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Griffon (roller coaster)

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Griffon First Drop.jpg
Griffon's lift hill and vertical drop
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Park section Aquitaine (France)
Coordinates 37°14′4″N 76°38′51″W / 37.23444°N 76.64750°W / 37.23444; -76.64750Coordinates: 37°14′4″N 76°38′51″W / 37.23444°N 76.64750°W / 37.23444; -76.64750
Status Operating
Opening date May 18, 2007
Cost $15,600,000 USD
Replaced LeMans Raceway
General statistics
Type Steel – Dive Coaster
Manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard
Model Dive Coaster
Track layout Twister
Lift/launch system Chain lift
Height 205 ft (62 m)
Length 3,108 ft (947 m)
Speed 71 mph (114 km/h)
Inversions 2
Duration 3:00
Max vertical angle 90°
Capacity 1,400 riders per hour
G-force 4
Height restriction 54 in (137 cm)
Trains 3 trains with 3 cars. Riders are arranged 10 across in a single row for a total of 30 riders per train.
Quick Queue available
Single rider line available
Griffon at RCDB
Pictures of Griffon at RCDB

Griffon is a steel Dive Coaster roller coaster located at the Busch Gardens Williamsburg amusement park in James City County, Virginia, United States. Designed by Bolliger & Mabillard, it is 205 feet (62 m) high, and is the fastest (71 miles per hour (114 km/h)) Dive Coaster built to date. The roller coaster features two Immelmann loops, a splashdown, two vertical drops and was the first of its kind to use floorless trains. Griffon was announced to the public on August 23, 2006 and opened on May 18, 2007 to positive reviews by both newspapers and enthusiasts. In 2007, Amusement Today‍ '​s annual Golden Ticket Awards voted it the third-best new steel roller coaster of that year and the 27th-best steel roller coaster. It was voted the 33rd-best steel roller coaster in 2013.


On June 30, 2006, Busch Gardens Wiliamsburg announced that LeMans Raceway would be closing to the public on July 5, 2006 in order to make room to next year's new attraction.[1][2] Construction for Griffon began the next day with the demolishing of the raceway.[2][3] A trademark for the name "Griffon" was filed by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment on July 12, 2006.[4] The roller coaster was announced to the public on August 23, 2006.[3] On December 11, 2006, two cranes installed the highest piece of Griffon with an evergreen tree.[5] The vertical drop and immelmann loop were completed in January 2007 and the final piece of track was installed in late February.[6] After testing was complete, the roller coaster opened on May 18, 2007; one week earlier than its original scheduled opening date.[6][7]

When Griffon opened it 2007, it held the records for the tallest, and fastest Dive Coaster in the world; both which were previously held by SheiKra at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.[8][9] Griffon was also the first Dive Coaster to feature floorless trains and is the only roller coaster of its kind to have more than one inversion.[3][10] In 2009, Diving Coaster opened Happy Valley Shanghai, it took the height record standing at 213.3 feet (65.0 m).[11]

Ride experience[edit]

One of Griffon's trains passing through the splashdown element

After the floors drop and the front gate opens, the train is dispatched from the station and makes a downward right turn immediately followed by an upward right turn which leads directly to 45-degree inclined chain lift hill.[12] Once the train reaches the top of the 205-foot (62 m) lift, it makes a right turn into a holding brake where the train slowly moves over the first drop, stops for a few seconds, and then is released down the 90 degree drop. By the time the train makes it to the bottom of the drop, it reaches its maximum speed of 71 miles per hour (114 km/h). Then, the train enters an immelmann loop before dropping back to the ground and making a banked upward left turn into the mid course brake run. After the train slows down, it enters a second 130-foot (40 m) 90 degree drop into another immelmann loop. Following a small airtime hill, the train goes through a splashdown which sprays two 50-foot (15 m) lines of water in the air.[13] Finally, the train makes a banked turn to the left leading into the final brake run.[14] One cycle of the ride lasts about three minutes.[15]



The steel track of Griffon is 3,108 feet (947 m) long and the lift is approximately 205 feet (62 m) high.[15] The ride is equipped with an elevator that can return riders to ground level if a train must be evacuated while on the lift hill.[12][16] Both the track and supports are blue; however, the track uses a darker shade.[17] The track was fabricated by Clermont Steel Fabricators in Batavia, Ohio, which manufactures Bolliger & Mabillard's roller coasters.[18][19]


Griffon operates with three steel and fiberglass trains, colored red, yellow, and black.[7][17] Each train has three rows that seat ten riders across for a total of 30 riders per train; each seat has its own individual over-the-shoulder restraint with a seatbelt.[7][15][17] This configuration allows the ride to achieve a theoretical hourly capacity of 1,400 riders per hour.[15] Unlike traditional roller coasters, Griffon has no floor on its trains. Riders also experience up to 4 times the force of gravity.[15]


