Busch Gardens to Close Big Bad Wolf in September

Big Bad Wolf - The U.S.'s Best Suspended Roller CoasterBusch Gardens Williamsburg submitted a press release today stating what many coaster enthusiasts had feared. Big Bad Wolf will be no more after this season. In fact, they gave Monday, September 7th (Labor Day) as the last day of operation for the classic coaster. ‘Wolf is arguably, the most popular suspended roller coaster in the World and it will be missed. I imagine that quite a few enthusiasts will be making trips down to Virginia before Labor Day. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

After 25 years traveling at the speed of fright, The Big Bad Wolf will take its last trip through Busch Gardens’ Bavarian village Sept. 7.

“We hate to see The Big Bad Wolf go,” said John Reilly, Busch Gardens’ general manager. “We realize The Big Bad Wolf is a guest favorite. We’re making the announcement now so coaster fans can ride one last time before it closes after Labor Day.”

The world’s first suspended roller coaster took coaster design to a new level when it opened in 1984. And while it cannot claim to be the fastest or the tallest, more than 29 million guests have ridden what has become one of the park’s most beloved thrill attractions. Legions of fans—young and old alike—often cite it as their introduction to the coaster experience.

“The Big Bad Wolf offers a thrilling ride experience coupled with aggressive ride dynamics. While it remains a safe attraction, it has simply reached the end of its service life,” said Larry Giles, Busch Gardens’ vice president of engineering and design.

Park officials are reviewing several design concepts for a new park attraction to replace The Big Bad Wolf, but no announcement is planned at this time. – Busch Gardens Williamsburg

As I said in my other post about the rumors around ‘Wolf’s removal, it will be quite a loss, but I can see where it might be a good business decision. I’m not an expert on Busch Gardens, but if the low ridership and high maintenance costs are in the equation it probably makes since to do something new with that area.

What Will Fill Big Bad Wolf’s Shoes?
With the mention of ‘a new park attraction’ and the ride’s somewhat early removal (before the season’s over) a new ride may be on its way before we know it. But what would be a good ride or roller coaster for the park to add in Big Bad Wolf’s place? Let’s take a look at some possibilities.

Finally, A Woodie in Williamsburg?
There’s been a long-running belief that Busch Gardens Williamsburg would never build a wooden coaster because of a noise ordinance created by the local Kings Mill community. I’ve never confirmed this, but there could be something to it. The sound of a wooden coaster’s rattling structure could carry for miles. If the noise ordinance issue isn’t true, then my pick would be for a terrain wooden coaster as it could fill the gap between the new Grover’s Alpine Express kiddieA Terrain Coaster Like Waldameer's Ravine Flyer 2 Could be a Good Replacement coaster and the larger coasters the same way Big Bad Wolf did.

How about a more fun than intense terrain woodie with a unique layout like Raven at Holiday World? Gravity Group made an excellent terrain coaster in Ravine Flyer 2. If Busch has stayed away from woodies because of their maintenance and upkeep, then a hybrid steel structure like Ravine Flyer’s could be the answer. Waldameer’s President told me in an interview that they chose the more expensive steel structure because it would require less maintenance in the long run.

A Launch Coaster or a Flying Coaster
Looking at the Busch Gardens’ lineup, the park could also go with a launch coaster or a flying coaster to name a few other options. I just hope it’s as unique as Big Bad Wolf was. The good thing is that when it comes to Busch there’s a good chance we’ll get just that. A unique, well-themed ride that uses the park’s rolling green terrain in some way. So whatever will be put in Wolf’s place won’t likely disappoint. It will be interesting to see if the park also removes the Bavarian village that Big Bad Wolf flew through. I’d love to see them reuse that area, but they may need to remove everything for the rumored new country (section).

More on Big Bad Wolf
Read my full Big Bad Wolf review and check the on-ride video in the sidebar. Also, read about the brief history of suspended roller coasters in my Coasterology – Suspended Roller Coasters post.

UPDATE – Check out my comments from an interview I had with the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily on Bad Wolf’s retirement in “Coaster Enthusiasts Say Signs Were There on Big Bad Wolf’s End”.  The article also includes quotes from Lance Hart the man behind ScreamScape.

UPDATE 9/8 – Yes. Sadly, Big Bad Wolf is officially now closed. After my visit to Busch this past weekend, I learned more about why the Big Bad Wolf has closed. Read more about why the park decided to close it and see a video of the final train in this post: A Legend Reaches Its Expiration Date

What’s Your Take?
How do you feel about Big Bad Wolf’s closing? What do you think Busch should put in its place? Leave a comment below. Images courtesy of CoasterImage.