Loch Ness Monster Roller CoasterA Classic Steel Coaster
That’s An Ageless Wonder

For a steel coaster from the 70’s Loch Ness is amazing and still rocks in 2006! Busch Gardens Williamsburg does it again. Even the park’s ‘dinosaur’ so to speak has some pretty cool elements. A steep 11-story drop to the Rhine River and the world’s first set of interlocking loops. You really have to give Busch and Arrow credit. In 1978 most looping coasters were mild loop and screw coasters. Park goers were excited just to be turned upside down, so not much attention was payed to the layouts of these early steel loopers. Loch Ness uses Busch’s rolling terrain and the river to make for an exciting coaster, miles away from mild.

Also, Nessie features one of the longest downward helices you’ll find anywhere. And did I mention it’s in a dark cave? Not some short tunnel or covered section. I couldn’t see my hand in front of face, now that’s dark! And it’s a great surprise for new riders as it’s cleverly not on park maps and thanks to Busch Garden’s foliage and topography it’s hard to see from footpaths. In the tunnel you keep spiraling downward in the darkness. It gets even the most benign train riders screaming. As you exit the cave at the bottom of the helix, they used to have a light mist that would spray riders. I’m not sure if this was off because I went late in theLoch Ness Monster Roller Coaster Tunnel season or because they took it out all together. Then you hit a second lift which kind of kills the momentum the ride had up to that point. It’s really too bad they couldn’t have used tire propulsion or something to get enough speed up so you didn’t need another lift. Maybe they’ll make that adjustment for the 30 year anniversary in a few years.

After the second short lift hill you drop right into the second loop as your picture’s taken, then it’s right into the station breaks. I have to say after all of these years Nessie has aged gracefully, especially for an Arrow looper. I expected the loops to be as rough as the loops on the other water-loving serpent just up the road, but I’m glad to say that they weren’t. They were fun with great g-forces and virtually no headbanging. Loch Ness is a classic steel coaster that’s showing real longevity. She’s definitely an oldie but goodie. Final Rating – 8.0 (Great)

Check out the rest of my rating scale here. Got some comments about Old Nessie, leave em’ below. Also, check out this roller coaster video of Loch Ness Monster. It doesn’t do the ride justice and it’s pretty shaky.

What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens? Leave a comment below.

About The Author

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

23 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    As for the mist at the end of the cave, it was permanently taken out to my knowledge and is sitting dormant somewhere along with the station decorations, collecting dust.As for the ride being this old, it's been well taken care of. That's why it's still around, even though Drachen Fire (Also buily by Aarow and dismantled sometime later) was removed from the park in 2002. For an arrow coaster, I'm honestly surprised it's made it to it's 29th season.To my knowledge, they won't be making any more track adjustments, so the second lift won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

  2. The Coaster Critic

    Ah, well. I can dream, right?Loch Ness is definitely in a small group of aging steel coasters that are still fun. Another arrow coaster that has aged gracefully is Demon at Six Flags Great America (near Chicago). Some of those old Schwarzkopf steel roller coasters like Mind Bender at Six Flags Over Georgia and Sooper Dooper Looper at Hershey are still fun too.

  3. Naomi H.

    Oh. My. Gawd. I just watched the video and suddenly I was 11 again, riding beside my mom and screaming my head off. I remember when it first came out (I am dating myself here) and they gave out "I Survived The Loch Ness Monster" stickers to riders, the kids who ran the ride would shovel sawdust into the cars whenever someone s**t themselves, EVERYONE was fooled by the first mini-drop (you'd scream at that and be out of breath by the time you got to the REAL drop!) and it was the scariest thing that I had ever seen. Still a favorite, big adrenaline rush. I'm solidly middle-aged (like the ride itself) and still rush to that ride as soon as the gates open. I smell horse poop and am reminded of Nessie. 🙂

  4. Anonymous

    I was on the very first public ride of the Loch Ness Monster. I'm glad to see that it is still in operation.

  5. RebelGTP

    This coaster is the one that got me hooked… I was already a fan of Big Bad Wolf, as i had ridden that in 1985 when I was 6 years old. However, I was afraid of Nessie's inversions then. In 1987, I rode Nessie for the first time in compromise for riding a ride that I liked. I then rode Nessie 5 more times in succession after the initial ride… I was hooked! I now have some of the biggest and best coasters on my ride list, but this coaster still has a special place in my heart!

  6. RebelGTP

    I also remember seeing the report on WAVY Channel 10 news when the tree fell on one of the trains as a thunderstorm blew up quickly… I think it was 1992…

  7. JaMeS

    Well, I do remember the sprayers, but not the images. The bad thing about the sprayers though is that you might as well not have them there at all because you almost got none on you, and it was a little thicker than a mist.

  8. Hoss

    Question coastercritic: Do you rate these roller coasters based simply on how much "fun" they are to ride or based on how well they are designed/potenial? I've been on both Loch Ness and SROS at SFA and was surprised that you rated SROS a whole point less than Loch Ness. Loch Ness definitely is a very good roller coaster so don't get me wrong.

    But having said that, I have a hard time believing that if it was late in the day, and you had the option of riding either SROS or Loch Ness as your last ride, that you would not be picking SROS.

