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Jan 12, 2022
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Okay, in a couple of days we'll be in Williamsburg. This is my first visit to BGW, and I'm a compulsive trip planner. I realize that this ain't Disney World, but I find myself having urges to plan in some of the same ways. At WDW, for a decent time, you really need a well-refined plan for the day, to know which rides you'll hit in which order, preferably to show up an hour early to rope-drop, and to have a firm plan of where you'll go the instant it opens.

Here, we're about to show up to BGW this Wed, Thu, and Fri (or parts thereof)—the first week of the year that it's even open all weekdays. I'm hoping that we find very low crowd levels and can pretty much wander onto whatever ride we want any time we want. Nevertheless, I feel naked without "a Plan." So let's think about Friday in particular, when the park will be open 10-9 rather than 12-7.
  • Is there any benefit to bothering to "rope-drop"? Is it ok to just roll up to the parking lot 30' after park opening? If rope-dropping is a thing, how early are we talking?
  • I assume, if there's any point in it, the plan would be to rope-drop Pantheon. Or is it at the stage where everybody is doing the same strategy and you get a "rope-drop spike"—i.e. would it be better to come back an hour after opening?
  • Rope-dropping or not, what might be a good path to follow through the park? What might a smart "itinerary" for a 11-hr day, for a family with preteens, balancing coasters with shows and pausing to eat, etc.?
 
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Okay, in a couple of days we'll be in Williamsburg. This is my first visit to BGW, and I'm a compulsive trip planner. I realize that this ain't Disney World, but I find myself having urges to plan in some of the same ways. At WDW, for a decent time, you really need a well-refined plan for the day, to know which rides you'll hit in which order, preferably to show up an hour early to rope-drop, and to have a firm plan of where you'll go the instant it opens.

Here, we're about to show up to BGW this Wed, Thu, and Fri (or parts thereof)—the first week of the year that it's even open all weekdays. I'm hoping that we find very low crowd levels and can pretty much wander onto whatever ride we want any time we want. Nevertheless, I feel naked without "a Plan." So let's think about Friday in particular, when the park will be open 10-9 rather than 12-7.
  • Is there any benefit to bothering to "rope-drop"? Is it ok to just roll up to the parking lot 30' after park opening? If rope-dropping is a thing, how early are we talking?
  • I assume, if there's any point in it, the plan would be to rope-drop Pantheon. Or is it at the stage where everybody is doing the same strategy and you get a "rope-drop spike"—i.e. would it be better to come back an hour after opening?
  • Rope-dropping or not, what might be a good path to follow through the park? What might a smart "itinerary" for a 11-hr day, for a family with preteens, balancing coasters with shows and pausing to eat, etc.?
I'm sure others can fill in much more than I can but:

On nice days the line for the parking lot can be a big thing. It can make waiting to make the trip into the park a challenge. Personally I would rope drop Pantheon, because the wait won't get better.

I personally like to work my way across the Scotland bridge back into Oktoberfest and work my way from there across to Festa, across into England and Scotland. By them I'm in Ireland when Celtic Fyre was ready to go, and I can jump in there. Then I work my way back to France and New France. Swing back the opposite way I just came.
 
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Furyous Baco 325

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The earlier you get there the longer you're going to be waiting in the parking line, but you can knock out 4 of the coasters in the first hour before everyone gets there. (If the park is busy that day) Usually, If you are rope dropping Pantheon, I would recommend doing the other coasters in Festa Italia too so you don't have to go back there. You should go through Italy to Oktoberfest and Verbolten next because that is probably the most popular coaster in the park. Definitely go to Alpengeist next because that thing has trash dispatches and then wait a while for InvadR and go to Griffon which never seems to have a super long wait. You should then head back up to Loch Ness for the last new coaster you need to ride.
Idk if this is the best route for the coasters, but it's what I do and I only ever have to wait for InvadR and Loch Ness. If you do this you will finish up about 2 hours after park open and you can get in some rerides.
 
