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The Loch Ness Monster Finally Sighted

August 4, 2010

 That was the headline back in 1978 when The Loch Ness Monster first opened.  At the time, John B. Roberts, General Manager of The Old Country, stated, “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.”

It is truly amazing how The Loch Ness Monster, dwarfed by its coaster counterparts today, was once the epitome of technology, speed and thrill.  Don’t get me wrong, she is still an awesome ride that has thrilled guests for years.  It just helps show some of the remarkable changes and improvements in technology over the years.

Riders love the unique feeling they get when riding the legendary coaster.  This is due, in large part, to the design and technology used back in the 1970s.  The Loch Ness Monster was the first and is the only remaining coaster with interlocking loops. Also, the train runs on the inside of the rails, compared to modern coasters, which run on the outside.  This gives the sensation of a ‘looser’ ride and adds to the thrill.

The construction took months, as engineers welded sections of track together, totaling 3,240 feet.  As the team worked their way around the track, following the direction of travel, they noticed a big problem.  The last section of track, leading from the second loop to the station, was curved the wrong way (toward what is today, Alpengeist).  Engineers had to heat up the track and bend it back in the right direction.  If you ride the coaster today, you may feel a very slight jolt to the right.  This is where the track was corrected. 

In the 1970’s engineers used slide rules, mapped the layout of the ride by walking the proposed ride area, and cut/welded the track by hand.  Today’s modern thrill machines are designed and constructed using the most sophisticated technology.  Roller coasters are now designed by computer, the track is cut by laser and shipped in sections, and the track is bolted together instead of welded.  This technology offers better accuracy and a smoother ride for the guests.

The Loch Ness Monster opened to rave reviews, but has undergone numerous changes throughout the years.  The manufacturer planned to operate the ride with 4 trains, each with 6 coaches, but realized there would not be enough time to dispatch the trains.  Instead, the ride was modified to 3 trains with 7 coaches each.  There is still the body of a 4th train underneath the ride, that can be switched with another train if necessary. 

In my opinion, one of the most interesting history points of The Loch Ness Monster was that the operators used to manually stop the train in the station.  If for some reason an employee did not stop the train in time, the train would have to go all the way around again. That gave some lucky guests two rides in a row on the famous Nessie.

Original press release from the ride’s opening in 1978.

Feel free to share your memories about The Loch Ness Monster.  She is one fantastic ride that is still a favorite today.  Stay tuned for more park history. 

Park Operations Manager for Busch Gardens

23 Comments leave one →
  1. Donna Lewis McKinney permalink
    August 4, 2010 11:10 am

    Loch Ness has always been my favorite – smooth, exciting, and those loops!!!

  2. Michael lung permalink
    August 4, 2010 11:25 am

    I love the loch ness monster!I’ve never noticed a jolt,maybe it’s because I always know where I’m going in the front seat.I just dont understand why everyone decides to scream in the tunnel instead of the drop.

  3. August 4, 2010 11:28 am

    Great post. We love it when you post history.

    Sadly, my favorite part of the ride is gone. I can remember when I was younger the feeling of hitting the mid-course brake run and then slowly diving into the fog covered lair of the Loch Ness Monster. Then, as we turn, we begin to gain speed until suddenly there she is. Upon spotting her, we immediately dart from the cave and up onto the second lift. Today, this part of the ride is boring and uneventful. It is quite sad actually.

    • Vincent Waterfield permalink
      August 4, 2010 1:02 pm

      I do agree with you on the cave. I remember they use to have it foggy going in and coming out. And there was I think a strobe light or something in there too, and you did get to see nessy right before you shot out of the cave.

      I wish they would bring back some of the good things they use to do. This is one, and also the old pizza formula use to be the best ever. NO ONE in the world had as good pizza as they did. I would pay anything to have that again.

  4. Kristen Eby permalink
    August 4, 2010 11:39 am

    she is still one of my favorite rides in the park! I’m hoping to get there next summer with my DH and 3&5yo to ride her yet again! Love you Nessie

  5. Norah permalink
    August 4, 2010 11:54 am

    Smooth? You must have not rode it in years? I also love Loch Ness, It was my first roller coaster. I was about 8 years old. We had “EuroSplash” cards! I cried the whole time I was in line. I was so scared to get on it. Then by the next we were all riding alpengeist together.

  6. August 4, 2010 12:08 pm

    I remember my husband and son and I went to Busch (we are locals) the weekend Loch Ness opened…there were men there in quilts, playing the bagpipes. I’d never ridden a big roller coaster like this ever before, and I was scared to death! The first time I rode it it was worse than I thought it would be. So, I rode it again. I began loving riding Nessie, and rode it the entire year we were members at Busch Gardens. I have an old 3 mm movie of my husband and son riding the ride together, and my little boy getting off the ride, shaking his head from side to side saying how fun it was….a wonderful summer with wonderful memories!

  7. Jordan Ford permalink
    August 4, 2010 12:20 pm

    I wish the effects inside the cave were back on! That was so amazing and cool!

