I’m excited that Busch Gardens Williamsburg is open and has big plans for the 2021-2022 season. Busch Gardens is one of my favorite theme parks for many reasons. The biggest reason is that Busch Gardens is the most family friendly park on the east coast. I hope this article helps to show case what the theme park has to offer and provides you with tips and tricks to better navigate and plan for your next visit.
THE BEAUTY OF BUSCH GARDENS
There is a reason that Busch Gardens has been voted “The World’s Most Beautiful Park” by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. From the time you enter the park, you will notice how gorgeous the flowers are and how well kept and clean the park is. There are times you step into a beautifully lush pathway and feel like you are in a garden rather than a theme park.
One of my favorite features about Busch Gardens are all the family rides that everyone can go on together. No matter your height or age you can always enjoy these three rides: Aeronaut Skyride, Rhine River Cruise and Busch Gardens Railway.
- Aeronaut Skyride allows you to see beautiful Busch Gardens through a birds-eye view. This is a fun ride and also can work as transportation around the park so you don’t get tired from lots of walking.
- Rhine River Cruise is an actual river cruise on a boat where you can enjoy the remarkable landscape and other wonderful sites on a relaxing and scenic cruise that showcases the beauty of the Busch Gardens.
- Busch Gardens Railway offers a great tour of the park on a stunningly scenic twenty-minute train ride. This ride is easily my boy’s favorite ride in the whole park because they are obsessed with trains and the park uses real working steam locomotives. There are three engines Red, Blue and Green. My son gets most excited when the green engine is in operation because it has a caboose! There are three stops throughout the park, so you can use this as a fun ride or for easy transportation around the park.
- Don’t forget to go on the Carousel. It’s a classic and traditional ride the entire family can enjoy.
- Catch a show! The shows are entertaining and also a great way to cool off since the indoor theaters have air conditioning!
VISITING WITH LITTLES
This section I feel very qualified to write about. We’ve been coming to the park since my first born was a baby. Our family has grown since 2012, we now have a 1 year old, 6 year old and 8 year old. Pictured above are my two youngest kids, my middle is taking his baby brother on his first amusement park ride. The boat ride in this picture can be found in Land of the Dragons.
- One of the first things you need to do as you enter the park is check how tall your little one is. Right as you enter the park in England look for the red phone booths on the right after Guest Services. Measure your child’s height to find out which rides they can go on. Each height level is associated with a color and has a list of rides they can go on. This will help you plan out which rides are suited for them.
- One place your will love if you have smaller children is Sesame Street Forest of Fun. A favorite ride here is Grover’s Alpine Express (a kiddie-sized roller coaster.) We always ride Grover’s Alpine Express together; it’s so much fun to see my boys put their hands in the air and scream as we wipe around bends sore over hills. They also love Prince Elmo’s Spire; a mini drop tower ride that gives you the best wooly loops! If it’s a hot day you will want to pack a bathing suit so your little one can enjoy splashing around the splash pad. They are sure to have lots of fun with the water features, making this ideal for hot days! I also want to point out that there is a comfortable nursing station right next to the bathrooms. If you forget an essential like diapers, wipes, swim diaper or sun screen you can get those necessities in the gift shop.
- Don’t forget about Germany, where you will find the Carousel, The Red Baron and The Land of the Dragons!!! The land of the Dragons is a really awesome giant tree house which they can climb and slide down slides. There is even a small splash pad. This activity is great for toddlers and young kids, parents are able to accompany their little’s easy through the tree house. There are also a bunch of rides to go on in Land of the Dragons. Located towards the entrance of to the left is where you will find the first aid station and nursing room.
- Italy is another idea spot for little ones! My one year old’s first ride was on the gliders. Even the hot air balloons are perfect for the smallest of riders.
RIDES FOR BIG KIDS & ADULTS
There are so many great rides for the older kids. Pictured above is my middle child going on his first big boy roller coaster. He chose to go on InvadR!
- Some of my favorites are in Italy; Escape from Pompeii and Roman Rapids (currently closed for construction.)
- In Germany my husband’s all time favorite ride is the Bumper Cars. Also there are the swings and my favorite roller coaster Verbolten!
- Don’t forget about the six roller coasters spread out through the whole park. One of my boys favorite rides is the coaster InvadR that opened in the spring of 2017! This family thrill ride is the park’s first wooden coaster. Fly over InvadR’s nine air-time hills, including a 74-foot plunge that reaches speeds of almost 50 miles per hour.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY
- If you have wee ones you will definitely want to get a Preschool Pass. The Preschool Pass is a FREE pass for kids 5 and under, good for both Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA.
- Another great program is Waves of Honor; a FREE single day admission for active duty member and up to 3 dependents.
- Get your passes in advance at a discounted price by going to your local Parks and Recreation office or if you are military, getting passes on base is super cheap! If you are an Virginia resident try visiting the Williamsburg Library they have had discounted tickets in the past.
- Also, check Busch Gardens Facebook page and website they often host specials and holiday discount codes.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
- If you plan on visiting the park more than once during your time in Williamsburg than it is more cost effective to get a Annual Membership Pass or a Flex Pass.
- Week days tend to be less crowded than weekends especially (Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.)
- If you go on a weekend during the summer try going on a Sunday earlier in the morning. Most season pass holders will go to Water Country USA to be the heat during the day and hop over to Busch Gardens in the evening once things cool down a bit.
- Arrive 15-30 minutes before the park opens. The gates open early so you can get through the bag check and check-in and are ready for attractions when they open.
- It is a huge recommendation of mine to come to this park at least twice a year… once in the spring/summer and then again in the winter to visit during Christmas Town.
