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Aug 17, 2010
As stated previously in a different thread, I had the delight of experiencing Busch Gardens' first ever Coasters at Night tour. My first caveat: I have not done the regular Roller Coaster Insider tour, and thusly I cannot compare the two. However, I can state that after comparing the two on Busch's website, the night tour sounded like the better experience, and I do believe that I chose the correct one. I'm not sure if it was a special, but it was priced at only sixty dollars (as was the Insider tour.) It was worth every penny. The two tours do vary slightly, for instance:

1. On the night tour, you ride every coaster twice, bypassing the lines. This includes Grover's Alpine Express.

2. On the night tour, you visit the maintenance areas for all the coasters, whereas the Insider tour only allows access to two.

3. The night tour is at night (of course) and so begins when the park is open, but ends after all the guests have left.

We met up at 7:30, the designated beginning time, in England. The awesome part is that since it was brand new, the tour was made up of only myself, my sister, and two other guys. We immediately disembarked for the Loch Ness loops. It is here where our fantastic guides explained the story of why Nessie's loops no longer interlock (see Nessie's Loops.) They took some pictures of us before allowing us to enter the maintenance area. We held the wheels and a piece of the chain lift, and had a merry time listening to how Nessie operates. Then we went upstairs to the station for some ERT. Though the ride is running with a full line, it's no problem on the night tour, as you get to tell the guides exactly where you want to sit, and on the next train that passes through, you easily board. For Loch Ness, we had to get off and wait one cycle before getting on for our second ride, but it was no hassle.

Next, we headed over to Sesame Street FoF for some ERT on Grover's Alpine Express, but alas! Our plans were thwarted by maintenance trouble, and this part of the tour was cut.

We walked over to the Apollo's Chariot maintenance area. This stop posed the first signs of the park adjusting to the new tour. When we went to unlock the door, our guide realized that the proper key was not given to him, as Apollo's is not included in the Insider tour. As we waited for another employee to arrive with the correct key, security stopped to ask why four random guests were loitering outside of a restricted access building, before our guides notified him that this was a new tour. It was, fortunately, a humorous situation, and not an inconvenience. The Apollo's maintenance area differed drastically from the Nessie's. Then we went to the station and again chose our seats for the ride. This time, however, we stayed on for our second ride. Apollo's back seat to the far right in the dark with your hands up the whole way is a far better ride than any coaster I have ever ridden.

Then, we went straight to Alpengeist. During Illuminights, they explained, they will try to match up your second ride to the start of the fireworks finale. To match the time, we went to the maintenance area first, and experienced the same key issue as at Apollo's. Fortunately, this employee had the heads-up to unlock Griffon before we made it over there. The maintenance area for Alpie is pretty similar to Apollo's, but they did provide some differing information from Apollo's maintenance stop. Again, we chose the seat we wanted and tackled Alpengeist in the dark. When we returned, we were instructed to deboard the train and take seats in the second row as they did not want to make people in the front row, who were trying to ride during the fireworks, miss their opportune moment from some people who paid sixty bucks for a tour. I can understand and appreciate that. Truthfully, riding anywhere on Alpie during the fireworks provides a unique and utterly dizzying experience. For me, it was the best ride of the tour aside from Apollo. Our guides perfectly timed our ride. As soon as we headed up the lift, the fireworks started right next to us. It was incredible.

Our last stop was Griffon, and we got in line about ten minutes before the park was scheduled to close at ten. We again rode wherever we wanted and stayed on for the completion of our second ride. The op for the end of the night was better than I experienced during my day rides. After riding, we went into Griffon's super-sweet control booth. It's filled with video cameras throughout the ride, a touchscreen computer, and gadgets that were way nicer than the other control booths. Then we went to Griffon maintenance, where it was interesting to see how much larger the Griffon road wheels are compared to every other coaster. Lastly, we got set to board our trolley to the top as the park was now completely clear. Although they have taken many people to the top by now, this was the first night tour, and therefore every major park supervisor accompanied us. The view from the top was amazing. They left one train at the top approximately eight feet from the edge. They explained that this was to (A) provide a visual barrier for where to not walk past, (B) provide another spot to take pictures, and (C) be our escape to the bottom in the event of power outage on the trolley, which is unconnected electrically to the ride. I asked if we could get down this way regularly and use the trolley as our alternative, but that was not in the cards. We stayed atop Griffon for a good bit of time asking an array of questions. Finally, we descended via the trolley and our amazing tour was complete. The guides walked us out of the park, seeing to it that we exited with no trouble.

I absolutely recommend this tour to everyone. I cannot imagine that the Insider tour is better than this.

