The Legend Lives On: Busch Gardens Williamsburg Opens Revamped Loch Ness Monster

Last October, Busch Gardens Williamsburg announced a temporary closure for the park’s iconic Loch Ness Monster roller coaster, noting a “full restoration” would take place through the winter of 2023 and spring of 2024, with the end goal of breathing new life into the 46-year-old steel roller coaster. After a long winter’s nap, the coaster has reopened, and it’s clear that Busch Gardens Williamsburg has made huge strides in restoring “Nessie” to its former glory, ensuring that the legend will continue to live on for future generations.

During a recent trip to the park, we were able to take in all of the changes that have taken place in the past few months on Loch Ness Monster, beginning with the queue experience, scenic additions to the ride and its signature “cave” helix, and even some changes to the track itself!

The Queue

For many years, the main queue for Loch Ness Monster was fairly forgettable. With this new reimagining, the backstory for the Loch Ness Monster is strongly established, beginning under the ride’s entrance sign.

Outside of the attraction, you’ll come across a “bite diameter” drawing that features an overhead sketch of the train – now considered “Lake Cruisers” through the story of the ride.

The entrance to the queue has also received some refreshing, establishing the attraction story as a “Loch Ness Expedition,” which is further evidenced once entering the main queue building. Where there were once just simple switchbacks inside of a nondescript building, Busch Gardens has added a lot of details of the Loch Ness Expedition inside glass cases on the walls.

I’m not sure of the creative force behind a lot of these illustrations, photos, and posters throughout the queue, but it’s clear that the park is appealing to longtime fans of the park by including a number of “Easter Eggs” throughout the artwork on display.

There are references to former attractions like Questor and Big Bad Wolf, the park’s former “Old Country” moniker, and even a nod to Jeff Hornick, United Parks & Resorts’ VP of Attraction Design & Development. You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled, because we won’t spoil all of the references for you!

As you turn the corner, the park has created an explorer’s desk that maps out various Loch Ness Expeditions.


On one wall, there are roller coaster blueprints that are designed as a boat launch, and the aforementioned “Lake Cruiser” advertisements. (I would honestly consider buying a poster version of this “Lake Cruiser” advertisement!) – it’s a clever way to repurpose the trains!

In the coaster’s station, there have been dozens of nautical props added to the ceilings, further hammering home that this is no longer just a roller coaster – but instead a Loch Ness expedition!

Take a tour through the Loch Ness Monster queue in the video below!

The Ride Experience

For more than 45 years, especially in recent times, Loch Ness Monster didn’t really tell a story. Sure, when it opened in 1978, it was the tallest and steepest, along with being the only roller coaster in the world that featured two interlocking inversions. There was a little bit of theming in queue, and allegedly a long faded mural in the Loch Ness Monster’s cave.

Now, the ride tells more of a full story. As the ride leaves the station toward the lift hill, there is a new show scene, complete with a ride vehicle with bite marks on the front, similar to the illustration at the front of the queue. There is train triggered audio as part of this show scene that explains more about the Loch Ness Expedition. There is also new audio on the lift hill that explains more of the story.

After you pass through the first loop and head into the Loch Ness Monster’s cave, there is all-new lighting and sound effects, along with LED screens that show the monster in action. While we rode during the day, it’s clear that these effects will be amplified at night, and will further disorient riders in the helix.

As part of the ride’s final loop, you finally come face-to-face with the Loch Ness Monster himself on the right side of the train. This new sculpture is “larger than life” and feels like it is much closer than it probably is to the train. It also roars as the train passes!

While the Rhine River bridge between Scotland and Land of the Dragons was closed due to construction when we were at the park, it meant that our best photos of the Loch Ness Monster were blurry and from a distance – which, when you really think about it, is how the Loch Ness Monster is most frequently observed. But this sculpture/statue/whatever you want to call it is super impressive in person, and well worth a walk down to Grimm’s Landing to see up close and in person.

The ride ends with one final “show” scene that simply is a covering of the ride’s brake run – a new “Loch Ness Expeditions” tent before coming back into the station.

The Coaster Experience

While it’s tough to document a ride experience via text, it’s very important to note that during this past off-season, more than 900′ of track (more than 25% of the linear track) was replaced by Premier Rides this off-season. Based on my recollection – which had been a few years since I last rode Loch Ness Monster — the ride is noticeably smoother, and is among the smoothest Arrow Dynamics coasters I’ve ridden in recent memory.

In a world where we’re seeing more and more Arrow coasters reach the end of their lifespan and get removed, it says a lot about Busch Gardens Williamsburg that the park was willing to improve and enhance their classic coaster experience than remove an iconic coaster entirely. It’s great service to the park’s passionate fanbase to have refreshed the Loch Ness Monster so that future generations can continue to experience this attraction.

If you want to take a ride with us on Loch Ness Monster, check out the video below!

Our Final Thoughts

I’ve been visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg for the better part of 20 years, and especially in recent years, Loch Ness Monster was an attraction that more often than not, I’d skip. It was a coaster that I’d ridden dozens of times, and to be honest, had gotten a little rough for my liking. However, I think going forward, Loch Ness Monster will hop back into my coaster rotation at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

The “TLC” provided to Loch Ness Monster this off-season on all accounts – theming, story, and the coaster itself, has it running better than ever, and has created an all-new story for future generations of Busch Gardens Williamsburg guests to experience. With Loch Ness Monster being first “big” coaster for a lot of people, it’s clear that “The Legend Lives On” is more than just a creative tagline for the ride – and feels more like a mission statement for this newly-renovated ride experience, and we’re incredibly excited that Busch Gardens Williamsburg has put forth its best possible effort to create a roller coaster that, 46 years after its initial opening, lives up to the high standards it set when it opened.

For more information about Loch Ness Monster, be sure to head to Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s website and follow the park on social media: Facebook | Twitter/X | Instagram.