Busch Gardens announced today a new wooden roller coaster is coming to its collection of world-class thrill rides in spring 2017. The family thriller will be the Virginia theme park’s first wooden coaster and eighth roller coaster in total – and will be designed as the world’s first “crowdsourced” ride.
In an unusual industry move, the park is announcing the new attraction much earlier than typical so that fans will be able to help “decide the ride” including opportunities to vote on attraction details, contribute to theme elements and shape the marketing campaign. The first such opportunity kicked off today, inviting fans to select the ride’s name.
“Busch Gardens has a reputation for creating unique ride experiences, and our new family coaster will certainly continue that tradition,” said Larry Giles, vice president of engineering. “The dynamics of a wooden coaster, combined with the many ways it will interact with the terrain and nearby attractions, will make this a one-of-a-kind thrill.”
Giles said the roller coaster will have a minimum height requirement of 46 inches for riders. A coaster with the lower height range rounds out the park’s portfolio and has been developed in response to guest requests for a roller coaster that adults and children can ride together, he said.
“This will be a great ride for families, but make no mistake: this will not be a kiddie ride,” Giles said. “This coaster will feature an exciting drop of 74 feet and will have nine airtime hills, the same number as Apollo’s Chariot®. It’s going to be a wild ride.”
While the coaster’s track will be wooden, it will be supported by a steel structure. “Riders will get the best of both worlds: the stability of steel supports with the classic feel of a great wooden coaster,” Giles said.
The ride will be located in the New France village of Busch Gardens. It will take guests on a trek of more than 2,100 feet through wooded terrain, underground through a tunnel and in close proximity to the Le Scoot log flume and Busch Gardens Railway. Neither of the neighboring attractions will need to close for extended periods during the construction of the new ride.
The attraction’s theme will be based on a fanciful legend related to the exploration of North America by Vikings. The coaster will invite riders to join the battle between a band of invading Vikings, who have survived for generations looking for new territory, and the residents of the New France trappers’ village, who are fighting to protect their outpost.
FANS TO “DECIDE THE RIDE”
While Busch Gardens historically has not announced new attractions so far in advance, the news of the new ride is part of a larger strategy by the park to involve its members and fans to a greater degree than ever before, said Dan Dipiazzo, vice president of marketing.
“Our fans are so loyal and passionate about this park, and we want to make them co-creators in this exciting new project,” Dipiazzo said. “We still have a lot of details to finalize for this attraction, and our guests will get to weigh in and be a part of the development.”
Surveys through Busch Gardens’ website and social media channels will invite fans to “Decide the Ride,” including selecting the ride’s name and various design elements. Dipiazzo said guests also may get the opportunity to contribute to the queue experience, participate in pre-ride video or audio segments and pitch their concepts for consumer-generated advertising to promote the coaster’s opening next spring.
The first chance for fans to participate started today, with a survey to select the ride’s name from among three contenders: Viking Raider, Battle Klash or InvadR. Consumers may vote once a day through April 1 at http://bit.ly/1UjthUa. The park has committed to brand the new attraction with whichever name gets the most qualified votes.
“Honestly, it’s a big change for us, and not common in our industry, to leave so much in the hands of consumers,” Dipiazzo admitted. “But we respect our fans. We know they love this park and want to be part of our success. This will be their ride as much as ours.”