Pat and I took our annual pilgrimage to Busch Gardens last Sunday, and it was… something. Unfortunately the experience was not quite what it’s been in past years.
This is mostly not Busch Gardens’ fault: they can’t control the weather, after all. Sunday’s predicted high of 60 degrees never came to fruition, and while it was pleasant enough in the sun the park is largely designed to protect from summer’s heat, ie, there’s a lot of shade. I wore a thermal under a light jacket and a hat and I was still cold (also my hat wouldn’t stay on on the coasters; I performed a stunning catch on my first drop of the day). Pat even bought a long-sleeved shirt to compensate.
Which brings me to my next point: given the cold and wind, every roller coaster ride was an exercise in involuntary tears. I got off each coaster with temples streaking by high-speed teardrops. And yet my eyeliner did not budge – it’s Nyx Epic Ink and YOU SHOULD ALL GO BUY IT.
Wait, where was I? Oh yes, BGW. They can’t exactly control the crowds, either, and for some unknown reason there were a lot of people there this time around. I can’t quite figure this one out – we went on the exact same Sunday in October last year and it was maybe half as crowded. My best guess is some sort of local school sporting event or convention or some such. Anyway, lines were much longer than usual.
The last thing is on BGW though, and that’s the way they stagger land openings. Namely, they do it. Fine. WDW does it something similar sometimes too. But BGW doesn’t seem to have a strong handle on what “open” means. They seem to think letting people into an area at a designated time is enough. Actually having the corresponding rides open is optional.
Oh well. Next year we’ll take the day off and go on a Friday earlier in the season. That ought to fix 2 out of 3. And we still had a good time! We rode our favorite roller coasters (Verbolten, Griffon, and Apollo’s Chariot) multiple times and it was lovely.
We also got a chance to try out the new motion simulator ride, Battle for Eire. This particular simulator is unique in that each rider uses a personal VR headset instead of everyone staring at the same movie screen (although you do have thought option if you’re not feeling the VR).
To speed up the process, you wear the VR headset in two parts. First you’re given some very attractive headgear, which Pat and I will model for you now.
Once you’re seating in the ride, you attach your VR “goggles” to your headgear via magnet. You need to do a little adjusting to keep the goggles from tipping your headgear forward and making the focus out of whack, but I didn’t have too much trouble.
Sadly, once the novelty wore off I wasn’t all that into the ride. The graphics aren’t bad, but they aren’t good either; I got a decidedly N64 vibe, if that, although allegedly it’s all in HD. I wonder if the projected 2D version was better. I did enjoy the VR aspect of twisting my head around to view different parts of what I can only assume was at least 180 degrees worth of world (I’ll have to turn my head all the way around next time and see if there’s anything happening behind me).
The VR aspect kinda shoots the ride in the foot in that the developers seemed to assume that it can do a lot of the heavy lifting as far as motion is concerned, too. I know some previous shows have been accused of being too herky-jerky, but I barely felt a lot of the movements. At one point I was on the back of a freakin’ dragon and hardly felt like I was going anywhere at all.
More damningly, the story was pretty weak. You’re accompanying fairy Addie on a mission to save the Heart of Ireland from the bad guy, according to the preshow. It’s a pretty basic good-vs-evil plot, which is fine, but it’s thinly drawn and the climax is extremely cheesy.
In conclusion: I miss the show from two versions back, Corkscrew Hill. What can ya do.
We skipped hitting up any of the bars this time around and left before Howl-o-Scream even started because it was just SO COLD and crowded. Cold and empty, sure; warm and crowded, I can deal. But cold and crowded is no good.
That’s okay – BGW is a great park and we have a better plan for next year. I would recommend it to anyone in the area. Ride Apollo’s Chariot on repeat and enjoy!
Have you been to Busch Gardens Williamsburg? Have you ridden Battle for Eire? What are your thoughts?
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