Busch Gardens: A guide to "BG" Williamsburg
Where Monsters Collide
One of my favorite places in the world is Williamsburg, VA the history, the land, and Busch Gardens strikes up memories of family, friends, and good times. While writing a small guide about Williamsburg, VA, I soon realized that I had so much to say about Busch Gardens that I knew that I couldn't fit it all in a small blurb.
My life has been blessed in that my parents wanted to make sure we got to see the country and spend time with those we love. My first steps were taken in Williamsburg, my first roller coaster was The Big Bad Wolf (No longer at Busch Gardens BBW was retired after 25 years of frightening its riders), and a lifetime of fun and memories were made.
Family and friends have always come to me seeking advice and information about Busch Gardens a place where I know as well as the back of my hand. Just last year (2011) My cousin came to me to asking for information about Busch Gardens for her boyfriend's birthday celebration! I too was planning to go around the same time for it was BG's Halloween special Howl-o-Scream. My fiancé, my family, my cousin, and her friends had a blast! I assisted her with everything from tickets to touring them around; making sure they got to see and do everything in the park! This trip was just a weekend getaway, but it was action packed and full of fun!
Here I will create a guide for both a week vacations and a weekend getaways! For up-to-date ticket sales, tours, shows, rides, and events visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg page at http://buschgardens.com/bg/
Getting Your Tickets:
Getting Your Tickets:
My family has been getting season passes for some time now. Busch Gardens offers lots of ticketing and pass options. It is good to get a simple ticket on your first visit see if you and your family like the park. If you decide that "Hey this is a place I would like to visit throughout the year" consider season passes. Here I will start out with Seasons Passes because they truly give you a bang for your buck!
Will Call: Located outside of the park entrance to the right of the turnstiles.
Kiosk-Ready Tickets: One-Year, Two-Year, and Platinum Passes sold online are "Kiosk Ready" eTickets. They can be redeemed at any one of our fast and easy self-service Ticket Kiosks. Ticket Kiosks are also available for purchasing tickets and annual passes with a credit card. Ticket Kiosks cannot redeem discounts or coupons.
Turnstile-Ready Tickets: Single-Day (excluding Group), Multi-Day and Vacation Package tickets that are bought online are all "Turnstile Ready" eTickets that may be taken directly to the park entrance turnstiles for admission."
Season Passes - Prices are subjected to change
- 1 or 2 year One park - For 12 or 24 at the date your pass was purchased you gain Unlimited admission to Busch Gardens/ Free general parking (during regular operating season and Christmas Town)/ 10% discounts at select shops and food stands (which is basically all of them)/ 50% off admission to Christmas Town (Howl-o-Scream is accounted as regular operation thus your pass will be valid upon entry)/ Discounted single day tickets for relatives and friends (regular season and Christmas Town)/ 50% off single day admission to SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment locations (Excluding Discovery Cove & Virginia Parks)
- 1 or 2 year Two parks- This pass allows you to enjoy Busch Gardens and Water Country USA and has the same benefits as the the One park pass.
- Platinum Pass-Planning to go to Orlando and love Busch Gardens and SeaWorld? The unlimited admission to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Water Country USA, SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio, SeaWorld San Diego, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Aquatica Orlando, Aquatica San Antonio, Adventure Island Tampa Bay and Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA. Free general parking and 10% discounts on selected shops and restaurants at all SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment locations/ Free preferred parking & discounts on single day tickets at Virginia Parks only
*Another great perk about season passes is that pass holders get a Season Pass Holders Day where only season pass holders are free to enter the park days before Opening Day!
Regular Tickets- Again for those just trying out Busch Gardens these tickets are most likely the way to go before committing to a season pass. Prices have been pretty steady these prices are as of 2012. Always be on the lookout for online specials and promo deals- participating stores may have coupons available, in 2011 my cousin, her boyfriend and two of her friends got a hefty discount from a promo Busch Gardens was doing and all they had to do was bring in a Pepsi can!
- Single Day- Adult $66.99 Child $56.99 admission to Busch Gardens for one day.
