Busch Gardens Gears Up for New Coaster!


(Wednesday, April 18, 2007 7:29 AM EDT)

Two years after launching its last thrill ride, Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg soon will have a new roller coaster: the Griffon.

Based on the legendary beast with the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle, the Griffon attempts to emulate the creature's fierceness and adeptness of flight.

Slated to open in late spring, the new coaster is located in the France section of the theme park, and will carry riders up a 360-degree climbing carousel and drop them into a 250-foot, 90-degree dive at 75 mph. According to park officials, the Griffon will be the world's tallest dive coaster, and its first floorless one.

(The world's tallest steel coaster is the Kingda Ka at Six Flags Adventure in New Jersey, and the tallest wooden roller coaster is the Son of Beast at Paramount's Kings Dominion in Ohio.)

The Griffon also will feature two inverse diving Immelman loops, named after a World War I German fighter pilot. In an Immelman loop, riders enter a half loop, continue through a half twist and then curve out in the opposite direction in which they came.

Construction of the more-than-half-mile-long ride (3,108 feet, to be exact) began last July on the site of the venerable Le Mans Speedway ride, and the track was completed in February.

“In-flight” time on the coaster is three minutes and it will seat approximately 1,400 patrons per hour. Riders must be 54 inches or taller.

The Griffon joins the park's four other roller coasters: Curse of DarKastle, Alpengeist, Apollo's Chariot, the Big Bad Wolf and the Loch Ness Monster.

Also featured at Busch Gardens Europe for 2007 is the return of “Pirates,” a 4-D comedic show, starring Leslie Nielsen and Eric Idle. Audiences will experience what is on the screen firsthand with water sprays, vibrating seats, wind effects and more.

Another return for this season is the Summer Nights Concert Series, which brings well-known acts from multiple musical genres, including country, oldies and classic rock.

Anheuser-Busch has also extended the “Here's to the Heroes” program that provides free admission to Anheuser-Busch Adventure Parks to members of the U.S. and coalition armed forces. Busch Gardens Europe has a bridge dedicated to those who have defended the United States.

Situated on more than 100 acres of land, Busch Gardens Europe is about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Northern Virginia. Currently, the park is open Fridays through Sundays. It will be open daily, starting Memorial Day weekend, through Sept. 4.

General admission tickets are $54.95, children ages 3 to 9 are $47.95 and children 2 and under are free. For information, call (800) 343-7946 or see the Web site at www.buschgardens.com.

Construction continues on Griffon, which when it opens in May will be the latest addition to the line-up of roller coasters at Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg.

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