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Late February 2022 General Photo Update
DarKoaster, Pantheon, Bridges, Rhinefeld Controversy, & More
By Zachary Posted in News on March 1, 2022 0 Comments 8 min read
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Given the overwhelmingly positive response to last month’s photo update, it seems that our readers may still be interested in this sort of broad, general park changes-focused, Busch Gardens Williamsburg content. We still don’t plan to post updates like this on any set schedule, but whenever there’s a plethora of small projects ongoing, we’ll be sure to make an effort to publish articles like this from time to time.

There’s so much going on in the park right now, in fact, that I couldn’t justify shoving all of the content into just one article. Hence, this piece will cover progress updates on non-ride-maintenance-related work. Be on the lookout for an attraction-focused sequel in the next couple days—there will be a lot of good stuff in there too!

Anyway, without further ado, lets get to the photos!

Minor DarKoaster Updates

For major addition projects like DarKoaster, we always advise that people make an effort to follow along with the dedicated news thread on our partnered forum, ParkFans. For anyone who doesn’t want to keep up with every forum post though, the Project DarKoaster thread includes a handy new feature ParkFans has been building and testing for a long while now: the first post is user-editable just like a wiki. In theory, this will allow the Project DarKoaster thread to act as a community-driven hub of DarKoaster information. If you’re ever feeling out of the loop on the project, that should be your first stop.

That said, whenever we discuss DarKoaster on the main page (like right now), we will make an effort to catch our readers up on anything that has happened since our last frontpage mention of the coaster. Since our January photo update, a utility marking request has been filed for DarKastle, we’ve been able to confirm that the show building has been cleared out, and photos from inside the building leaked via the /r/rollercoasters subreddit.

Despite all of that progress inside the building though, as you can see from the photo above, essentially nothing has changed on the guest-facing side of DarKastle. As previously reported, from what we have been able to gather about the coaster, essentially everything outside the building will remain unchanged—meaning that Busch Gardens Williamsburg may be able to shield this project from widespread public knowledge for a long, long while yet.

New Pantheon Decorations

While we were keeping tabs on Pantheon testing this past weekend, we noticed a few alterations to the coaster’s ride area—namely some new flags hung from the station and maintenance buildings as well as a deeply bizarre-looking wooden wall that has been constructed on top of the coaster’s existing station railings. Photos of both can be found below.

We’re happy to see the addition of the flags—Pantheon could use every cent of theming the park can afford—but it’s hard to ignore that their addition is basically just the park trying to put lipstick on a pig. Yeah, there are flags, but they’re still hung from hideous, metal framework structures encased by wooden privacy fences and perched over a service road and cow pastures. The effort is appreciated for what it is, but still, overall, yikes.

Presumably that new wooden wall had to be added for some safety-related reason, but it seems odd that a better, less intrusive, solution wasn’t designed into the station building from the very start. Even just netting would be an enormous upgrade over this wooden monstrosity. It looks like it could really ruin views of the coaster from the station platform too. Hopefully it’s only temporary…?

Ponte del Accordo Resurfacing

Since our previous Ponte del Accordo update back in January, a ton of progress has been made on this main park thoroughfare connecting Oktoberfest and San Marco. I’m no expert, but it appears to me that after the new surface is poured on the Oktoberfest-side of this bridge, it may be about ready to reopen!

This renovation has been smaller in scale than we had been anticipating originally—encompassing only the inclined portion on the Germany-side of the crossing. Given the rough visual state of the rest of the bridge, maybe this is just phase one of a larger, multi-year, Ponte del Accordo renovation project? That will certainly be something to keep an eye on a year from now!

Loch Ness Trestle Deck Replacement

Ponte del Accordo may still be under construction, but there’s another bridge we wrote about last January that now looks to be complete! Work on the walking deck replacement on the Loch Ness Trestle, the railroad bridge next to Loch Ness Monster, appears to have concluded recently and it honestly looks pretty spiffy. You can see the new walking surface in the photos below.

New Grab & Go Food Options Debut

This is an update I may not have caught if it hadn’t been for a ParkFans member, WDWRLD, pointing it out on the forum recently. Likely in response to the enormous food lines that have been forming on busy days thanks to a lack of dining capacity at the park, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has begun adding coolers with pre-packaged foods to some gift shop locations.

Your eyes don’t deceive you—that is, in fact, a $14, pre-packaged, gas station-style, salad being sold alongside a $13, premade sandwich that looks like it could have come out of a rest stop vending machine. And yes, these products are being sold to visitors at what was once one of the country’s greatest regional theme parks, Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I can’t possibly imagine any stronger indicator that something has gone horribly awry with dining at BGW than park management even imagining a scenario where a guest could even begin to consider buying these products. If anyone at BGW ever feels the need to resort to such desperate culinary measures, there’s an enormous systemic problem in management or the like that needs to be solved long before an offering like this is even pitched.

Dock Repaving Nearing Completion

Moving on to a far happier topic, the infrastructure refurbishments continue down at the Rhine River Cruise docks. At this point, the paved area at the bottom of the stairway from Rhinefeld looks to be nearly completed!

From what we can tell, this appears to be a straight refurbishment project—aside from a complete resurfacing, we haven’t identified any other substantive changes.

Vesuvius Grill Update

In our last photo update, we commented on the recent modifications made to the roofline at the long-behind-walls food booth next to Escape from Pompeii, Vesuvius Grill. Since then, work on this dining location seems to have ceased. If you compare the photo below to the one found in our January update, you’ll find essentially no visible changes whatsoever.

Given how long this building has been behind walls and the lack of any apparent recent progress, one has to start to wonder what is actually going on here. This booth has historically been a prominent Food & Wine Festival venue. With that event beginning at the end of April, is Vesuvius Grill slated to be operable by then…?

Rhinefeld Repaint Underway

That leaves us with what is easily the most controversial alteration happening at Busch Gardens Williamsburg right now: Rhinefeld’s new look. I’m going to avoid editorializing here too much as we have yet to see the finished product and I, and many others, have already shared our thoughts ad nauseam over on ParkFans.

Lets kick things off with some photos of the concept art Busch Gardens Williamsburg posted on a sign in the hamlet announcing the renovation. These shots aren’t great, but it’s the best we could do given the small size of the posted photos.

The concept art itself hasn’t been too controversial, but the actual paint colors being used in practice thus far is a whole other story. Here are some shots of the more finished-looking segments of Rhinefeld right now.

Moving deeper into the hamlet, it’s easy to see how unfinished this renovation still is. Some photos of the more obviously-work-in-progress areas are included below. Some of these shots—especially the first one—give you a great before-and-after look at the overhaul. As you can tell, the new paint, especially when compared with the hamlet’s traditional palette is, uh, very bold.

Rhinefeld’s focal point, Wilkomenhaus, will likely end up being the most controversial aspect here. Even the view from Oktoberfest is… something.

If you would like to compare Rhinefeld’s new paint scheme to its previous appearance, I’ve included a Google Maps StreetView embed below.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the update! Be on the lookout for our attraction-focused follow-up in the next few days as well! Follow us on Twitter and Instgram and/or like us on Facebook to be the first to know when it goes live. Plus, if you can’t make it out to the park on Friday for the first Pantheon preview window, expect Pantheon coverage all weekend long via our social media channels! Thanks for reading!

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