- Bounce Ticket- 7 Consecutive days (from purchase) admission/ General Parking included with ticket/ Valid March 24- Oct 28, 2012/ Online (gives you 20% discount) voucher must be exchanged for ticket at Busch Gardens/ Water Country (when open) ticket window or Colonial WIlliamsburg Visitors Center
- Discovery Ticket- Unlimited admission to Busch Gardens and Water Country for 7 Consecutive Days (from purchase)/ Parking included/ First use must occur March 24- Oct 28, 2012
- Fun Card- Unlimited visits to Busch Gardens all through Spring and Summer/ Valid only for the person whose name is on the card/ Howl-o-Scream and Christmas Town not included in visits time frame
- Online VA residents only 2 parks/2 days- A Deal for VA Residents. Online Purchase Only/ 2 single day admissions to Busch Gardens/ Water Country USA or both parks (visiting both parks on one day constitutes as 2 single-day admissions) Parking is not included Expires Oct 28, 2012
Like the park says "Know Before You Go":
Busch Gardens has a lovely page that contains some nice basic information about coming to the park.
- Park opening times change from day to day. When visiting their web site, on the home page there will be the status of the park openings and times. BG is not fully open until June and goes back to weekend openings in September for Howl-o-Scream a few weekends in November are closed for redecorating for Christmas Town and will reopen later in the month. Inclement weather can be an issue shutting down certain rides and shows; no rain-checks or refunds are given. However, on one occasion the park suffered a black out due to a previous hurricane and we did receive an rain-check.
- Parking is pricey unfortunately! One of the benefits of season passes as mentioned is Free parking. According to 2012 rates it is $13 for cars, $13 for Motorcycles, $18 for RVs/Campers, $18 preferred Parking (if available the lot is small/ also if you do preferred parking and have not purchased tickets you will have to back track to go get tickets)
- Pet Care! $10 for non pass holders/ $7 for season pass members- room has open ventilation but is not temperature controlled/ Water is provided but owners are responsible for feeding.
- Double Strollers $16 / Wheelchairs $15/ Electric vehicles $45 are available for rental
- Trams from parking lot to park do run or you are may also walk.
- A nice tip for staying the whole day at the park is to pack a lunch in a cooler and eat at one of the designated picnic areas. You save money and can have dinner in the park. Whenever going to any park check to see if they have picnic areas.
- Guest with specific accessibility needs can locate accessibility information here: http://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-williamsburg/park-info/accessibility/?from=Top_Nav
- Guests with hard casts, braces, and walking boots will not be permitted to ride specific rides in the park and should review the park's policy in the link above.
40 Years of Fun- In 1975 Busch Gardens opened their gates to the world. 2015 Busch Gardens is celebrating with special events, offers and experiences waiting for you just around the corner.
Food & Wine Festival- Work your way through the park sampling delectable culinary treats and exquisite wines. Individual tastings range as well as the dates for the festival.
Glory at the Gardens- Rock out to some Christian rock or clap your hands to some good ole gospel music. Performances held at the Royal Palace Theater located in France during May and June. (Free with park admission)
Busch Gardens Live- Get your grove on to some live music again at the Royal Palace theater during the months of May, June, and August (Free with park admission)
Star Spangled Nights- An American firework spectacular highlighting America the beautiful throughout the park! Enjoy sights, sounds, and tastes through the night and hop aboard the Rhine River Fireworks Cruise for a truly unique fire in the sky presentation. Early July-Early August.
Howl-O-Scream- Let your dark side take over and face your fears with BG's Halloween extravaganza! This personally is my favorite event that BG puts on...not only am I a BG fan but also a huge Halloween fan. The park gets blanketed in the dark ways of Halloween and brings out your wildest nightmares! Starting in September to October.
Halloween decorations litter the park. Through out the park become engaged with scare zones, performers, and enter haunted houses if you dare. Each year fan favorites stay to frighten the masses while others rotate out and become a fresh new scare! Not only does the park get "revamped" but so does the shows! Monster Stomp Revamp and Fiends will have you rocking out with the undead (these show do contain some adult themes).
BG is very "Kidsiderate" during the day some of the attractions you can go through with the lights on and no actors! Land of the Dragons/ Sesame Street of Fun are opened for your little ones to enjoy. After 6pm the park swings into full Halloween mode and may not be suitable for some ages. Also if you don't have completely little ones the park map offers a scream guide, to guide you on the intensity of each attraction.
*TIP: I recommend paying the extra money and getting the Quick Que pass for the Haunted Houses! This pass allows you front of the line access to all of BG's haunted houses. Howl-O-Scream is a huge attraction and the lines for the haunted houses are very very long! You could be waiting all night for a only two houses. See the shows and ride the rides during in the morning and during the day and hit the houses with the Quick Que. This will allow you to hit everything and not have to wait in absurd lines!
