Busch Gardens’ new coaster shaping up to be ‘high-thrill’ experience

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(WYDaily/Courtesy BGW Fans)
(WYDaily/Courtesy BGW Fans)

More details about a new roller coaster in the Festa Italia section of Busch Gardens Williamsburg have risen to the surface.

Members of Busch Gardens Williamsburg Fans, a website and group dedicated to investigating new developments and changes at the Williamsburg park, recently obtained leaked documents from Busch Gardens Williamsburg detailing the coaster, previously named “Madrid.”

The documents total more than 1,000 pages and show the coaster in minute detail.

“It’s definitely high-intensity, high-octane, high-thrill design,” said Nicole Pelletti, a member of Busch Gardens Fans. Pelletti is a federal government employee.

There are several factors that set the roller coaster apart from others at both the Williamsburg park and other national parks, said Zachary Strader, administrator of the Busch Gardens Williamsburg Fans and a college student in Virginia.

“It’s an innovative attraction, not only in Williamsburg, but in the world,” Strader said.

Called “Madrid,” Strader said the fans group now call the coaster “Project 2020” because there is no verification on the ride’s theme or official name.

To be sure, the ride plans can change from the current design, but so far, here’s what Busch Gardens Williamsburg Fans know:

Mid-course track switch

Strader studies geographic information systems, which gives him insight into what the Busch Gardens ride plans might mean.

He uses leaked official documents to form his opinions.

“There are many rumors that go around,” Pelletti said. “This is what we have, on some level, verified.”

There are several trademark features about the roller coaster’s design that stand out, making Strader believe Intamin may be the company manufacturing the ride.

First, Project 2020 is a multi-launch coaster, meaning there are multiple sections of the ride with magnets that propel the trains forward.

Second, Project 2020 has a mid-course switch track.

“BGW’s new coaster won’t be the first or only coaster in the country to feature a mid-course switch track, but the vast majority of the time this is an element that is found on heavily-themed attractions at Universal or Disney parks, not large, outdoor, high-intensity rides like this,” Strader wrote in an article.

In a similar coaster slated for Parc Astérix in France, the track switch means the roller coaster train moves in one direction over a segment of track, then stalls on an incline before rolling back over the same segment of track.

In between passes, a segment of the track is replaced by a differently-shaped segment. Plans for Project 2020 show a section of curved track is replaced by a straight section, effectively changing the route of the train on its second pass through.

The track is a similar concept to the track drop on Busch Gardens’ Verbolten roller coaster, but instead of the track dropping down while a train is stopped on it, Project 2020’s trains will not stop or be in contact with the track section when it changes.

A top view of the train cars according to Busch Gardens Fans. (WYDaily/Courtesy BGW Fans)
A top view of the train cars according to Busch Gardens Fans. (WYDaily/Courtesy BGW Fans)

Not set in stone

There are plans to move pastures currently at the ride site over to the east.

The entry to the ride will be between the Festa Italia railroad station and the Tradewinds ride.

The ride trains will also have lap restraints that pull down from over riders’ shoulders.

But there are still some unknowns: Strader and Pelletti said they could not comment on the official height of the ride because of vague aspects of the design plans.

The ride obtained a 315-foot height waiver from James City County in 2017, although the actual height is unknown.

The ride theme is also still under wraps.

Strader attended a presentation covering Project 2020 during Pass Member Preview Day March 16.

He said the park is calling the ride “MMXX” and included Roman columns in its preview theming, but there’s no official word on theme.

Changes this year

While at the park for preview day, Busch Gardens Williamsburg Fans also noticed two children’s rides are missing: Eggery Deggery and Werbelwindchen.

“Busch Gardens is continually looking for opportunities and always strives to provide new entertainment experiences for our guests,” said Cindy Sarko, Busch Gardens spokeswoman  “We are replacing the Eggery Deggery ride in Land of the Dragons children’s play area to make way for an all-new interactive, electronic playground game set to open March 29. In addition, we are adding a soft play area in Land of the Dragons to create a toddler-friendly environment.

“The park has created an additional seating area for guests to relax while waiting for family and friends riding the Oktoberfest attractions.  This is where the Werbelwindchen children swing area was located.”

In May, Finnegan’s Flyer will open near Killarney village.

This summer, Water Country USA is also set to open its first water coaster, called Cutback.

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