Busch Gardens Williamsburg appears all but certain to get a new attraction that is taller than 300 feet within the next year or two. The filing with the county appears to point towards a roller coaster; at 315 feet in height, that would make it a gigacoaster. If that is true, it is certain to draw a crowd and help put Virginia on the map even more – it would be the only state in the country (and in the world for that matter) that could claim host to two gigacoasters! While such a potential investment would likely push $25 or $30 million, it is one that would likely pay off since gigacoasters draw in crowds from all over the country. “This [new attraction] they’re putting in place could potentially have people coming from all over the world,” said County Administrator Bryan Hill. “I’m a happy guy. Busch Gardens continues to invest and people continue to come. That’s what tourism development is all about.”
While nothing has been announced, some clues seem to point in the general direction of a giga! First, the park received unanimous approval from the James City County to build an attraction is approximately 315 feet tall. Second, the quote by board members [specifically the quote above from the county administrator] seems to point towards a world class attraction that is over 300 feet tall. While drop towers like Falcon’s Fury at sister park Busch Gardens Tampa are world-class attractions, it is hard to deduct that it would be at a level that is worthy of drawing an international crowd solely on its own. Big ticket items, like gigacoasters, however, tend to capture the attention of enthusiasts from around the world. Third, SeaWorld appears to be doubling down on investing on attractions. “We have to grow attendance and grow revenue,” Joel Manby, CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. said in the call. “But minimizing a loss is just as important in cash flow as maximizing a gain.” Overall, the company is looking to spend around $100 million on new attractions and park events. It is likely that at least one of the parks in the chain would spend a big amount of that.
More Attractions Might Also Work Better!
The Busch Gardens brand has been on an upward trend in recent years, investing heavily in its locations. Specifically, the park in Williamsburg has enjoyed a number of new thrilling attractions. In 2015 and 2017, the park opened new roller coasters, Tempesto and Invadr respectively, to guests. While it does not appear that this extra tall attraction will be opening in 2018, it is possible that it would be ready for 2019. In fact, the waiver would require that the construction of the attraction begins within three years, have muted colors above 60 feet, have no lighting above 60 feet, and not have any of the attraction within 2,000 feet of Busch Gardens’ property lines. Certainly, a roller coaster project, if started, could easily be completed within the timeframe but so could other attractions that would draw larger crowds. With SeaWorld experiencing financial difficulties right now, it is quite possible that it would not want to pour too much money into one project, especially when its other parks are in need of new attractions and larger attendance numbers.
No matter the case, the future at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and that of this secretive project codenamed Madrid are quite intriguing. Will Busch Gardens get a gigacoaster in the near future, or might it get another attraction that may be more family-focused? Check back for more as new details become available.
[Feature image courtesy of the James City County’s Board of Supervisors]