February 3rd, 2016 (11:10 AM) Update: Hours after finishing this post, Busch Gardens Williamsburg published a second video quite literally confirming the red area in the map below. I encourage you all to read the rest of the post, but know that we’re now dealing in park-confirmed fact instead of my assessment of small shreds of evidence. Deeper analysis into the park’s second wave of information will come soon. For now though, enjoy the post!
A few days ago, Busch Gardens Williamsburg shocked the world by answering the “When?” question regarding their next large attraction. In a post following that announcement, Nicole started to answer the “What?” question. Today I am going to try to start tackling one of my favorite questions that comes up whenever there is a new attraction coming to the park: “Where?” At first glance, this might seem like the least interesting of questions we have to answer, but in reality, it may actually be the single most important one we’re faced with.
“When?” is, by its very nature, temporary—very few attractions are great attractions because of the year in which they opened. Our next question, “What?,” is certainly very important, but rides come and go. By simply removing the attraction in question, the impact of the “What?” can be easily reversed.
What about an attraction isn’t temporary—what can’t be easily rolled back? The impacts the attraction has on the area in which it is built. The positioning of an attraction can make or break entire regions of a park—sometimes permanently. Occasionally a ride can even be placed so poorly that it dooms the attraction regardless of its inherent quality. Even just for these reasons alone, I believe location to be an immensely important factor when it comes to discussing new additions to the park.
I don’t stand alone in this camp either—a recent post on our forum by CastleOSullivan outlines just how important ride placement was to the original design of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I will also quickly point out a lesson from recent history: The most controversial detail of all about Tempesto was the ride’s placement—not the fact that it was a clone—not the bizarre theming—but the fact that it was built in the center of a hamlet mere feet from Apollo’s Chariot.
tl;dr: Location is very important.
Now that you have trudged through over 300 words dedicated to my explaining how important this question is, it would be in incredibly poor form to answer you with an “I don’t know,” wouldn’t it? Well the truth is that I don’t know, not yet at least.
That said, I’m currently drowning in an ocean of circumstantial evidence that all points to one single answer. Typically I would wait until I had blueprints in front of me or, at the very least, had a trusted source telling me he or she had seen irrevocable evidence of something before I’d even think about posting it to BGWFans. This time around, however, there are simply too many different pieces of congruent information coming from multiple trusted, independent sources to ignore.
With this in mind, I am not going to claim what is explained below to be fact (unless otherwise noted). This theory should be considered a highly educated assessment of the currently available information—not any sort of report of conclusive data.
Below you will find a map depicting what I believe to be the future site of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s next major attraction. The red area shows what I consider to be the most likely home of Project 2017. The yellow region represents the outermost possible bounds of the attraction area. The blue star marks the rumored location of a mysterious line of sight test that occurred back in October 2014.
Trust me, I know this is all a lot of information to throw at you at once. I will come back and explain all of it after the map. Agreed?
Ok, so here I am keeping my promise. Lets unpack the information behind this map of mine starting with the monstrous yellow area.
The yellow region in the map above is the one part of all of this that is based in actual, proven, factual evidence. That’s right—I’m not pulling all of this out of a hat! So what evidence is that you ask? I have seen hard proof stating that preliminary site work is taking place in a large block of land within the yellow region on the map. What kind of site work? The exact kind that we saw ahead of Tempesto back in 2014. It sounds like it’s even being carried out by the same company. The good news? This early site work is taking place on a much larger scale than what we saw taking place before Tempesto broke ground.
Next lets tackle the blue star.
Near the bottom right corner of the red area you’ll find a blue star. This star represents the approximate, rumored location of a line of sight balloon test that occurred all the way back in October 2014. To this day, we’ve never seen any project utilize the information this experiment would have given the park. That said, considering the information above, it seems very likely that it could be related to Project 2017. Adding more fuel to the flames, bgbackdoor, a known park insider on our forum, has stated that the Fall 2014 line of sight test is linked to Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s 2017 plans.
Lastly, we have the nice, neat, little red area.
Unlike the yellow area which is based on fact and the blue star which is based upon a well-known event, the red area doesn’t have a ton to back in up. Why is it here then? Well, I have a second, much more difficult to interpret data point relating to the preliminary site work referenced in the yellow section above. I have a rough idea of the size of the project: it is both much larger than Tempesto and far too small to utilize the entire yellow area on the map. Based on those parameters, I tried to limit the scope of the predicted area down to roughly match the known project area. The red area represents my best attempt to do just that.
