We are only a few days away from the DarKoaster project official announcementbut the news flow dictates that we continue to look forward.
We’ve known for many years now that Busch Gardens Williamsburg has big plans for Drachen Fire’s former home, Festhaus Park. In the mid-2010s, the site was rumored to house half of a giga coaster crossing the Rhine, launched, known only by its code name, Madrid project. Then, before COVID, this plot was attributed to a giga giga coaster planned for 2021, manufactured by Intamin, multi-launch, which we disclosed as Drachen Spire Project. After COVID-19 delayed the Hall of Fame’s debut by two full years, a new Hall of Fame follow-up coaster has been designed to replace Drachen Spire in the park’s addition schedule – the indoor, family-friendly, Intamin coaster. multi-tower and multi-launch should be announced next week, DarKoaster project.
Despite DarKoaster’s sudden insertion into Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s plans, things still looked pretty positive for Drachen Spire’s post-COVID future. Both FAA and the JCC height waivers for the ride were renewed, which suggests to us that, at the very least, Busch Gardens Williamsburg was keeping its Drachen Spire options open. It wasn’t until about four months ago that we began to suspect something might be changing.
At the end of April this year, Busch Gardens Williamsburg conducted a deeply bizarre height survey in which they flew a few balloons from several locations in and around Festhaus Park. Then, at the end of June, the park carried out numerous soil tests in Festhaus Park and in the nearby “Boneyard” of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. That’s when it became clear that BGW was plotting something really big – and something that didn’t match anything we knew about Drachen Spire.
That brings us to today, when something wild landed in my inbox.
Longtime friend of the site and Park Fans member, Adam, messaged me this afternoon with a tip: Busch Gardens Williamsburg had requested a new height waiver from the FAA. Even better? This new exemption seems nothing like the Drachen Spire. Even better ? This provides us with our first chronological evidence for when we should expect to see this mysterious new project. Oh, and yes, it also gives us the location and elevation of the highest point.
See why this is still a massive deal? I suppose so. Let’s dive into it.
Below is a copy of the Federal Aviation Commission height waiver in question: 2022-AEA-13648-OE.
As you can see, this height waiver was filed a few weeks ago on August 9th. The construction information and structure summary reveals that the waiver is for a permanent amusement park structure scheduled for construction between February 2023 and March 2024. In the Height and Elevation section, we can see the height of the proposed structure 220 feet above the ground. There is also a “Structure name” provided, “Busch Gardens Bürgermeisters”, which could be the internal codename of the project or could be an attempt to confuse this folder with the recent launch The burgomaster’s refuge.
Under Structure Details, another crucial data point can be found: the latitude and longitude of the highest point of the structure. A map displaying the exact location of the height waiver can be found below.
All of this information, taken together, paints a pretty vivid picture. Assuming this waiver is approved and this mysterious new project continues to move forward, we can expect a 220-foot tall “amusement structure” to be completed by April 2024 with its highest point located next to the old Drachen Fire maintenance bay.
Given the distance from this highest point to the current (or even already planned) guest lanes for Drachen Spire, we hypothesize that this is likely a new coaster, apparently planned for its debut in 2024 instead of the previously planned Drachen Spire.
Speaking of Drachen Spire, does the existence of a new Project 2024 mean Spire is dead? Not necessarily – the two waivers renewed for the height of Drachen Spire are still technically active. That said, the fact that yet another Coaster takes precedence before it was probably cause for serious concern if you were a fan of the giga shuttle bus planned by Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
The climax of Project 2024 does not directly conflict with the known Drachen Spire layout, but it is close, just across the Drachen Fire maintenance bay from the once planned main launch pad by Drachen Spire. Which could really bad luck for Speyer if the 2024 project ends up using the old Drachen Fire station building. If that were to happen, Speyer as we knew it would be dead for sure.
The may be a reason to suspect that the 2024 project could also use the Drachen Fire station. Climax of newly discovered FAA waiver puts Project 2024 apex almost exactly where the top of Drachen Fire’s lifting hill used to be. Drachen Fire exited its station with a 180 degree left turn before entering its 150 foot high lift. It’s very easy to imagine a potential 2024 project that follows this same path, just with a taller, steeper lift.
To give you an idea of the distances we’re talking about here, I’ve included a map below measuring the distance from the start of the Drachen Fire lift to the newly proposed highest point for the 2024 project.
As you can see, the blue line parallel to Drachen Fire Barracks and Maintenance Buildings is approximately 260 feet long. To put that into perspective, that’s more than enough for Iron Gwazi’s 206ft tall lift (approximately 240ft long) or Steel Curtain’s 220ft lift (approximately 220ft long). Whether Busch Gardens Williamsburg wanted to use the Drachen Fire station building and follow the same path out of the station as Drachen Fire, a 220-foot-tall lift hill terminating at the newly constructed highest point work site. offered. brilliantly.
Now yeah, this is all just theory at this point, but don’t let that distract you from the root news. Currently, according to public records, a 220-foot-tall structure – almost certainly a coaster – appears to be slated to debut at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 2024. That would make three notable coasters in three years. Such an aggressive investment schedule is almost unheard of in this industry – and that’s before we even take a second to acknowledge that the 2024 project appears to be the largest coaster Busch Gardens Williamsburg has ever built.
As we’ve reported many times now, rumors have swirled for years that SeaWorld Parks has huge plans for Virginia leading up to Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s 50th anniversary in 2025. A theoretical 220-foot coaster high Festhaus Park seems to fit this bill very well, doesn’t it?
With height readings and soil tests in hand and an FAA waiver filed, what’s next for Project 2024? At this time, we do not know whether or not this project will need to go through the James City County Height Waiver process. Unfortunately, Busch Gardens Williamsburg was able to use its height waiver from the James City County project in Madrid for Pantheon despite dramatic changes to the project during development. The same could be true with the Drachen Spire Height Waiver and Project 2024.
If there are no other JCC height waivers in the pipeline, the next time we hear about the 2024 project may possibly be when we start getting the actual site plans filed with the county. With the construction of the 2024 project set to begin on February 1, 2023, it is possible that such deposits are imminent…
Thanks for reading! ❤️
BGW 2024 project