Like most people, we were super excited when this next-generation Intamin was first announced in 2019.
Sigh….. recalling our collective disappointment when a certain virus delayed most of our 2020 plans, Pantheon became much more than just a new ride, it became a promise of a better tomorrow.
The hope for the newest stateside coaster from Intamin carried more weight than usual because the Swiss manufacturer has burned bridges with most of the major theme park chains in the last decade.
Recently, Universal Orlando debuted the one-two punch of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Velocicoaster and it seemed like new-age Intamin would only appear sporadically with park chains that felt particularly risky (Google Sandy’s Blasting Bronco + Downtime for reference).
Here lies the problem. Touted as the world’s fastest multi-launch coaster Pantheon promised a ride of epic scale set to crush every expectation of the limit-pushing manufacturer. Unfortunately, SEAWORLD/BUSCH had 18 months to sh*t or get off the pot and Velocicoaster ended up being the debut of the new generation of massive multi-launch.
That being said is Pantheon a bad ride…? No, not at all.
It delivers crazy forces, great speed, and a moment of backward ejector airtime that is sent directly to man from the ancient gods of negative g-forces. The layout is unique and innovative (although somewhat RMC-inspired). Overall a great addition to the park.
This series of events makes one think. Do records mean anything anymore? It’s bigger and faster than its Orlando rival but is it better?
We visited Busch Gardens Tampa for the first time in May 2021. As you may know, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is one of our favorite parks so surpassing our spiritual sanctuary would be a tall order.
I try not to set expectations before visiting a new place but BGW is so well themed to European villages how could an African-themed sister park compare? I was nervous that the Africa vibe would be a cheesy caricature of the beautiful continent. Also, on the other end of the spectrum, I feared the Florida park would be better and ruin Williamsburg for me.
Our morning started about 11 am and we immediately ate lunch. I felt like my blood sugar was low and I wanted to eat and hydrate Immediately. We ate at the Zagora Café where I enjoyed an Impossible Burger and Aaron had chicken fingers. The food was fresh and well prepared. Interestingly, I don’t think I have ever had standard park food at Williamsburg besides Ice cream. American food in an African-themed park was a little disappointing but not hardly a bad experience.
The restaurant was next to Iron Gwazi, that is all I’ll say about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the opening of the new SeaWorld Entertainment Rollercoasters.
As we continued to walk down the path next we ran into Parrots, Flamingos, and various ‘Florida Birds’. I suffer from Ornithophobia, and although it comes off as prejudice towards birds I am truly just afraid of them and do not understand them. Needless to say, I skipped the Avian Observatory.
Next, we hit three rides back to back…
Tigris which for some reason exacerbated my headache and sent me to the gift shop for Excedrin. Very nice views during the cycle but the Premier Skyrocket 2 trains with comfort harnesses turn me off more and more each ride.
Sheikra The OG B&M dive coaster left me wanting nothing more. With only one inversion the ride was still solid and beautiful coaster to photograph.
Stanley Falls Flume is a very cute classic flume. Our log wouldn’t leave the station so our ride-op instructed us to shimmy forward (lol very ghetto). We got to the base of the second lift and it was stopped. We collided with the log before and then the subsequent hit us. That was an experience but some very quick maneuvering by the operations team got all three of us safely down the big drop! #LIVELOGLIFE
We made our way across the park from that are hitting up Kumba (which made my headache worse but was totally worth it) and Scorpion (which was fun because we rode with a very adventurous woman in her 80s.)
We observed the closed Falcon’s Fury and many of the wildlife exhibits!
We went to Cheetah Hunt which was absolutely the longest line of the day. While a good coaster it’s neither great nor as bad as it is said to be. It’s just a thing that exists! We hit up Cobra’s Curse such a fun ride.
Last but not least we sealed the day with a ride on Montu. Montu is probably a great ride but… my headache, coupled with my increasing inability to endure positive g-forces (sigh), I got the credit but I really need to give it a fair shake on a day I feel good. In the vlog my initial reaction is positive but I was caffeine drunk from coffee and headache pills.