The red region needs some more in-depth explanation because a lot of the ideas that formed it have yet to be mentioned. And yes, I know, I can hear you now: “Another section?! You’ve spent the last 700 words boring me to death after spending the previous 300 explaining why the location even mattered in the first place! This has reached the point of lunacy!” Well how about this: I’ll make a deal with you. If you read just this one last section, I’ll tell you a secret. Sound good?
So, back to explaining the red area. I’m going to start doing this by explaining the reasoning behind the main boundaries. Then I’ll jump into explaining why this area makes more sense than the other available regions covered by the yellow zone.
Why the northern boundary?
The right half of the northern boundary is formed by Le Scoot’s ride area. While it’s possible that an attraction could pass over or under Busch Gardens’s log flume, I think it unlikely—especially in this area. The left half of the northern line sections off the Caribou Station yard.
Why the eastern boundary?
Most of the eastern boundary is formed by Le Scoot and Alpengeist. The only exception to this is the bottom right corner which is currently limited by an Entertainment warehouse. Could the warehouse be removed? Yes. Do I think it likely? No.
Why the southern boundary?
This border is made up of Camp Wallace Road and the DarKastle/Das Festhaus parking lot. Both of these things could be modified some if they needed to be, but I suspect the park wants to keep both as intact as possible.
Why the western boundary?
This line is made up entirely of Camp Wallace Road. As stated above, if needed, it could be rerouted, but doing so only adds about 50 feet to the possible attraction area—and that’s including the tree buffer on the other side of the road. If they need to do it, I’m sure they will, but I think it’s unlikely that a coaster would overstep this boundary too much.
Why not use the land south of DarKastle and west of Das Festhaus?
Giving guests access to this area without massively reworking the backstage areas outside of Das Festhaus would be a huge roadblock to this option. Additionally, a coaster in this area would block one of the best service entrances the park currently has. I think it’s incredibly unlikely that this is the area we should be looking at.
How about the open area to the west of the Royal Palace Theatre?
I’d point to this as the second most likely location. There’s actually about the same amount of workable land in this region as there is in the red area depicted above. Unfortunately, access to this area is more difficult. Could I envision a station area where Le Catapult currently is that would enable a coaster to cross the service roads back in that area and run back down behind the Royal Palace Theatre? Yes, but I think it’s significantly less likely than simply building behind Le Scoot.
This area offers a reason for the incredibly early teasing the park has been engaging in as well: Using this are would almost certainly require removing or relocating Le Catapult—something that, for the record, the park is far from timid about.
So why the current red area?
The area I’ve outlined above is a chunk of land roughly the size of the expected scope of the project as I currently understand it. The land can be easily accessed by utilizing the existing Eagle’s Nest area which has sat untouched and gated off for over two decades now. The area also offers great terrain and plenty of opportunities for interactions with the park’s railway and log flume. Like the option immediately above, the current red region also offers justification for the early announcement: Construction here would likely require closing the Busch Gardens Railroad for a notable chunk of the construction time and quite possibly Le Scoot as well.
Any other possible hints that we should be looking at New France?
Actually, yes. The park’s last major attraction addition (Verbolten) brought with it a multi-year renovation project for the coaster’s hamlet (Oktoberfest). Next year New France will be getting a new shop and currently, Le Scoot’s entire splash pool is being completely rebuilt. Could even more changes be in store for the hamlet come 2017?
Oh, and another thing: A New France renovation has been on the park’s to-do list for a while now. Here’s a link about that if you’re curious.
Oh, that secret I promised you about 750 words ago? The plans on the table were not for Project 2017; they were for the ongoing Le Scoot pool replacement project mentioned above. Maybe they just used whichever blueprints that were handy, and perhaps the BGW did not want to put actual confidential plans out in front of a camera, but who knows? Maybe it was a subtle hint that we’re in the right area of the park? You never know…
If you made it all the way through this monument to long-form theme park journalism, I really appreciate your time and I hope you enjoyed the read!
To stay up to date on Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s 2017 project as we continue to try to answer “When?,” “What?,” and “Where?,” like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. It would mean a lot if you were to pass this article along to a friend who may be interested as well. Before I close, I have a few people to thank for making this article possible.
Nicole for her fantastic information analysis, brainstorming help, and editing. Gavin for his continued technical prowess. Matthew over at BuschDominion.com (a new ParkFans Network site—check them out!) for helping confirm some of the finer details in my theory. Thomas deserves some credit for his aid in the brainstorming process as well.
Lastly, and most importantly, a huge thanks to all of the anonymous sources that trust me with their privacy enough to allow me to write an article like this. None of this is possible without them and though they have to remain nameless most of the time, make sure to express your gratitude towards them somewhere they can see it. I wish there was a way I could give them the credit they deserve.
And with that, I bid you all adieu. Thank you all for the continued support and stay tuned for more on Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Project 2017!