Everything We Know About Project Madrid, Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Next Major Attraction Addition and/or Park Expansion

“Project Madrid” is the code name for a large, new construction project currently in planning at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. According to documents filed with James City County, the proposed addition will include the erection of a structure up to 315 feet tall in the field between Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Festa Italia hamlet (home of Apollo’s Chariot & Tempesto) and the Rhine River. As things currently stand, it is unknown what function this structure will serve (roller coaster, flat ride, landscaping project, etc).

A map depicting the current anticipated project impact area and the estimated location of the structure’s highest point is included below. The locations displayed should only be considered rough estimates. The map is only based on the requests for utility markings the park has submitted thus far in the region around the height waiver location. It is currently impossible to confirm that the two requests referenced for the area in yellow (#1, #2) are actually for the same project. Additionally, we have no proof to say that either request pertains to the 315 foot height waiver. All that said, here is our “best guess” map for the current Project Madrid impact area:

Recent Updates


Official documents relating to Project Madrid

Revised RPA Impacts Plan

A few weeks ago we reported on a resource protection area impacts plan filed with James City County for Project Madrid. It would seem that since that previously reported filing, Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s 2020 plans have still been in a state of flux.

Included below is a newly-filed, revised version of the previously-mentioned RPA impacts map showing very notable adjustments in footer placement.

In addition to the site plan above, the filing included a composite map showing the new impervious structures superimposed onto the existing landscape. An image of that section of the document can be found below.

These small fragments of Project Madrid’s site plan don’t give us a ton to work with when it comes to deducing specific details about the coaster itself. That said, the big news here is that changes this substantial are still being made to the plans for Project Madrid.

Many people saw the leaked slides the other week and thought “It’s settled. What we see is what we are getting.” The fact that structural alterations are still being made to the coaster really puts those slides into a more proper context.

Leaked SeaWorld Parks Slide Deck

An internal SEAS presentation purporting to show various upcoming attractions across the SeaWorld Parks chain has leaked online. This leak follows the publication of some of the information from the slide deck via outlets such as WildGravityTravels, BehindTheThrills, and Orlando Weekly.

In a shocking turn of events, SeaWorld has confirmed that the slides leaked by @AmusementLeaks are real. This does not mean, however, that they are accurate or even remotely recent.

The presentation is certainly an interesting glance into the production process, but it should still be taken with a grain of salt in our opinion.

Chesapeake Bay RPA Impacts

In early August Busch Gardens Williamsburg filed a partial Project Madrid site plan with James City County. This site plan was required to show all structures within 100 feet of the park’s Rhine River. Our full article about this bombshell of a document can be found here.

Festa Field in Unrelated Filing

Just a little forewarning: This is a strange update.

A few days ago Busch Gardens Williamsburg filed for a 90 foot height waiver near Killarney. Some great initial analysis of this filing can be found on our forum, here.

Following Kingadam’s first post on the subject, we got our hands on the full package of “Killarney Expansion” documents submitted to James City County. I published some highlights from that collection of documents, here.

A full site plan of the park was included in the submission in order to show the distance from the newly proposed Killarney structure to various important points around the park. As Thomas initially pointed out when we were looking through the material, something very interesting seems to taken up residence in Festa Field…

To my untrained eyes (and to the eyes of others I’ve shared the image above with privately), this appears to be some sort of large, new, circular-sector-shaped structure. Most people (myself included) see a huge, semi-circular theater.

So, why is there a not-yet-existing structure in a filing for a seemingly unrelated height waiver? Truthfully, we have no idea. This could simply be a remnant of a previously cancelled Festa Field project from months or years ago. Alternatively, this could be a new, not-yet-filed-with-the-county project that could currently be in the works.

Whatever it is, we can say one thing with complete confidence: We are thoroughly baffled.

811 Requests: Festhaus Park

Fishburne Drilling Inc, on behalf of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, has made a second round of requests for utility markings—this time on the Festhaus Park side of the Rhine across from the height waiver location. This has massively expanded the anticipated impact area for Project Madrid. The project map in the first section of this page has been updated to reflect this new potential project area. The actual text of the requests can be found below.

