With Busch Gardens Williamsburg operating year-round nowadays, we have been granted the opportunity to observe a ton of fairly routine maintenance work that we’ve never been able to witness previously. Better yet, after years of deferred projects as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this “off-season” has been a particularly busy one thus far by the looks of things. With that in mind, today we’re resurrecting a short, simple post format that was once the bread and butter of BGWFans—the photo update! Anyway, without further ado, lets dive right in!
If you’ve been following us on social media, you likely already know that Griffon is getting a fresh coat of paint ahead of its 2022 reopening. From what we can gather, this is a full top-to-bottom paint job, not a partial, half-measure ordeal like we’ve seen Busch Gardens Williamsburg attempt with Griffon a few times over the years. Anyway, a photo showing the current progress on the coaster’s second Immelmann can be found below. It offers a good depiction of just how faded Griffon had gotten over the years and just how much better this refresh looks.
Alpengeist’s New Color Scheme
Griffon’s neighbor, Alpengeist, is also getting a full paint job this year. This one, however, is far more controversial. Unlike Griffon which is retaining its original color scheme, Alpengeist will reopen later this season with a new palette. Alpie’s track is remaining its signature snow-inspired white, but its supports are being changed from fairly green-ish teal to a much brighter, much bluer, almost aqua, color. A photo displaying the difference in color can be found below.
As of this last weekend, Alpengeist’s enormous cobra roll seems to have been completely repainted giving us a much better idea of how the coaster’s new color scheme looks up against Griffon’s existing blue-on-blue look.
While in a vacuum, I don’t dislike Alpengeist’s new white-on-light-blue look at all, I do think it looks a bit off next to Griffon. I’ll reserve final judgement until the trees get their leaves back this spring though.
Hints at Battle for Eire’s Future
Back in May of last year, we wrote about concerning signs pointing to the likely death of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s new-for-2018, one-of-a-kind, virtual reality simulator attraction, Battle for Eire. After less than two years of operation, since the end of 2019, Battle for Eire has sat dormant without any word from the park as per its future. Though, as we discussed in last year’s piece, things looked pretty dire for the ride early last year, I’d say things have only gotten worse in the time since.
Howl-O-Scream 2021 brought a new house, KILLarney Diner, to the Ireland village’s simulator building. As Europe in the Air and Curse of DarKastle have demonstrated previously, there seems to be some real correlation between an indoor attraction’s real-estate being handed over to Entertainment for special event usage and said attraction being on the chopping block. In fact, this is likely even more true today than it has been previously. Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been making a real effort lately to avoid having to deconstruct any of their Howl-O-Scream houses after the event ends each year. From what we can gather, KILLarney Diner remains intact currently and we don’t know of any plans to take it down anytime soon.
Perhaps an even worse twist for Battle for Eire recently though has been the reveal of the indoor roller coaster coming to DarKastle in 2023—a project we leaked as Project DarKoaster. Here’s an odd, little-known fact about Killarney’s simulator building: Despite housing multiple attractions requiring 3D glasses over the years, Battle for Eire’s home doesn’t have an onsite washing facility for 3D glasses or, in the case of Eire, VR headset straps. While Eire was operating in 2018 and 2019, employees would cart huge numbers of “emerald masks” across the park to Oktoberfest to use Curse of DarKastle’s old 3D glasses washing facility to sanitize the headgear. The problem? DarKastle is about to become a full-on construction site—likely resulting in the demolition of (or at least the temporary inability to access) Curse of DarKastle’s glasses sanitation area.
That said, with some plumbing and electrical work, the park could probably simply move the old DarKastle cleaning equipment to a new space in order to continue cleaning Eire’s emerald masks. Alternatively, and probably more likely while we’re still dealing with COVID, Eire could simply run without virtual reality all together. That said, thanks to a sign that ParkFans member, Travis, spotted on Monday, it’s not lookin’ like the future for the Otherworld is very bright at this point.
With such an incredible discount on all Battle for Eire merch, it seems pretty obvious that Busch Gardens Williamsburg is trying to clear their stock of all things Otherworld mighty quickly. Though this certainly is not a sure sign of death for the ride—we’ve seen attractions come back from worse before—I think the outlook for Battle for Eire today looks far grimmer than it did last week—and, as covered above, things weren’t exactly sunshine and rainbows beforehand.
