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Ice

Coffee is for Closers
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Jan 5, 2018
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I decided to make a full report to hash out my thoughts on my first summer visit on a very long time, with a lot of details. Apologies if it's a little too much for this thread.

There were highlights and lowlights, as with every park visit. I'm not going to discuss any ride closures or anything due to it being broken since that isn't entirely their fault.

I guess I'll start with the good stuff. As I posted previously, the entire trip was highlighted by the quest adventure (my review and discussion about it can be found here). I was forced to really pay attention to the details of the park and really appreciate it for what it is, further than what I already had. The park truly is spectacular and impressive for a regional park, regardless of its slight misteps. I will always love this park for it's charm and its own version of "magic".

That being said, I felt as though this trip highlighted the fact that I had refused to face over the past few years; the magic is diminishing. The park is very very slowly becoming more normal, making it feel less special, for a number of reasons.

First, the employees (mainly culinary) are usually clueless. EVERY time I went to a register to use my dining plan, the employees were unable to tell me what counted as a side or entree unless this was an employee who noticeably had been there for a while (older, from a different country). The locals with "Virginia" on their nametags were not helpful at all, with the biggest issues I ran into being discussed here when I went to Pretzels and Beer. It is obviously a management issue to me, since the employees clearly do not receive the training they require. This takes away from that magical feel, since it quickly puts you in a sour mood when you can't get a simple answer as to what counts as what on a dining plan.

The main thing that took away from the magic to me was the atmospherical changes. I discussed the music side to this shortly in the pop music thread here. The music was not fitting to the theme, since British rock should not be what England's atmosphere is composed of. Handel's Water Music is what sucks you into the charm of this park. It also extremely bugged me how commercial they have become with putting advertising televisions in queue for the newer rides, blasting random rock music instead of music that pertains to the theme (ex my rant about Battle for Eire here). I don't enjoy being reminded that I am at a theme park here, that is what removed me from the world. They used to do such a good job of making you feel as though this was a place, but now they shove it down your throat that you are at the world's most beautiful theme park, and that there are new rides. Because it makes sense to advertise to people that are already in your park. Let's tell the people in line for InvadR that there is a wooden coaster (yes they actually have a slide that says WOODEN COASTER) with 9 airtime hills to convince them to stay in line.

The slow and depressing closure of shops also took away from this trip. I know the candy shop in Germany is long gone, but it saddens me to see that building closed off when any space is good space. Annie's cafe was closed the entire time, my favorite place to sit and hang out in the park, simply because they don't get enough business in there. Pigs in a Blanket is long gone. And the worst part was how sad Wilkommenhaus looked. I actually got angry when I saw how they had it. It was borderline disrespectful to the history of the park when I walked past and saw this:BF6BD00E-3328-4A1A-BF45-87B3B13256F9.jpeg
Statue gone, house boarded up like it never existed. I know it's for the projection mapping, but honestly I'd rather have the good old facade up instead of some overhyped projection. Seriously, why do they think that is so cool? There are so many parts of the park now that are kinda barren, and it's sad to see. I understand it's costly to run shops that don't producd, but I wish they would just have thing open even if they didn't sell anything, just to add to theming. Rhinefeld's main Street is a sad sight with only one shop, and everything else being cast aside.

All in all, I'm kinda scared as to where this park is headed. They seem far too concerned with new flashy attractions that don't maximize quality and instead focus on quantity, and not concerned enough with emphasizing the unique and special park they have there. I understand the need for new to draw people in, but at least make the new great. Busch used to have a standard. A standard that barely met the expectations of Busch himself. It seems to me that every move is made with the consideration with "will it fit the theming enough, and will it not break that bank?" Instead of "let's make something special that really screams Busch Gardens". The last Busch Gardens ride we got was Verbolten, and perhaps the greatest example of a Busch Gardens ride we had was taken away this year.

After all those negatives, I'd like to end on a good note. The only thing I seek comfort in thinking is the recent attention to attempting to keep what unique experiences they have in good order. Verbolten got a nice clean up for the special effects, and we saw the return of the effect on Loch Ness. I'm glad they care enough to bring this to us. I would love to see Pompeii get a good treatment as well as the interior of Festhaus.

Apologies for the length, I just wanted to get all my thoughts out there for discussion. I know I'm probably being too hard on the park, I just hated feeling like my favorite place on Earth was becoming normal, becoming a run of the mill theme park.
 

Merboy

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I couldn't agree with you more. But as ever there really is a balance that must be struck between making money and implementing financially reasonable attractions, shops, et al. I'm hoping the new Project Madrid coaster will lean more towards rectifying the issues we've all been seeing for years and that you've pointed out in your trip report here, but again it seems to be more about money. I can't say for sure but I like to think that those in charge would also agree with you and would love to bring more charm and class and style and substance to the park rather cheap commercialism that destroys the legacy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Maybe others here can speak to this?
 

