In two weeks to the day, The Big Bad Wolf will make it’s last run. There have been plenty of people expressing frustration with the removal of the ride. One of those people is a regular reader named Nora. The classic coaster has had quite an impact on her and she’s made passionate pleas to Busch to think about what they’re doing. She isn’t naive, she knows that her words won’t change the course in regards to the removal of Big Bad Wolf, but she still felt the need to express herself to the management at Busch. This post includes her letter to the park and a poem that she wrote about the Wolf. Nora’s passion and knowledge regarding Busch Gardens is extensive and I’ve asked her to consider becoming a contributor to the site, which she has agreed to do. So, you’ll be reading more from her in the future.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 10:19pm
To whoever decided to kill the Big Bad Wolf~ a heart felt memory I wish to share:
I was there THE DAY it opened (barely making the height requirement); the line stretched across the Italy Bridge. My brother and I hauled our parents as fast as our little legs could pull two adults to stand in a line for over three hours in the hot sun. The closer we got to the spooky wolf sign and that glorious entrance to the covered area, the more my heart pounded. Around and around the rails we went; my eyes never leaving that track.. my mind kept wondering which of the two cars running would be the one I would be riding that day.
Of course, after waiting three hours, we heard the rumor that the “back seat was the best”. So, after much sibling deliberation, we chose the back seat. The moment my shoes hit the bottom of the black car and the frazzled employee in the brown cotton “Lederhosen -esque” garb secured my harness, my brother and I held hands in anticipation. “Cha-chuck-cha-chuck”, the coaster rushed out of the little German style house; our eyes never once blinked and the smile never left our faces. We had no idea of what to expect on that first hill. At the time, it was hard to see the entire coaster due to trees and shrubs. My brother whispered near the top of the first drop, “I wonder when this hill ends…..~~~~waaaahhhh!”
Being in the back was the best because it yanked us like a lose sail in a perfect storm all around the little “staged” town. “Did you hear a bell?” I shouted. I couldn’t be sure, it all went so fast. Then with a jerk the coaster stopped and again we heard “Clickity, clickity..click.” Up and up the chain hauled us up to an unknown height. And before we both knew it, it was our first swing around on the last drop. It is that feeling of the swing out to the right, then back to the left in a matter of seconds as the car falls, only to dangle you over the water and then swing around precariously close to ominous metal poles, that makes THIS drop so amazing. After that ride, we both knew how special this adventure was and in our naivety I suppose, that we both felt this ride would last forever.
For years, my brother and I were often found leaning on the so familiar rails waiting, of course, for the back seat; the best seat; listening to the once “live” and endearing ramble of the ride operator who always added “traveling at the speed of fright” after each car sped away. When not in line for the Big Bad Wolf, we often perched by the edge of the bridge, where the waterfall runs and the old weeping willow once stood, and watched the beautiful black coaster cars swing by to retreat with a soft whoosh into the house; only to be filled up with more anxious riders and swiftly set off on another run.
25 years. 25 years. I was seven years old then. I wish I kept count of all the times I rode this coaster. I wish I could keep it safe from a scrapyard grave. I honestly cry to think of walking along that bridge where my brother and I stood watching our hero the Big Bad Wolf swing by, only to be greeted by emptiness; or worse, some other new trendy contraption.
I don’t want a new ride, I don’t want some other cheesy tie-in like the Sesame Street Park. What I want is to see that red track as long as I live. I want to hear the old 1980’s sound of a metal chain carrying it’s quarry up a steel hill. I want to know that when I walk from Italy to Germany, smelling the cotton candy and popcorn right before the pebble covered bridge turns to concrete walkways, I will walk around the corner and red lit eyes set in a wooden painted wolf will dare me to ride once more.
You could say to me, “at least you have those wonderful memories.” The Big Bad Wolf is like family to me and to many others. When you lose a loved one and someone says those exact words in response, it does not bring you comfort. You are furious that life took something so dear away from you. The memories my brother and I shared will never be repeated again. Those days are over. It is as if a new generation grows up listening to tales of an amazing uncle that passed away before they were born.
If it were a bad ride I would understand, but it is a gem of a coaster. It is irreplaceable.
I cannot believe that are no alternatives to help reconstruct any parts of the ride that make it so costly. This is an icon; an amazing milestone in coaster history. You MUST know it is much like severing a limb off of the park. I know your mind has been made; I know my words fall on deaf ears; but know this: YOU (the person or persons who made this decision) have caused a great loss to all coaster enthusiasts and true fans of Busch Gardens by approving the removal of this ride.
Therefore, I cannot say I could ever forgive the person or persons responsible for this mistake; for they have literally crushed my heart by destroying one of the best coasters ever built.
I have written letters to the park almost every year. I have sent you all many compliments, ideas, and praises. I mentioned many times the idea of keeping the park open in the winter for a Dicken’s style Christmas event in the England area. I have suggested to add Greece, thus adding area expansion in order to ease the congestion around the park. I even offered the idea of a children’s area called “Land of the Leprechauns” to be located in Ireland (in the area behind the toy store) to mirror Land of the Dragons. Even today, I still cling to the hope that you will bring Sherlock Holmes back to England; and I will still continue to ask each year.
Whether or not my thoughts and ideas matter, I will always care enough to share them with you.
Sincerely heart broken,
Faded Tracks of Red
by Nora Marien
July 30, 2009
Written in Honor of the Big Bad Wolf Coaster
based on the poem: THE FADED COAT OF BLUE
by J.H. McNaughton
Oh the mighty Wolf sleeps in its faded tracks of red.
All lonely and alone, it awaits its day of dread.
The cars are all still, and what more can be said,
That the twists and turns still remain engraved in our heads.
Thank you strong coaster, for all the years of delight,
the engineers who made you, really got it right.
You always gave us thrills in both the day and night,
and we always enjoyed “traveling at the speed of fright.”
No more will we hear screams of joy caused by you,
rest noble coaster, I wish there was more for you to do.
Your fate was out of our hands, for if we all could choose,
you would stay here forever, and end our coaster blues.
Though you are not the oldest coaster here, there is no disgrace;
the feeling of the swinging cars, can never be replaced.
You are as beautiful now as we all saw you then,
so we wish that your time here with us, would never, ever end.
And even when many years pass, and you have long been gone,
Your majesty and legacy shall forever continue on.
We all say goodbye and in sorrow, bow our heads.
For we shall never see your tracks again in that glorious shade of red.
Nora also included some scans to include on the site, they’ll go into the history of the park section and I’m also posting them here.