Preston Wong from Hampton Roads said, "[The floorless trains] giv[e] riders a sense of vulnerability and, for those in the front row, an idea of what it must feel like to fly" and that enthusiasts would like the ride.[20] Nicole Paitsel, Lisa Deaderick, and Joe Atkinson from Daily Press each rated the roller coaster for its vomiting and scream factors. Nicole and Lisa rated the vomiting factor a one (out of five) for the roller coaster's smoothness; Joe gave a four as he began feeling ill after his second ride. For the scream factor Nicole gave a five, Lisa gave a ten, and Joe gave a four.[21] Mike from NewsPlusNotes praised the first drop for its freefall experience.[22]

In Griffon's opening year, it was voted the third best new ride for 2007 and the 27th best steel roller coaster in Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards.[23] The roller coaster peaked at position 19 in 2010 when it tied with SheiKra, another Dive Coaster.[24]

Golden Ticket Awards: Best New Ride for 2007
Golden Ticket Awards: Top steel Roller Coasters
Year 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Ranking 27[23] 20[25] 26[26] 19[24] 20[27] 26[28] 33[29]

In Mitch Hawker's Best Steel Roller Coaster Poll, Griffon was voted as the 13th best steel roller coaster in the world in its first year; its highest position in the poll to date.

Mitch Hawker's Best Roller Coaster Poll: Best steel-Tracked Roller Coaster[30]
Year 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Ranking 13 21 27 26 No poll 47 50

Griffon has also made several television appearances. It was featured on Discovery Channel's television series Build It Bigger[31] and Travel Channel's television series' Bert the Conqueror and Insane Coaster Wars: World Domination.[32][33]


On August 5, 2010, five riders who sustained minor injuries were sent to a hospital after being hit with a 25-foot (7.6 m) balloon while riding the roller coaster. The balloon was in the process of being deflated when it broke free and was carried into Griffon's path due to strong winds.[34]


  1. ^ Gieszl, Eric (June 30, 2006). "Busch Gardens To Close Le Mans Raceway July 5". Ultimate Rollercoaster. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Vowell, Roberta (July 5, 2006). "Cars take their last lap at Busch Gardens' Le Mans Raceway". Pilot Online/Hampton Roads. Archived from the original on August 6, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Marden, Duane. "Busch Gardens Europe Goes Over the Edge with "Griffon"". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Griffon". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ Marden, Duane. "It's all downhill from here, literally". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Marden, Duane. "Busch Gardens Europe's Dive Coaster Reaches New Milestone". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Zielinski, Danielle (March 21, 2007). "Coaster opens May 25". Daily Press (Virginia). Archived from the original on August 10, 2011. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  8. ^ Marden, Duane. "Bolliger & Mabillard Coaster's By Speed". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  9. ^ Marden, Duane. "Bolliger & Mabillard Coaster's By Height". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  10. ^ Marden, Duane. "Dive Coasters By Bolliger & Mabillard". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  11. ^ Marden, Duane. "Diving Coaster  (Happy Valley Shanghai)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Vogel, Scott (July 22, 2009). "A Coaster Tour That's a Real Scream". Washington Post. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Images: Start-to-finish". Daily Press (Virginia). Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Griffon Front Row Seat on-ride HD POV Busch Gardens Williamsburg". YouTube. January 2, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Marden, Duane. "Griffon  (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  16. ^ Albright, Mark (August 14, 2005). "King of the thill". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on May 16, 2006. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c Marden, Duane. "Griffon Photos  (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  18. ^ Scott & Carol (December 11, 2008). "Scott & Carol Present: Getting On Track With B&M". NewsPlusNotes. Retrieved July 23, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Typical Clermont Steel Fabricators". Clermont Steel Fabricators. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  20. ^ Wong, Preston (May 20, 2007). "757: Griffon is a short ride, but a pure adrenaline rush". Hampton Roads. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  21. ^ Paitsel, Nicole (May 27, 2013). "90 seconds of fear & fun". Daily Press. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  22. ^ "A Whirlwind Trip to 'The Gardens' Part 1". NewsPlusNotes. August 7, 2009. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  23. ^ a b c "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 11 (6.2): 36–37. September 2007. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  24. ^ a b "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 14 (6.2): 34–35. September 2010. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 12 (6.2): 36–37. September 2008. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 13 (6.2): 32–33. September 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 15 (6.2): 38–39. September 2011. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 16 (6.2): 36–37. September 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  29. ^ "2013 Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 17 (6.2): 34–35. September 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  30. ^ Hawker, Mitch. "Steel Roller Coaster Poll 13 Year Results Table (1999–2013)". Best Roller Coaster Poll. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Build It Bigger Coaster Build Off – Part 1". Sam Purse/YouTube. April 25, 2009. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Bert The Conqueror Series 2". Travel Channel. Archived from the original on June 1, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Insane Coaster Wars: World Domination Pictures". Travel Channel. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Griffon riders injured at Busch Gardens during Thursday's storm". WTKR. August 6, 2010. Archived from the original on March 8, 2012. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 

External links[edit]