Sunday, August 7, 2022

Busch Gardens files plans to build tallest attraction yet

A map of Busch Gardens, and the location of the proposed new attraction. (Courtesy James City County)

Attention thrill seekers: Busch Gardens is applying for a height limit waiver to construct a new attraction.

The proposed attraction is slated to stand 315 feet tall, well over James City County’s height limitation and higher than any other ride at the park.

While the proposal does not include specifics about the attraction, it does have the project title “Busch Gardens Madrid.”

“Busch Gardens Williamsburg is seeking a height waiver with James City County for potential future development,” said Ron Vample, Communications Manager for Busch Gardens. “Beyond the information contained in the filing, we have no further details to share at this point.”

James City County’s Board of Supervisors will decide whether to issue a height waiver for the project at their Aug. 8 meeting. According to Section 24-418(c) of the county’s zoning ordinance, any structure in excess of 60 feet cannot be erected without a height limit waiver, according to meeting documents.

In reviewing the proposal, county staff found no unfavorable factors for the project, and recommended the board grant the waiver, subject to conditions.

Conditions include planting evergreen landscaping near the park’s entrance, painting the attraction in muted colors above 60 feet, beginning construction within three years of the permit, and prohibiting the placement of lights on the structure above 60 feet unless required by the Federal Aviation Authority.

Staff advised the board that the conditions necessary to grant the waiver have been met.  The structure is more than 2,000 feet from the property line, will not obstruct light to adjacent properties, is not a safety hazard, will not impair enjoyment of historic attractions or reduce property values in the area.

The structure would be the tallest attraction in the theme park, according to the application, and would be visible in some areas of the community where the park’s other attractions are not already visible.

The applicant conducted a balloon test to simulate the attraction’s height, and the attraction will be visible at points along Route 143, the Route 60 and Grove interchange, and near the Kingsmill entrance.

The Board of Supervisors has previously granted height limit waivers for Busch Gardens attractions including Verbolten, Tempesto, Apollo’s Chariot, Griffon and Mach Tower, according to meeting documents.

The application was filed by civil engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. on behalf of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, LLC., which owns Busch Gardens.

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