Overall I loved the park. The beauty of the Florida setting is such that the african theming and local flora make sense. The Safari too was amazing we rode the train a few times to check out the animals.
Is it better than BGW? No…. Does it have a better coaster lineup maybe… Will I be back absolutely? All of my fears were resolved by the fact the BGT has its own charm. I am now a fan of two Busch Gardens parks. What these parks provide is very unique. Thanks for reading and check out the video on the YouTube Channel SOON!
I’ll be the first to admit that in 2019, before the pandemic, when the new 2020 coasters were being announced I was super pumped. Like many enthusiasts, I believed that 2020 was going to be the next legendary year like 2000, 2006, 2012, and 2016. There are not too many moments in Thoosie history where we get an onslaught of iconic new thrill machines.
On New Year’s Day 2020 when the entire world was optimistic the start of a new decade would bring the promise of a fresh start. Well… we got a fresh start, just not the one we wanted. So many promises were broken and promising experiences lost.
Here’s a quick reminder of some of our largest expectations and disappointments.
NEW FOR 2020 Coaster’s Included.
Jersey Devil at Six Flags Great Adventure Pantheon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg Emperor at SeaWorld San Diego Texas Stingray at SeaWorld San Antonio Candymonium at Hershey Park
Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Orion at Kings Island
*Notice Anything Missing?
Those Sneaky Sneaky Snakes at Universal were busy creating a “secret” monster.*
Despite the pandemic, we got to enjoy about 60% of the promised coasters. Both major B&M’s debuted (Candymonium and Orion) but all eyes were on RMC and Intamin.
The coaster enthusiast community knew about the leaked plans, name, and “concept art” of a certain coaster coming to Orlando, naturally. Call me a poser but… I personally, wasn’t impressed. I loved Hagrid’s Magical Motorbike Adventure at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, but it just solidified Orlando as the “Theming Capital of the World” a place not really known for thrills (besides a handful of prestige B&M’s.)
When Velocicoaster was formally announced almost a year after the park chains-who-jumped the gun announced their delayed coasters. I started to get a little pumped, mainly because there would be something new to do in Orlando.
Fast-forwarding to spring 2021 when all the Florida enthusiasts started sharing their first impressions and reactions. I found myself still thinking…like yeah ok, I am sure it’s not All That it’s just shiny and new. (Insert eye-roll here).
However, on May 15th, 2021, I got to experience the coaster for myself.
I humbly suggest, right now, up front! All you readers should begin to believe the hype.
*This section may contain spoilers about ride experience only not queue or specific theming details*
The theming in the area around the coaster blends seamlessly with the sliver of Jurassic Park that has existed for the past two decades. However, with a brand new coaster the area has become reborn just as its parental film franchise by adding Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Basically, the area got REBOOTED as well.
I’m not going to spoil the queue here but it makes waiting quite comfortable and interactive (without being too touchy-touchy post- Covid-19). I will say the locker system for loose articles is pretty dope and well organized. I actually observed a guy explain to the attendant he couldn’t lock his phone up because his phone had to be within feet of his ankle monitor. I thought, hmmm how are you allowed out of the house in the first place? Then I saw homeboy say screw-it these technical rehearsals are a part of history and lock his phone up. He’s probably in jail now for the remainder of his suspended sentence. But, I respect his hustle. #FREETHATTHOOSIE.
The coaster itself, as you can see from the official POV out TODAY, is the ultimate modern blitz coaster. It’s what MAVERICK was meant to be! Yes! I took it there. It’s like when you ask your homegirl to do your makeup for prom because she claims to be a mistress of all trades and you look like a damn clown when she’s done. But a decade later she’s a fully licensed MAC associate with bridal clients booked for the next three years! Well yes, Miss Intamin learned from her past mistakes and built a top-tier coaster that doesn’t crush your thighs.
The ride starts with a slight left turn out of the station onto the first launch track. After a little bit of 3…2…1, red light, green light, pageantry you’re off.
