At a top speed of 73 miles per hour and a 95 degree drop, thrill seekers can experience the world’s fastest multi-launch roller coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg this summer.
The Pantheon, which opened in March 2022 after a two-year pandemic-related delay, carries 20 passengers at a time and uses a multi-launch system with three boosts at 50 mph, 61 mph, and 67 mph. Pantheon was manufactured by a company called Intamin, which was founded in 1967 and has a consistent history of breaking world records in the amusement industry.
“This is one of the premier coasters in the world,” park President Kevin Lembke said, in an article in The Virginia Gazette. “I couldn’t be more thrilled. This is years of hard work and it’s amazing to see it all come together.”
The Greek name, Pantheon, plays out in the ride’s theme. Each portion of the ride represents a particular Roman god: Pluto, Neptune, Mercury, Minerva and Jupiter. For two and a half minutes, riders encounter several scream-inducing features including two inversions, a top hat plunge, a vertical rollback, and a series of S-curves.
Roller coaster design has a history that dates as far back as the 1870s with origins tied to Russian Mountains — what rollercoaster used to be called— where wheeled carts rolled passengers down 70-foot slopes.
The first patent was filed by inventor John G. Taylor, who designed West Haven’s Savin Rock, a ride so popular that a reported 250,000 people enjoyed the ride in 1873. In the 1990s, advancements and innovations in steel technologies replaced the wooden structures with steel tracks making the rides faster, the slopes steeper, but more importantly, safer and more reliable.
According to the American Coaster Enthusiasts, it won’t be long before we see roller coasters soaring over 500 feet in the air. Until then, we’ll settle for Pantheon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.