menu Menu

Drachen Spire's Slumber

Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Long-Planned Giga Shuttle Coaster Still Has Yet to Recover from COVID

Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Long-Planned Giga Shuttle Coaster Still Has Yet to Recover from COVID

Thanks to a treasure trove of newly-obtained, internal SEAS documentation, we can now say with a high degree of certainty that Busch Gardens Williamsburg is not currently planning to pursue their long-sought giga coaster project in time for a 2023 debut.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s thoroughly-leaked, Intamin-made, giga, shuttle coaster known to BGWFans readers as “Drachen Spire” was originally planned to have opened earlier this year. When the COVID-19 outbreak hit the United States in March of 2020, all active capital expenditures were quickly halted chain-wide. Though Pantheon has long since resumed work and is now scheduled to debut two years after its originally-planned opening date, the same can’t be said for its sister coaster, Drachen Spire. As far as we can tell from files we have reviewed and sources we have spoken to, progress on Drachen Spire still has yet to resume.

Drachen Spire Pre-Creation Based on the Leaked Coaster Plans

Further adding fuel to this fire, we recently obtained a large collection of documents relating to upcoming SeaWorld Parks attractions and, from what we now understand of the chain’s 2023 plans, a 300+ foot roller coaster is no longer Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s next major attraction addition.

That said, the Williamsburg park has been on a quest to build a coaster with a drop of over 300 feet for many years now. A Rhine River-crossing, Intamin-made, launched, giga coaster was originally designed under the codename “Project Madrid” with an anticipated opening scheduled for 2019. Famously, mid-development, Project Madrid was scrapped in favor of a new solution: Two Intamin swing-launch coasters on each side of the park’s Rhine River—Project MMXX (Pantheon) on the Italy side for 2020 and Drachen Spire on the Germany side for 2021.

Physical work on this new, two coaster solution was progressing as planned until the COVID-triggered work stop order hit in March of last year—resulting in the two year delay of Pantheon and the (temporary?) shelving of Drachen Spire.

Though we do not believe Drachen Spire will come to fruition for the 2023 season, we do believe that a coaster with a 300+ foot tall drop is still likely present in the park’s current five-ish year plan. Busch Gardens Williamsburg has wanted the tallest and fastest coaster in the region for many, many years now. In fact, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been greenlighting projects designed to obtain those very titles since at least the mid-2010s. Though that goal has hit multiple roadblocks over the past few years, from what we understand, that long-term goal for BGW still survives inside SEAS. Assuming the current post-COVID amusement park boom doesn’t suddenly fizzle, do not be at all surprised if we’re looking at Drachen Spire or another similarly-sized project in 2024 or 2025.

In the meantime, just as the 2019 gap left by the death of Project Madrid was filled at the last minute by the addition of Finnigan’s Flyer, the 2023 gap left by the continued Drachen Spire holding pattern has produced an interesting opportunity for Busch Gardens Williamsburg as well—one they don’t intend to squander. We have to hold those secrets for another day though…

Before we share more about BGW’s 2023 plans, we have another—particularly slippery—fish to fry from a different SEAS park though. Fancy a speedy December road trip? Stay tuned…

Previous Next

Leave a Reply