Before you know it, a mix of elements and crazy sh*t hit you back to back like Wham! Bam! Thank you, Mam!
We experienced a left overbank, a dip under some rocks, and a dive loop. Then airtime moment, airtime moment, s-bend, right curve, and a left curve. Whew Chile! Up to this point it feels like riding one of the mechanical bulls with a comfortable lap bar restraint. It legit feels like your legs are comfortably restrained but your upper half is a wacky waving inflatable man.
But oh B*tch there’s more…. the second launch! Already coming in hot, this one kicks you from like 50-70 something? Who cares! It’s fast. Right into the Top Hat of truth! The Zero-G Stall right after the Top Hat is just disgustingly awesome. That’s why I call this the Velo-Sick-Coaster.
But, but, but, wait! (BREATHE JOSH). Now, listen it’s the next element that makes this ride the best Intamin, yes THEE BEST! Intamin coaster in the United States right now. (El Toro is the perfect number 2, argue amongst yourselves! I have a New Year’s resolution not to go back and forth with haters all 2021).
We got Mavericks missing Heart-line Roll. The element that is the cherry atop this sundae. A moment taken with such speed, the most fearless enthusiasts question the integrity of that lap bar. My husband said he “Got so much whip, he felt skinny”, it takes a lot to make him feel like a ragdoll.
After that element, it’s basically over.
Intamin has long had a rocky reputation amongst park owners. Thoosies’ have been more forgiving. If this ride and Pantheon don’t spark the Intamin Renaissance the entire future of thrill coasters is a stake!
I spent the night before riding ‘rando’ Orlando coasters because I close enough to making the Velocicoaster my 200th. It worked out and it was seriously the highlight of my trip! With about two weeks before its official debut, I hope everything goes smoothly because I need that sucker to be around for generations.
Hey guys! It’s been a month since my last update and boy do I have a lot to share! As you may recall my last visit to Florida in 2019 was less than Ideal (LINK). The disappointment was not related to a lack of “Magic” but more so the quality of our experience outside of the major parks. This time, however, I broke the number one Cheapthusiast commandment of doing things as cheaply as possible. I SPLURGED on TWO and a half resort stays. Here is my experience and the lessons I learned along the way.
I gotta admit to you I am one of those “Disney People”. I don’t know how, but it is so! It is something about the quality, beauty, and customer service of Disney Parks that has me hooked! Following the 2019 visit, I knew I wanted to experience the magic over and over again. I was hitting my husband with phrases like “Next year when we are in Disney” as if we decided on an annual tradition and the trip was booked. We even planned to take my late mother who was a huge (Avatar/Harry Potter) with us.
Unfortunately, she would never make it with us to Florida. Rest in Power Sharon <3.
We all know what happened in early 2020 when the world shut down. I saw the closures of the Disney parks as the moment when shit got real! Not the fact that the NBA was suspended and every major concert got rescheduled years out! Walt Disney World emptying its midways was a knife to the gut. I found the perfect place to escape reality and just when reality got as bad as it could my escape plan was foiled!
Now, the pandemic taught a lot of us about the ugly nature of our habits and personalities thru isolation, anxiety, and grief. The biggest lesson I learned was that I was not capable of sitting still with my thoughts and feelings. Well… at least until I was forced to.
June rolls around and Universal Studious Orlando re-opens followed by Disney in July. However, work was hectic, and there were numerous travel restrictions on top of mass panic. We decided on an August road trip to all drivable states that were not on Pennsylvania’s “Bad List”. I recall several more months the beautiful state of Florida was on everyone’s “Bad List” (whether local officials cared or not.)
It’s now fall 2020 and I have had the Itch for over a year now it’s time to book! I kept seeing little advertisements for Vacations by Sean at Magical Mouse on my news feed for a while. I knew Sean Verheijen-Dickey informally for a while at that point, mostly as a corresponding fan of the podcast and travel brand he founded (COASTER KINGS). Sean was really easy to book with. He is also a hell of a salesman because I booked the most expensive travel experiences of my life. I was “throwing it in the bag” with Sean like I had unlimited funds. I know…sounds nuts! But I am Cheapthusiast, I never claimed to be a Brokethusiast!
