Note: This article was first published at Examiner.com in February 2016.
Busch Gardens has announced a new wooden roller coaster, which will make its appearance at the park in 2017. It will become the park’s eighth coaster as well as its first wooden coaster. It will also be the world’s first “crowdsourced” coaster.
Busch Gardens made its newest coaster announcement much earlier than is typical so that fans can help to “decide the ride.” This is where the “crowdsourcing” comes in. As part of an effort to involve its members and fans to a greater degree than ever before, the park is giving fans the opportunity to vote on ride details, contribute to theme elements and help shape the marketing campaign.
“Our fans are so loyal and passionate about this park, and we want to make them co-creators in this exciting new project,” Dan Dipiazzo, vice president of marketing, said. “We still have a lot of details to finalize for this attraction, and our guests will get to weigh in and be a part of the development.”
Larry Giles, vice president of engineering …
“Busch Gardens has a reputation for creating unique ride experiences, and our new family coaster will certainly continue that tradition. The dynamics of a wooden coaster, combined with the many ways it will interact with the terrain and nearby attractions, will make this a one-of-kind thrill.”
New roller coaster details
Busch Gardens’ new wooden roller coaster will be located in the New France (a.k.a. “Canada” to many of us) village of the park. More than 2,100 feet of track will take riders on a Viking adventure through wooded terrain and an underground tunnel. The coaster is located in close proximity to the Le Scoot log flume and the Busch Gardens Railway. Neither of those two attractions will be closed for extended periods during the construction phase.
The new wooden roller coaster will have a minimum height requirement of 46 inches. This lower height range was developed in response to park guest’s requests for a roller coaster that adults and kids can ride together. The maximum speed of the coaster is 48 mph.
“This will be a great ride for families, but make no mistake: this will not be a kiddie ride,” Giles said. “This coaster will feature an exciting drop of 74 feet and will have nine aritime hills, the same number as Apollo’s Chariot. It’s going to be a wild ride.”
The coaster’s track will be wooden, but it will be supported by a steel structure.
“Riders will get the best of both worlds: the stability of steel supports with the classic feel of a great wooden coaster,” Giles said.”
Manufactured by Great Coasters International, Inc., the ride’s theme will be based on a legend related to the exploration of North America by Vikings. The coaster invites riders to join the battle between a band of invading Vikings, who have survived for generations, and the residents of the New France trappers’ village, who are fighting to protect their outpost.
Surveys taken through the Busch Gardens website and social media channels will invite fans to “decide the ride” by voting on the ride’s name and other design elements. Guests may also get to contribute to the queue experience, participate in pre-ride video or audio segments and pitch their concepts for consumer-generated advertising to promote the coaster’s opening in 2017.
Stats and Specs
- Ride height requirement: 46 inches
- Seats/Train: 2 trains, 16 seats per train
- Track length: 2,118 feet of track
- Maximum speed: 48 mph
- Ride duration: 1:30
- Special features: Wooden track with steel supports, 74-foot drop, 9 airtime hills, tunnel, interwoven into the landscaped of Busch Gardens’ wooded setting
- Location: Busch Gardens’ New France village
- Ride open date: Spring 2017
All ride features are, of course, approximations and will be updated as the ride plans evolve.
Decide the Ride
The first voting opportunity has already begun. Select the ride’s name from among three possibilities:
- Viking Raider
- Battle Klash
Fans may vote once a day through April 1, 2016 by clicking right here (voting has ended). Busch Gardens has committed to branding the new attraction with whichever name gets the most votes.
“Honestly, it’s a big change for us, and not common in our industry, to leave so much in the hands of consumers,” Dipiazzon admitted. “But we respect our fans. We know they love this park and want to be part of our success. This will be their ride as much as ours.”
Busch Gardens will also share construction updates and other milestones in a special section of its website at BuschGardens.com/Project2017 as well as with the hashtag #BGProject2017 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Busch Gardens’ 2016 season
In the meantime, why not come out and enjoy all that Busch Gardens Williamsburg has to offer right now. The park opened for the 2016 season on March 20. It is currently open weekdays until April 7 for spring break. After that, the park is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Memorial Day, when it opens full time.
Busch Gardens has a full lineup of shows, attractions and special events that include the Food & Wine Festival, Glory at the Gardens, Jack Hanna, Laurie Berkner, Imagination Movers, Independence Day fireworks and much more.
Fans of the Food & Wine Festival will be happy to hear that two new tastes have been added: Local Virginia and Hawaiian.
New for 2016 is a reimagined dining area in the Italy village. The former Ristorante della Piazza has been transformed into Marco Polo’s Marketplace. It features culinary choices from Italy, Asia and the Mediterranean. A new nighttime show will debut this summer at the Royal Palace Theatre
Please visit Buschgardens.com for more information, schedules and ticket purchasing.