- The picture shown above is of my favorite food item (Greek lamb buger) from Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival this year. Unfortunately this years Food & Wine Festival ended in May. I highly recommend coming during the festival next year. I was excited to hear this year there will be some special Summer Night food options prepared by the same chef who runs the festival. The Summer Night food specials wont disappoint!
- My biggest suggestion for saving money on food and beverage is to get a souvenir cup. We bought two souvenir cups and are so glad we did. You purchase the cup and the day you buy it, you get to fill it up for FREE!!! Than every time you return it only costs 99 cent to refill it anywhere throughout the park! You are also welcome to have it filled with ice or water for FREE. Also if you are looking for a cold treat, for $1.99 you can use your souvenir cup to fill it with a Slurppe. The Slurpee station is found in Sesame Street Forest of Fun.
- One way to save money is to get a meal deal pass online before you go.
- Our two favorite places to eat are Trappers Smokehouse in New France and Das Fest Haus in Germany. The Fest Haus is great because it temperature controlled, has lots of food options and puts on a great show to watch while you eat. At Trappers Smokehouse you can smell the food cooking on the grill from miles away. The aroma of BBQ is mouth watering and the rotisserie chicken and BBQ ribs are heavenly.
- One thing I have learned is that portions are huge at the park. There is no need for everyone to get their own. So share! Getting a “personal” pizza and a fruit cup is enough for 2 people.
- Don’t forget that if you have a annual pass member card, you receive discounts on purchases throughout the park including food!
- NEW! Coaster: Pantheon, one of the most anticipated roller coasters of 2021 by USA Today, will be the World’s Fastest Multi-Launch coaster. Pantheon features a staggering 2 inversions, 4 launches, 5 air-time hills, a 95° drop, a height of 180 feet, and a record-breaking top speed of 73 mph. The all-new coaster incorporates five mighty gods including Pluto, Mercury, Jupiter, Minerva, and Neptune, with an aspect of the track reflecting their respective powers. In this one-of-a-kind multi-launch experience fit for the gods, Pantheon is sure to delight even the most daring mortal thrill-seekers.
- NEW! Live Summer Concert Series: Top artists from a diverse collection of genres and decades will take the stage LIVE on select nights at the outdoor Royal Palace Theater.
- NEW! Nightly Fireworks: Choose the picture-perfect viewing spot for a dazzling fireworks show that will serve as an impeccable end to your Busch Gardens Williamsburg day.
- NEW! Seasonal Summer Menu From the talented culinary artists behind the Food & Wine Festival, taste the inspired new seasonal summer treats!
- NEW! Open-air block parties throughout the park: As the sun goes down, electric summer vibes amp up throughout the park with DJ’s, dancing, seasonal eats, and special entertainment.
WHAT TO PACK, WHAT NOT TO PACK THAT IS THE QUESTIONS AND OTHER TIPS
- Since I have a small infant, my stroller was my locker on wheels. I load up my stroller with everything we will need. This time I had everything we needed including a stroller fan and baby bag full of essentials. Since my youngest is still an infant, it was nice for him to have a place he could comfortably nap.
- There are a lot of attractions where you get wet. I suggest bringing a towel, wearing a swim suit under your clothing or even brining an extra change of clothes. Also, be sure to bring a ziplock bag to keep wet clothing in.
- Don’t forget sunscreen. Even though there are a lot of shaded areas. The summer sun can be quite harsh in the summer. You can however forgo on the bug spray, we have yet to be bitten.
- You don’t need to purchase VIP parking. Don’t fear parking far away from the entrance, riding on the tram is half the fun!
- Take a picture of where you parked with your cell phone in case you forget.
- Also take a picture of your family before entering the park while everyone is excited and to remember what your little one is wearing for if you get separated.
- Consider writing your name and cell phone number in the tag of your little ones shirts, should they get lost.
- If you need a quiet place to nurse or nap the baby don’t forget about the lovely nursing station and First Aid house located in Land of the Dragon.
- Look for a family bathroom? There are few through out the park. My favorite is in New France; it is spacious and kept well maintained. It is located near the entrance to Invader.
- If you have a small infant or toddler, picky eater or child with allergies it’s a good idea to keep small prepackaged snacks on hand.
- If you don’t have room in the trunk for a stroller or even forgot to bring one. Use the park strollers! They are spacious and can fit two kids! They even have a cup holders and area for storage. They are available to rent at the main gate. When you ride the train or skyride you can leave the stroller there and pick up a new one when you arrive at your destination.
COVID HEALTH & SAFETY
The Park does their best to keep things safe and fun for families. Based on the recently announced guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Busch Gardens has modified their policy regarding face coverings at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. Face coverings are no longer required for guests who are fully vaccinated in accordance with CDC guidance. Guests are not required to provide proof of vaccination but ask everyone to respectfully comply with the revised policy. Social distancing is recommended and things have been put in place to ensure this. When riding the tram or train you can only sit in the same row with people you came to park with. They have block off every other row to help keep social distancing. Places where lines form have circles on the ground to help guests keep spread out in lines for rides and food. They are doing a great job keeping things clean.
BUSCH GARDENS WILLIAMSBURG
1 Busch Gardens Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23185
Hours: Vary depending on date see calendar for hours. The park is opens most days at 10AM and closes between 7PM -10PM depending on the day.
***The Playful Parent does not receive payment for featuring attractions. All opinions are my own; I like to share experiences and information so that parents have resources on fun family outings. Discounted or complimentary tickets are an advantage but not a requirement. The Playful Parent is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that advocates learning through play and promotes family bonding, all information and photographs are intellectual property of TPP. I hope that these tips help with your planning so that you have a great time during your next Busch Gardens Williamsburg Visit! Thank you for reading…Play, Learn, Grow!***