I was all Gung-ho to go back to Florida and do it right. And man did we do it right….
As with everything on this blog full disclosure of pricing and itinerary.
We landed in Orlando at noon on a Friday in Mid-May I realized I was about 5 credits away from 200 coasters so we decided to visit the Fun-Spot parks to try and ride four coasters making the New Velocicoaster at Universal Studious my 200th.
Cost: $118 Cheaper on Groupon but not a huge savings maybe $5 to $10 total.
Day 2: Universal Parks
We had a Universal Studious Park to Park pass with early admission because we were resort guests. We bundled our park tickets with a two-night stay at Universals Endless Summer Resort (Which was BOMB AF!)
THOUGHTS: Next time I am only going to buy a 1 park per day pass to IOA because let’s face it! I only go to Universal Studios to ride Escape from Gringotts and the Mummy. The original park feels like a skip. Not to say never again but I think that Island’s of Adventure is enough to fill a day or two.
*We got a little bougie* and added express passes for $250. Line waiting is for the locals we try to hit all the rides so I may do this again.
WE ALSO RODE VELOCICOASTER TWICE!! LOOK OUT FOR THAT VLOG AND ARTICLE SOON*
Day 3: Busch Gardens Tampa
UGH… BGT was nothing to write home about in my honest subjective opinion. I will probably still love BGW more even once Iron Gwazi opens.
Cost: $222 for two people including SeaWorld Tickets
Night 3: Time to move from Universal to Walt Disney World’s Pop Century Resort. For three nights and two days of park hopper tickets.
Day 4: Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom
Thoughts: Although we reached Florida on “mask independence weekend”, the park did not immediately increase capacity. A move that I will forever be grateful for. We rode every single E-ticket attraction in each park plus more! I don’t think navigating Disney Parks will ever be a smooth as the tail end of a pandemic but one can hope so!
Day 5: Hollywood Studios and Epcot
Thoughts: I got to ride RISE OF THE RESISTANCE! Low capacity made this trip so breathable. I could do one park a day but I’m addicted to hopping! I like to have a jam-packed day full of craziness and adventure. Next year, I want to take my nieces 7 years old and 6 months old. I might have to slow the pace a bit because of the challenges of traveling with kiddos.
Day 6: SeaWorld Orlando
Cost: Included with Tampa
Thoughts: SeaWorld is and will probably always be the Six Flags park of Orlando. Until Ice Breaker opens and probably after MAKO will reign as king. I will probably visit that park sporadically for years to come but it’s not every year park. Unless there is a solid Groupon or other significant discount!
Night 6: Polynesian Isles (Resort + Flight + Rental car)
Cost: $65+450 for two.
Outside of driving to Tampa, Seaworld, and a couple of random beach moments, the car got unused. We had to drive to spend the prepaid gas charge so it would not be a loss. Maybe just shuttle and Uber next time but Aaron is a Taurus and likes to control his destiny so we’ll see!
Thoughts: I asked Aaron to add a “Buffer Day” and he found us a suite at a local Diamond resort.
It wasn’t exactly Disney or Universal Standard but it was still exceptional and a great value. We slept in a two-bedroom, two full baths, full kitchen, living room, private balcony, master suite that would make any condo/ timeshare owner envious. If it wasn’t in Orlando, where the span of value to the luxury resorts is so wide, this place would be top tier.
Overall, the 2021 trip was money well spent! I have no regrets to speak of. I am on the fence about a Disney Wedding in 2022 at the Swan and Dolphin or a Disney Cruise wedding. I and Aaron got married twice so we want a second wedding. Let us know which you’d choose!?
You only live once and there is no dress rehearsal, so why not seek experiences over material goods?
Becoming a Cheapthusiast has been a journey of trial and error. There are times when the trip is over and I reflect back like “Damn I did that!” and other times when I’m like… “What was I thinking?”.
