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Glad to hear it was a great all-round Blitz coaster experience! Flight cancellation hell had me sticking around longer in Orlando over the weekend, and made it back to VelociCoaster. Friendly reminder at how versatile these models are!Finally got around to riding Pantheon on Saturday! Here is a detailed, element-by-element breakdown of the experience (and don't worry, there's a TL;DR included below):
The first launch is short but surprisingly punchy. The zero-g winder has a dose of fantastic hangtime, followed by some solid positive Gs at the bottom. The miniature outer banked hills before the swing launch don’t provide much (if any) airtime. Instead, they offer wonky doses of laterals to the right and the left.
As the swing launch isn’t sustained (it happens in quick bursts), it’s hard to feel the strong accelerational Gs. The first boost and airtime hill doesn’t provide much. Climbing the top hat for the first time, there’s a bit of weightlessness as the train stalls out and begins rolling backwards. But the second boost is noticeably more powerful than the first. This time, the airtime hill induces a sudden pop of ejector, followed by a burst of positives in the valley and another sudden pop of ejector on the step up into the spike.
Especially in the back, the spike is a blissful moment of sustained floater (perfect 0G, pretty much), and one of Pantheon’s highlights. The spike is comparable to a camelback hill of a quality B&M hyper - not overly intense, just pure, blissful fun - except riding 90° straight up is easily a more unique visual (Sidenote, to compare speeds from my rides, the back car was entirely on the 2-tube track, with the 4th car halfway on as well…). Looking right during the ascent provides a rare view over the rest of Pantheon. Following that, the final boost is insanity: another ejector burst on the step down, strong positives in the valley, followed by the airtime hill at full-speed delivering crazy, violent ejector.
Then Pantheon races up the top hat. In the front, there’s a solid moment of ejector up the top hat, while the back has some weightlessness. In any row, Pantheon’s 95° drop delivered, but it was exceptional in the back row - with sustained ejector air - and my favorite moment on Pantheon. The only drops I prefer are Fury 325’s and El Toro’s. The next valley isn’t too forceful, though it’s hard to appreciate the riverside setting due to Pantheon’s blistering speed.
As expected, the outer banked hill isn’t very extreme, but the dose of laterals, fantastic sideways views and flojector air on the descent made for a solid element regardless. It’s definitely better in the front, the airtime is stronger and more sustained up there. The banked hop into the stall provided a short, not too noticeable pop of airtime, while the zero-g stall itself is the final highlight of Pantheon.
The zero-g stall provides graceful, sustained hangtime high above the ground while somehow feeling fast. It’s one of my new favorite inversions for sure - flopping onto a lap bar while upside down is odd, but very fun. Then, the headchopper under the top hat goes by in a blur. The following S-bend is fairly whippy, like a faster version of Cheetah Hunt’s. And finally, Pantheon ends with a bang - the wall stall is surprisingly strong, delivering sideways flojector airtime that’s pretty sustained as well.
My first 2 laps on Pantheon were in the afternoon. Undeniably, it was very good, but less intense than expected and not the top-10 contender I hoped for. The last two evening and night rides changed that though - Pantheon seemed to be running faster, every element delivered more, amplified by the pitch black setting (the lighting package nor the lights on the catwalks ever turned on).
I found Pantheon itself to be eventful enough that the lack of theming wasn’t a major issue to me. On the whole, Pantheon is less centered around a single element, delivering a long, well-rounded experience with some of everything (all kinds of airtime, hangtime, some whip, backwards and fast sections) packed into one fulfilling layout. In that sense, Pantheon feels like a next-generation Maverick - and that’s really the only comparison I can make, considering it’s drastically unlike anything else I’ve ridden so far.
TL;DR - Pantheon lived up to my expectations as a world-class coaster. The night rides elevated Pantheon to my top 10 overall and my new favorite coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The 95° drop, airtime hill launch and spike were the highlights, but the zero-g stall and wall stall were fantastic too… actually, Pantheon doesn’t have any “bad” elements - they’re all interesting, powerful and/or sustained. While no single element is the best in its genre (besides the swing launch… that thing is insane), the variety of sensations, amount of airtime and consistent quality throughout the layout makes Pantheon truly top-notch. Well, it’s always left me satisfied and smiling, so…