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Prior to Pantheon's opening, my route was as follows from rope drop... Loch Ness, Finnegan's, Griffon, Invadr, Le Carapult, Alpie, Verbolten, Apollo, Tempesto. More often than not I was able to hit all of those in the first 90-120 minutes!

Pantheon certainly changes the calculus on routing around the park, and Furyous' strategy may be best. Do note that Pantheon has been challenged by wind, switch track AND restraint indicator issues, so there are no guarantees you are riding that at rope drop if that is the path you choose to follow.

Also note that central Virginia schools are on spring break next week, so while the park won't be dead Friday, I would expect a quiet weekday, which in and of itself can be problematic if BGW only does one train ops on their coasters
 
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Nicole

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I’m a big planner, too. In order to provide useful information, can you tell us what your interests and priorities are? Whether or not you are interested in coasters, other thrill rides, flats, shows, food, etc makes a huge difference in day planning.
 

horsesboy

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Okay, in a couple of days we'll be in Williamsburg. This is my first visit to BGW, and I'm a compulsive trip planner. I realize that this ain't Disney World, but I find myself having urges to plan in some of the same ways. At WDW, for a decent time, you really need a well-refined plan for the day, to know which rides you'll hit in which order, preferably to show up an hour early to rope-drop, and to have a firm plan of where you'll go the instant it opens.

Here, we're about to show up to BGW this Wed, Thu, and Fri (or parts thereof)—the first week of the year that it's even open all weekdays. I'm hoping that we find very low crowd levels and can pretty much wander onto whatever ride we want any time we want. Nevertheless, I feel naked without "a Plan." So let's think about Friday in particular, when the park will be open 10-9 rather than 12-7.
  • Is there any benefit to bothering to "rope-drop"? Is it ok to just roll up to the parking lot 30' after park opening? If rope-dropping is a thing, how early are we talking?
  • I assume, if there's any point in it, the plan would be to rope-drop Pantheon. Or is it at the stage where everybody is doing the same strategy and you get a "rope-drop spike"—i.e. would it be better to come back an hour after opening?
  • Rope-dropping or not, what might be a good path to follow through the park? What might a smart "itinerary" for a 11-hr day, for a family with preteens, balancing coasters with shows and pausing to eat, etc.?
Pantheon was walking on this afternoon not sure if that will hold up the rest of the week but at 3 when I stopped by I could walk on and sit in any row without more then a 1 train wait
 
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Jan 12, 2022
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I’m a big planner, too. In order to provide useful information, can you tell us what your interests and priorities are? Whether or not you are interested in coasters, other thrill rides, flats, shows, food, etc makes a huge difference in day planning.
You asked for it! Background: My wife has actually been plenty of times in her youth. I've never been before—in fact, aside from a trip to Carowinds when I was a teenager, and a family trip to WDW 3 years ago, I haven't been to many theme parks. The girls are 10 and 12; they're excited about the coasters, and the 12-year-old will probably want to chain-ride all the coasters all the time (and I'd be right along with her). The 10-year old, though, will probably have room to be captivated by natural beauty, animals, and musical performers. She sings and plays the harp, and I'm actually a professional violinist with a fiddle streak, so we've already got our tickets for Celtic Fyre. My wife will have some limits on how hard and fast we drag her all around the park. Food at BGW is hardly an "attraction," but we probably won't do anything crazy like leave the park to eat. I'm aware that Festhaus is probably the best option, and will probably try to wind up there around lunch time.

The time frame: We'll probably drive up and split Wednesday between a few hours at CW and a couple, like 5-7, at BGW (maybe just highlight the major coasters). Then Thursday will focus on CW (fingers crossed it isn't too rainy), and Friday on BGW.

