In a twist of irony, Escape from Pompeii at Busch Gardens Williamsburg caught fire on Saturday night and has been shut down. The dark ride uses pyrotechnics, and simulates what it may have been like to get out of the legendary city that was destroyed when Mt. Vesuvius erupted thousands of years ago.
Park spokesman Ron Vample released a statement “We can confirm there was small fire Saturday, July 21, on the roof of the Escape from Pompeii water ride in Italy village. The ride was not operating and no guests or ambassadors were in the area at that time. The James City County Fire Department responded immediately and the fire was quickly extinguished without incident. The safety of our guests and ambassadors remains our top priority. The attraction will be closed Sunday, July 22. There’s no timetable on when it will reopen.”
There’s no more information as to why the ride caught fire, but it does use a heavy amount of fire effects in the ceiling. When it first opened, Escape from Pompeii was a huge achievement in not only dark rides, but also in water rides. It was the parks last dark ride, and a very high capacity water ride which would be a great way to cool down in the summer.
Rumblings of the ride being replaced started earlier this year when plans for a new Sesame Place Park at Busch Gardens were discovered. The ride is over 20 years old, and in need of a massive update. Unfortunately, it sounds like this fire could spell the end of the ride. With any luck, the ride will be rebuilt and a new version of it will be opened, with new effects and a longer experience…but since when has the city of Pompeii known luck?
Video-Take a ride on Escape from Pompeii!
At the very least, we wouldn’t expect to see it reopened any time this season, as the park will be going to seasonal operation in just under two months, a time when the ride is closed anyway to make way for Christmas Town.