Specific Type: 3rd Generation Wooden
Over a year before the first test lap of InvadR, Busch Gardens Williamsburg fans knew something special was being planned at the destination Virginia park. The park launched a three month long social media campaign telling all that “Project 2017” was coming, but no other info was given, not even a ride type. Then in March of 2016, it was unveiled that they were in fact building the park’s first wooden roller coaster. This was a massive departure from how they treated their previous roller coaster installation, 2015’s Tempesto, a Premier Rides Skyrocket 2 model. Tempesto was literally erected in plain sight of their guests in front of the entrance to Apollo’s Chariot, one of BGW’s most popular rides, but they refused to acknowledge it. The park didn’t even admit that they were building a roller coaster until months after it was painfully obvious.
This new strategy of engaging with their fans and guest reached far beyond just giving advanced notice that they were building a wooden roller coaster for 2017. They showed off a computer generated POV video supplied by the ride's manufacturer Great Coasters International. They also announced that they would be crowd sourcing the name of the coaster and shared the theme with the public. People could vote for one of three names; Viking Raider, InvadR, and Battle Klash. InvadR was chosen and fans were kept up to date with the rides progress during the entire construction process. Fans were even encouraged to share their battle cry on social media to get people excited about the viking theme.
Busch Gardens worked hard with GCI to place InvadR in a way that it seems like it has been a part of the park for ages. The ride lives in New France a rustic Canadian themed area, and it weaves in and out of the preexisting rides and attractions like the train and log flume. The minimal amount of trees were removed and a tunnel was excavated under a service road. Tradition didn’t end with just building around pre existing rides, they also got InvadR’s two trains from an unlikely place. Busch Gardens sister park in Tampa had a recently closed down GCI dueling coaster, Gwazi. The Lion and Tiger trains from Gwazi would not be retired, they were refurbished and allowed to roar again. They did not simply repaint the trains they were completely torn down and built back up again. One to represent the villagers with a giant bear on the lead car. The other to represent the viking invaders complete with a serpent reminiscent of the style found on viking ships. By having the trains on hand to be rebuilt by the staff the park believes it will allow the maintenance staff to have a head start getting to know and work on these trains. Another feature of this coaster was also planned out to help maintenance is the hybrid construction. The wood track is built on a steel structure. The steel structure requires less preventative maintenance and offers a more consistent ride.
When guests explore the InvadR area they are met by an imposing log wall. The tops have been sharpened and built in the style of a colonial fort. The entrance of the queue area in a giant life sized viking battering ram with arrows stuck to it from all angles like a fierce battle had just taken place. The the fort is where the conflict between the villagers and vikings collide so of course it is also the station. Riders board one of the two trains and it departs with a quick dip to the right and another right hander towards the lift. The train negotiates a pre drop dip and turn around before hitting the main 74 foot drop. The train enters the drop with a pop of speed from another dip before entering a covered shaft around the drop. At the bottom riders burst into the light for an instant before passing under a crossover and into a tunnel as the train reaches its max speed of 48 MPH. The train banks hard to the right and then over two airtime hills. Next the train heads into another banked turn, first to the right, and then to the to the left dipping down closer to the ground. The train then leaps over the main drop, over another dip, and then banked hard to the right spinning riders around at a ferocious pace before slamming into the breaks. So who wins: the villagers? The vikings?
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