We believe that BGWFans has a responsibility to our readers to be as transparent as possible regarding our relationship with Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Despite being a relatively uncomfortable and inconvenient topic to address in a public setting like this, we believe there’s a moral imperative to do so. This is particularly true when the status quo changes as it has over the last few months.
For much of BGWFans’ pre-2016 life, the site was blacklisted by Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s marketing department. This was seemingly in response to our long history of publishing investigative pieces revealing details about unannounced projects. In 2016, Dan Dipiazzo, the marketing VP at the time, graciously gave us the chance to show what we could do when afforded some limited, exclusive, behind-the-scenes access. In the months that followed, a number of great pieces came out of that relationship, including our article detailing the park’s effort to save their aging Arrow Log Flume, and our post exploring the current and future status of Zoology at BGW.
This relationship proceeded relatively smoothly for a few years. We continued to publish our investigative reporting on upcoming projects and voice our opinions—both positive and negative—freely without any forced interference from Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s marketing team. Between posts leaking Battle for Eire, Finnigan’s Flyer, Cutback, and Pantheon, we also worked with Busch Gardens Williamsburg to cover the projects the park had announced. At times, this partnership ran even deeper. For example, during the Membership Program launch we were given exclusive early access so that we could write our own article outlining the park’s strategy, the details of the changes for our readers, and our opinions regarding the decision. This mutually beneficial arrangement also afforded us the ability to help the park explain the new program to concerned—sometimes enraged—pass holders.
Despite leaking Pantheon in excruciating detail months before it was announced, Busch Gardens Williamsburg happily welcomed us to their official Pantheon unveiling over the summer. Something seems to have changed since we started our reporting on the park’s 2021 project, however. When we were mysteriously excluded from the park’s Howl-O-Scream media event in September, we kept quiet. After we published a well-researched article detailing a simple public records filing last October regarding Project 2021, the park publicly accused us of being “#FakeNews” in a now-deleted tweet. We took that in stride. Then BGWFans wasn’t invited to the park’s Christmas Town media event. Once again, we didn’t push back.
When we caught wind of a possible Pantheon construction tour coming up in late January, we reached out to Busch Gardens to inquire about attending. Special event media days are nice for interviews and whatnot, but they matter far less to our coverage than an exclusive tour of a coaster construction site. This was an opportunity we really cared about and we made that clear to BGW marketing. After a couple days, we were flatly rejected.
So yes, as we tweeted out yesterday, there is a Pantheon media tour happening tomorrow—presumably with the intention of giving members of the park-selected media their first look at many of the incredible Pantheon track elements that have been installed since the end of Christmas Town. And no, BGWFans will not be there.
This puts us at a real disadvantage—our competitors will have access to a ton of content that we’ve been expressly barred from by the park. That’s not a situation we’re satisfied with. So today, the day before Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s big media event, we’re going to show you, our readers, all the progress that has been made on Pantheon since Christmas Town. How? Not through leaks, but through good, old-fashioned, hard-hitting photojournalism—only this time, it’s being done from a plane.
Pantheon Aerial Overviews
We’re going to start things off by looking at some wide shots showing the current state of Pantheon’s progress overall. As I’m sure you’ll all agree, this coaster is stunning. Its colors don’t pop as much this time of year with all of the bare trees around it, but come the spring, that brown-ish track with those silvery supports will look incredible against the green backdrop of Busch Gardens Williamsburg!
Pantheon Aerial Close-Ups
The first set of photos were already of a lower image quality than I would normally prefer for the BGWFans frontpage (taking long-zoom photographs out of a small plane on a turbulent day isn’t easy). From this point on though, the photo quality will drop again—because to focus on specific elements, I have to crop down much larger photos (the overview shots above were already nearing the maximum optical zoom range I had to work with).
Despite the drop in quality, I suspect the photos below will be huge hits regardless. There are some really neat angles on some elements we’ve been looking at for months, but there are also some nice close-ups of parts of the coaster that we have yet to have a chance to see from the ground.
The photos below are roughly ordered as they will be experienced on-ride.
We really hope you’ve enjoyed the first ever BGWFans aerial photo update! Even though we won’t be at tomorrow’s media event, we have plenty of friends with other outlets who will be. We’ll be sure to share/retweet their content as it shows up during tomorrow’s media event.
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