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Pantheon: Busch Gardens unveils new high-thrill roller coaster

Busch Gardens announced a new world-class roller coaster currently being built in Festa Italia called Pantheon.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — If you've ridden on Apollo's Chariot during a recent visit to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, you may have noticed during your first climb up the roller coaster that there's some construction activity going on down below, next to the park's Festa Italia section.

What you're seeing is the beginnings of what had previously been dubbed "Project 2020" or just "MMXX." 

Park officials finally introduced the new ride on Tuesday that's called Pantheon and detailed what they have in the works for next year.

There had been much speculation on the new attraction, with roller coaster enthusiasts hoping for a new high-intensity, multi-launch coaster. 

Tuesday's announcement confirmed that is exactly what we're getting.

Officials say Pantheon will open in the Spring of 2020 and will feature a 178-foot drop, two inversions, and four launches. It will supposedly be North America's fastest multi-launch roller coaster when it officially opens next year.

Busch Gardens had been teasing Pantheon for weeks on social media, with several clues involving Roman gods, including Pluto, Mercury, Neptune, Minerva, and of course, the king of all Roman gods, Jupiter.

Amusement park enthusiast website Busch Gardens Fans recently posted a photo on Instagram showing concrete footers taking shape at the site.

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"Pantheon is going to be non-stop action for riders.  We’ve designed it so that the experience is changing all the time and will keep riders wondering what’s next," said Larry Giles, Senior Director, Design & Engineering. "Multiple launches, speed changes, a sharp drop, and backwards acceleration are just a few of Pantheon’s one-of-a-kind traits."

Pantheon will become the latest addition to Busch Gardens' Festa Italia, located in the Italy section of the theme park. This particular portion of the park has seen much expansion since it first opened in 1980, and currently includes rides such as Apollo's Chariot and Roman Rapids.

We've dug into the 13News Now archives, and compiled a series of news reports showing the evolution of Busch Gardens' Italy section, from its first creation nearly 40 years ago to the thrilling addition of Tempesto in 2015:

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