Loch Ness Monster (roller coaster)

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Loch Ness Monster
BGE-Loch Ness Monster.jpg
The interlocking vertical loops
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Park section Scotland
Coordinates 37°14′03″N 76°38′46″W / 37.234277°N 76.646°W / 37.234277; -76.646Coordinates: 37°14′03″N 76°38′46″W / 37.234277°N 76.646°W / 37.234277; -76.646
Status Operating
Opening date May 20, 1978
General statistics
Type Steel
Manufacturer Arrow Dynamics
Designer Ron Toomer
Model Custom Looping Coaster
Track layout Terrain
Lift/launch system Two chain lift hills
Height 130 ft (40 m)
Drop 114 ft (35 m)
Length 3,240 ft (990 m)
Speed 60 mph (97 km/h)
Inversions 2
Duration 2:10
Max vertical angle 55°
Capacity 2200 riders per hour
G-force 3.5
Height restriction 48 in (122 cm)
Loch Ness Monster at RCDB
Pictures of Loch Ness Monster at RCDB

The Loch Ness Monster is a steel roller coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, noted at the time of its opening in 1978 as the world's tallest and fastest roller coaster,[1] as well as the first coaster with two interlocking loops.

The Loch Ness [2] remains the only roller coaster with two interlocking loops[3] — other similar designs having been dismantled. In addition to the loops, which link over one of the park's water features, the design includes a helix tunnel, two lift hills and a 114-foot (35 m) drop. The ride sits within the park's Scottish-themed Heatherdown, relates the legend of the Loch Ness monster and suggests the serpent inhabits its underwater caves.

The ride is classified as Coaster Landmark by American Coaster Enthusiasts[4] and marked its 35th anniversary in 2013.


Interlocking loops of the Loch Ness Monster with Griffon on the left.

The ride begins with a pre-recorded welcome, departs the station and ascends a 130-foot (40 m) lift hill with a small, tight turn (with views of Griffon's lift hill and first drop) before descending 114-foot (35 m) to one of the park's water features, the so-called Rhine River. A large upward hill crosses over the park's 'Land of the Dragons', bringing the ride to the first of two interlocking loops, after which the ride accelerates through a descending, spiraling tunnel.

The train descends 2.75 spiraling revolutions before exiting the specially lit tunnel, subsequently ascending its second lift hill, making a wide turn and dropping into the second loop – ascending a last time before stopping. *The lights in the tunnel have not been turned on for years. Many of the current employees aren't even aware that there are lights in the tunnel yet many long time fans of the ride fondly recall them.


Busch Gardens Williamsburg opened in 1975 with one roller coaster, Glissade. In 1976, with the opening of the Oktoberfest portion of the park, two new rollercoasters were added; Das Kätzchen (German for "The Kitten"), a children's coaster, and its adult counterpart, Die Wildkatze.[5] However, neither Glissade nor Die Wildkatze were considered major roller coasters. Then general manager John B. Roberts announced the plans to build an ambitious, major roller coaster for the park for the 1978 season. In his 1978 press release, Roberts boasted highly of the record breaking ride, stating "There has never been anything like it. For openers, it’s the tallest and fastest coaster-style ride with the steepest drop in the world... and the only one with interlocking loops. On top of that, part of it’s in total darkness.”[6]

During construction, a section of track leading from the bottom of the second loop to the brake run before the station was incorrectly formed, bending left, instead of right. Workers heated the track to physically bend it to the correct position, resulting in a sharp bump, which remains perceptible to riders.[3]

The ride was originally designed with four trains with six cars per train. Designers realized that promptly dispatching the trains would be problematic and revised the layout to three trains with seven cars per train. An extra fourth train is usually parked under the ride's main station.[3]

The ride officially opened on May 20, 1978 and due to its popularity and historical significance — as the first coaster with interlocking loops, the tallest and fastest coaster at the time of its construction — the American Coaster Enthusiasts designated the Loch Ness Monster an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark on June 17, 2003.[4]

For decades of its operation, the ride timed two trains to cross at the intersecting loops simultaneously, though this is no longer the case. Safety restraints and the operating system have been upgraded, and the original manually operated station brakes have been upgraded to a computer-controlled system.[3]

For the 15th anniversary of the ride's opening, the parachuting Elvis impersonators known as the "flying Elvi" parachuted into Busch Gardens, subsequently riding the Loch Ness Monster in full costume.[7]


On June 13, 1989, a Loch Ness train collided with a downed tree. Just after two trains had left the station, operators learned of a rapidly approaching storm and began shutting down the ride, unaware of a downed tree crossing the tracks. The front train carried 25 passengers, with five receiving injuries, including a 16-year old who suffered a broken leg.

Riders on the front train feared a collision with the second train approaching from behind, which carried no passengers.[8] The ride's safety systems intervened to prevent a collision.[9] A subsequent $2 million lawsuit claimed a rider suffered internal injuries, the rider ultimately receiving $250,000.[10]

In June 1992, two riders claimed the special misting water effect at ride's tunnel entrance was caustic and temporarily blinding — causing emotional distress. A park public relations manager testified the mist sprayed only water – and had been subsequently removed, independent of the suit, for unknown reason.[10]


  1. ^ RCDB list of roller coasters by height
  2. ^ RCDB listing for Loch Ness Monster
  3. ^ a b c d McKinnis, Rob. "The Loch Ness Monster Finally Sighted". Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Gillooly, Howard. "ACE Loch Ness Monster Historic Landmark". ACE Coaster Landmarks. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  5. ^ Marden, Duane. "Busch Gardens Williamsburg". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  6. ^ Roberts, John. "Loch Ness Monster Finally Sighted" (PDF). Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  7. ^ "Elvi Sighted at Busch Celebration.". The Freelance Star. The Associated Press. August 5, 1993. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  8. ^ Crocker, Dannie (June 14, 1989). "Loch Ness Monster Hits Tree". Daily Press. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  9. ^ Crocker, Ronnie (June 15, 1989). "Loch Ness Monster's Thrills Back on Track". The Daily Press. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  10. ^ a b Duan, Mary (June 20, 1993). "Pair Sues Busch over Loch Ness "Mist"". The Daily Press. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Shock Wave
World's Tallest Complete Circuit Roller Coaster
June 1978–1983
Succeeded by
Dragon Mountain