Friday, August 7, 2009

A Whirlwind Trip to 'The Gardens' Part 1

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to surmise that I like amusement parks and rides more than your average folk, but I'm also not very spontaneous. Those two facts combined make this trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg still seem like a dream even after returning home from it.

Something about the announcement of the retirement of the Big Bad Wolf left a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach, and it wasn't just the fact that the ride was being removed. It was that I had never ridden the ride that irked me so. Alas, time to be spontaneous. The rest is (now) history.

Yeah, I wish the sky was a nicer in this shot, too

I ended up having only one day to attack the park. Sad to say, I hadn't been to Busch Gardens Williamsburg since the early 1990s, and while that did afford me a ride on the legendary Drachen Fire, it's been a long time between visits. That spelled lots of new things for me to see and do in just one short day at the park.

Thankfully, that ugly sky that will make most of these photos less than beautiful helped me out in that category - lines were short due to the threat of rain! It was also around one hundred thousand percent humidity all day, so water rides or no water rides you ended up looking like you were on one if you catch my drift.

An early start to the day also helped things out, and as Sabrina pointed out to me although the advertised opening is 10 a.m. you can start getting rides as early as 9. Thus we arrived early and hiked directly to my first ride of the day: Loch Ness Monster.

Whoa theming? Didn't see that coming! I went the wrong way in the queue and saw all of it!

It was a walk on due to it being so early so rerides were easy as pie to achieve quickly. I didn't take any though. You see, I have such a love hate relationship with older Arrow rides - I love ones without over-the-shoulder restraints and tend to hate the rest. Well, you probably already know what kind of restraints Loch Ness has.

The tunnel is really awesome though! I loved how it smelled like my basement in there! I'm not kidding, it actually added to the theming nicely. I figured one, maybe two rotations in there and was pleasantly surprised by how long you spend in the dark.

The interlocked loops were a big deal when the ride opened!

It could have been worse though, and it certainly wasn't as bad as, well, to stay geographically close, let's say Drachen Fire, but no one needs to start a head ache that early in the morning. And I can't help but picture Ron Toomer playing with his bendy wire designing these things when I'm on them!

I was not paid my $4. Who do I send a letter to?

Le Scoot is a log flume. I love log flumes - have I mentioned that on here before? I figured it was so humid just walking was like a water ride so why not! The ride is a great trip in the woods, high up and features a wonderful drop.

It's a pretty quick trip but you really can't beat the saw blade staring you down as you get ready to plummet down the drop! Does anyone else wonder what would happen if it broke off at the wrong time or am I the weird one?

The first in a series of 'I know you've seen this shot before' photographs

The ride's location was somewhat interrupted by the addition of Alpengeist, but somehow I doubt most of our readers mind. Oh, and somehow only the left side of me got soaked on the ride. Hmm.

After Le Scoot you couldn't help but hear the delighted screams of Griffon's passengers. And I wanted to be one of them!

The length of the trains is really impressive in person

I haven't been on Griffon's predecessor and sibling, SheiKra at Busch Gardens Tampa, so the entire experience was new to me. I've seen a lot about the ride and knew what to expect, but the whole thing is just so darn big in person it's quite intimidating!

Yes, it did rain very shortly after this photo was taken

Let me say this - there was an absence of these rides being built after Oblivion/G5 and thank goodness Busch Entertainment contracted SheiKra and brought the model back to life. Really, I loved this ride.

So often a ride that's really just a gimmick, and really Griffon is exactly that, turn out to have a gimmick that just isn't enough to make the ride special for more than a little while. In my opinion the same cannot be said about Griffon's gimmick - that super high, vertical drop is just that good of a gimmick.

All French towns have coasters over them, right? Never been to France.

The holding brake just before the big drop didn't freak me out. Instead I was like a kid in a candy store - just staring down with a big grin on my face waiting for the plunge.

Now you can ask Sabrina, lately in my 'old' age certain airtime moments makes my tummy not happy. Griffon's first drop air time made my stomach sing with the angels! The fact that the holding brake already has you somewhat out of your seat and pressed on the restraints makes the drop even better.

You just fall. That's it, it's more of a freefall experience than I've had on any other coaster drop and I love it!

I'm not in this photo but if I was I'd be grinning

After the initial plunge there's a second one, shorter than the first, obviously, but still good. There's also two inversions but honestly, after those drops I don't even remember them!

BGW puts as many coaster parts as they can over the water

My reaction to Griffon is also so surprising because I really didn't expect much from it. Sure it's tall and has a steep drop but it didn't phase me too much until I was on it. Luckily for me I caught it early in the day when there was a very short line and was able to get in my rides quickly.

That's all I can do for now - still tired from the park and the drive home today - but there's lots more to cover - more rides, coasters, and that Big Bad Wolf thing that I went to ride in the first place!