WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – On Friday morning, Busch Gardens Williamsburg will officially open its latest coaster to the public: DarKoaster.
It’s being billed as North America’s first all-indoor straddle coaster and will operate year-round in the parks Oktoberfest section.
It marks several milestones for the 48-year-old theme park. For the first time, there will be 10 separate roller coasters for visitors to ride at once. It’s also the first roller coaster Busch Gardens has built completely inside the existing footprint of a prior attraction.
Each seat on the ride is meant to look and feel like riding on a snowmobile, with snow effects and spooky 3D animations to pay homage to the DarKastle ride that closed in 2017.
The ride includes four launches, accelerating the trains to 36 miles an hour to traverse more than 2,400 feet of track. Oh, and most of it is in the dark.
“I think we are becoming one of the emerging thrill leaders on the coast,” Ben Dewitt, Busch Garden’s vice president of entertainment, said.
Liechtenstein-based Intamin Amusement Rides built the coaster. They also built Pantheon which opened last year.
Suzy Cheely, vice president of design and engineering at Busch Gardens, headed up the coasters design. She said it was a unique to design the ride while the space was still being used by other purposes. While the previous attraction closed in 2017, the space was used for Hallowscream and Christmas Town as a haunted house and Santa’s workshop respectively.
“So there is this process called 3-D survey where we set these points up and they were able to measure everything inside even with the other things there,” Cheely said. “So we were able to miss the structure, miss the duct work.”
It’s been advertised as a family-friendly coaster. It has a 48-inch height requirement and you can’t be taller than 77 inches. It’s the one coaster in the park where you are guaranteed to stay dry on.
The first riders will be allowed in after a brief 10:45 a.m. ceremony on Friday morning complete with King Ludwig and other characters.