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For most of the fall-winter months, I saw what looked to be a strange, orange erector set structure reaching into the sky near Apollo’s Chariot. Soon after, light blue coaster tracks started rapidly appearing. During the off-season, these twisting tracks taunted me across the empty parking lots whenever I drove by on Route 60. Busch Gardens was obviously building a new coaster and thus, the anticipation of the opening day weighed heavily on my mind.
All the planning, design, engineering, construction, inspections, testing, and sheer will it takes to both fund and produce any thrill ride always amazes me. These talented people work so hard to please the riders, who are inevitably the final product’s judge and jury. In many ways, building a roller coaster is no different than producing a big budget, block buster film and praying for success at the box-office. However, this movie will play over and over for decades to come.
So I am putting on my Roger and Ebert hat and review Tempesto, the newest thrill ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Tempesto was manufactured by Premier Rides and is now nestled in a very small footprint in the Festa Italia section of the park. It features three launch elements, a 154-foot inversion, and reaches 63 mph on 883 feet of track.
Sounds impressive right? Well it is! I was able to ride the front, middle, and back car and for a ride that is less than one minute, it packs a punch! Being shot through a magnetic launching system both forward in backwards makes the station house look like a blur. You then rocket straight up, twisting while you go to crest over a length of track that has what looks to be an impossible corkscrew twist.
The inversion is that of a slow roll, and before you even get to focus on the landscape, you are thrust straight down through a tight fit of steal beams and track. There is another disorienting go round and back through the station for a roll back stop.
What is behind the name, “Tempesto?”
Here is the park’s official statement:
“In the rich tradition of the classic Italian Daredevils, no single man wowed the crowds like Tempesto. Busch Gardens’ daring new roller coaster, Tempesto, lets riders take center stage and recreate his signature stunt. Guests daring enough to take on Tempesto will race into unbelievably tight turns at 63 miles per hour and defy gravity as they roll through a complete inversion 154 feet in the air.”
The ride delivered on white-knuckle elements, but just as impressive was the theming. In true Busch Gardens’ fashion, the park has taken a roller coaster and given it a back-story everyone can relate to. Imagine that you are in a crowd at the circus looking up at the acrobats, tightrope walkers, and trapeze artists. Safely you sit among the spectators with a bag of popcorn and soda and watch people risk their lives. But… what if you were the daredevil? What would it feel like performing such terrifying stunts?
In my opinion, the theme stems back to turn of the century daredevils. For instance, there was a real life daredevil named Diavolo, who performed in Adam &Sells Bros. Circus in 1902. His act seemed to defy gravity on nothing more than a bicycle. According to sideshow.com, Diavolo’s “…big trick was to ride the bicycle down a triple extension ladder placed at an angle of 52 degrees from a height of 60 ft, bouncing and jumping over the rungs, keeping upright all 79 feet of the way and riding down on the hippodrome track.”
Here is an image of Diavolo and his act:
Lucky for us we are not in a bicycle during the 154 foot inversion when riding Tempesto. The ride features a loose fitting, over-the-shoulder soft harness with a pressure lock lap bar. The front row offers a frightening view of the 154 ft inversion and for a brief moment you wonder if the coaster will make it through the complete turn. The back car gives riders a real gut-wrenching pull over each drop for an extra wow factor.
Going back to the turn of the century, people cried out for more stunts featuring bicycles, automobiles, and motorcycles. Their technology was new, edgy, and spoke to those who dreamed of the future. Busch Gardens uses that concept to their advantage with Tempesto.
The entrance and queue line reflects a time period of death-defying acts of a traveling circus from the early 1900s. Vintage inspired sideshow posters are placed on the walls and carnival like lights string across the entrance in all its retro glory. Even the ride’s gift shop carries the vintage décor of an era gone by.
Nevertheless, the park cleverly meshes nostalgia and modern technology. That is why Tempesto is perfect theming for the 40th Anniversary of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It takes a timeless story and pushes the envelope for the daredevil in all of us.
My final conclusion:
Tempesto: an awesome ride with a Steam Punk vibe!
Now, it is time for you to decide. Will you stand and watch or do you dare to ride?
Thanks for reading my review and please make sure to Like BGW Memories on Facebook for more photos of Busch Gardens past and present. Feel free to share you memories, park photos, vinatge Busch Gardens images, and love for the park with us!
Deciding to create the BGW Memories Facebook Community and Blog was not an easy decision. I knew exactly how much effort and time would have to go into making this concept come to life. Despite worrying about late night editing, networking, frequents updates, messages, responses, and the occasional mean-spirited comments sent my way, I felt compelled to make it all happen.
If you are reading this, then you have the answer: You
We all go through our lives hoping to make a connection with others. We seek out people who have similar likes and interests. We want to know that we are not alone.
Often we look to our past in order to help us find these connections. What city we grew up in, what schools we attended, what ancestry we shared; are all bonds formed among a group of individuals.
Since 1975, millions of people share the wonderful experience of visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I am proud to be one of them.
I have always lived near Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It was my constant, my babysitter, and my best friend. Many kids go to a summer camp. I went to Busch Gardens. In the 80’s my parents would drop my brother and I off at the park and we would roam freely around during the summer. It was heaven!
For that reason, I decided to reach out to others like me and form a kinship by creating BGW Memories. It is my hope that by preserving the past, we will strengthen the bonds between generations of park goers.
I am already thrilled that so many people have responded. What is even more amazing is that some kinships have already become friendships! There is one friend in particular I would like to mention. His name is Gary Terrell.
Since Gary first posted photos and stories here at BGW Memories, I was instantly drawn to how much we were alike. I thought to myself, “Here is a person that remembers those long forgotten details of the past and loves them as much as I do!” In fact, many of the photos shared here came from his collection.
One item he sent to me recently was a video of his family visiting Busch Gardens in the 90s. When I watched the film, the happiness I heard in his voice and the smiles I saw on his wife and son’s faces brought such joy to my heart. It also brought me back to my own childhood.
It was me waving to my mom and dad in the Little Balloon ride. It me sitting on the battlements shooting gallery in Hastings. And when Gary asks his son where he is on the video, I can visualize me looking up at my dad at that age saying “Busch Gardens!”
By sharing such a wonderful moment from his life, Gary helped me to remember my past as well; a truly priceless gift.
So to all the people who wish to find a connection to their past at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, you are not alone. In fact, you may be holding that missing piece of history that someone out there has been searching for.