Wow! Awesome! Holy cow, that was fun!
These are just a few of the comments from riders coming off of Tempesto, the newest roller coaster opening at Busch Gardens Williamsburg on April 25th.
Just a little background information on the ride. While Busch Gardens Williamsburg is known to theme it’s coasters after mythological creatures (Loch Ness Monster, Griffon, Apollo, Alpengeist), they have ventured off that path in recent years with Verbolten in 2012 and now with Tempesto in 2015. The ride is themed in the tradition of the classic Italian daredevils and the ‘loop the loop’ bicycle stunt. No single man wowed the crowds like Tempesto! And wow the ride does!
Situated in the middle of Festa Italia, the ‘classic Italian daredevil’ theme looks more like a classic carnival theme instead with the strands of lights draped across the queue lines and around the ride. I have yet to actually see this lit up at nighttime but have heard it fits the theme well. As with most of the coasters in the park, you can easily see this one from afar, however, when you enter the Festa Italia section of the park where it’s located, you almost have to search the area for it.
Unlike Apollo’s Chariot, which sits adjacent to it, Tempesto has a small footprint. A very small footprint. It’s actually tucked in between the back of the Roman Frieze ice cream shop and the arcade. Yes, it’s that small of a ride. But don’t let its size fool you. Tempesto may be small but it packs a punch.
Tempesto is unique in several ways. For starters, it’s the only coaster at the park with a single train. Yes, that’s it, a single train. While many guests and fans of the park have stated concern that the wait for the ride would be excessive with only one train, I believe that if done right, the turnaround won’t be too much of an issue.
As with any coaster on a busy day, the worse part will be the wait in line. Second, the ride is fast. As in 63mph and 55 seconds fast. For most guests, they don’t think about the number, but rather they only see the ride going and think that it’s short. I have overheard many people comment that it looks too short for their liking. Heads up folks, it has the same ride length as Griffon.
Another unique aspect of the ride is its launch and inversions. You are launched forward, part way up the hill, into a small twist, then careen backwards, through the station, up into another twist, before launching through the station again, this time completing the circuit by sending you into the first of three inversions.
Yes, there’s only three inversions, but it’s that barrel roll at the top that will get you the most. It’s probably my favorite part of the ride after the launch through the station. Why? Because it’s a slow roll. What do I mean and how do I describe it? Imagine flying through the station at 63mph, only to pause at the top of the twist just before you get into the barrel roll itself. This is where you feel like you’re going to fall out of your shoulder harness at 154 ft in the air. Yes, there’s a bit of airtime in this roll.
Unlike most coasters with barrel rolls or any other type of inversion, you’re not whipped around so fast that you’re jolted back and forth or side to side. It’s hard to explain it, but this has to be my favorite inversion out of any inverted coaster I’ve ever ridden, for the simple reason that it’s comfortable. If you get dizzy easily on inverted coasters, I think you would be fine on this one. It’s that smooth.
I mentioned the shoulder harness. The safety harness of the ride consists of a lap bar AND an over the shoulder restraint. But, unlike the majority of coasters with over the shoulders, these restraints aren’t snug on your body. They’re not really meant to be the main restraint. That’s what the lapbar is for. The shoulder harness is secondary and only meant to make the rider feel ‘more secure’ during the inversions and to assist with the feeling of airtime. Since there are no hills to give you the airtime that coaster enthusiasts enjoy so much, the only way to feel that is through the slow inversions.
Also new to the area is the Tempesto Gift Shop, formerly known as Apollo Gifts. Like the majority of the gift shops throughout the park they have the typical assorted stuffed animal gifts, t-shirts, toys, and what-not. I do like the Tempesto t-shirt, coffee mugs, and shot glasses, but was surprised to find (or not find) the goggles that Tempesto wore during his stunts. Several people I spoke to all agreed that would’ve been a fun souvenir to pick up (*hint* *hint* Busch Gardens) or to even wear on the ride itself.
Speaking of wearing goggles on the ride, unlike the other coasters in the park, you cannot wear glasses unless they also have a safety strap attached. And like all other rides, no loose articles are permitted.
The one thing I like about this new but not new policy is that the park hands out nifty orange fanny packs at the queue entrance for you to stash your loose articles. On a slow day, such as a soft opening or media day event, when ridership is low, this is pretty easy to keep tabs on the fanny packs, however, my concern is how this will be handled on the busiest of days. How many fanny packs will walk off when guests forget to were given one, or think they were given one and allowed to keep it? Or how many will not care and will just walk off with them?
On the plus side, there’s no special labeling for the packs. On the downside, there’s no special labeling for the packs. They’re orange. If you don’t want to use a fanny pack or you don’t have a non-rider in your group to watch your belongings, you can also rent one of their new lockers located just to the left of the queue entrance. Unlike the older lockers throughout the park, the new ones can be rented via a kiosk using either cash or a credit card. You simply create your own person pin number, pay for the locker, and the computer automatically assigns you a locker. You put your belongings in them, type in your code, press enter, and you’ve got two hours for $1. You can open and close the lockers as many times as you want during the two hours and you can easily renew your rental time as well. These lockers are great and I’m hoping the park will replace the older lockers with this new system eventually.
With all this said, I highly recommend riding Tempesto. Are you daredevil enough?
This post is a guest post by Donika Haddock.
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