Drachen Fire @ Busch Gardens | Defunct Roller Coasters

Defunct Roller Coasters Roller Coaster Reviews

A Look Back at the Legendary Drachen Fire at Busch GardensDrachen Fire - Busch Gardens
Drachen Fire was an infamous roller coaster that lived in the Rhineland, Germany section of Busch Gardens Williamsburg from 1992 to 1998. While it had a short run, it’s easily one of the most well-known defunct coasters in past years. I will relay the background story I’ve seen several times on the coaster enthusiast circuit. I have no way of validating the B&M involvement part of the story. But here’s the folklore of Drachen Fire, the most famous defunct coaster of the past twenty years.

The story began when Busch planned to build two steel looping roller coasters. One was to be built at their African themed park in Tampa, Florida and one at their European-themed park in Williamsburg, Virginia. They had ordered the two coasters from new-comers Bolliger & Mabillard. At the time they were a young company and had not done a sitdown looping coaster. So, they decided to only work on one of the two projects. The result is my all-time favorite coaster Kumba at Busch Gardens Tampa.
Drachen Fire - Busch Gardens
Enter Arrow, the company we can thank for two of the park’s other gems: Loch Ness Monster and Big Bad Wolf. Busch had luck with Arrow on those two installations, so they were hired to finish the Williamsburg coaster. The designs for Drachen Fire were like nothing the veteran builders had done before. With the use of state-of-the-art computer modeling the company said it could deliver the unique steel looper. And so, Drachen Fire was born.

A Dragon Like No Other
Drachen Fire boasted several never-before seen elements. The ride opened with a wrap around corkscrew performed during the initial 145′ drop (pictured above). Next, was the camelback hill designed for airtime. An element with two back-to-back inversions called a cobra roll followed. After exiting the cobra roll, riders hit a short brake run. Right out of the brake run the train dove into a diving corkscrew. Then there was the cutback which was like a corkscrew but riders entered the element the same way that they exited. And finally, there was one last standard corkscrew, and helix and then the ride was over. Drachen Fire’s trains had a sleeker design and lights on the sides which must have looked really cool at night.

Drachen Fire was Too Wild for Public
While enthusiasts drooled at the unprecedented elements, the general public was too busy being pummeled by the roughness to marvel at the ride’s uniqueness. Complaints of head and neck pains (and I would assume low ridership) prompted Busch to take measures to renovate the ride. The diving corkscrew after the brake run (pictured below) was removed in an effort to reduce the punishment the beast was giving riders. The renovation wasn’t enough and in July of 1998 the ride was closed.

Too Late
Unfortunately, by the time I made it to Busch to ride Drachen Fire (I think it was the SummerDrachen Fire - Busch Gardens of 1998) it was in its standing, but not operating phase. I remember viewing those coils of electric blue steel rising from the green landscape of Busch Gardens from atop Loch Ness’ lift. The lifeless wonder was also visible from the park’s steam train route as it passed through Germany. Busch attempted to sell Drachen Fire and many hoped it would be bought and relocated. Unfortunately, no buyers emerged and the ride was scrapped and recycled in the Fall of 2001. Today, the old station is used for storage and the area where it once stood, next to Das Festhaus is closed off.

A Tale of Two Designers: B&M vs. Arrow
The difference between the head-bang-into the over the shoulder restraints ride of an Arrow looper and the distinctively smooth, 99% pain free ride on a B&M looper lies in the location of the center of gravity. B&M designed their coasters with the heart of the riders as the center of gravity while Arrow made the center of the trains their center of gravity. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the demise of Arrow in 1999 and the continued success of B&M, but the proof is in the pudding. Save a few exceptions like Demon at Six Flags Great America, Loch Ness Monster, and a few others, Arrow coasters punish riders while B&M’s are smooth and enjoyable thrill machines.

What’s Your Take?
Anyone get to ride Drachen Fire before its untimely demise? Leave a comment below.

101 Comments

  1. Another rider of it's original form checking in…

    I think that DF is the only defunct coaster on my ride list that I miss…

  2. I know, that was one of the coasters that had the most unique type of inversions. Just the best roller coaster. Does anyone know why they took it down?

  3. "No official reason for closure was given, but some people speculate roughness, maintenance problems, noise, and poor park location were to blame"

    -Joel A. Rogers

    (Or the guy on Coaster Gallery)

  4. well ya i cant disagree with you there they did have it in the worst location that i could think possible. Also neck problems after the ride. It was still a classic and i will remember that

  5. My family and I rode this coster many times and it had the best views around. During the evening you thought you were traveling through the Black Woods of Germany. In 1999 I visited the park with my GF hoping to share the experience with her only to find the path blocked and the coster quiet. Only learning today that BGE melted down this great coster I am truly disappointed. The technology today could have saved this truly special coster.

