I’m afraid it is official now, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has come clean with their plans to rip apart the Big Bad Wolf. Even worse, according to their press release you only have until Labor Day (Sept. 7th) to ride it, so it wont be open through Howl-O-Scream which is a shame as a night time ride through the woods in the dark is as big a part of Howl-O-Scream to me as the haunts themselves. It’s almost funny as they say they are making the announcement now so fans can get a last ride in, but they’re only giving you a little over a month’s notice and without Howl-O-Scream rides, I know there sure is no way I’m going to be able to make it back one last time to pay my respects.
In the press release and new FAQ on the park’s website they keep saying that Big Bad Wolf has “reached the end of its service life” which is a bunch of crap. All rides need care, repair and maintenance as they get older. The truth is that the Wolf is simply run out of “budget money”. It’s all bad timing as they want to build something nearby, want to create a better access pathway to former Drachen Fire site and with the economy the way it is, it’s just easier for them to deny the budget to make any needed preventative maintenance work.
Knowing Busch Entertainment as I do, I’ve always said that Busch has been more than willing to pay top dollar to buy the best rides and coasters they can get their hands on. As the capital for these projects comes from the corporate office, they get approval nice and easy... but for some reason Busch never has a good budget to maintain things after the fact... and the older something gets, the harder it is to push a maintenance budget for anything through the red tape, department meetings, and so on. After all the budget needed to maintain and keep Big Bad Wolf running has to go up against other things... like kitchen upgrades, new gift shops, restaurants... you know... things that make money and give a quicker Return on Investment. So when the VPs all sit around and haggle over which projects will make the budget on any given year, you can pretty much count on the ‘operations’ and ‘entertainment’ side of things getting the shaft every time since they don’t directly bring in income like Food and Merchandise departments and don’t have the ears of the corporate masters like the HR and Marketing departments do.
What almost makes this more insulting is that while they claim they have other ideas they are looking at for the Big Bad Wolf site in the future, they claim that those projects are far enough away that they haven’t been finalized yet. And yet... Big Bad Wolf has an “established timeline to dismantle this major attraction.” Sounds like they’ve had this in the works for some time to me! So why are they removing the Big Bad Wolf so early then? From what I’ve been told (off the record) it is because that when they do get around to announcing the unimpressive lackluster plan that is in place, they would rather have the Wolf be only a memory and a non-issue, rather than face the negative feedback from park guests.
So I’ve got to ask everyone... are you willing to fight for the Big Bad Wolf? Then you’ve got to write in, call in, or visit guest relations and let them know just how upset you are about this. I’ve seen coasters come and go... but something about the Big Bad Wolf has always been special to me, and I don’t think that I’m alone. Frankly, I’d rather see the Loch Ness Monster sent to the scrap-pile long before Big Bad Wolf was ever touched. While Nessie is a bit unique itself... it is not nearly as unique or as amazing as the Big Bad Wolf is. There are only 3 suspended coasters left in the USA right now and the Wolf has always been considered to be the best of them.
Finally I had hoped to have time to come up with some T-Shirt designs of my own, as a design is in the works, I’m honestly worried that there wont be time for anyone to buy them and wear them to the park in time to Save the Wolf due to narrow window we have left. Another reader however did some up with some shirts of their own to put onto Cafe Press so you too can express your feelings directly to the park about this.
It’s just ironic that a park that is supposed to care about “preservation” and protecting “endangered species” has been so quick to sentence one of the most rare coaster designs in the world to an early death after only 25 years. The marketing folks just can’t see the value is reinventing this classic ride for another 25 years and the bean-counters are all too quick to deny the budget for it so they can pay off InBev’s debt from the purcahse of Anheuser-Busch. To be honest... had InBev never come knocking at Busch’s door with their take-over, I don’t think that this would be happening right now.
Here is the official press release from the park... read it and weep. I did...
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (July 24, 2009) – 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.