VIDEO: Busch Gardens’ first wooden coaster ‘InvadR’ opens to public

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Thrillseekers yearning for an old-school style coaster of yesteryear can yearn no more — Invadr has arrived!

Busch Gardens unveiled its newest attraction and first wooden roller coaster Friday morning to an overflow crowd, throngs of media and state and county officials who turned out for the ride of their lives.

“It was really thrilling right from the start,” said Yorktown resident Julie Mulherin, 58, who came with her daughter, Rose Yankoski, 23, of Norfolk.

The Viking-themed ride features steel construction supporting 2,118 feet of wooden rack, a 74-foot drop, nine airtime hills, 50-mph speeds and a tunnel. The ride is accessible to adults and children with minimum height requirements just under 4-feet tall.

Friday’s event featured a Viking takeover of InvadR, who continued where Busch Garden park president David Cromwell left off after giving opening remarks.

A bevy of  the costumed sea-fearing pirates, horns and all, stood sentry in front of the ride’s entrance. As reported earlier, fans chose to dub the park’s eighth roller coaster “InvadR,” which received more votes than “Viking Raider” and “Battle Klash.” The lead Viking commanded to the crowd “Do you want to be a Viking?” followed by a raucous cheer from the audience.

What makes Invadr unique to today’s riders is that it merges the best of old and new technology.

A large crowd gathered at Busch Gardens Friday for the launch of the park's first wooden coaster, the InvadR. (Steve Roberts, Jr./WYDaily)
A large crowd gathered at Busch Gardens Friday for the launch of the park’s first wooden coaster, the InvadR. (Steve Roberts, Jr./WYDaily)

“They’re getting a little bit of everything on this ride,” said Clair Hain, Jr.  president of Great Coasters International, who oversaw the construction. “This is a hybrid. It has a steel construction on a wooden track. The younger generations are going to say, ‘This is what grandma and grandpa rode when they were dating.’ This is what it was. This is the classic.”

David Cromwell, president of Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water County USA  said InvadR’s biggest appeal is that it sourced local businesses, including more than 30 trades and contractors to help bring the project to life.

“It’s a repeatable attraction,” Cromwell said. “I think any park needs to invest in its business, any successful theme park need to continually needs to invest.”

Suzy Cheely, director of design and engineering at the park, said what makes InvadR a true local attraction is it harkens back to days of old and brings to the Historic Triangle something it has never had before.

“We don’t have a wooden coaster in the area. It’s kind of a throw back to Coney Island day… everybody loves nostalgia and it’s just one of things that is  just great fun for the family,” Cheely said, who added, the best part of the ride for her is the airtimes.

“I love the airtime,” she said. “There’s nine airtimes hills, so basically  nine times you come out of your seat and you have that weightless feeling. To me that’s awesome. Some people don’t like that. Some people get a little queasy.”

Yankoski who said she has a tendency to experience motion sickness on roller coasters, may not be a huge fan of the weightlessness, but said InvadR didn’t make her feel ill.

“We are park people for sure,” Yankoski said, speaking for both she and her mother.

Juliana Brown, 52, of Yorktown, who came with Yankoski and her mom said she filmed the entire event on Facebook live to share with her husband, who is working overseas. It was a exciting moment for her.

“My husband is in the Middle East working as a contractor for the Air Force,” Brown said. “He watched the whole thing live.”

Steve Roberts, Jr. contributed reporting. 

This story was published in partnership with Southside Daily’s sister publication, WYDaily.com.