Busch Gardens opened the construction gates today for an exclusive first look at Verbolten℠, the park’s new multi-launch, indoor/outdoor roller coaster. When the coaster debuts this spring, it will feature design elements never before seen in the United States.
One of Verbolten’s main surprises is a free-fall drop hidden within the ride’s massive indoor special-effects building. Larry Giles, Busch Gardens’ vice president of design and engineering, promises this innovative drop will take riders’ breath away.
“It will be like someone pulled the track out from under you,” he said of the sensation riders will feel when the entire train drops 16 feet in complete darkness.
The drop’s design uses high-powered magnets to suspend the coaster train and a special section of track at the top of the special-effects building. To the surprise of riders, the magnets release and the train and track drop to the floor. They come to rest momentarily before the train is launched out of the dark Black Forest at speeds approaching 55 mph.
Other highlighted design features include a covered bridge that plays into the ride’s Black Forest-inspired theme. The bridge is one of the final elements of the attraction and sits atop a nearly 90-foot drop over Busch Gardens’ Rhine River. The drop pays homage to the final drop experienced on The Big Bad Wolf, which previously operated on the site. Recreating the drop also allowed design engineers to minimize Verbolten’s environmental impact by reusing the existing concrete foundations along the banks of the river.
Verbolten is unlike other coasters at the Virginia theme park. The ride narrative draws guests in from the time they enter the ride’s station house until they see their expression on the on-board video system when they exit the ride.
As riders enter the ride area, they will meet a German brother and sister team who run a small inn and visitor center at the edge of the Black Forest. Dire warnings of supernatural happenings within the forest dare riders to enter. Brave passengers are whisked away for a scenic tour of the German countryside only to fall into the clutches of the Black Forest’s inhabitants when they make a verboten detour.
Audio-visual special effects, scenic elements and other controls inside the darkened special-effects building create the illusion of a forest that has come to life. Verbolten’s two electromagnetic launches provide a zero to 55 mph rush of adrenaline at key times during the ride to advance the ride’s narrative.
Verbolten is the capstone attraction of a two-year rejuvenation project in Busch Gardens’ Oktoberfest village. Mach Tower, the park’s 240-foot drop tower, joins the launch coaster as the park’s newest thrill attractions. A new pretzel restaurant and new performance spaces that opened in 2011 completes the Oktoberfest village transformation.
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