  6. This ride had some cool inversions that i really wanted to go on. They should have kept this ride cause i really wanted to experience it.

  7. I rode it many times over the years, I remember the cars being extremely uncomfortable, I am a fairly normal sized adult ( 5' 11 – 210 lbs.) and the seats were very tight and the restraint system uncomfortable. The right was a bit jerky , but I enjoyed it.

  8. I rode this only once and liked it although my wife at the time broke her earring during the ride. I don't remember it being all that rough except that one inversion.

  9. I lived in the tidewater area of Virginia and pretty much spent all my summers as a kid at Busch Gardens. I remember riding Drachen fire for the first time I was truly frightened waiting in line. The ride just sounded rough watching from the paths and half of the passengers from each train would be have looks of agony on their faces when the trains pulled back into the station. I will never ever ride a roller coaster this intense again I am sure. I can understand why they closed and melted it down the thing was a lawsuit just waiting to happen.

  10. When i look at pictures of this ride, the first thing i notice is the drop how odd looking it is the inversions lookeed pretty cool and as many reviewers say it was rough so yeah i think that could be a reason they took it down

  11. you now have a little brother to play with, drachen fire.

  12. I rode this early summer of 1993 for a school field trip. It was a rough ride, but one of my favorites. I remember all the snobby girls didn't want to remove their earrings like the attendant told them, and all of them had their ears mashed down so hard the studs drew blood. They were warned. I was very disapointed when I returned in 2001 and Drachen Fire was no longer there. I wish I had gotten a T-shirt or something.

  13. I never got a chance to ride the beast. I was too short until 2000 when it had been closed for a little better than a year. I remember being in the park and seeing them doing test runs in '02 when they considered re-opening the ride. I really think that they made a mistake tearing this ride down. First this and now the Big Bad Wolf. Busch Gardens has lost all appeal to me anymore and I have no intentions to go again.

  14. It would be cool if they hired Vekonama and B&M to remake it using the same type of track but whith the G`s of a B&M.

    • totally agree! let's get a petition going!!
      ~Brendan

  15. Wierd name, Turns out drachens can`t breate fire.

  16. I remember riding DF in 1996, and also they had a coaster there just on a temporary basis, one of those super-jerky spin around types. There's one at Disney's animal kingdom next to dinosaur land. It was a million times worse than Drachen Fire! I can think of two worse coasters for headaches right off the bat- Ninja at SFoverGA and the old Outer Limits at Kings Dominion. Heck, Space Mountain made you feel worse and it's not going anywhere! Best thing about BGW is the theming, I hope they replace BBW with something good, maybe similar to the crypt at King's Island?

    • I agree Rach. Both Ninja and Outer Limits were mentioned on my Top 3 Roughest Steel Coasters list. Is the coaster that you're trying to think of a wild mouse? BGW had one for a while and I'm pretty sure Animal Kingdom has one.

      • Animal Kingdom does have a wild mouse called "Primeval Whirl." There are actually 2 coasters sitting side-by-side, a mirror image of each other.

        • CC, if you go, you should ride it, realy fun.

          • the themeing is realy cheesey though.

  17. I heard that BGW is going to announce a new attraction by the end of the month!

  18. I rode the Demon at Six Flags Great America this summer, and I was turned into a bobblehead! Bobbleheads don't have good lives.

    • so it slammed your head on the restraints.

  19. Ahhh, the Drachen Fire. When I first saw the Drachen Fire, I was a young kid, but I was JUST barely tall enough to ride. My dad, who always would con me into the prospect of a shirt if I rode, finally got me to ride. I remember being absolutely scared crapless at the spector. It was beyond tall for the timeperiod. And the loop in the drop always got me. I remember getting off the ride and DEMANDING my father get back in line again. We rode all day and I got my shirt. I remember the pre cork days and after cork days and I thought it made it worse. My dad did complain off the roughness, but he would always get back in line. You felt as if you were riding a dragon. It was the best ride in the park. The new ones are great and sleek and fast, but the Drachen Fire was legendary. Everytime I think of Busch Gardens, I do not think of the new rides, but NOW the two that are no longer there. The Fire and Big Bad Wolf.

    • you`ve still got nessie.

  20. I remember going on that ride when I was younger. And I remember feeling sick when I got off of it. I didnt like it at although I prefer hills and speed to twists and turns anyday….

Comments are now closed for this post.

Lost Password