In 2017 easter came in early March, the weekend lots of south eastern parks opened since it was a three day weekend. This year, it was much later in the spring, with parks having had time to open their new attractions and get them ready. Carowinds hadn’t completely done that yet, and I’ve been twice already. Six Flags over Georgia won’t open their new for 2017 attraction till May. But Kings Dominion & Busch Gardens had their new rides open and ready, so again on Easter weekend, we headed north, this time with 2 extra people in tow. There were some hiccups (as there so often are) before the trip, but this time not so much with me. Isaac, Stefan, and eventually Blake made their ways to my house on Thursday nite, and around 8:30 we headed north to Richmond.
Getting up early Friday morning, we got breakfast and headed about an hour east to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. This was a hot mess. After getting close to the exit, traffic stopped. We went around and tried something else, and eventually found a ‘quicker’ (I use that term very, very loosely) way in, which shaved off…an hour of waiting in traffic. But we still waited in our car. For Two (2!) Hours. Just to park. Right beside the parking lot (I was literally less than 50 yards from the parking lot). Ridiculous. They must not have been in any way prepared for a busy weekend. We could see several failures in directing traffic in the parking lot that were a major cause of the problem. But there was nothing to do.
On the bright side, the park was waiving the parking fee complementary because of the wait. Even at that, I would have had my staff waiting outside of the parking toll booths waiving people thru instead of making them stop to tell them parking was complementary. This itself could have saved a lot of congestion.
The next morning was rainy but the forecast called for the rain to pass over eventually. We had purchased a spring special ticket to BGW that, for an amazingly low $99 included parking, a 1 day ticket, two meals, AND the front of the line access! It was too good a deal to pass up. We got to the kiosks (I love these, and wish more parks had them) to get our tickets and Quick Queues, and headed in to the park. Isaac seemed to love the park from the get go. I figured he would. I love the park too. We headed to Tempesto first since Quick Queue was not available for it at the time and I’d heard horror stories on wait times. We waited 20 minutes for the back.
Tempesto–The ride was really fun. Not sure I’d add it to a large park, but I can see why there are a lot of these going in at parks, and good for Premier. It was a fun ride. Even the vests on this one didn’t bother me. The first launch up was cool, then you launch back all the way to the top of the structure, then come back down and launch all the way around. It was great. The slow roll at the top was scary good fun. The non inverting loop had airtime. Dropping off of the top was fun. It was just a great little ride. But not worth more than a 30 minute wait at any park, though it’s still a neat addition, and actually looked great where it’s placed in the park.
We were going to do Apollo, but it had a slight line and we had the QQ for later. We walked thru and saw the new Italian eatery that looked and smelled great (we never ate there tho, maybe next time). So we walked up to Germany. I liked Verbolten quite a bit from the year it opened and subsequent visits. I still hadn’t gotten to experience all three ‘themes’ in the dark portion. We went to get in line, but decided to wait. Again, we had QQ for later. So we did DarKastle instead.
I’d been watching with much anticipation as Busch Gardens Williamsburg announced and started construction on Big Bad Wolf’s replacement. Would it be just as good? What would it be? When Verbolten was announced I thought it looked really interesting. My original plan was to go ride Verbolten on opening weekend, but since Matt didn’t want to go that weekend I changed it to the following weekend. Matt decided not to go that weekend either, so I made plans for BuschGardens on Saturday and Kings Dominion on Sunday.
Then, of course, a week before opening, Matt decided to go. But he wanted to go opening weekend, and I already had plans. So he wasn’t going. Then he was again. So finally, the week of, I made reservations for Friday and Saturday nite in Richmond. Leaving on Friday of Memorial Day weekend was rough at first since everyone was heading to Charlotte. Traffic was a mess for about 20 miles, but then lightened up. I made my way north in about 5 hours. Matt showed up around 11 PM. I wanted to go to the diner beside the motel for a late dinner, but they closed at 11 PM. What diner by a motel closes at 11 on a holiday weekend?!?! We swung by Burger King instead before heading back to the room where I was fast asleep about an hour later.
Waking up early Saturday morning to beat the rush and get breakfast, we headed out to Busch Garden. We were anticipating lite to mild crowds, but you never know. Breakfast was at a McDonald’s about 20 minutes from the park and eventually we made our way to the parking lot where we met up with Chuck, who decided to come down for Verbolten as well, a surprise to me.
Busch Gardens Europe is a park that I’ve wanted to go to since I was a kid. It wasn’t too far away, but always further away than would be easy to get to. Everyone I knew had been and loved it. But I just never got to go. Every year I’d say “This year, I’m going to get to Busch Gardens”, but by the end of the season no luck. I hadn’t initially planned to visit in 2007, but the trip came together and I’m happy it did.
I’d heard for years about how beautiful Busch Gardens Williamsburg was. That the food was decent. That the rides were fun. The park was presented as quality over quantity, and that proved to be correct on my first visit. I was disappointed that we were forced to change plans the evening before, and Matt was on the verge of devastation because we had to change our plans.
But on Saturday morning we quickly got ready, checked out, got gas and breakfast, and headed out. The mood had changed from disappointment to excitement, in large part because of the great time we’d had at Kings Dominion the evening before. The plan was to meet Tina on the way. After just a couple miles on the road, the traffic wasn’t good, and I was not happy that we could have a repeat of the day before, but everything worked out, and around 9:30 a.m. we were meeting Tina at a rest area 30 miles from Busch Gardens.