If you don't want to spend money on the Quick Que plan ahead. The closer to Halloween the more busy a crowed the park gets!
Also you may want to bring some sweatshirts. If it's a nice day you can keep them in the car till the evening when it gets a little more cooler.
Christmas Town- You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why Santa Claus is coming to...yup you guessed it Busch Gardens. Enjoy the magic of Christmas with BG. Once again BG transforms it's a magical wonderland (on the more joyful side this time).Open late November to the end of December.
The park is blanketed in thousands of twinkling Christmas lights and joyful décor. Shows are reinvented up at Santa's toy shop and presented to the public that will get you into the holiday spirit! Germany transforms into a beautiful artisans bazaar; you can find wonderful hand made crafts and tasty treats to give on Christmas morning.
Take the Sky Bucket to get a birds eye view of BG's Christmas lights. The line for this ride will be quite long for there is only one entrance for this attraction.
Limited rides are opened during this time.
*Tip: Bundle up just because Busch Gardens is more seen as a summer attraction this is the winter season and it will get cold!
Howl-O-Scream is a weekend only event, Christmas Town is also a weekend only event with the exception of two weeks were it is fully opened! Be sure to check BG's calender for all events.
BG offers so many tours and experiences that will create life time memories. These tours cost extra and can range from meeting wild life to standing on top of the Griffon.
I personally have only been on one of these tours and loved every minute of it. In 2010 my family, my fiancé and I went on the All-Access Insider Tour for Howl-O-Scream. We went behind the scenes in one of the haunted houses, front of the line access for the haunted houses, learned a lot of interesting facts about the park and the Halloween event, enjoyed dinner with dessert, reserved seating at two of the top shows, had makeup done and met some of the show performers.
There are many tours like this one where you are treated like a VIP for more information check out the behind the scenes tours page on Busch Gardens main site.
Navigating the Park:
As mentioned before the parks opening and closing times vary. But different parts of the park open at different times as well. On a Monday through Thursday Park Map in August England opens at 9:15 am/ Scotland at 9:30 am/ Ireland-France-New France-Festa Italia at 10 am/ Italy at 10:30 am/ Germany-Oktoberfest 11 am
Park maps are located as you enter the park. Once you enter the park be ready for your first Photo opportunity. One of the friendly BG crew members will snap your picture at the entrance or the beautiful water fountain.
There are 3 train stations and 3 sky bucket stops. Train: Scotland, New France, Italy Sky Bucket: (between) England/Scotland, France, Germany
The following is a guide in hitting BG in one day if you are staying for a week and wish to split this up a bit by all means pick and chose what you want to get into first!
The Globe Theater use to be home to a 4D theater that plays a 3D family friendly movie with added special effects. Currently till the end of August 2014 The Globe is debuting London Rocks highlighting the importance and impact of music in our lives. The show is a spectacular 25 minute live action show mixed with moving video scenes that transport you to a surreal musical realm.
Big Ben is also one of the iconic structures here, if you have a large group that wants to split up at anytime this is a great meeting spot!
There are shops of all kinds here candy, food, and merchandise.
One of the great things about BG is that they offer package pick up. If you purchased anything through that park you can opt for this service and pick up your packages or view and photos here in England.
The next area you're gonna hit is Scotland here you have some choices Left- Italy/Sesame Street Forest of Fun or Right- Ireland or Continue straight- Scotland which you can cut to Germany (right next to the Loch Ness Monster is a set of stairs that go out to the river and under the ride/ nice photo op and short cut from Germany to Scotland on your way out/ you can also access the Rhine River Boat Ride here)
You can hop on the train or the sky bucket/ Meet some Clydesdale horses/ or ride the Loch Ness Monster
I find hitting the Loch Ness Monster at this time is a good idea the line tends to be short for this ride and everything else isn't opened yet. The Loch Ness Monster is now the oldest roller coaster in the park having served riders for more than 30 years, it boasts 2 interlocking loops 114 ft drop and a little surprise! Knowing that this ride is the oldest it is probably the roughest in my opinion.( Most of the other rides are very smooth, Aplengeist is a little rough depending were you sit.)
How about we go right and circle around the park counterclockwise
Ireland is home to Europe in the Air and the Abbey Stone Theater where you can catch an riving Irish Dancing show called Celtic Fyre. Here you can grab a pint and sit down to some Irish stew. There are 3 shops located here a toy shop/ a magic shop/ and a crystal shop.
