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Busch Gardens Williamsburg announces DarKoaster indoor roller coaster

The "DarKoaster" will be the world's first all-indoor straddle roller coaster, with over 2,400 feet of track and four launches.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — A spooky new experience is coming to Busch Gardens Williamsburg next year, the theme park announced Tuesday. 

"DarKoaster: Escape the Storm" will be the world's first all-indoor straddle roller coaster when it opens next year, with over 2,400 feet of track and four launches.

To ride, people will have to meet the 48-inch height requirement, making it a family-friendly rollercoaster. It is being manufactured by Intamin Worldwide.

A spokesperson for the theme park said construction work on the ride started in January with the goal of opening in Spring 2023. No specific opening yet has been set.

The new ride is taking up residency in a familiar, iconic location: it's where "Curse of DarKastle" used to be.

When "Curse of DarKastle" opened in 2005, it was a state-of-the-art virtual reality dark ride that featured physical sets, special effects, and 3D projected animation.

The ride proved popular with its theming and storytelling of a mad, Bavarian king's haunted castle, but it was shut down for good following the 2017 season.

The imposing, gothic castle's facade has remained a presence in the Oktoberfest section of the park, but the building itself has seen more limited use in recent years -- mostly for Howl-O-Scream and Christmas Town events. For years, park fans have hoped DarKastle would be resurrected in some form.

From 2005: A sneak peek at the opening of "Curse of DarKastle"

Busch Gardens said DarKoaster will indeed pay homage to DarKastle, with "subtle theming nods for loyal park fans."

"It builds on the great legacy of our amazing 'Curse of DarKastle' attraction," park president Kevin Lembke said.

The ride's theming will be "very dark, definitely. We want to keep that ominous feel to what's happening," said Suzy Cheely, the park's Vice President of Design and Engineering. "You're exploring, everyone's on a snowmobile. You're kind of exploring the area and a storm starts up, right? So there'll be effects, lighting, sound, some projection, some hardscape pieces that'll be shined on as you whip around through the elements."

DarKoaster's announcement included this description of what guests can expect:

King Ludwig’s abandoned fortress resurfaces as strange weather patterns have been recorded near the cursed castle grounds. Only the bravest souls will embark on snowmobiles in this dark expedition to discover the mysterious phenomenon.  A supernatural force is imminent as explorers discover that they are evading more than just a raging storm.

Meanwhile, Busch Gardens is also prepping for this year's Howl-O-Scream, which begins on Friday, September 9, and runs on select nights through October 31.

This year's Howl-O-Scream features three new haunted houses and three new "terror-tories."

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