So yeah, the priority is mainly on coasters, but one has physical limits, and shows, lower-thrill rides, and shop-browsing can help you make it through the day.
 

horsesboy

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You asked for it! Background: My wife has actually been plenty of times in her youth. I've never been before—in fact, aside from a trip to Carowinds when I was a teenager, and a family trip to WDW 3 years ago, I haven't been to many theme parks. The girls are 10 and 12; they're excited about the coasters, and the 12-year-old will probably want to chain-ride all the coasters all the time (and I'd be right along with her). The 10-year old, though, will probably have room to be captivated by natural beauty, animals, and musical performers. She sings and plays the harp, and I'm actually a professional violinist with a fiddle streak, so we've already got our tickets for Celtic Fyre. My wife will have some limits on how hard and fast we drag her all around the park. Food at BGW is hardly an "attraction," but we probably won't do anything crazy like leave the park to eat. I'm aware that Festhaus is probably the best option, and will probably try to wind up there around lunch time.

The time frame: We'll probably drive up and split Wednesday between a few hours at CW and a couple, like 5-7, at BGW (maybe just highlight the major coasters). Then Thursday will focus on CW (fingers crossed it isn't too rainy), and Friday on BGW.

So yeah, the priority is mainly on coasters, but one has physical limits, and shows, lower-thrill rides, and shop-browsing can help you make it through the day.
Marco Polo also has some decent food.
 
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Marco Polo also has some decent food.
Not only does Marco Polo have some decent food, but they have a nice variety of offerings that should satisfy everyone in the family. Trappers is decent BBQ and Festhaus is okay German, but there aren't too many other options at either of those locations.
 
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Not only does Marco Polo have some decent food, but they have a nice variety of offerings that should satisfy everyone in the family. Trappers is decent BBQ and Festhaus is okay German, but there aren't too many other options at either of those locations.
I will say, I think this is one MAJOR drawback to BGW that other than Marco Polo there isn’t many places that carry a “standard” fare that people like. Each spot has unique plates that not everyone may enjoy.
 
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Furyous Baco 325

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I will say, I think this is one MAJOR drawback to BGW that other than Marco Polo there isn’t many places that carry a “standard” fare that people like. Each spot has unique plates that not everyone may enjoy.
I remember I used to just a plain pizza at festhaus when I went, but ya not much other than that in the rest of the park.
 
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Fur Dozy

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I will say, I think this is one MAJOR drawback to BGW that other than Marco Polo there isn’t many places that carry a “standard” fare that people like. Each spot has unique plates that not everyone may enjoy.
Does festhaus still serve pizza? I might have my forum membership revoked but i've only been to BGW like once in the last 5-7 years.
 
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Does festhaus still serve pizza? I might have my forum membership revoked but i've only been to BGW like once in the last 5-7 years.
According to the website, yes:

  • Oven Roasted Chicken
  • Bratwurst
  • Knackwurst
  • Smoked Sausage
  • Cheese and Pepperoni Pizza
  • Pepperoni and Bacon Pizza
  • Corned Beef Sandwich
  • Smoked Turkey Pretzel Sandwich
  • Das Festhaus Garden Salad

But I have not been as of yet in a couple of years since Covid.
 
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May 12, 2011
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According to the website, yes:

  • Oven Roasted Chicken
  • Bratwurst
  • Knackwurst
  • Smoked Sausage
  • Cheese and Pepperoni Pizza
  • Pepperoni and Bacon Pizza
  • Corned Beef Sandwich
  • Smoked Turkey Pretzel Sandwich
  • Das Festhaus Garden Salad

But I have not been as of yet in a couple of years since Covid.
I’d also argue that when open, the pretzel shop located near by would suffice for some additional options and someone could bring those items inside to join the group or vice versa.
 
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I’d also argue that when open, the pretzel shop located near by would suffice for some additional options and someone could bring those items inside to join the group or vice versa.
Yes, the pretzel shop offers additional options, but are they enough? Probably depends on the group and what each of them wants. Assuming you have a lot of divergent tastes in a group, Marco Polo is hands down the best bet, albeit it does lack indoor seating.
 
