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Alpengeist

The Quad-Black Diamond of Inverted Coasters

On a clear, crisp April '97 morning, Busch Gardens Williamsburg officially pulled the wraps off their new Bolliger & Mabillard-designed record-demolisher: ALPENGEIST, a beautifully themed, ski-lift-outta-control inverted rollercoaster. With some help from the Radio City Rockettes(TM) and their world-famous gams, ALPENGEIST began its reign as the Planet Earth's tallest and fastest inverted coaster. And like every other B&M endeavor, this ride is one big yawn.

Just kidding.

If you thought MONTU was all you could handle, stay away from this monster. ALPENGEIST adds roughly 45 feet to that former record-holder's 150-foot lift hill. Once you're pulled to that dizzying 195-foot peak, a 170-foot drop gets you hustling at the "kiss your loose articles goodbye" speed of 67 MPH. And among the many perverse pleasures that follow, you'll find Nirvana at the top of a 106-foot high vertical loop, one more new record for an inverted coaster. (That's four, total, for those keeping track at home.)

This wicked trip over the river and through the woods ain't takin' you anywhere near Grandma's house, people. ALPENGEIST is as smooth, as fast and as exhilarating as inverted coasters get.
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From far outside the park, you can see the gargantuan lift hill towering above the tree tops; it's a sight that'll bring tears of joy to your eyes. Once inside the gates, make a beeline for the park's Rhinefeld Hamlet and follow the jaunty accordian music. There you'll find the base lodge for an Alpine ski resort. Take a good look around so you don't miss out on the many amusing touches: trail maps, a ski rental shack, slope condition announcements, instructor message boards. See, the story goes like this: you're out for a day of aggro skiing, and you hop on the chair lift to the summit. But the mountain is also home to this nasty snowbeast, and it don't take kindly to strangers, heh, heh, heh...

The careful attention to detail continues inside the loading station; check out the gorgeous train with those stowed skies in back. Very nice. And, as expected, the seats are cozy enough to sleep in, another Bolliger and Mabillard hallmark.

The harness goes down; the belts are buckled; the floor drops away. Straight out of the station, the lift hill begins to carry you up and over the landscape, towards the Rhine River. Hey, look down over there, the yellow trackwork of the Loch Ness Monster! (Remember when you thought that coaster was big?)

Nothing beats the sensation of gazing down past yer knees, at the ground soooo far below... but you'll only have a fleeting moment to 1) enjoy, or 2) be horrified by that sight. The train makes a hard right turn and enters an exquisitely banked plunge. 170 vertical feet later, you're twisting the speedo needle past 66, and man, does it feel good!

All that momentum will carry you directly into a gargantuan Immelman inversion. You'll narrowly avoid stubbing yer toes on a little ski shack as you head back towards the heavens. With the soles of your feet getting a little sun, the train twists to the left and dives down into another little wooden hut at the base of that 106-foot loop. Up and over, and it's on to the Cobra Roll, a pretzel-twist of steel that whips you upside down twice over the Rhine River and points you toward the opposite end of the course. Savor the forces pressing you down into your seat - that's right, all 3.7 G's, at 58 MPH. Yummy!

Had enough? I didn't think so. The cars race up into a high speed curve to the left and the ride's mid-point. Yes, it's a brake run of sorts, but just like MONTU's, there's only a mild hint of a pause. The action picks right back up again with a steep dive into another narrow shack. Passing underneath the footbridge to New France, the train whips into a frantic zero-g roll for some primo weightlessness, soaring over the Le Scoot flume ride spillway.

Resist the urge to pull up your legs as the cars plow down into a snowy little crevice. The course veers to the left and the train spins up and through a corkscrew element, the coaster's final inversion. But there's one last treat: the cars swing onto their sides and navigate a high-speed, 360-degree spiral. Exiting the spiral, another left turn brings you back into the station.

Fan-tastic.

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Year after year, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is voted "Most Beautiful Theme Park " by the National Amusement Park Historical Association and 1997 will probably mean one more trophy in the display case. A lot of folks come just to enjoy the scenery. But you and I, we have many more reasons to pay this sprawling fun zone a visit. The Big, Bad Wolf®, The Loch Ness Monster®, Drachen Fire®, Escape From Pompeii(SM), "Questor ", a wild simulator ride, Roman Rapids®, and on and on and on. Ya just can't visit and go home disappointed.

Anheuser Busch Theme Parks and Bolliger & Mabillard have formed what looks to be a pretty spectacular partnership, producing first MONTU, then THE GREAT WHITE down at the Texas Sea World, and now ALPENGEIST. Can we dare to hope for another joint venture from these folks? Keep your fingers crossed...




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Alpengeist
  • TRACK LENGTH: 3,828 feet
  • TOP SPEED: 67 Miles Per Hour
  • MAX. G FORCE: 3.7
  • MAX. HEIGHT: 195 feet
  • MAX. DROP: 170 feet
  • RIDE DURATION: 3 minutes, ten seconds
  • CARS: Three trains composed of eight cars. Each car accommodates four passengers across.
  • CAPACITY: 1,820 guests per hour
  • ARCHITECT: Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, Inc., St. Louis, MO
  • THEMING DESIGN: Suzanne Sessions, Inc., St. Louis, MO
  • MANUFACTURER: Bolliger & Mabillard, Monthey, Switzerland
  • GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Armada Hoffler Inc., Chesapeake, VA
Alpengeist logo artwork © 1997 Busch Entertainment Corporation. Reproduced by permission of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. All rights reserved.

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© Robert Coker.
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