    On the other hand if you rated these two roller coasters on their potential than I can definitely see why you would rate LochNess higher. Loch Ness is maybe the most unique arrow looper in the world. On the other hand I can definitely see why you would be dissapointed in SROS after ridding the real one in Massachusetts.

    I'm not trying to start a debate or anything, I just found these two ratings and several others puzzling if they are based exclusively on how much "fun" a particular ride is. Just curious.

  9. The Coaster Critic

    Hoss, that's a good question. I'm sure many have had similar questions. I guess I rate more on potential or compared to similar roller coasters. It's tough. SROS at SFA is a lesser hyper coaster compared Apollo's Chariot, Nitro, etc. The layout and lack of air reduced it to 7 for me. But that's still a Good rating, so I'm not calling it bad or anything.

    For an Arrow looper, Loch Ness is amazing and as you called it "unique". That's what I was thinking when I gave it an 8. I also do throw in how much fun I have, but that is affected by how much fun I could have, if that makes sense.

    Late in the day, I would definitely choose Loch Ness over SROS. So I guess that aligns with your thinking. And I rode SROS at SFA before the masterpiece in Mass. SFA's just falls short in general, not just compared to SFNE's.

    Good question. And thanks for the comment. Feel free to ask me about any other ratings.

  10. Andre

    I loved the Loch Ness Monster when I was younger, but unfortunately I outgrew it…literally! I can't fit comfortably in the cars because the seats are too low, and when the shoulder restraint comes down, it gets me in a cramped position and always end up hurting my back and tailbone. Alas, it's the same with all the Arrow coasters that use these same types of cars…the Anaconda at Kings Dominion, and the Corkscrew in Cedar Point are pretty much off limits to me as well.

    Is my mind playing tricks on me, or back in the old days did they flash images of the Loch Ness Monster and other things on the walls inside the cave? I remember the mist pretty well, but I'm fuzzy about the flashing images? But hey man, it was the seventies!

  11. Ava

    Hi, I'm Ava and I'm seven years old. Loch Ness Monster is the best roller coaster I have ever been on! I really liked the dark tunnel, it was very cool! I also liked the loops. If any of you go on it again, I hope you have the best time of your life!

  12. Mark

    I rode this the year it opened and then a couple years later, and finally go the opportunity to ride it again a few days ago (I don't live in the same time zone any more).

    The last car was rough, especially compared to the wonderful Apollo's Chariot and Griffon. Two rides was enough to relive what it was like to ride this when it was a record breaker.

    In contrast, Apollo could be ridden all day long, it was exquisite in comparison. Apollo was the most rideable and fun coaster in Busch Gardens. Griffon was the most intense. Alpengeist was the most forceful. Loch Ness Monster was the most nostalgic. Sad to say I never went there during Big Bad Wolf (that will date me).

  13. DRU

    Rode it this Easter sat and sunday 2011. WOW! The way it hugs terrain is incredible. I just wish there was more room for the height of my shoulders. Ouch! Only 6'2"

    Thanks for the great info…

  14. Eddie

    Coasters built by Arrow are notorious for being bumpy and banging your head, and this one is no exception! The discomfort actually starts before the train leaves the station! The shoulder harness is quite low and if you are tall you might feel crushed into your seat; this has probably been done to accommodate more kiddies. I had the same problem on Big Bad Wolf, although due to the nature of the ride it wasn't painful.

    The ride is beautifully situated over the Rhine River and was the first coaster to feature interlocking loops; thankfully, these are the only two inversions on the ride because I don't think my collar bone could have taken any more. There's quite a big first drop but the loops are too tight and intense. For me, the best park of the ride was the spiralling triple helix inside a cave where you come face to face with a rather poor imitation of Nessy (the Loch Ness Monster). Maybe if you're not too tall the ride might be a better experience, but my first ride was far from enjoyable, although my second ride was not as bad, but one ride per park visit is enough for me!

  15. Matt

    I was shocked at how fun and smooth this ride was. Like c c said it is an arrow looper and they offer rough rides. But this was very smooth, and rerideable. Other arrow loopers I have only went on once and not made an effort to reride them due to their pain. On Nessie I had 3 rides! My favorite part is probrably the helix in the tunnel. It seems like it is never ending, but in a good way because it is fun. The interlocking loops are fun as well. And I also like that the ride is very long, so long in fact that there is probrably a minute that the station track is empty! (most coasters have a train come back in as soon as another leaves the station). I like long rides. This ride is very fun and unique, and a masterpiece of arrow engineering.

  16. Lev

    I like the second lift hill. That's a rare thing in coasters and it's a cool chance to catch your breath after being in the dark for so long.

    It's a perfect coaster, love it. Lines are always long at this at the start of the day as it's the closest to the entrance. Tends to be close to a walk on in the late afternoon.

  17. Evan

    This was the first coaster I rode when I was 10 now 27. I have so much love for this ride its wHat got me on the adrenaline rush kick

  18. Ryan

    I haven’t been to Busch Gardens since April or May of 1999 and I am going again in three weeks. When I was 7 and 8 years old, I was terrified to go on and once I turned 9 or 10, I thought “the hell with it” and I was hooked. Luckily, YouTube has some great On Ride video to help get me through. THE BEST ROLLER COASTER EVER, even though most are taller and faster now.


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