  8. David Berbert permalink
    August 4, 2010 12:23 pm

    Our family still loves the Loch Ness Monster, it is usually the first stop of the day at the park. I just wish the special effects in the cave would be restored to working order.

  9. Robin permalink
    August 4, 2010 12:27 pm

    No matter what anybody says…
    Nessie is only a year older than me, and I’ve been riding it since I was 5 years old. TO THIS DAY…it’s still my favoritest (is that really a word) coaster in the whole world! LOVE IT, LOVE IT! And it will be a sad day when Nessie must retire. They got rid of the Wolf, I figure since Nessie the only original remaining coaster, she’s next 😦

    Great times!!!

  10. Emily permalink
    August 4, 2010 1:06 pm

    Ah yes… My beloved Nessie. You were my first big coaster back in the mid 80s. I have been riding your distinctive trains for so many years. I remember when my shoulders just barely made it to the harness. You are the first stop at BGW and always will be. Thanks for the interesting article and pics!

  11. August 4, 2010 1:24 pm

    I love the photo of the Loch Ness being built! I can only imagine the photo library that the park must have! Nessie was my very first coaster and will always stand the test of time. The first hill still packs a punch and the ride will always hold a special place in my heart.

    Thanks for sharing the story Rob. Feel free to post more construction photos anytime. It is like seeing memories being built from the ground up!

  12. Teresa permalink
    August 4, 2010 1:34 pm

    I love this coaster!!! It has everything! A trip to Busch isn’t complete without a ride on the Loch Ness Monster. Fabulous!!

  13. Danielle permalink
    August 4, 2010 1:52 pm

    I’ll be the next to agree… Nessie’s cave effects should come back. The lights and mist really added to that part of the ride. She’s an old girl, but she’ll always be my favorite. You don’t get the same kind of ride from the new-fangled coasters coming out these days like you do on her, and that’s what makes her the most fun. If you’ve ever ridden other Arrow loopers, you’d appreciate just how smooth her ride is for the type of coaster she is, and that’s thanks to her great design coupled with BGW’s amazing maintenance. I can’t imagine BGW has plans to remove her any time soon. With all the updating they just did and her position in the park (physically and historically), she wouldn’t be an easy loss.

  14. Joshua permalink
    August 4, 2010 5:44 pm

    Lochness is a great coaster and 1st of its kind. Still a Great ride after all these years.

  15. Jill permalink
    August 4, 2010 11:43 pm

    I’ve been asking about the lights in Nessie’s Lair for years but sadly the young men and women who work as attendants don’t know of what I speak. It seems that the Giant Nessie in the lair burned out 10 yrs or so ago and and no one has bothered to fix it. :o(

    Perhaps our Beloved Nessie needs a face lift and Make-over rather than being replaced for anything new since she still remains a park and visitor favorite. Wouldn’t her cars look really awesome if they were painted with Dragon scales instead of the flat green with yellow and orange stripes? And honestly, what girl doesn’t appreciate a new wardrobe…lol

    BGW, please take a page out of Disney’s book with Black light effects like they use inside their Aerosmith Rock’N Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios, Orlando to bring Nessie back from the darkness of her lair. She’s a good old girl who deserves to continue thrilling park guests for generations to come. She is now the only coaster some of your shorter/younger guests can ride and for many it has been their First coaster memory.

    • David Berbert permalink
      August 5, 2010 9:51 pm

      Jill, I know know what you mean and how you feel. Nessie deserves better treatment and should be restored to previous standards. Unfortunately, I’m not sure ownership is necessarily concerned with memories, younger guests first rides, etc. Big Bad Wolf was truly a family coaster (and my now 14 year old daughters first “real” coaster) as the height requirement was even less than Nessie. Even as late as last year, the line for BBW was often the longest coaster line in the park. That did not stop the Wolf from being removed, ostensibly because of maintenance cost. We still love Busch Gardens but the loss of the BBW and lack of attention to other details(like Nessie and some of the special effects in Pompeii) and the obviously rushed debut of Europe In the Air, leads me to believe that ownership is not terribly concerned with things like tradition. I hope I am wrong and something “amazing” will prove me wrong and show up where the Wolf used to be, but I doubt it.

      • James permalink
        August 6, 2010 12:35 pm

        BBW is understandable due to maintenance costs. Arrow Dynamics went under, and BBW is was unique, they couldn’t order parts from elsewhere.

        I agree, both Loch Ness Monster and Escape from Pompeii need to have their special effects refurbished. The indoor portions of both rides are not as good as they used to be.

  16. August 22, 2010 11:07 pm

    Loch Ness Monster is my favorite, thanks for telling history and post pics.

  17. Stacy permalink
    September 1, 2010 1:25 pm

    LochNess is and has been my favorite coaster since my dad first took me on the ride in the late 80’s. It’s our first stop upon entering the park and our last stop before leaving.

  18. Meghan Sager permalink
    October 16, 2010 11:57 pm

    Hi – I heard today that the Loch Ness was shutting down – is this true?!?


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