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Griffon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg Roller Coaster Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (4 Reviews)

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Griffon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg Roller Coaster Review

Hanging around on Griffon.

©Arthur Levine, 2007. Licensed to About.com
The world's first floorless diving coaster, Griffon takes the concept of a diving coaster and makes it all the more terrifying by removing the floor. Talk about feeling exposed! Look out below.

Griffon Up-Front Info

  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 8.5
    Diving features; open, floorless car; aggressive speed; height over 200 feet
  • Coaster type: Floorless diving coaster
  • Top speed: 71 mph
  • Height restriction: 54 inches
  • Angle of descent: 90 degrees
  • Drop: 205 feet
  • Ride time: 3 minutes
  • Griffon Photo Gallery

Minimal Cars. Maximum Thrills.

Nearly everything about Griffon sets it apart from a typical coaster. Instead of a train of cars, the ride uses single cars that contain three extra-wide rows of ten seats each. To accommodate the wide cars, the tubular steel track is also unusually wide. The "floorless" cars have no floors--or sides or backs. The cars are essentially seats bolted to a chassis. The open design leaves riders especially vulnerable for the ensuing dives.

The six end seats offer the most open and unique rides. Because they extend beyond the track, passengers have nothing above, below, or to one side of them. The outermost seats in the front row are the primo riding positions.

As with other floorless coasters, once passengers are secured and the ride is cleared for takeoff, the loading platform drops away, and a gate in front of the car swings open with a dramatic flourish. The cars aren't completely floorless, however. Riders can let their feet dangle or rest them on a small bar under each row.

Enjoy the View

Griffon rounds a bend, latches on to the chain lift, and chugs up the lift hill at a surprisingly fast ten-feet-per-second clip. Although Griffon drops 205 feet, it doesn't climb 205 feet. That's because the first drop descends into a tunnel that appears to be about 30 feet below the ground. The lift is high enough to provide spectacular views of the park and the river beyond, however. Griffon's car slowly navigates a 180-degree "carousel" at the top of the coaster and faces the drop. There is a slight jerk as the car momentarily stops, followed by a false start as it crests the top and hangs perilously over the edge for an agonizing few seconds.

Then, eeeeeaaaahhhhh! The 90-degree drop reaches a bone-rattling 71 mph and feels all the more bracing with the open, floorless car. Griffon soars under a bridge and into a huge "Immelman" loop (a diving loop named for a German army pilot who performed acrobatic maneuvers). It then slows as it approaches a second 130-foot, 90-degree dive. Instead of hanging over the edge, however, it drops without hesitation and enters into a second Immelman loop. Griffon skids over a pool of water and sends huge plumes of water spray into the sky before it races back to the station.

Sorry, no Wimps Allowed

Like Busch Gardens Williamsburg's super-smooth and exhilarating hypercoaster, Apollo's Chariot (along with Griffon, among my top picks for best coasters, Griffon was manufactured by the Swiss ride wizards, Bolliger & Mabillard (also known as B&M). While it's not as smooth as Apollo's Chariot, the floorless diving coaster is a remarkably smooth ride--especially given the cars' considerable size and heft.

There's really no wiggle room for wimps to gather up the courage and tackle Griffon. It's an unapologetic thrill ride that coaster lovers will love and coaster wimps will avoid. But, with its unusual cars, thrilling dives, and water-shooting finale, it does provide quite a spectacle for non-riders to behold.

Griffon is located in Busch Gardens' France section. The park says that a Griffon is a mythical beast that's half lion and half eagle. It's also a gargoyle that adorns some buildings in France. There are no gargoyles on the ride's cars, track, or station, however. Griffon doesn't attempt to incorporate or convey any kind of story; it's essentially just a thrilling coaster. But oh, what thrills.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
BEST RIDE EVER (:, Member dreamoffame213

I rode Griffon with 4 of my friends about a month ago and was terrified to ride it at first but once I got on it it was by far my favorite ride in the park! The only think that i would critique would be that I wish the drop was taller and the ride lasted longer. It was soooooo fun! I rode it about 5 times and the line goes really fast so thats nice. I sat in the front each time and it was an amazing experiance. The coaster is really smooth and doesnt hurt your head like most coasters... and the anticipation of the first drop is exilerating. You literally feel like you are flying. I HIGHLY reccomend that you ride Griffon when you go to Busch Gardens it is the best ride there (: Have Fun!

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