Believe it or not, one of the main themes of my life is the lesson that, Nothing that is worth it is easy! I think of things I have ACCOMPLISHED and how difficult they were to achieve. On the other hand, I think of things that I have GOTTEN AWAY WITH and how easy they were to achieve. I have been thinking a bit lately about my adventures and whether taking the easy road is the best choice (always).
In good old 2019 the year I began my journey to find personal happiness within the enthusiast hobby I had one goal in my head, DISNEY for my birthday! How could I afford this? I had already traveled more this year than I have the last five? Could I really do a fourth major trip? SO I TOOK A CRAZY LEAP OF FAITH! I bought the park tickets and forced myself into purchasing the rest by default ( A good strategy if you suffer from anxiety). I created a situation my brain wanted to fix, I needed to find money to fund the rest of a trip because I had these park tickets. I was going that October! PERIOD!
But… how did I get to this point?
*VCR SOUNDS* Let’s rewind about six months back. It was springtime. I had divined a grandiose plan to rent a house and take several of my close friends with me to Walt Disney World for my birthday. You see this wasn’t just any birthday, your boy was turning the big 3 0. I had never been, it was to be a bucket list experience for sure. I was a Disney kid you see, raised by the 90s. I used to watch the Sing-A-Long tape of kids riding splash mountain. It was to be life-changing. What better way to hold on to my youth as I became an “adult-adult”?
Well.. to start I made this Facebook group, inviting the cool kids to join me. Little by little just like my 7th-grade sleepover, people started coming up with their excuses. I wasn’t gonna let it get me down! I still had four months to plan.
Naturally, the summer flew by and it was nearly September. With 60 days until my big day I began operation, “MY ASS IS GOING TO DISNEY WHETHER YALL’ COME OR NOT”.
With no one available to travel except my on-again-off-again husband I prepared to have a ‘couples’ bday trip at WDW resort…
One problem? I only had $600 But when God open’s a window he’ll open a door! Here’s how I made it work!
Step 1: Midday Magic Tickets: For $250 of my $600
I attended Disney World for two days with a park hopper. The catch? I couldn’t enter the parks until 12pm. Not at bad as you would think, but the three parks-a-day mission we completed with this limited window was not for the faint of heart.
Step 2: Flight/Car/Stay package from an online retailer: Also $250 of my $600
This ! Dear Reader, Is Where I F*cked up!
My first Frontier flight was delayed over three hours… I now kind of understand that’s what you get with the discount airlines (NO SHADE). No big deal, we watched Netflix and the many pilgrims and voyagers around the airport.
Things start to get problematic when we arrive at Green Motion car rental at 11 pm to be told that we had until 1045 pm before we forfeited our reservation. That delayed flight ended up costing an extra few hundred bucks from the rental place. Needless to say, no matter how cheap I’m feeling I’m not going with an off-brand rental service without proper customer support again. (Enterprise, Hertz, Dollar, Budget) Yeah, I am a rental care snob now but “You live you learn”.
Finally, we arrive at the motel it’s almost my birthday! I have one hour left on the eve of 30 and I just want to crash. It was definitely the motel from the 2017 hit film The Florida Project, but I didn’t care I made it! For 600-ish too!
Day 1: Animal Kingdom>>> Epcot >>> Magic Kingdom
A wonderful birthday full of Disney Magic
Day 2: Universal Studios >>> Islands of Adventure>>>Hollywood Horror Nights
Aaron bought the tickets as a birthday gift! (Still technically within budget). We enjoyed an exhausting day at the two Universal parks and headed to the hotel for rest and showers before hitting Halloween Horror Nights. We had every intention on getting to HHN for rope drop. That’s when the trouble started.
We got back to The Florida Project motel and our key cards would not work. We tried and tried for about 15 minutes. I ran to get a manager. The kind woman came out in her Macy’s clearance pantsuit and did her best to put some “back into it” the door would not budge, and our manager may now have a broken collar bone. She called on the maintenance man/ motel dweller who employs a bevy of tools to no avail.