FAA Height Permit

Busch Gardens Williamsburg has filed with the Federal Aviation Administration requesting approval for new construction with a max height of 315 feet. A picture of the filing can be found below.

September 18th, 2017 Update:
The Federal Aviation Administration height waiver has been approved.

811 Requests: Festa Field

Fishburne Drilling Inc, a company which has historically done soil testing work for Busch Gardens Williamsburg, requested utilities in Festa Field and around the Rhine River be marked. The text of both marking tickets can be found below.

JCC Height Waiver

An application has been filed by Busch Gardens Williamsburg requesting approval for a 315 foot structure in the field between Festa Italia and the Rhine River.

Below are images of the height waiver itself. The first is a picture of the original document as it was filed by the park. The second shows the final version of the application after James City County made their own modifications. More details regarding these discrepancies can be found here.

Two pieces of supplemental information provided by Busch Gardens Williamsburg to James City County can also be found below. The first shows the highest point of the structure on a satellite map of the park. The second depicts the impact the structure will have on the existing skyline.

July 21st, 2017 Update:
The James City County Planning Commission has approved the height waiver.


Facts we have verified about Project Madrid

JCC Height Waiver Details

Keen eyed individuals will notice that the original height waiver application submitted to James City County by Busch Gardens Williamsburg makes no mention of the word “attraction” or “Madrid.” Both of these were added after the submission left the park’s hands.

According to James City County, the word “Madrid” was added after they requested Busch Gardens Williamsburg give them a name by which the project could be uniquely identified. Since “Madrid” is simply a codename being used for the project, it could potentially have little to nothing to do with the final product.

The word “attraction,” on the other hand, was reportedly a unilateral addition by James City County to keep this application consistent with previous height waivers filed by Busch Gardens Williamsburg. In other words, at this point, we don’t have a solid footing for calling Project Madrid anything other than a “structure,” as Busch Gardens Williamsburg stated on their initial application.

Festa Field Height Survey

A height survey was conducted this morning at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Through some basic triangulation, we approximate it was located somewhere near Festa Field. Furthermore, we estimate that the balloon’s height surpassed that of Apollo’s Chariot. Further details, a picture of the balloon in the air, and some speculation can be found, here.


Unconfirmed claims regarding Project Madrid

Attraction Type

Confidence Level: 90%

One of the biggest questions about Project Madrid is, of course, what the park is actually building. Until this point, BGWFans has tried to remain silent on this issue.

Now that rumors about the project have begun to narrow down some, we feel it’s time to share what we’ve heard with our readers. The prevailing rumors from people with recent knowledge of Project Madrid is that it will be a roller coaster.

October 3rd, 2018 Update:
Due to a variety of indicators we have seen over the last few months (the RPA impacts map, leaked SEAS slide deck, converging rumors from insiders, etc.) we have upgraded our confidence level regarding Project Madrid featuring a large, new roller coaster to 90%.

Confidence Level: 95%

Until now BGWFans has been very quiet regarding a potential timeline for Project Madrid. This has primarily been due to a lack of consensus amongst sources. Over the last couple months, however, the whispers and rumors have begun to largely align.
According to a handful of people with knowledge of the status of Project Madrid, the current timeline for this new attraction should result in a 2020 opening date.

October 3rd, 2018 Update:
Thanks to recent public filings, rumors from insiders, and the leaked SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment slide deck, we are now very confident that Project Madrid is slated to debut in 2020. Our confidence level has been adjusted to reflect this.

Project Codename

Confidence Level: 80%

In truth, this is not a new rumor. That said, considering that people continue to point to the project’s codename (Project Madrid) as evidence for what the park is building, we thought it advantageous to integrate what we have been told regarding SEAS codenames into the rumors section of this page.
According to people with knowledge of internal SEAS project naming conventions, large SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment additions have been given major city codenames recently. For instance, I’m told that there was a Project Atlanta slated for one of the SeaWorld-branded parks within the last couple years.
In other words, though the codename Project Madrid is interesting and it’s not impossible that it could be relevant to the final project itself, just keep in mind that there is a very plausible alternative explanation for the codename.