On Tuesday night, Busch Gardens officials appeared in front of the James City County Board of Supervisors to discuss a new project with a request for a 355-foot height waiver for a “spire” style attraction.
But Busch Gardens also covered some new details about an existing project and height waiver: Project Madrid.
Turns out, Madrid will not come to fruition, said Suzy Cheely, senior leader of design and engineering at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Instead, another project has been approved to replace it by James City County Planning. The project will use the same 315-foot height waiver approved for Madrid, but won’t be nearly that tall.
The height of the replacement ride, called Project 2020 and unveiled as MMXX during Busch Gardens’ passholder day, will top out at about 180 feet.
The height waiver originally approved for Madrid was for up to 315 feet.
At the meeting’s public hearing on the project, several Kingsmill residents voiced concern about the new ride’s potential noise and sight impacts on parts of their neighborhood. The “spire” will be constructed with open lattice and will be built near Verbolter’s broken bridge.
One resident, Andrew Lloyd-Wright, suggested a 315-foot-tall ride — referencing Madrid — coupled with another ride up to 355 feet tall, could produce mechanical sounds and human screams greater than those of current rides.
Supervisor John McGlennon then asked park officials about the status of Madrid.
Other details of that ride, called Project 2021, are still unknown.
McGlennon’s question prompted Cheely to confirm the original plans for Madrid were scrapped.
Cheely confirmed there will be no Madrid, and no ride of that height besides the now-proposed “spire” by Verbolten.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Fans, a group of roller coaster enthusiasts, have been monitoring the Project 2020 ride as plans have taken shape in the Planning Department.
The possible speed of the coaster have not yet been officially released by the park, but at 180 feet, it falls far below the threshold for a “giga coaster,” which is more than 300 feet tall.
On Tuesday, Busch Gardens officials said part of their business model and competitive edge involves keeping details of new rides under wraps as long as possible.
“Our business model demands that we provide new and exciting attractions,” park President Kevin Lembke said.