On June 27, 1984, Charlie Dean, an engineer, closely inspected the Big Bad Wolf ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The new ride, whose cars hung suspended from an overhead track, was supposed to open two days earlier but, park officials determined the ride was slightly faster than the maximum “comfortable” speed of 48mph.

The engineers installed an additional braking system and retested the ride. The inspection was conducted by one of the park’s engineers and not by state or federal inspections. Virginia was one of 27 states that did not regulate amusement park rides.

Among the many patrons disappointed by the ride’s opening delay was Vincent Price, an actor best known for his roles in horror films and his ghoulish voice on Michael Jackson’s hit, “Thriller.” Price, who also provided the voice of a wolf for a radio commercial, was due to formally open the Big Bad Wolf ride. Price told Times-Dispatch staff writer Michael Williams that he was an “amusement park freak” and had even done a documentary film on roller coasters. “It was great fun because I did a lot of the rides,” he told Williams.

The roller coaster eventually opened in July 1984 and thrilled almost 30 million patrons until it closed permanently in September 2009.


PHOTOS: Roller coasters in Virginia over the years

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