Busch Gardens Williamsburg 2017 Highlights [Video / Photo Gallery]
It has been a few years since my family visited Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, so we were beyond excited to be able to return to the theme park for a quick but thrilling one-day adventure before summer’s end.
Once we arrived and got through the familiar park gates, we headed straight for the newest attraction at Busch Gardens, the throwback viking-themed InvadR rollercoaster. My 10-year-old son, Ozzie, had already decided that InvadR would be his first real roller coaster, and my wife, Sue, and I were looking forward to the three of us experiencing it for the first time together.
The park’s first ever wooden coaster, InvadR did not disappoint, with nine air-time hills, including a 74-foot plunge, and speeds of almost 50 miles per hour. We laughed and screamed through the tunnels and some unexpectedly high-banked turns.
“I loved it,” Ozzie said as soon as it was over. “It was so fun. I want to do it again.” You can watch his full reaction in the video below.
Next up was Sue’s favorite of all the rides at the park, the Le Scoot log flume, which is one of the few rides that dates all the way back to when European-themed Busch Gardens first opened in 1975.
From there, we stayed in New France and hopped right on the Le Catapult scrambler easily, with no waiting in line.
In nearby Ireland, we hunted down one of our favorite Busch Gardens traditions – a giant turkey leg. We ate heartily (it only took one turkey leg to fill up the three of us enough for a power snack) while watching the awe-inspiring Griffin coaster dive and loop above us. Ozzie said he’s not ready for that one quite yet, but maybe next year.
We also bought a cool Icee drink in a collectible InvadR cup, which included free(!) refills for the rest of the day. We filled it up with something after almost every single ride.
After our break, we headed into the Germany area of the park, where we braved the high tech werewolf-themed dark (indoor) simulator ride Curse of DarKastle.
Ozzie decided he wasn’t quite ready for the multi-launch coaster Verbolten, so I rode it alone while he and Sue rode the Wirbelwind flying swings.
After a ride around the Roto Baron planes, which Ozzie decided he’s definitely too big for from now on, we walked over to Italy, where we all rode Da Vinci’s Cradle and the Battering Ram. Oz loved them both so much that he rode them each numerous more times by himself (more firsts!), and he also tried out the Flying Machine with Sue.
Just over the bridge, we found ourselves in Festa Italia, where I literally walked right onto my favorite ride at the park (no line again!), the super smooth, high flying steel coaster Apollo’s Chariot, while Sue and Ozzie took a spin on the Trade Wind.
By this point, the late afternoon sun was blazing and we were already drenched in sweat, so we figured we might as well get even more drenched but in a good way on the Roman Rapids white water raft ride, which definitely served its purpose of cooling us off by soaking us from head to toe.
Of course, we didn’t stay cool for long, as the fire effects inside the Escape from Pompeii river boat ride put off some serious heat. Thankfully the ride ends with a hugely satisfying drop, once again cooling us off with more welcomed splashes of water.
After riding Pompeii twice, again with no line, it was time for Ozzie to experience what he had already decided would be his first steel coaster, the legendary Loch Ness Monster.
Recognized as both the tallest and fastest roller coaster when it opened in 1978, the Loch Ness is the first and (currently) only coaster in the world with two interlocking loops. After a terrifyingly slow crawl up the lift hill, the Monster plunges deep down a 114-foot drop, before the first loop and then an even darker descent into the spiraling helix tunnel. When riders emerge into the sunlight again, more airtime and the second loop await.
The ride is classified as a Roller Coaster Landmark, a designation reserved for rides of historic significance, by American Coaster Enthusiasts, and it will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2018.
Needless to say, Ozzie absolutely loved the Loch Ness Monster and immediately wanted to ride it again …and then InvadR again (we jumped on the Railway train from Scotland to New France to save time and energy) …and then Loch Ness again …and again. We rode until the park was about to close, as there was no line for Loch Ness and we got right on each time.
Ozzie was walking on air, calling this his favorite trip to ever to Busch Gardens, and we had to agree that we couldn’t think of another time when we rode more rides, stood in fewer lines, and generally had such a great time. We are already planning our next trip, and Ozzie is getting ready to take on even more coasters next year.
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