tour. It's a lot of fun and I learned a lot!

EDIT Added a few shots from the lift on Griffon. Can you see why I chickened out? :)


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Very cool. Now if I could only get $80 to take one myself... I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures.
Well, just think, when you get your pass, you only have to pay for the tour and not tickets, too, and get the discount. It seems like the tours are becoming a permanent thing. They have two for HOS, too. One you get tours of all the haunted houses/mazes and front of the line on all of them. The other, which is $100, but sounds like it's well worth that, you get dinner at the Festhaus and then get made up by their makeup artists in addition to front of the line on all the houses/mazes. The animal tours are great, too. The wolf training was lots of fun, and I'm sure the others would be just as great. The staff at BGW is so wonderful. I've never had a problem with anyone ever.
Hey kcracken, were there any "non-riders" on the tour with you? I've noticed the two ticket prices and I got a question regarding what the difference in ticket types was and I couldn't tell them specifically, just wondering if you could shed some light possibly.
I think technically the youngest daughter of the father with the two daughters was considered a "non-rider", but they let her ride anyway. She was tall enough for each. The only thing they didn't do was go up on Griffon, that I remember. That's all I know, though.
Never thought about the fact that the big coasters (aside from Apollo) blend with the sky, perhaps that trend began with Drachen Fire, which is closer to Kingsmill than any other coaster currently is.
I would love to go on the tour, without going on the rides because I'm terribly afraid of heights and everything, but it would be cool to go through the rest of the tour.
Speaking of coaster tour.. I just went on the Coaster Tour at BGT this weekend (you only get Montu though) and I had an awesome time. It's a lot cheaper than the coaster tour at BGW.. it's about $30 per person.. I think I remember the BGW tour being like $75 per person.

You get a tour of the maintenance area (I got to unlock a row of harnesses!), you get ERT, and you get to walk up to the 5th platform of the Block Breaks (there's 6). I know others have got to dispatch the trains, but we ran out of time.. You get some great shots of Montu on the tour and it's an awesome experience to be standing on the block breaks when a train goes by.

There's also an awesome model of the breaking system that Sheikra uses.. Actually, it's kind of ghetto.. It's about 2 feet of piping.. Three quarters is PCV pipe and the rest is aluminum.. There's a fin attached to a magnet with Sheikra written on it and it's tilted so you can slide it down and watch how the breaks work.

It's a 45 minute tour for one coaster.

I'll be coming up to BGW sometime this year and I'll hopefully be going on the coaster tour there too.
Just so everyone knows, there's a double discount for tours for the month of april. This applies to the coaster tour and the other tours. I saw it on the calendar that BGW sent out to passholders.
pandorazboxx said:
Just so everyone knows, there's a double discount for tours for the month of april. This applies to the coaster tour and the other tours. I saw it on the calendar that BGW sent out to passholders.

That's good to know... that means I'll be going next month for sure.
Hey everyone, just in case you haven't seen it, Chris was kind enough to post my Busch Gardens Williamsburg Coaster Tour review on

Here is the link:

I really captured some great photos that day... I took about 350 total; not to mention video footage as well.

What a day!!

Hope everyone gets the chance to go! :)
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