Loch Ness Trestle Renovation
Moving on to better news, have you been wondering why the Busch Gardens Railroad isn’t operating for Winter Weekends? We may have the answer! There seems to be a lot of work happening around the Loch Ness Trestle right now—namely what looks to be walkway and railing replacement.
Over on the Loch Ness Monster-side of the trestle, we can tell this is more than just a routine wood replacement job. By the looks of things, the wood walking bridge portions of the trestle are being replaced with a new silver material. You can see it installed on the right/foreground side of the railroad tracks in the photos below.
A ton more of this new material can also be found staged behind Killarney.
Ponte del Accordo Construction
The Loch Ness Trestle is neither the only nor the most important bridge undergoing significant work this winter. Down the Rhine, Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s most iconic bridge, Ponte del Accordo, is also seeing some heavy construction. Not only is this main thoroughfare that would typically connect San Marco and Oktoberfest closed right now, a sizable chunk of San Marco is as well. You can see the fence and signs explaining the closure to guests below.
We’re not entirely sure how comprehensive this bridge renovation will be but, as of right now, there appears to be a sizable hole in one portion on the Oktoberfest side of the walkway. This isn’t an easy thing to capture from ground-level, but hopefully the photos below give you some idea of the location at the very least.
Thankfully, ParkFans member, Travis, stopped by the park on Monday when the weather was a bit warmer and was able to ride Verbolten to get a better look at the work shown above. Huge thanks to him for allowing us to use the photo below!
Rhine River Cruise Dock Resurfacing
Moving on, we have another project dealing with a different walkway adjacent to the Rhine River—this time the Rhine River Cruise docks near Grimm’s Landung. From what we can see, all of the existing aggregate is being removed and replaced this winter.
DarKoaster Preparations Begin
The image above, showing of a pair of new fences blocking DarKastle’s entrance, was provided to us by ParkFans member, horsesboy. Though there’s obviously not much to see here (and likely won’t be for much of DarKoaster’s construction), from what we’ve heard, physical preparations have begun for Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s planned-for-2023, indoor family coaster inside the former home of Curse of DarKastle. If you’re not yet familiar with the project, give our full article from last month a read, here.
Anyway, for now, work likely mainly consists of removing all of the special event structures and theming from the space. After the ride area is completely cleared out, we may start seeing (or, probably more likely, hearing) some of the major foundation work begin sometime this spring or summer.
Vesuvius Grill Overhaul
If you’ve been to the park anytime in the last handful of months, you likely noticed that the small snack booth across from Escape from Pompeii, Vesuvius Grill, is behind walls. Though construction started here around the same time as work kicked off on the recently-completed Snack Hutte in Oktoberfest and Crepes & Coffee in Aquitaine, this project seems to be progressing far, far slower.
We still don’t know what exactly the park has planned here, but the extent of the work is pretty visible in the photos below.
Perhaps most interesting about this undertaking is that the building has actually changed shape pretty dramatically sometime in the last few weeks. As you can see in the image below, the building’s front façade has long been tall and flat whereas the shape below the tarp in the first image above clearly shows that the current roofline is quite different. Whatever Busch Gardens Williamsburg ends up doing with this venue, here’s to hoping that it will mesh better visually with Escape from Pompeii than its predecessor!
Flying Machine Maintenance
Though hopefully not in as dire of straits as Battle for Eire, there’s another attraction which has seen very little activity since COVID: Flying Machine. Though it did briefly operate following the pandemic, Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Tivoli Orbiter has spend the vast majority of the time since the park’s post-pandemic reopening in pieces. Intermittent changes have been visible behind the construction walls surrounding the attraction so hopefully Flying Machine’s future is still bright. This is certainly an attraction to keep an eye on though!
Hope you all enjoyed that quick jaunt around Busch Gardens Williamsburg! If you’d like to see more content like this (especially during the “off-season” when so much of this work typically occurs), let us know via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or our partner forum, ParkFans.net! Thanks for reading! ❤️