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 located in Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Designed by Ron Toomer of Arrow Dynamics, the Loch Ness Monster was the world's tallest roller coaster when it opened in 1978.[1] It was also the first coaster to contain interlocking loops.[2] Though several other coasters were built with interlocking loops, they have since been dismantled, and The Loch Ness Monster is the only roller coaster in the world which has still has interlocking loops.[3] In 2013, the ride celebrated its 35th anniversary.

The ride, located in the Scottish-themed area of the park, also features a helix tunnel, two lift hills and a 114-foot (35 m) drop. It is classified as an American Coaster Enthusiasts Coaster Landmark.[4]


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

As the train starts to move, a voice recording says, "Thank you, and enjoy your ride on the legendary Loch Ness Monster!" After departing from the station, the train reaches the 130-foot (40 m) lift hill with a small and tight turn (with views of Apollo's Chariot's lift hill and first drop) bringing it to a 114-foot (35 m) drop towards the park's Rhine River below. A large upward hill crosses over the park's 'Land of the Dragons' and trim brakes bring riders to the first of the two interlocking loops. After the loop, the train makes a turn to a block brake, which then leads into a covered tunnel/helix.

Inside the tunnel, the train makes 2.75 circular turns before coming to the end of the tunnel. The tunnel has had various lights and special effects over the years, including a light-up picture of the cartoon Loch Ness Monster, and now has one strobe that goes off at about the beginning of the second revolution. The on-ride photo was once taken inside the tunnel, but has since been changed to a position after the second loop. As the train exits the tunnel at the end of the helix, a small brake run slows the train to ascend a smaller second lift hill. The train makes a wide turn after the lift and drops downward into the second loop. It then goes uphill again before being brought to a stop by the final brake.


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. What we have done is engineer together in one ride the best elements of certain existing rides, plus some new features, to create the ultimate thrill experience.”[6]

During construction, an error was made in the fabrication of one section of track. The section of track which leads from the bottom of the second loop to the brake run before the station was bent facing the wrong way (left, instead of right). Construction workers heated the track to physically bend it to the correct position, which caused a sharp bump riders still experience when riding today.[3]

Another mid-construction change was in the number of trains, and the number of cars per train. The ride was originally intended to have four trains with six cars per train. It was realized that dispatching the trains in time would be problematic, so the layout was switched to three trains with seven cars per train. Today, there is still a forth train which is housed under the ride's main station, which can be switched onto the track if necessary.[3]

The ride officially opened on May 20, 1978 to rave reviews, and remains a crowd favorite to this day. Due to its popularity and historical significance (not only for being the first coaster with interlocking loops, but also being the tallest and fastest coaster at the time of its construction), the American Coaster Enthusiasts made the Loch Ness Monster an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark on June 17, 2003.[4]

The ride has undergone some modification since it first opened. For decades, the ride was able to send two trains through the two different loops at the same time, though this is no longer possible. The safety restraints have been upgraded, as has the operation system. When first built, the station brakes were operated manually, though they have now been replaced with a modern computer system.[3]

For the 15th anniversary of the rides' opening, the parachuting Elvis impersonators known as the "flying Elvi" from the ending of the 1992 movie Honeymoon in Vegas parachuted into Busch Gardens, then rode the Loch Ness Monster in full costume.[7]


The ride is themed to the legendary Sea Serpent of the same name. The ride's cave is also themed to a story about that the beast would hide in these underwater caves. The two inter-locking loops are over water.


On June 13, 1989, a train collided with a downed tree just after the second lift hill. The ride along with other rides in the park had been ordered to shut down for approaching inclement weather, but not until after the train in question left the station. There were 25 passengers on the train at the time of the accident. Of them, only five were sent to the hospital, and only two were seriously injured. One of the seriously injured was a 16 year old in the first row, who suffered a broken leg. The train involved in the accident was the last loaded train dispatched, as the ride operators were planning for the severe weather, though they did not know of the downed tree. The train behind the one involved in the incident was also on the course already at the time of the accident, though empty. Riders on the loaded train could see the empty train, and feared a collision. However, the ride's Block Safety System functioned properly, and prevented the empty train from leaving the second lift hill when it read the train in front of it had not safely cleared the block.[8][9] A lawsuit was later filed demanding $2,000,000 dollars in damages for Stephanie Cahoon of Chesapeake, Virginia, who claimed to have suffered internal injuries during the accident. Cahoon was eventually awarded $250,000 for the accident.[10]

On June 14, 1992, a pair of riders claimed that the water mist special effect at the entrance to the ride's tunnel was actually a caustic chemical, which temporarily blinded them and caused them emotional distress. According to the 1993 lawsuit, the park negligently spray Carol Sumner and Bryan Jacobs with a caustic chemical while on the ride causing them "great pain of body and mind," and "extreme humiliation." Park PR general manager Cindy Sarko made a statement that the "mist" feature on the Loch Ness Monster sprayed only water. Sarko also stated that the mist effect had been removed independent of the suit, though for reasons she was not sure of.[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