Three hours into the ordeal the entire door handle and key card swipe are removed and the door still held firm. Even the deadbolt was removed (SORCERY!).
The next move had to be the ghetto-ist shh I have ever seen. The maintenance worker removed the rubber insulation from the window and bashed it inward! Then, he climbed thru. Due to the liability of guests climbing thru a broken window onto broken glass, we had to tell him where all our things were in the room. He then tossed our belongings onto the bed wrapped them up in a sheet and passed it to us thru the window. We were finally free to find our new, slightly upgraded room.
We made it to HHN around 9 pm. Still had a memorable experience. The next two days included one more WDW half-day increment and a quick dip to Sea World (Aaron’s treat again…I know!).
The fact that I was on my first trip and it was my birthday made me very forgiving. This was also the first Cheapthusiast trip with flights and rental car. The trip was a success. I ended up making lifelong memories and feeling the true magic of the Orlando area.
Will I ever go that cheap again? The answer is probably not. But not because of the crappy experiences with the hotel and the car. I think that sometimes the stay and outside-of-park experiences need to reflect the caliper of vacation. It’s nice to find unreal deals and go as cheap as possible. I have learned, however, that a bad hotel experience can also make or break a trip.
Each trip is its own lesson, here’s to more memories!
I remember sitting in a diner with a friend casually chatting about rollercoasters. The conversation quickly went from which were our favorite to B&M vs Intamin. I surprised myself with the amount of random coaster knowledge I had in the back of my head. Thankfully, this friend is also an enthusiast otherwise the conversation may have gone left pretty quickly.
For several hours (and cups of decaf) our conversation went into ultra nerd territory. I soon realized that while I had the know a lot, I still lacked the experience. No amount of watching Discovery and Travel Channel specials are a substitute for the real thing.
I am not sure where I stood on the GP vs Enthusiast Scale. What I did know was that it was finally my turn to experience some of the legendary thrills firsthand.
I planned my first trip for the next month. It was early spring and the parks were starting to open for the year. I took a portion of my income tax return and purchased my very first Cedar Fair Platinum Pass. March 30th, 2019 I threw a backpack in the car and set on my first CHEAP trip.
I used Booking.com and found a hotel in Ruther Glen, VA about 10 miles from the park. I was #SUPEREXCITED, I thought $127 for a two-night stay was a steal.
After stopping for several hours in Washington D.C. where I mostly took pictures with the cherry blossoms and walked around aimlessly It was time to hit the road. I got to the Quality Inn at about 10 pm. I was exhausted the night auditor gave me the keys to the room. I know it was off-season for the community especially since the biggest draw had only opened for the year on the day I arrived.
The hotel seemed less than stellar and far less than it appeared online. Outdated carpet and furniture, stains, smells, and the saddest looking empty pool I have ever seen. I reminded myself of two things. 1st ‘Josh you finally have a coaster trip and 2nd you get what you pay for!
Little did I know I, I hadn’t seen the worst of this place. I got to my room, entered the key card, opened the door. Suddenly I heard a voice from the darkness say “Whattaya want?” with a hybrid Brooklynese by way of Alabama accent. I closed the door in a panic. I couldn’t believe it they gave me the key to someone else’s room.
I went to the front desk embarrassed over the ordeal. The maintenance man who witnessed the mishap berated the night manager. We ended up getting a new room. I was left to wonder, however, would the next guest check into my room?
I adapted quickly though. I didn’t let it affect the rest of the trip! I made to Kings Dominion the following morning and it did not disappoint! The one regret I had was the fact that I had been to BGW multiple times by then and never Kings Dominion. My expectation of a world-class super park was shattered by the sad reality. They have a really strong lineup. But the coasters I’d heard about and seen on TV Shockwave, Hypersonic XLC, and Volcano the Blast had met their demise by the time I finally made it to the park.