P.S. My guide asked me during the tour if I posted on the forums for the park. I took this as a compliment, as if he said, "You are amazingly insightful and must be a part of this brilliant group of forum-posters." He told me that he and most everyone he works with checks these sites regularly and reads everything posted. So, just saying, Big Brother is watching.
Franco, excellent trip report, and on your first day on the forums even. Talk about an overachiever:D Maintenance trouble on the Alpine Express?! Oh, no, I think you missed out on the best part of the tour!:p
Sixty dollars sounds like a steal for this tour, especially with only four participants. I would love to get a hold of some of the source code running these newer coasters. It sounds like Griffon is top of the line, high tech. I can't wait to get in there and see exactly what sort of hardware they're using too.
Thanks for the excellent report, keep up the good work!
Franco, who was your guide, or do you think he would like to remain anonymous? I know they have some great people doing the tours. Now that I know they have a night tour, I think we may have to make another trip back up. I have to do this! I might actually get on top of Griffon this time. :D
Awesome Trip Report! Did you get any pictures? If so, we'd love to see them.

Hint: Check your rep ;)
I did not bring a camera with me, although one of the guides had a camera with them at all times and many pictures were taken. They will be mailing them to my address shortly, and as soon as I receive them, I shall make an upload. I am unsure as to whether my guide wished to remain anonymous, and for now I shall remain hesitant to supply this information. If you have never been to the top of Griffon, it is a must! I have noticed that under a different thread there were questions about what the "Observer" ticket meant. I know for this tour, since my sister was an "Observer," she was allowed to do everything but go to the top of Griffon. So if anyone is interested in doing the tour, but not going to the top, you can do everything else for only twenty-eight dollars, which is a great price, considering that Quick Queue passes alone cost more, or am I incorrect?
I loved your trip report Franco and I am so happy that you had a good experience. Sounds like a must-see. Perhaps a BGWFans gathering perhaps?

I will say however, that in the daytime tour, you also see all of the maintenance areas. The site may not specify all of the sites; but they do take you to all areas. My tour took me to Nessie, Griffon, Alpengeist, and then Apollo. :) The Ultimate Insider Tour is a bit different as it covers other aspects of the park besides coasters. They all sound great though!

Really glad you are here Franco and thanks again for your info! :)
That's interesting because our tour guide specifically stated that the morning tour does not take you to the Apollo's Chariot maintenance area. He made note every time we did something that the morning tour didn't offer.
That is weird. We went to Apollo's and when I inquired about the tour I am taking this weekend, I was also told Apollo's is still on the daytime tour. Interesting. I'll keep you all posted after this weekend and let everyone know for sure.
We did the daytime tour twice last year and didn't do the Apollo maintenance area either time. Nora, you must have gotten the golden ticket package.
My tour last year included AC. We spent a lot of time there, as it happened, seemed like there were a lot of questions at that stop, plus by then the park was open so we had to be let on to trains already serving the GP. It was our last coaster IIRC, not counting returning to Nessie because when we started the tour there at Loch Ness they weren't ready for anyone to ride yet, even after we'd been in the maintenance bay.
I must have!

Like I said weird.

Maybe it has something to do with the size of the tour and how long they are taking or the fact I sometimes look like an employee. Who knows.

A few photos of the daytime Apollo section of the tour attached. My information is only going on the tour I took this year and what I was informed of for the tour I am attending soon.



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From your pictures I can tell that we had the same tour guide, so it now seems particularly strange that he would say that it was not included in the regular tour.
Yeah, I agree Franco. The tour I took was early in the season. When I booked the tour for this weekend, I distinctly asked that since the price has changed would I still be able to see all the maintenance areas- including Apollo's Chariot. I was told yes. I am quite confused. But no worries, I will find out for sure when I go on the tour and report back here ASAP. Ms. Adler (one of my nicknames) is on the case.

Or, perhaps I should hire "The Hardly Boys" in the case of The Mystery of Lost Coaster Tour. Maybe they will get a clue and point me in the right direction. (That is a nod to all you South Park fans out there). I love that show.



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I hope that this tour will stay at Busch Gardens. It's just another facet at the park that I honestly believe no other park can beat. Interestingly, though, I checked the BG main site today. The Insider tour only advertises behind-the-scenes looks at the maintenance areas for Loch Ness and Griffon, and only gives ERT on Griffon and Alpengeist. The Coasters at Night section does not mention visiting Alpengeist's maintenance area, though it was part of the tour. Maybe there are just slight nuances between the advertised tour and the real deal.
The tour seemed a little more scheduled than to add and subtract areas due to how quickly it is moving. The only place where time was open-ended was for questions, which were answered reasonably quickly. They will allow no more than fifteen people per tour, so I can't imagine that variance of size would have a great impact.
The tour that I went on had more than fifteen people on it during the day. And there were certain things, like how long it took us at a couple places, questions, conversations, etc. that didn't allow us to do all the stuff that other people have said that they did on the tours.
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