SLC Headache

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Aug 9, 2017
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All in all, I'm kinda scared as to where this park is headed. They seem far too concerned with new flashy attractions that don't maximize quality and instead focus on quantity, and not concerned enough with emphasizing the unique and special park they have there. I understand the need for new to draw people in, but at least make the new great. Busch used to have a standard. A standard that barely met the expectations of Busch himself. It seems to me that every move is made with the consideration with "will it fit the theming enough, and will it not break that bank?" Instead of "let's make something special that really screams Busch Gardens". The last Busch Gardens ride we got was Verbolten, and perhaps the greatest example of a Busch Gardens ride we had was taken away this year.
I feel that Verbolten was both the last "let's make it special, give it all we've got" ride, and the first "built around its gimmick" ride (see Tempesto, and BfE if your review is anything to go by). On one hand, Verbolten sets up its motif well with the queue, station, and ride vehicles. On the other hand, if a drop track - a physical jump scare - isn't a gimmick, then what is? It also feels shoehorned in there, badly breaking the flow. It's set the tone for the less classy, more flashy style of new attractions.

And then when I put it that way, weren't most of BGW's previous major coasters "gimmicks" to one degree or another?

Loch Ness Monster - the ride was absolutely massive for 1978, not to mention the interlocking loops.
Big Bad Wolf - swinging trains were a novelty in 1984.
Drachen Fire - maneuvers never attempted before on a looper.
Alpengeist - not until Banshee would an invert be on a grand scale like this.
Griffon - debuted the floorless dive trains? Not until Valravn would another US chain build a dive machine.

Apollo's Chariot was the only major coaster that didn't have much of a "gimmick". Hypers were becoming more commonplace by 1999.

And now with Harry Potter 2019 doing a lot of what Verbolten already did - the launches, the drop track, the immersive theming, it looks like it's gone from "gimmick" to "ahead of its time". I still want to see Verbolten gone in ten years, but it at least earned its place in coaster history.

The worst coaster Project Madrid can be is a "Red Force" top hat and nothing else ride. But with gigas now being decently distributed east of the Mississippi, Madrid will have to at least measure up.

After all those negatives, I'd like to end on a good note. The only thing I seek comfort in thinking is the recent attention to attempting to keep what unique experiences they have in good order. Verbolten got a nice clean up for the special effects, and we saw the return of the effect on Loch Ness. I'm glad they care enough to bring this to us. I would love to see Pompeii get a good treatment as well as the interior of Festhaus.
I find "Verbolten looking better inside" hard to believe. The Sharp Productions POV earlier this year was comparable to their POV of Disaster Transport in its final year.
 

Ice

Coffee is for Closers
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I feel that Verbolten was both the last "let's make it special, give it all we've got" ride, and the first "built around its gimmick" ride (see Tempesto, and BfE if your review is anything to go by). On one hand, Verbolten sets up its motif well with the queue, station, and ride vehicles. On the other hand, if a drop track - a physical jump scare - isn't a gimmick, then what is? It also feels shoehorned in there, badly breaking the flow. It's set the tone for the less classy, more flashy style of new attractions.

And then when I put it that way, weren't most of BGW's previous major coasters "gimmicks" to one degree or another?

Loch Ness Monster - the ride was absolutely massive for 1978, not to mention the interlocking loops.
Big Bad Wolf - swinging trains were a novelty in 1984.
Drachen Fire - maneuvers never attempted before on a looper.
Alpengeist - not until Banshee would an invert be on a grand scale like this.
Griffon - debuted the floorless dive trains? Not until Valravn would another US chain build a dive machine.

Apollo's Chariot was the only major coaster that didn't have much of a "gimmick". Hypers were becoming more commonplace by 1999.

And now with Harry Potter 2019 doing a lot of what Verbolten already did - the launches, the drop track, the immersive theming, it looks like it's gone from "gimmick" to "ahead of its time". I still want to see Verbolten gone in ten years, but it at least earned its place in coaster history.

The worst coaster Project Madrid can be is a "Red Force" top hat and nothing else ride. But with gigas now being decently distributed east of the Mississippi, Madrid will have to at least measure up.


I find "Verbolten looking better inside" hard to believe. The Sharp Productions POV earlier this year was comparable to their POV of Disaster Transport in its final year.
Gimmic or not, it was the last ride with an intense focus on theming compared to more recent attractions, which I attribute to BGW's main focus (or at least should be).

And Verbolten's effects are better this season than past, though they aren't perfect, they clearly have done some clean up. Some is better than none. You can't appreciate all effects on this ride through a POV, since some require you to turn your head and look to the sides.
 
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GrandpaD

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The worst coaster Project Madrid can be is a "Red Force" top hat and nothing else ride. But with gigas now being decently distributed east of the Mississippi, Madrid will have to at least measure up.
As you mentioned, with a couple of exceptions, Busch always added "gimmick" or cutting edge coasters. I just have a hard time buying into the giga mindset. Up the road you've got one 305'. South there's one 325'. I just can't see Busch marketing a "hey y'all, we're ten feet taller than the folks up North but ten feet smaller than Carolina". What's special?

They have to continue to push the "gimmick" envelope and bring something in unique.
 

SLC Headache

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Aug 9, 2017
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As you mentioned, with a couple of exceptions, Busch always added "gimmick" or cutting edge coasters. I just have a hard time buying into the giga mindset. Up the road you've got one 305'. South there's one 325'. I just can't see Busch marketing a "hey y'all, we're ten feet taller than the folks up North but ten feet smaller than Carolina". What's special?

They have to continue to push the "gimmick" envelope and bring something in unique.
Just being a terrain coaster would do it. Intimidator 305, Leviathan, and Fury 325 are for the most part flat land / parking lot coasters. Millennium Force was the closest to a terrain coaster - as much as Cedar Point's relatively flat terrain allows.

315 feet tall, but a bigger drop than that, would also one-up them all.
 
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