This visit was, however, the beginning of several firsts for me. First Giga coaster, first RMC, and the first time I realized that traveling the country checking out theme parks is something I could do.
I learned one thing for sure. Being cheap has its benefits and its drawbacks. I had a weekend away for less than $200. I almost caught a strange couple doing the ‘wagon wheel watusi’. But meh, gives me something to write about.
Within the year I would add another 80 credits to my count. That is another story though.
I have a lot of stories to tell, like the time I lost my Latinx cousins at Sesame Place because they looked like all the other children or the time a slide at Morey’s Piers gave my mother and me second-degree burns.
In time we shall see how this blogging thing goes! So far, I like it! Thanks for check it out feel free to leave a comment or reach out!
Many people who know me know that Busch Gardens Williamsburg is my place of spiritual affinity. Yes, you heard that correctly! Not my grandmothers house, or a cozy cabin in the Pocono mountains. BGW is the one place on earth I feel the most loved. It is mainly because of the many fond memories I have visiting the park over the years.
The first time I visited was in the year 2000. It was fourth of July weekend I was ten and a half years old and experimenting with a bald haircut. It was an interesting and bold summer choice I shaved my entire head got my left ear pierced and rocked AND1 head bands all summer long. But I digress…. My Aunt Donna (The Fun Aunt) packed me and my younger cousin Marcus up and we rode AMTRAK all the way from Philadelphia to Williamsburg. The train was an interesting choice, but in hindsight it made the trip even more memorable.
We visited BGW and Water Country USA. I was in love with the atmosphere, food, and of course, the rides! It was my first real experience with theming. We rode Escape from Pompeii and Le Scoot as a family. Unfortunately, I was not quite ready for the larger coasters, my aunt was afraid, my cousin was four so I was on my own. Regardless, I made the flat rides my b*tch!
I would not get to return for about 14 years. This time the circumstances were completely different. I returned to BGW on September, 20th 2014 for an impromptu honeymoon with my husband Aaron. We did not have much money left over after the wedding and I found a Groupon, so we decided to do Virginia beach/BGW to celebrate the union.
Another stellar trip. The whole five hours in the car I told my new spouse how awesome of a place we were heading for. The 2014 visit did not disappoint! With just one day we ended up riding all of the coasters, we watched all of the shows, rode all of the transports (train, boat, and skyway), and experienced all of the Haunt mazes! This was the unofficial start of our Cheapthusiast journey and man did we set the bar high!
Unfortunately, circumstances both within and beyond our control prevented us from returning for another seven years. In October of 2020 to celebrate my Covid-19 birthday (we have all had one at this point) we decided to return. We had a great evening full of haunts and treats, that further cemented the love we have for BGW.
In 2021 we decided to purchase Fun Cards. We intend to get our fill this year especially with PANTHEON’s “anticipated” opening. We had an impromptu visit on Easter weekend for the limited admission event food and wine festival. On Saturday night we got to hang out with some friends and enjoyed a Virginia local experience. On Sunday I planned to return to shoot a VLOG for Cheapthusiast on YouTube.
The only problem was that my head could not keep up with the ambition of my heart. I filmed some offride footage and just before I began my opening blurb I thought, “You know what…? Turn the camera off and enjoy your place with your love.” And I did. That weekend also marked the one year anniversary of the passing of my mother. She was a key figure in my love for rollercoasters (the only thing she rode).
I had kind of realized that the past 12 months of vlogging and exploring were both therapeutic, and detrimental to my mental health. While I enjoyed doing what I loved and basked in the escapism (especially during a pandemic), I had not really sat with myself to explore the full range of grief that comes with losing a close family member.
I did not shoot a vlog, and that is ok! I did experience happiness. I think that happiness is the ultimate goal especially when so many of us cant quite find something that brings true unequivocal joy. I was not sad at one of my favorite parks, I felt comfort in the memories. The inner child in me who experienced a spiritual void had a tiny bit of his need to be nurtured filled.
The park itself does not have any magical properties, it is the security feel in knowing some of the best days of my life were spent there.