It seems that Busch Gardens Williamsburg really doesn’t want a repeat of the Tempesto incident. So, for the first time ever, the park’s marketing department seems to be fighting aggressively to keep the spotlight squarely on their official Project 2017 information… and off of unofficial sources like the one you’re reading now.
For the record, I’m not complaining about all of this. In fact, I have been incredibly impressed by the devious savviness currently on display. I don’t mind the competition—far from it. Thus far, I’m having exponentially more fun with this project than with anything since the original Verbolten leaks. So, for that, thank you Busch Gardens Williamsburg! I also really appreciate the subtle nods to BGWFans in both the plans the park released and the last two videos. Well played.
A Quick Recap
For anyone out there who hasn’t kept up with the play by play thus far, I want to take a moment to look back at the last week.
First, completely out of the blue, Busch Gardens Williamsburg teased their new 2017 coaster, almost a week before even mentioning the project to the James City County Planning Commission—the local regulatory board that has to approve the project before the park can break ground. Nicole wrote our initial article on the project soon after the park posted their original teaser.
Since then, BGWFans has been amassing a ton of information from a collection of trusted sources regarding the project. Utilizing that information, we wrote our second article on the project: “Locating Project 2017.” Just a mere handful of hours after that article was posted, Busch Gardens Williamsburg published their second teaser video. This video was accompanied by a PDF file containing site plans that confirm essentially exactly what we had theorized in our article just a few hours earlier.
Now we’re back again with a third post. This update will be dedicated to dissecting the site blueprints the park shared. If you’d like to check them out for yourself before reading our analysis, you can do so here. Also, just in case they’re pulled, here’s a mirror. Note: The rest of this article assumes the reader knows the major information presented in both “Project 2017 is Real” and “Locating Project 2017.” If you have yet to check out those two articles, we highly encourage doing so before proceeding.
The Site Plans
Before I move on, lets talk about what the park actually shared. The PDF contains basic civil building plans. You will not find any attraction blueprints, theming documents, or anything else along those lines here. You’ll have to wait a little longer for those…
Another very important thing to note about the park’s release is that about half of the pages presented are of such a low resolution that they’re practically impossible to read. There is a slight chance that this was done on purpose to conceal some sort of valuable information contained within them, but knowing what I do about the project, I highly doubt it. I’m far more inclined to believe it was just a simple mistake.
So, if the documents don’t contain any attraction or theming details, what good are they? Well, under inspection from a pair of qualified eyes, a surprising amount of information can be gleaned from basic civil site plans. Unfortunately, neither Nicole nor I possess a pair of eyes fitting that description. Knowing this, I hunted down a few people who do. The information I’m going to present below has been corroborated by legitimately credentialed people—a few of whom have previously worked with documents just like these for the park. We are not attempting to present another simple fan theory—we’re after facts here.
Below you’ll find a full, stitched together version of the site plan for Project 2017. The second image contains that same blueprint overlaid onto a satellite image of the area in question. For the second picture, I’ve also gone through and labeled major landmarks around the site in hopes of giving the map a little context. Note: To see all of the detail in the images below, after clicking on the image you want to see, click “View Full Size” in the bottom right corner of the screen.
If you’re totally overwhelmed by these plans, it’s ok—even compared to the plans for massive projects like Verbolten, these are some very complicated blueprints. Lets break this down some. The most complex page in the stitched version above is, by far, the topmost one. How about we tackle that one first?
Entry & Station Area
Below you will find three images of the same site plan: The first is the raw station-area blueprint for Project 2017. It is followed by a colorized version of the same site plan. The colors will be explained after this set of pictures. Lastly there is a colorized composite site plan to give you some context of the area we’re talking about.
So what do the colors mean? Dark Blue: This appears to be the station building for the new coaster. The tell? The entry queue and the exit both attach directly to it. Light Blue: The site plans the park released don’t give any hints as to what this building contains. Most people are theorizing it could be some sort of maintenance building or possibly the base of an elevator lift. For the time being, we’re not going to comment… Light Green: What’s that green spaghetti winding below and through the two blue buildings? That, my friends, is the queue. Looks like a fun one! Yellow: This will be the exit ramp for the attraction. Because the queue has a set of stairs outside the station, it looks like this will also act as the wheelchair entrance. I wonder if QuickQueue will be sharing this ramp as well? Pink: Now that the green spaghetti is figured out, what about that pink blob? It represents the new entry plaza for Project 2017. Aside from the entrance and exit to the ride, it also contains two other notable items… Red: This appears to be a covered locker area. Nothing too special. Brown: The brown area looks as though it will become the photo booth for the new coaster. Even more notably, I am fairly sure that it will have a small gift shop attached to it as well! Gray: The gray areas simply represent modified or existing paths. The biggest change here is the new Caribou Station entrance. Instead of walking directly up into the front of Caribou Station, guests will now walk between the Project 2017 plaza and the New France restrooms to access the walkway up to the train station. Maroon: Because of the new Caribou Station entrance, a new wheelchair accessible entrance is needed as well. This new path located between the New France restrooms and Le Catapult will give wheelchairs direct access to the station platform. So where is all of this going? What is being replaced?
