Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been on a tear as of late, opening new attractions in each of the last few seasons. These include InvadR, the park’s first wooden coaster, in 2017, and Battle for Eire, the world’s first Virtual Reality Motion Simulator attraction in 2018. 2019 has proven to be no different, with the addition of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s newest attraction: Finnegan’s Flyer, a “Screamin’ Swing” from S&S Worldwide.
Like Battle for Eire in 2018, Finnegan’s Flyer calls Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s “Ireland” village home, and is located just inside the Kilarney Village “gate,” adjacent to the bridge between Scotland and Ireland, above the Rhine River that meanders through the park.
The attraction takes 32 riders to staggering heights of more than 80 feet, with speeds reaching 45 mph. The two pendulum-like arms fly progressively higher over the park with each swing, providing incredible aerial views of the park. The dueling arms swing back-and-forth, the ground plummeting into view with each swing.
For Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Park President Kevin Lembke, adding an S&S Screamin’ Swing was a way to diversify the park’s ride line-up, while also improving their flat ride portfolio.
“We’ve actually gotten the guest feedback and we realize as a park that more flat rides is a good thing for us. It helps to continue to diversify,” he said. “Our coasters and shows are fantastic, but it continues to build our flat ride portfolio, which is a great thing. The Screamin’ Swing has the reputation as one of the best flat rides in the industry, but again what’s so unique about Finnegan’s Flyer is the setting, the beauty of it, the swinging out over the water isn’t something you’re just going to see in other places. It’s taking a great ride, putting it in a setting no one else can offer, and that’s what’s going to make it such a wonderful attraction.”
As for why the park went with a Screamin’ Swing instead of another flat ride? It all came down to reputation and ride experience.
“I think a lot of it had to do with the reputation of the ride,” Lembke continued. “We wanted to make sure it was a fantastic ride experience. For this attraction, we weren’t really exploring prototypical things. We were looking for a proven winner. As you know, sometimes, we’re going to break the mold, and other times, we want a guaranteed win. It depends on the need. That’s what this offered, a guaranteed fantastic ride experience from a proven vendor, and what you’re seeing is the result, and we’re thrilled about it.”
As for that ride experience, I can safely say, it’s a FUN one. Over the course of the ride cycle, which lasts slightly longer than a minute, I found myself laughing multiple times, as the above and below videos show. The ride is incredibly smooth, and the positive and negative G-forces are great without being overwhelming!
With a ride like Finnegan’s Flyer, your experience may vary, depending on which side of the attraction you’re sitting on. The ride is oriented in a way so that the seats are either facing Scotland and the Horse & Sheep habitats, or Ireland and the Abbey Stone theater. If you’re facing Ireland, you have the added thrill of looking straight down approximately 100′ at the Rhine River below you. If you’re facing Scotland, you won’t be looking down at the water, but the “queue house” will come at you fast!
For Lembke, picking a favorite side to ride was impossible.
“I think everyone will assume that the best place to ride would be to be face down facing the water, which I don’t disagree with,” he said. “I think that what you’re going to see is also coming down over the queue house is a really cool experience. You’re coming really, really close to the building. I’m not just saying this just to hype it up, but I do think that both sides offer a unique experience, and you can’t go wrong either way.”
While Finnegan’s Flyer opening is certainly a momentous occasion, it’s not the only major event happening at Busch Gardens Williamsburg this month.
“We have the opening of Finnegan’s Flyer today, and we’ll be announcing the opening of Cutback Water Coaster in the next few days,” Lembke said. “I’ve ridden it. It’s fantastic, it’s on time, and we’re looking to open it with Water Country USA. In two weeks, we have the Food & Wine Festival, which opens a week earlier than usual this year. We have multiple new offerings. Philippines, multiple new Italian offerings, and Mexico, which is a new offering this year. We’re bringing back some of the old favorites, but a lot of new things to try as well. There’s a ton of great reasons to visit the park this month!”
A few photos from the Opening Ceremony of Finnegan’s Flyer:
The ribbon for Finnegan’s Flyer, ready to be cut.
The Park’s Irish Musicians were warming up the crowd, and were quite good!
This Leprechaun cracked me up!
The Mayor of Ireland, kicking off the proceedings, and introducing Busch Gardens Park President, Kevin Lembke.
Kevin spoke from atop the castle spires of the Ireland entrance.
The Ribbon was cut, and it was time to ride!