Specific Type: Steel, Launch
The year 2009 should have been met with a celebration at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, given that one of the parks long-standing star attractions, the Big Bad Wolf, was celebrating its landmark 25th anniversary. Instead the milestone was celebrated in relative silence by the park, with little or nothing said by the park in honor of the beloved coaster. It seemed odd to many that such a well-known and popular coaster on its 25th anniversary would go seemingly unnoticed by the park. Years ago, Kings Island made a big to-do about the Beast hitting its 25th year, including a new logo specially made for the historic anniversary, with many more to come. Before the season was over, it became known why the coasters landmark wasn’t celebrated more earnestly, the Big Bad Wolf would be no more.
On July 24, 2009, Busch Gardens announced that the Big Bad Wolf would be retiring at the end of the season, closing on September 7, 2009. Despite the outcry of support for the coaster and “Save the Big Bad Wolf” groups, there was no stopping the end for the legendary coaster. Supposedly the ride was built with an 25-year life-expectancy, and with Arrow gone and the suspended coaster long since forgotten, spare parts were probably hard to come by. From an enthusiast standpoint, it was a devastating loss, for the park, it was a logical business decision. But what could replace the Big Bad Wolf, a coaster friendly enough for entire families to ride, but thrilling enough for the most seasoned enthusiasts, with its final dive over the Rhine River amongst the most memorable and well-known “coaster moments.”
Oddly enough, however, as the coaster was removed, it was noticed that the footers for final half of the rides layout following its second lift, were all left intact. As well, the station for the coaster was left standing, unharmed and seemingly untouched, and that’s when the speculation began running rampant. Why else might a park leave footers and the station untouched if not for a new ride, more specifically, a new coaster?
Over a year after the departure of the Big Bad Wolf, enthusiasts got their first confirmation of what would be occupying the site, announced only as a “multi-launching roller coaster.” In the months that followed, details were slowly leaked by the park, including images and videos of a drive through a “dark forest,” and later possible names of “Black Forest Turbo Coaster” and “Verbolten” amongst others.
On September 17, 2011, just over two years after the closure of the Big Bad Wolf, details of the new coaster were revealed.Verbolten would be a family-friendly multi-launching coaster from Zierer, featuring a maximum speed of 53 mph, a length of 2,835 feet, an indoor section of twisted track, an autobahn theme, a “free fall” element, and a big finishing drop of 88 feet following the same route that the Big Bad Wolf once took, hence keeping the rides footers.
Fitting into the park’s Oktoberfest section, the ride is inspired by the Autobahn, the German highway system. The coaster starts with a leisurely trip down the Autobahn, but a lightning strike forces the car to veer off into the dangerous Black Forest. The freefall drop has drawn comparisons to Alton Towers Th13teen, and given the coasters size and the ability for younger guests to ride, those comparisons are not unwarranted or entirely inaccurate.
The journey begins long before guests load up in their specially designed cars, first waiting in line with battered sports cars and road signs warning of impending dangers. Near the end of the line, guests will enter the Verbolten Autobahn Tour Agency offices, owned by Grete and Gunter Schwartzwald. The TV turns on and Gunter welcomes his guests, then explains that they have been renting out sports cars to tourists visiting the Bavarian countryside, but many cars have not been returned on time. Gunter continues that he has looked for them, finding several damaged cars in the Black Forest with the luggage still inside, but no sign of the passengers anywhere. This has resulted in a cutback on the number of tours, so the siblings opted for a smaller number of larger, modified limo-style vintage sports cars. The video ends, and Grete escorts guests to the vehicle in the garage. Before boarding, a garage attendant tells Grete that Gunter had to go find another car, so Gunter would be unable to take guests for the tour, instead entrusting their safety to “the driver,” who is not to enter the Black Forest under “any circumstances.”
The journey begins with a gentle dip out of the garage and two opposing gentle U-turns, left then right, when suddenly, lightning strikes! The steering wheel begins vibrating as the cars are blasted forwards at 53 mph through a stone tunnel and into the Black Forest. In the Black Forest, the car careens right, spirals left, goes through a zero-g helix and a lateral-g overbanked turn while experiencing a variety of special effects from strobe lights, to fog, to wind and rain. Inside, guests will also “free fall” slightly as lightning strikes their vehicles. Finally, the car blasts off to top speed once again, back outside and free of the Black Forest, twisting and rising to the right before rolling to the left. The vehicles crawl up to a broken-down covered bridge, then plummet over the end, down 88 feet just above the Rhine River. Following the finale the Big Bad Wolf once took, the train straightens out, rises to the right, and turns left back to the safety of the garage.
“Brave the Black Forest.”
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