- Location: Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia
- Type of coaster: LSM (magnetic) Launched
- Drop: 88 feet
- Top speed: 53 mph
- Track length: 2835 feet
- Height requirement: 48 inches
Enter the Forbidden Forest. What Could Go Wrong?Located in the Germany/Octoberfest section of the European-themed park, Verbolten features Gerta and Gunter, the proprietors of a Bavarian touring and rental agency. In the ride's queue and loading station, passengers will be introduced to the siblings and learn about the forbidden Black Forest, a strange place where the agency's rental cars -- and the renters -- keep disappearing. With that reassuring overture, riders make their way to Gerta's and Gunter's roadsters (the coaster trains) and head into the forest.
The launch system will send the trains Verbolting out of the station. Multi-channel onboard audio will enhance the ride experience and support the story. After winding their way through the forest, the trains will enter a special effects building and come to a stop. This is where the ride will distinguish itself.
Achtung! SPOILER ALERT. Busch Gardens has incorporated some unique as well as pretty nifty effects and elements into the coaster. If you would prefer to remain in the dark (literally and figuratively) until you ride Verbolten, read no further.
Using props, set pieces, ultraviolet paint, strobe lights, and other effects, one of three different stories will take place during the indoor part of the ride. The multiple story lines are a first for a themed coaster and should help boost its popularity as passengers return for repeat rides to experience all three sequences, which will include:
- Lightening Storm: A fierce storm will engulf the train and threaten to destroy it.
- Spirit of the Forest: A spirit will lull passengers with a pleasant-sounding voice, but then turn malevolent and attempt to ensnare them in the forest.
- Wolf Attack: In homage to the Big Bad Wolf, a red-eyed pack of creatures will stalk the train.
A Wolf in Roadster's Clothing
Regardless of the story, they will all have the same ending. In total darkness, the train, along with its passengers and section of track, will freefall 16 feet straight down. This is the one of three coasters to incorporate a vertical freefall element (the first was Thirteen, which opened in 2010 at Alton Towers in England). The effect, which combines a drop tower ride (albeit in condensed form) such as the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Busch Gardens' own Mach Tower, with a coaster, should be startling, especially to unsuspecting passengers.
When it hits the lower level of the building, the train will lurch and squeal as it attempts to escape the dangerous situation. A second magnetic launch will send it hightailing out of the forest. For its finale, the train will soar 80 feet down over the park's Rhine River, which mimics the ending of the Big Bad Wolf.
There aren't a heck of a lot of coasters that double as a dark ride and attempt to tell a coherent story. Some, such as Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios in Orlando and Hollywood handle it with aplomb. It remains to be seen whether Verbolten can pull it off. But with its dual launches, vertical drop element, multiple story lines, and strong finish, Busch Gardens certainly has me howling in anticipation. Awooo!