Last week, the family and I vacationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia (click here for tips on visiting this lovely beach town) and, of course, we had to make a pilgrimage to at least one amusement park.
Off to Busch Gardens Williamsburg we went!
For those who aren't familiar with it, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is owned by the firm that owns SeaWorld while it promotes Anheuser-Busch products, the latter company having developed the park as a marketing vehicle for their products. The theme is classic Europe, like the Parisian streets of France, towns of England ans Scotland, and the Oktoberfest celebrations of Germany. In all, Busch Gardens Williamsburg contains nine villages centered around six countries for you to explore. It also contains heart-stopping roller coasters, a variety of shows, shops, etc. designed to please attendees of all ages and courage levels.
|The Loch Ness Monster I was not courageous enough to go on.|
Here are my tips if you plan to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg:
- Look for discount tickets before you go. You can sometimes find them at Wendy's and McDonald's, but here's a good site with links you can use to score discounts. Why pay full price if you don't have to?
- Wear good walking shoes. The park
is large, but not as daunting as other (i.e. Hersheypark and Disney). It is, however, hilly, so bring
comfortable walking shoes and if you're packing a stroller or wheelchair, know that you'll be using your muscles!
- Be prepared to use data. Busch Gardens Williamsburg has wifi, but it was spotty and unreliable.
- Skip the app. There is an app for Busch Gardens Williamsburg, but it didn't update you on waiting times for rides and didn't say which were closed. Honestly, it added nothing to our experience. In fact, most of the reviews in Google's Play Store were terrible and I can see why. Feel free to download the app, but don't rely on it.
- Bring snacks. You're really not supposed to, but the guards were not confiscating any, so unless you're hauling in mass quantities of chips, you should be okay. I packed carrots, granola bars, etc. which saved money on the unhealthy stuff the kids whined for.
- Haul in water bottles. You're allowed one per person. I brought a small cooler with ice in Ziploc bags which kept the water cold and gave us additional cold drinking water.
- Purchase the souvenir bottle. It's worth it because refills are $.99 the day you're there and there aren't many water fountains in the park. Do what I do: after the initial drink, ask for refills that are half soda water and half juice or soda to cut down on amount of sugar you're getting. Oh, and you can always ask for a cup of ice water at any place that serves drinks.
- Watch where you park either yourself or kiddies in the shade. Smoking is allowed in the park (DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!) and there's a good amount of shade you'll want to take advantage of. Just make sure you're not getting a whiff of cancer while avoiding the sun.
- Use the tram as transportation. It goes from Italy to France to England and will save you walking. Plus the views are great!
- See all the shows! They were all wonderful, especially Pet Shenanigans which featured rescued, trained dogs, cats, birds, a pig, and a rat. Adorable!
LOVED Pet Shenanigans! Celtic Fyre was good, too!
- Skip the boat ride. It's boring and really doesn't add any value to your visit. Some narration would have made it a less comatose experience.
- Stop by and see a Clydesdale. They don't put the ones that pull the sleighs on exhibit, but even the horses they have on display are beautiful!
- Have dinner at the New France Trappers Smokehouse – the food was DIVINE!
- Don't worry about the alcohol. I was concerned that they sell beer here (of course), but I honestly didn't see anyone even remotely intoxicated. Whew!
I found Busch Gardens Williamsburg to be one of, if not THE CLEANEST park, I've ever been to (sorry Hersheypark) with pleasant, efficient staff!
One refreshing aspect is that you're not constantly being hawked by marketers; sure, there are stores, but the number of merchandising kiosks is minimal and no one is blasting over the loudspeaker, “Buy this!” or “Buy that!" Sure, it's a for-profit place, but they're not trying to snag every penny out of you - at least not openly.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg one of those parks you can do in a day and not feel completely shredded at the end of your visit. I would return in a heartbeat! Use my tips, go, and have a blast!
For more information, visit the Busch Gardens Willilamsburg website.
Please note that all photos of Busch Gardens Williamsburg copied from their website.