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Nicole

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You asked for it! Background: My wife has actually been plenty of times in her youth. I've never been before—in fact, aside from a trip to Carowinds when I was a teenager, and a family trip to WDW 3 years ago, I haven't been to many theme parks. The girls are 10 and 12; they're excited about the coasters, and the 12-year-old will probably want to chain-ride all the coasters all the time (and I'd be right along with her). The 10-year old, though, will probably have room to be captivated by natural beauty, animals, and musical performers. She sings and plays the harp, and I'm actually a professional violinist with a fiddle streak, so we've already got our tickets for Celtic Fyre. My wife will have some limits on how hard and fast we drag her all around the park. Food at BGW is hardly an "attraction," but we probably won't do anything crazy like leave the park to eat. I'm aware that Festhaus is probably the best option, and will probably try to wind up there around lunch time.

The time frame: We'll probably drive up and split Wednesday between a few hours at CW and a couple, like 5-7, at BGW (maybe just highlight the major coasters). Then Thursday will focus on CW (fingers crossed it isn't too rainy), and Friday on BGW.

So yeah, the priority is mainly on coasters, but one has physical limits, and shows, lower-thrill rides, and shop-browsing can help you make it through the day.

Well first off, I’d suggest going to BGW on Thursday vice Friday, if the weather changes. Ever since the post-COVID shutdown, crowds have dramatically overwhelmed staffing. Historically, weekdays have been much better than Friday/Saturday/Sunday. It is important to caveat all of this with the observation that no one really knows what weekday crowd patterns post-COVID and post-Pantheon opening will really look like. Staffing problems are really killing capacity at all of the restaurants and rides.

Pre-COVID, food was, in fact, an attraction at BGW. There were restaurants themed to the hamlets, like a creperie in Aquitaine/France and German food in Das Festhaus, and a lot of the food was really good. There are also food-focused events, like the annual Food & Wine Festival. Regardless, if everything is actually open during the week, Trappers, Marco Polo, and Das Festhaus are are good options. That said, the Pretzel House/Beste Brezeln und Bier and Les Frites are probably better food. The house made donuts in Banbury/England are good. There is Dole Whip in Festa. If you like beer, I recommend going to Grogan’s Pub (in Killarney/Ireland) or Brauhaus (inside Das Festhaus on the right towards the back). They have a lot of interesting microbrews. Given inadequate staffing levels, I would avoid eating around normal lunch and dinner times.

Warning, the rest of this is a guess, because we don’t have much data to predict patterns now. Staffing is super-bad and the park seems very popular. So, things can get overrun easily.

I would be sure to ride Pantheon as soon as you can, since it goes down a lot for wind. So, if the lines are short on Wednesday and there isn’t any wind, ride it then. You may have to check back often, because it seems to go down several times a day.

On you second day, I would arrive at the parking booths 30-45 minutes before the advertised opening. They often open the turnstiles early, and you probably want to rope drop InvadR followed by Alpengeist, especially if you grab a ride on Pantheon on Wednesday.

InvadR has the worst capacity, oddly followed by Alpie this year. Verbolten is very popular and develops long lines, as well. Finnegan’s Flyer can get lines too, especially if they are only running one side. Obviously, do not skip Apollo or Nessie, but their lines should stay manageable unless crowds are particularly bad. Tempesto is the least important coaster in my opinion. So, if I had to skip one, that would be my choice.

If lines are long, you can buy QuickQueue to skip all of the lines, if you want to spend the money.

Generally, lines are much shorter at park open and close, so it is better to do the shows, food, leisure rides, animals, etc in the middle of the day, and the rides at the beginning and end.

Keep in mind that BGW bans loose articles on the vast majority of their major rides and rarely offers an option for storing articles for free on the platform. A movable locker (purchasable at any ride locker location) is highly recommended.

The wolves and stables are great. There are animal tours, if that is interesting to you. They rotate the animals in Scotland.

Let me know, if you have any questions.
 
Jan 12, 2022
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Well first off, I’d suggest going to BGW on Thursday vice Friday, if the weather changes. Ever since the post-COVID shutdown, crowds have dramatically overwhelmed staffing. Historically, weekdays have been much better than Friday/Saturday/Sunday. It is important to caveat all of this with the observation that no one really knows what weekday crowd patterns post-COVID and post-Pantheon opening will really look like.
Intriiiiguing. I'd made that call based on the fact that Thursday (and Wed) hours are 12-7 and Friday's are 10-9. Are you saying maybe the crowd difference (including in general, maybe for future trips) can outweigh the benefit of the extra 4 hrs? Of course, it might be moot since the forecast is sticking to the promise of thunderstorms on Thursday, so we sure don't want to put all our eggs in that basket, and we do have Celtic Fyre tickets for Friday. But maybe, if Wednesday's "couple of hours at closing" visit has rides down or long lines, we'll put in another evening visit on Thursday.

