As described in our November piece, COVID derailed those original Drachen Spire plans by delaying Pantheon by two full years and pushing the park to pursue year-round operations. In the wake of the pandemic and due in large part to the park’s recent operating calendar expansion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg opted to pursue a smaller, indoor project to immediate follow Pantheon instead—an Intamin-made, quad-launch, multi-lap, indoor, family coaster we’ve since leaked as Project DarKoaster.
Throughout all of this, we’ve continuously stuck to our guns on one thing: Despite all the delays, Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s intention—to construct an absolutely enormous coaster on the former site of Drachen Fire before the park’s 50th anniversary in 2025—has remained unchanged.
Now, before we project too much optimism here, we have to note a few things.
The existence of a height waiver does not guarantee that a structure will be built. It’s not impossible that the park could simply be filing to extend this waiver to keep their options open.
The proposed structure height is a maximum height, not a set height. Infamously, Pantheon used only part of the 315 foot height waiver that was originally requested and approved to accommodate its predecessor, the cancelled Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Rhine-crossing, full-circuit giga coaster project in development in the late 2010s, Project Madrid.
There is still plenty of time for plans to change. This extended height waiver, assuming it is approved, would almost certainly not result in an attraction opening before 2024. Even if Busch Gardens Williamsburg is full steam ahead on Drachen Spire for 2024 right now, there is plenty of time for timelines to shift or plans to change.
So, what should you take away from this article? This new filing from the park is a very promising sign for anyone who wants to see the long-planned Busch Gardens Williamsburg giga come to fruition. It’s not sure-fire evidence that Drachen Spire, as leaked pre-pandemic, is happening, but this is a required step on the path to making such a coaster a reality. It’s highly unlikely that this height waiver would have been renewed if Busch Gardens Williamsburg wasn’t still deep into development on a major attraction for Festhaus Park within the next couple years. Optimism is warranted in my assessment, but make sure you don’t get your hopes up too high just yet.
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Oh, and stay tuned for part two of our late February photo update—it should be live within the next couple days! This Drachen Spire story sorta came out of nowhere after I published yesterday. I’m sure you’ll forgive the interruption to the previously promised programming though. 😉