Whoa! Big news from Busch Gardens Williamsburg! The theme park, popular with Northern Virginia families due to its proximity (less than a three-hour drive from us) announced today that it is getting a new roller coaster next year. But that’s not all — the new thrill ride (set to open in spring 2017) will be the first wooden roller coaster at the park in Virginia, and fans will have a say in its creation.
Busch Gardens intends to design it as the first “crowdsourced” ride, with fans getting to vote on the name and various design elements. The ride will be in the New France section of the park. See the press release (copied below) for details, and be sure to check out all of our articles on Busch Gardens, including our tips for a first-timer’s visit!
BUSCH GARDENS WILLIAMSBURG® ANNOUNCES
ITS FIRST WOODEN ROLLER COASTER COMING IN 2017
World’s First “Crowdsourced” Ride Gives Fans
Unprecedented Opportunity to Decide Attraction Elements
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (March 19, 2016) – Busch Gardens® announced today a new wooden roller coaster is coming to its collection of world-class thrill rides in spring 2017. The family thriller will be the Virginia theme park’s first wooden coaster and eighth roller coaster in total – and will be designed as the world’s first “crowdsourced” ride.
In an unusual industry move, the park is announcing the new attraction much earlier than typical so that fans will be able to help “decide the ride” including opportunities to vote on attraction details, contribute to theme elements and shape the marketing campaign. The first such opportunity kicked off today, inviting fans to select the ride’s name.
“Busch Gardens has a reputation for creating unique ride experiences, and our new family coaster will certainly continue that tradition,” said Larry Giles, vice president of engineering. “The dynamics of a wooden coaster, combined with the many ways it will interact with the terrain and nearby attractions, will make this a one-of-a-kind thrill.”
Giles said the roller coaster will have a minimum height requirement of 46 inches for riders. A coaster with the lower height range rounds out the park’s portfolio and has been developed in response to guest requests for a roller coaster that adults and children can ride together, he said.
“This will be a great ride for families, but make no mistake: this will not be a kiddie ride,” Giles said. “This coaster will feature an exciting drop of 74 feet and will have nine airtime hills, the same number as Apollo’s Chariot®. It’s going to be a wild ride.”
While the coaster’s track will be wooden, it will be supported by a steel structure. “Riders will get the best of both worlds: the stability of steel supports with the classic feel of a great wooden coaster,” Giles said.
The ride will be located in the New France village of Busch Gardens. It will take guests on a trek of more than 2,100 feet through wooded terrain, underground through a tunnel and in close proximity to the Le Scoot log flume and Busch Gardens Railway. Neither of the neighboring attractions will need to close for extended periods during the construction of the new ride.
The attraction’s theme will be based on a fanciful legend related to the exploration of North America by Vikings. The coaster will invite riders to join the battle between a band of invading Vikings, who have survived for generations looking for new territory, and the residents of the New France trappers’ village, who are fighting to protect their outpost.
FANS TO “DECIDE THE RIDE”
While Busch Gardens historically has not announced new attractions so far in advance, the news of the new ride is part of a larger strategy by the park to involve its members and fans to a greater degree than ever before, said Dan Dipiazzo, vice president of marketing.
“Our fans are so loyal and passionate about this park, and we want to make them co-creators in this exciting new project,” Dipiazzo said. “We still have a lot of details to finalize for this attraction, and our guests will get to weigh in and be a part of the development.”
Surveys through Busch Gardens’ website and social media channels will invite fans to “Decide the Ride,” including selecting the ride’s name and various design elements. Dipiazzo said guests also may get the opportunity to contribute to the queue experience, participate in pre-ride video or audio segments and pitch their concepts for consumer-generated advertising to promote the coaster’s opening next spring.
The first chance for fans to participate started today, with a survey to select the ride’s name from among three contenders: Viking Raider, Battle Klash or InvadR. Consumers may vote once a day through April 1 at http://bit.ly/1UjthUa. The park has committed to brand the new attraction with whichever name gets the most qualified votes.
“Honestly, it’s a big change for us, and not common in our industry, to leave so much in the hands of consumers,” Dipiazzo admitted. “But we respect our fans. We know they love this park and want to be part of our success. This will be their ride as much as ours.”
In addition to crowdsourcing opportunities, Busch Gardens will share construction updates and other milestones in a special section of its website at BuschGardens.com/Project2017 and with the hashtag #BGProject2017 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
In 2017, a great battle will ensue in the trappers’ village of New France. Vikings will invade, forcing the trappers to defend their village. Invade new territory on the first wooden coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The 74-foot drop makes it a force to be feared and nine airtime hills wait to be conquered by bold warriors. Chart a course through the winding frontier at 48 mph and claim eternal glory for your crew. Join the charge at www.buschgardens.com/project2017.
|RIDE MANUFACTURER:||Great Coasters International, Inc., Sunbury, PA|
|TYPE OF RIDE:||Wooden roller coaster|
|SPECIAL FEATURES:||Wooden track with steel supports|
|Nine airtime hills|
|Interwoven into Busch Gardens topography
|TRACK LENGTH:||2,118 feet of track|
|MAXIMUM SPEED:||48 mph|
|SEATS/TRAIN:||2 trains, 16 seats per train|
|RIDE HEIGHT REQUIREMENT:||46 inches|
|LOCATION:||Busch Gardens’ New France village|
|RIDE OPEN DATE:||Spring 2017|