Last year on my Florida trip
, I got to ride Sheikra - B+M's first North American Dive Machine
. When I found out Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, was getting a bigger, better, badder version of Sheikra, of course I had to go ride it! So that was the catalyst of the trip.
I wanted to meet up with Robert and Beverly (friends of mine from the smart car club I'm a part of), but unfortunately the holiday weekend I'd decided to head down coincided with the weekend that they were heading North to HersheyPark to meet up with Diesel Dave and Pam (2 other people from Ontario in the club)! Shoot!
So imagine my surprise when my buddy Paul and I spotted a scratch black smart cab coming up behind us in Southern New York!!
It's Dave and Pam!
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We tracked alongside each other, switching places and turning heads fora good hour or so, before we had to part ways.
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I absolutely cherish the drive down Highway 15 toward Washington DC. On our way South, we noticed that Knoebels Grove - a smaller family-style park - was maybe 15 minutes off the highway. We were making good time... and decided to randomly stop in. They have a couple of decent rides here; Phoenix is an ancient wooden coaster, that started out life in Texas IIRC, before being moved up North... and Twister, which was built by park employees. The park is currently building a new wooden coaster, called Flying Turns, which will resemble the old bobsled-style coasters that were popular way back in the 1920's!
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Phoenix just glides along, tossing you out of your seat! Perfection.
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It looks good, but Twister is brutally rough.
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Construction on Flying Turns. Labour-intensive? Uh, yeah!
We had to head out after a couple of hours and keep going, but we had a great time there and were glad we stopped in briefly!
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Headin' on down to Virginia.
As the hills of B+M track popped up above the treeline I couldn't have been more excited. While I was at Busch Gardens Williamsburg... er... BGE now, I guess it is (they changed the name to Busch Gardens Europe, and Busch Gardens Tampa is now Busch Gardens Africa, I think) just last spring, Griffon was more than enough of an excuse to make a trip down again. Griffon has another inversion
over Sheikra, but more importantly, new prototype trains that seat an 10 guests wide, with no floor!
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Busch Gardens has been voted consistently the most beautiful theme park on Earth for many years in a row.
We met up with Roderick and Kip, two of my other coaster-enthusiast friends, and headed for... Griffon!!
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Those massive B+M trains. What were they thinking?!
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Pushing skyward through the first Immelman.
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Easily the smoothest coaster of the 248 I've ever riden.
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I wish I could fly... well, I can on Griffon!
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Just like Sheikra, the trains have scoops on the back row. When the train dips over the lake, it sends massive plumes of water straight out behind the train, for a visual effect!
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That's 90 degrees, straight down, folks.
Griffon alone was worth the trip, but there's so much more at Bsuch Gardens. There are 3 B+M coasters here; Griffon, of course, then Alpengeist - a ski-lift gone wrong, and Apollo's Chariot, which is functionally quite close to Wonderland's 2008 coaster, Buhemuff.
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Alpengeist twists down into the ravine.
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This sign always makes me smile.
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I always have ice cream for breakfast on my trips!!
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Alpengeist and Sheikra share the ravine.
Best part about Busch Gardens? BEER!
Since it's owned by Busch, you can just walk around and drink wherever you want. I resisted the urge to get tanked since I wasn't sure I trusted Paul behind the wheel after the horn incident (just kidding Paul!).
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Drinking in line felt weird. Man I love beer.
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Alpengeist screams through the Cobra Roll.
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Loch Ness Monster, Alpengeist, and Griffon. I like this area of the park a lot.
We said bye to Roderick, headed back to Richmond to our hotel, and settled for the night.
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When we got to the hotel, Paul ran in and got our keys. A family from Jamaica walked by and came right up and peered in my car, babbling something on that I couldn't understand! They couldn't see me because of my heavy tint... when they finally realised "there's someone inside!" they went nuts! The one lady kept talking to me, she was so friendly.
I can't remember all of what she said. I love this car hahaha...
Next up, Kings Dominion. On our way to the park we had to pass through some toll booths. I wish I had this whole event on video. As we rolled through the booth, I heard SCREAMING from about 3 booths away... as I pulled away, a giant black woman came running OUT OF THE BOOTH after me yelling "WAITTTTTTTTTTT WAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHERE DID YOU GET that carrrrrr......
" - I so wish I could have turned around
When we got to Kings Dominion we were early, but the park was deserted. Maybe 10 cars in the lot!
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We knew it was going to be a great day. The weather was perfect, too! While waiting for the park to open we went through the gift shops. I'm quite surprised that shirts like this
are selling in the stores! Paul asked me if all the pirate stuff in the stores was because of Volcano.
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Paul gets the full treatment through the park's metal detectors (stupid).
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Kings Dominion has the same Eiffel Tower replica as at Kings Island in Ohio.
Kings Dominion has a lot of variety. I think they've also got more launched coasters here (4) than any other park in the world!
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Best ride in the park; Drop Zone, freefall for 56 people at 100 m. Bliss.
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I like how Avalanche has 2 Canada themed sleds!
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Horrible. The launch is fantastic. It's unfortunate that anything happens after that, because it makes you want to kill yourself it's so bad.
By mid-afternoon we were starting to actually get bored (with no crowds, we rode everything in the park in just a few hours). We parted ways with Roderick and Paul and I headed up for an evening in Washington DC and Armands Pizza!
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On our way North, we stopped in at this Marine Museum.
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The real reason I wanted to go back into DC for the evening was of course for Metro. But my buddy Jeff had recommended this awesome pizza place on the North side of the city. So we pulled into the South side and took the Metro all the way under DC.
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Love the new Alstom trains!
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The Metro is any brutalist architecture fan's dream.
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The lighting is flawless and atmospheric.
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Paul enjoys Armands Pizza.
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So many menu choices!
Funny story; Paul ordered one glass of wine (I had beer, of course, and got drunk off one pint). When they brought it out they brought him half a litre instead. To correct their mistake, they apologized, and brought him another glass. And then on top of that they gave him another glass, for whatever reason. That's a litre.
Trying to keep him quiet on the metro during the "events" that occured that night was virtually impossible.
I'm trying to find the words on how carefully to put this but we met some very interesting people that evening; this climaxed with us sharing a car with a woman who brought on a massive poofy pink chair, which her daughter playfully bounced around on during the whole ride!
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Waiting for the train.
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We started to head back North, via Morgantown, West Virginia.
I love crazy transit, and therefore I love the Morgantown PRT. This is the fourth time I've visited, I love it so much! We met up with my friend Bob who runs the PRT and he brought in a car off the guideway for us into the maintenance area and took us remotely on a tour of the system.
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Nosedive and a Scion xB!
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The maintenance facility.
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Cars make intelligent decisions about which route to take based on predetermined station selection.
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I <3 PRT!
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We packed a ton of stuff into 4 days. The car performed flawlessly over the distance (~3000 km? I can't quite remember). Lots of laughs and waves, thumbs up - only one negative comment the ENTIRE trip! As we drove through a small town somewhere in Pennsylvania, this guy on a bicycle going the other way smiled and yelled "It's ugly!" and Paul without even thinking (he was driving) shouted "Thanks!"
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I love the PRT so much I bought a WVU hat!
Thanks for reading!