This is still a breaking story. The article below should be considered a work in progress for as long as this disclaimer is present. In its current state, this post is not up to BGWFans’ typical quality standards but, in the interest of getting it published before anyone signs off for the night, we have decided to share what we have written and drawn up thus far.
Notable updates to this article will be mentioned on our Twitter page, @BGWFans. Follow us there to avoid missing important alterations and additions to this story.
This is the big one guys. We have been following Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Festa Italia addition—codenamed Project Madrid—since before the first height waiver was filed with James City County back in 2017. Now, nearly two years later, new documents obtained by BGWFans provide the first complete look at Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s 2020 roller coaster addition.
Before we dive in, a quick disclaimer: The documents presented below are dated February 5th, 2019. Hence, we think it is reasonable to consider these diagrams to be an accurate representation of the current plan for Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s 2020 attraction. Things can change before the final product is announced and constructed so do keep that possibility in mind.
Additionally, do not just look at the photos below and conclude that what you see is what you’re going to get. As the text will explain, a lot of what you will see is our analysis of the documentation. In order to share said analysis, we need to be fairly confident in our interpretation of the documents. Despite this, because our confidence level does vary, our textual elaboration is crucial to understanding the images presented below.
With both of those details out of the way, lets jump in.
The documents revealed today essentially confirm that a massive new roller coaster is being constructed in the Festa Field area of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Festa Italia hamlet. The site plans call for a bridge to be built over the existing Festa Railroad Station to connect the new ride’s plaza to the Turkish Delight-area of Festa Italia. Aside from a concrete pad for a small booth of some sort, the only thing this new area houses is the roller coaster. There is no new Spanish hamlet in these plans as many other outlets have long claimed that there would be.
So—this coaster—what can we glean from the site plans about it? A fair bit actually. Below I’ve included our “best guess” layout for Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s 2020 roller coaster. This layout is based primarily on footer locations. Launch sections, brakes, and the station area are all gathered from path, building, and catwalk locations. Again, this is our assessment of the data, not a conclusive depiction of the coaster.
As you can see, we can’t really place many elements in this rough layout as interpreting what the coaster track itself is doing solely by the locations of the footers is next to impossible. That said, by putting together this rough estimation of the layout, we can start to recognize some interesting details.
First off, if our interpretations are correct, there are two launch segments—one not long after the train departs from the station and one much, much longer one near the middle of the coaster. The site plan doesn’t tell us much about the first launch, but the second one is very, very interesting. It seems to almost certainly be utilizing Intamin’s new fast track switching mechanism to allow for a multi-part, forward-and-backward launch without the need to stop the train before it enters the element. Below I’ve included a video which shows this same type of launch technology in use on a coaster coming to Parc Astérix in 2021.
Secondly, the documents expressly state that the structures at either end of what we believe to be the second launch described above extend “upwards of 315′ above grade.” The structure on the station-side of the second launch is almost certainly a vertical spike like the one shown in the video above. The tower at the other end of the launch is far less clear. In the layout above it’s labeled as a “Top Hat (?),” but this is certainly the section of the layout we have the least confidence in. We know it has to be a very tall tower and it seems that it must change direction roughly 90 degrees to the right, but how exactly the coaster track will accomplish that maneuver is impossible to say with our current scope of information.
Thirdly, the two ravine dives suggested by the RPA Impacts filing a while back are both still present in this layout. The first takes place following soon after the first launch and the second follows the very tall, indecipherable element after the second launch described in the previous paragraph. Putting this information together, we are confronted with some pretty incredible possibilities regarding that second ravine drop down towards the Rhine River. Though we can’t say for sure whether or not we’re talking about a drop to the Rhine that would qualify this as a giga coaster, it certainly looks like this coaster will at least be within striking distance of that designation. One thing is for sure though: That drop looks like it could be incredible.
Fourthly, we need to talk about what isn’t depicted. Our theoretical Project Madrid layout above includes a lot of room for a number of different elements—airtime hills, inversions, anything really. We can roughly estimate some areas of altitude change based on the separation between pairs of footers, but ultimately, these documents don’t have enough raw data to theorize much beyond the attraction details described above.
Beyond the coaster itself, there really isn’t much more to the project. That said, it’s still well worth addressing what non-coaster elements of this addition are visible. Below I’ve included an annotated site plan depicting the entry area for Project Madrid. Below the image, I’ll break down some of the more interesting elements revealed.
Far and away the most interesting, non-coaster thing in the Project Madrid plans is how the park has decided to get people over to Festa Field. Instead of using the backstage railroad crossing next to Roman Rapids, the park appears to be constructing a new bridge right overtop of the existing Festa Railroad Station. Only half of this bridge is visible in the annotated plan above, so I’ve included a more complete, labeled site plan specifically depicting the new bridge below.
Aside from the bridge addressed above, the only other interesting things I could find of note in this portion of the plans are as follows…
This is a developing story and this article will be continuously updated with more raw source material and analysis throughout this weekend… We will mention notable article updates on our Twitter account, @BGWFans and on our forum, ParkFans.net.