By the way, in general, what kind of expectations should I set for "good wait times" and "bad wait times"? I mean, in Disney contexts, things get crazy, like "Oh look, it's only an hour for Space Mtn! And only 3 hours for 7 Dwarfs Mine Train! Must be a good day!" Of course all bets are off for Pantheon, though I was encouraged by @horsesboy 's report of walk-ons yesterday. But for the others, would a 30' wait be a good day or a bad day? How long does "long" get? (With the usual disclaimers—there's no way Friday's crowd levels will the same as, say, July 4 weekend, right?)

Oh hey, an obvious question: Is there any way of knowing the current wait time at a given ride other than walking across the park and looking? E.g. Disney would have both their own apps ([grits teeth]) and third-party crowdsourced things like the Lines app.
 

Nicole

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Unfortunately, BGW has never provided accurate wait times in their app, and of course there is no Touring Plans equivalent. (Thankfully, there is nothing as annoying as Genie+ either.) Essentially, you have to look at the line and make a call, when you get to it.

Of course there is no way that any day this week will begin to rival July 4th or a Saturday during Howl-O-Scream, for that matter. That said, this season ride operations have been very slow. They appear to be running fewer trains than in the past on most of the coasters, and dispatches seem to take longer, as well. So, lines that used to move quickly are incredibly slow now. While there is no reason to expect Orlando-level wait times, you can find yourself in very long queues.

Especially at open and close, coasters can have easy station waits. At the height of the day, when the weather is good, however, you can find yourself in line for more than an hour. I, personally, won’t wait for more than 20 minutes, but that is true for me at Disney, as well.

Regarding Thursday vs Friday, as long as you plan to rope drop and stay until close, you should be fine on Friday. If you want easier lines all day, Thursday is the much better choice. Because BGW has a huge, local pass member base, there will usually be large crowds whenever there is nice weather and people aren’t at work/school. Additionally, the park has been consistently more packed since it reopened, and as I mentioned, staffing isn’t keeping up.
 
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Zachary

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But for the others, would a 30' wait be a good day or a bad day?

I mean, for people here, a thirty minute wait for anything at BGW is something we'd probably consider to be a very bad day to be honest. 😋 As long as you rope drop and stay until close, you should honestly be able to ride everything once without ever waiting more than 10 to 15 minutes. Midday lines can get bad at particularly popular or particularly low-capacity rides, but off-hours most everything is typically manageable on all but the worst days.

Here's a map showing which rides I would be most and least scared of encountering lines for. This is in no way scientific—but it's how I think of things generally at the park. For instance, objectively, Pantheon may have longer waits than InvadR on average right now—I don't know. I do know that waiting longer for InvadR feels worse to me than waiting longer for Pantheon though. That perception is what this map is based off more than anything else.
  • Blue: If you're waiting more than a cycle, it's a really bad day at the park.
  • Green: May develop prohibitive waits on busy days—especially around midday—but their high capacity or lack of popularity keeps them from being too bad most of the time.
  • Yellow: The popularity:capacity ratio of these attractions is generally less favorable than those in the green category. Be wearying of long lines and try to get to them during off-hours.
  • Red: On all but the most empty days, these attractions should be tackled early or late in the day to avoid lines.

Screenshot_20220329-152759_Brave.jpg
 
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One thing that will help some this year is the difference in spring break schedules among the schools. Richmond, Williamsburg, and Peninsula area schools have spring break the week of 4/4 - 4/8. While the southside area - Norfolk, Chesapeake, VA Beach, Portsmouth, and Suffolk - all have spring break the week of 4/11 - 4/15.
 
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