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DarKoaster: Escape the Storm Debuting at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 2023

Everything We Know About Busch Gardens' Newly-Announced Indoor, Multi-Launched Roller Coaster

Everything We Know About Busch Gardens' Newly-Announced Indoor, Multi-Launched Roller Coaster

Busch Gardens Williamsburg DarKoaster Logo
Official DarKoaster Logo

DarKoaster Basics

Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s newest coaster, DarKoaster: Escape the Storm, is a spiritual successor to the park’s legendary, defunct dark ride, Curse of DarKastle. This Intamin-made, steel, family roller coaster has been constructed entirely within the walls of Curse of DarKastle’s original show building and will reuse much of the previous tenant’s infrastructure (queue, station, etc).

Notable DarKoaster features include its four launch experiences (two per lap), a pair of Intamin’s fast-track switches at the start and end of its “core” layout, and a dedicated station bypass track which will only be traversed once per ride. Combined, these elements will enable one DarKoaster train to circle the attraction’s layout twice while the coaster’s other train unloads and loads riders in the completely isolated station area.

DarKoaster is slated to officially debut in 2023 with exclusive previews held for Busch Gardens Williamsburg membership holders prior to its grand opening.

DarKoaster Concept Art

Official Concept Art

DarKoaster Fact Sheet

  • Attraction Type: Family Multi-Launch Coaster
  • Manufacturer: Intamin
  • Track Length: Over 1,400 Feet
  • Experienced Length: 2,454 Feet
  • Max Height: Unknown
  • Tallest Drop: Unknown
  • Top Speed: 36 Miles Per Hour
  • Launch Segments: Two
  • Launches Experienced: Four
  • Inversions: None
  • Duration: Unknown
  • Trains: Two Trains of Five Cars Each
    • Two Riders Per Car (Side-by-Side)
    • Ten Riders Per Train
    • Themed to Snowmobiles
  • Height Requirement: 48 Inches
  • Maximum Rider Height: 76 Inches (Update: Maybe Not?)
  • Colors: Black Track & Supports

DarKoaster Promotional Video

Official DarKoaster Sizzle Reel

DarKoaster Layout

The image below was created in late 2021 to illustrate our understanding of the leaked DarKoaster layout. Though the basics are all spot-on, there are a couple shaping issues that we have identified—most notably that the first turn after Launch 1 will actually travel below the large turn after Launch 2, not above it as is depicted below.

Leaked Project DarKoaster Layout
Unofficial, Leaked Project DarKoaster Layout Mockup

DarKoaster Theming

DarKoaster will take guests back to King Ludwig’s cursed fortress (of Curse of DarKastle fame) in search of an explanation for the strange weather patterns that have been recorded near the castle grounds. Riders, on snowmobiles, will encounter a mysterious, supernatural force at the storm’s center and, judging by concept imagery, will likely face Ludwig’s spirit once again.

According to interviews with park executives, DarKoaster is expected to feature a selection of lighting, sound, and projection effects. Additionally, multiple, new, three-dimensional set pieces are expected to be added in the ride area as well.

Useful DarKoaster Links

ParkFans DarKoaster Wiki & Discussion Thread

Official Busch Gardens DarKoaster Website

Official DarKoaster Press Release via COASTER-net

Recording of the Official Announcement via Coaster Studios

Project DarKoaster History

DarKoaster’s precursor and namesake, Curse of DarKastle, debuted at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 2005. Curse of DarKastle operated until September 2017 when it was shuttered in order for its building to be utilized as special event space.

Curse of DarKastle’s rumored replacement was first revealed by BGWFans as a roller coaster in early December 2021. This was also the point at which we playfully dubbed the project, “DarKoaster.” Subsequently, on December 30th, 2021, BGWFans leaked the roller coaster’s layout in detail.

Roller coaster ride hardware began to appear on-site at Busch Gardens Williamsburg around early June 2022 leading to the first official DarKoaster teaser being published by Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Later that month, BGWFans went on to leak information about Project DarKoaster’s new locker and photo sales structure.

DarKoaster was officially announced by Busch Gardens Williamsburg on September 6th, 2022. At a construction tour immediately following the announcement, it was revealed that DarKoaster’s full track layout has already been installed inside the building.

Project DarKoaster

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  1. Thumbs down on DarKoaster. The queue was great, and the track is fine. The visuals, though, were cheap and poorly conceived. It could actually be a great ride with more artistic ride ambiance.