Aside from trees, there are only two casualties here: The decrepit, rundown, Wild Moose Lodge and the now vacant, gated-off plaza which previously housed Eagle’s Nest. More likely than not, 90% of the people reading this right now don’t even know what these two things are. Calling them low-value pieces of the park would be overstating their worth. So what are they?
Wild Moose Lodge was the previous home of the park’s lost children facility. Well over a decade after Eagle’s Nest closed, someone in the park realized that housing BGW’s lost children facility as far away from the park’s two children’s areas as possible wasn’t the best setup. This is especially true since I’m pretty sure the number of adults who have gotten lost trying to find Wild Moose Lodge is actually larger than the number of families who have been reunited there. It turns out hiding the lost children’s building behind some trees in a dark, shady, hardly-trafficked, corner of the park was not a good solution.
The lost children’s area can now be found in Land of the Dragons, leaving Wild Moose Lodge completely pointless. Oh, also, this building has been rumored for demolition since before I started writing for BGWFans back in 2009. From what I understand, it’s hardly even structurally sound at this point. Despite it being an original park building, there is absolutely no loss here. I expect the new entry plaza for the park’s next coaster to look far better right here.
The only other thing of note being removed is a small plaza below the first turn-around of Le Scoot which previously housed Eagle’s Nest—a Native American-themed children’s play area. The Google StreetView picture above was taken before the park gated the area off in 2010.
Why did the park end up having to gate it off you ask? Well, ever since Eagle’s Nest closed sometime in the 1990s, the leftover plaza was dark, quiet, secluded, and saw zero foot traffic. It turned into somewhat of a haven for everything from sex, to drugs, and presumably to rock and roll as well. Just like Wild Moose Lodge, this area has been totally unnecessary and unused for years now. This will be the future home to Project 2017’s station and queue.
Where’s the Coaster?
This is where the site plans get a whole lot simpler… and that’s not a good thing. South of the future Project 2017 entry and station area, only a few details can be gleaned. Below you will find a colorized plan of the entire site followed by that same colorized site plan overlaid onto a satellite image of the area.
So, in the two pictures above, we have three new unlabeled colors: Orange, Dark Green, and Purple. Those three items reveal everything I have been able to gather from the other two pages thus far. Orange: The long orange outline around the plans above represents the bounds of the construction work. Everything for Project 2017 should happen within this area. Dark Green: Here’s where we get the bulk of the information available in this section of the plans. The areas shaded green are sections of greenery that shouldn’t be heavily disturbed by the addition. While I’m not going to hypothesize a layout in this post, assuming these documents are accurate, it’s not unreasonable to think that a layout could be reasonably deduced from the information provided here. Purple: While the details about land clearing above are incredibly helpful in theorizing a layout, the purple rectangle in the plans above gives us our first real, solid data point for the new roller coaster’s layout. What is it? A large underground tunnel. We’ll come back to the tunnel in the next section.
Odds & Ends
Besides what can be seen in the site plans, there are a few other small tidbits of information that can be found in the PDF the park posted. First off, we have a list with some very interesting statistics on it…
The most valuable numbers in this table are definitely the building heights and, if they’re accurate, the max attraction height. Max attraction height you say? Yes. According to the first page of the plans published by the park, the max attraction height for Project 2017 should be 60 feet above grade. Now, I have been warned that this number could be misleading, as the project is still under development and more papers will need to be filed. Whether or not these future documents will stay true to the maximum height number listed above has yet to be seen.
Anyway, I promised to get back to the tunnel…
In the picture above you can clearly see the topographic contour lines, giving us the depth and general shape of the new trench. Also visible is the service road which will form the roof of the tunnel. Another important detail to note about this trough is that the right side curves a little bit south. Looking at the tunnel next to the greenery plans a few paragraphs up, it is very easy to imagine a nice long curve entering or exiting this tunnel.
Oh, and before anyone breaks out their calculators, the total depth change from the left edge to the deepest point is 24 feet. Comparing the right edge to the deepest point gives you a depth change of 26 feet. Using that maximum attraction height number above of 60 feet, we could potentially see a drop slightly over 80 feet tall. That said, we don’t actually know if the numbers are accurate or how likely it is that we’d see a drop from that supposed max attraction height directly down into the trench. There are a lot of big questions remaining there.
In fact, there are still a lot of questions to answer about Project 2017 in general. We learned a lot from these site plans, but they’ve also led to a huge collection of new questions. You know what’s great about questions though? Nicole and I get to write more posts to answer them!
Speaking of questions and answers, if you think you’ve gotten an answer wrong, you’ve found an answer we’ve missed or, even better, you’ve thought of a question we haven’t yet, contact us!
If you enjoyed the post and would like to stay updated on what’s next—not just for Project 2017, but Busch Gardens Williamsburg in general—we have some great ways for you to do just that. You can follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. If Instagram is your thing, you can follow us there too. Regardless, we do hope you enjoyed the post and you’ll stay tuned for more future coverage!
Thanks for reading! To be continued…