Busch Gardens receives height waiver for new attraction

The James City County board of supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a request from Busch Gardens for a height waiver for a proposed, but as yet unidentified, new attraction. 

By a 5-0 vote, supervisors granted the waiver to allow Busch Gardens to construct a lattice-style attraction of up to 315 feet. Any structure over 60 feet needs a waiver from supervisors in order to be built. James City County planning staff recommended approval of the waiver. 

The project, named Busch Gardens Madrid in planning documents, would be built near the Italy area of the amusement park.

The county previously had approved height waivers for several other Busch Gardens attractions, including Verbolten (95 feet), Tempesto (156 feet), Apollo's Chariot, Griffon (210 feet) and Mach Tower (260 feet). 

Busch Gardens this year added a new roller coaster, InvadR, and next year will debut a new virtual reality attraction. 

Supervisor John McGlennon (Roberts District) said he met last week with about a dozen residents of Kingsmill, who live less than four miles from Busch Gardens. He said those attending a meeting there did not express objections about the height waiver. 

Busch Gardens president David Cromwell was the lone speaker during the public hearing on the height waiver. 

"We're excited about the future, and our demonstration of continued investment in our park and in our business, and the role we play in the destination," Cromwell said, "as we work to not only engage our local visitor base with continued investment, but driving more tourism to the destination, which benefits all of our partners - lodging, restaurants and our other attractions."

According to the application, Busch Gardens must obtain permits to build the foundation, footings, or both, for the attraction within three years from the height waiver approval, meaning it has until Aug. 8, 2020 to obtain the permits. 

"We look forward to working closely with staff as we move forward on the next phases of this potential project," Cromwell said prior to the vote.

Supervisor chairman Kevin Onizuk (Jamestown District) noted prior to allowing supervisors to ask questions of Cromwell about the project that business plans for the project must remain confidential. 

No supervisors asked questions.

"This looks like another wonderful attraction to add," McGlennon said. "And I'm happy to support it."

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