Europe in the Air is a motion ride- it is a smooth and easy going ride but all in all not my favorite. This ride use to be Corkscrew Hill which was a wild and exciting adventure through old Ireland. Now you fly over the wonders and beauty of Europe which is nice to get out of the heat, but the images go by fast and it would be nice if there was some commentary.
Continuing on you enter Jack Hannah's Wild Reserve. Here you can walk into a large bird cage and feed the birds. Watch a couple of Pet Shenanigans, or learn about wolves. Eagles, wolves, snakes and other furry creatures are tucked into this woody haven. You can also get you picture taken with a handsome hawk or a beautiful owl.
Coming out of the woods you can hear the romance of Paris and the screams of 30 riders plummeting down 205ft at 75mph at a 90 degree angle.
The Griffon is one most frightening rides BG throws at you. Some things to notice on the Griffon is that once your at the top (if your eyes are not closed) not only can you see most of the park, but you can also see you can see the James River and the Anheuser Busch Factory. There are 3 rows to this ride but I will admit the Front Row is the best, but be prepared to wait.
Here is another stop for the Sky Buckets as well!
France is the home to The Royal Palace Theater where summer concerts and shows are scheduled through out the year.
Bistro 205 a southern style buffet is located here as well check to see when they are opened
Is it hot out here? Grab a cone of your favorite ice cream or duck into one of the shops to cool off!
There are all sorts of crafty shops that you can get cool trinkets or personalized goods! Watch hand dipped candles become beautiful works of art right before your eyes.
Hungry? Trappers Smokehouse will be sure to fill you up and make a mess on your face.
Your STILL hot? Well hit up Le Scoot a traditional log ride. Tired? Grab a car at the Train station located here as well.
Germany maybe my favorite part of the park. As you cross the covered bridge you can see those hot riders cooling off on Le Scoot and racing down the mountain from the abominable snowman on Alpengeist.
Germany is home to many sweet and savory treats! Das Festhaus has traditional German foods as well as park favorites. Here you can catch lunch/dinner/snack and a show. Das Festhaus is home to two great shows my ever favorite This is Oktoberfest that highlights traditional German songs and dance in an upbeat and interactive show! Entwined: Tales of Good and Grimm takes you into the Black Forrest right before your eyes to a place Once upon a time!
Beste Brezlen und Beir is a great place to grab a drink soda, frozen lemonades, and beer! Or grab a tasty handmade pretzel that can satisfy any cravings. Some of my favorites are the pretzel dogs with cheese sauce and the cinnamon pretzel bites washed down with a frozen lemonade! (*Purchasing a souvenir cup is a great plan, you can get 99 cent refills on fountain drinks for the rest of the season! Plus it is an awesome cup to have to just fill up with water throughout the day.)
Become a kid again and navigate through Land of the Dragon's Dragon sized tree house! Your kids will have a blast!
Test you skills in the arcade or any of the multiple carnival like games! Big wins= Big prizes!
Alpengeist is a fast speed roller coaster full of twists and turns. You won't know what's sky or ground! Loose your breath at 67mph and the 195ft drop! Germany is home to lots of carnival like rides like swings, the merry go round, and bumper cars!
Escape from the 4D ride Curse of DarKastle- a wild ride that mixes 3D with your ride! It is a great way to get out of the heat as well!
Mach Tower takes you up 245ft into the sky giving you an amazing view and drops you like no tomorrow.
Coming in Spring of 2012 is BG's newest roller coaster Verbolten! A lovely play on the German word verboten it is a speeding coaster of the forbidden! According to Busch Gardens this roller coaster will house many firsts! It will have a 88ft drop into the Rhine River, twists and turns inside and outside, a breath taking launch, and not to mention a very interesting surprise in the dark!
Be aware in 2012 my family and I visited BG for the new roller coasters Mach Tower opened up in time but was being repaired when we got there. We did get to get on the ride but it seemed on and off all day. Same with Verbolten, we had to wait for the ride to be repaired at least it was only a few minutes but this could easily turn to the ride closing for a long period of time. I have seen other comments about these rides and even though they are very awesome they do have their troubles. My advice if the ride is open get on it ASAP!
Haven't been to BG in a while? Confused because you can find a specific coasters? After 25 years the Big Bad Wolf was retired. The BBW was the first suspended roller coaster opening in 1984. This coaster was dear to my heart for it was my first big kid roller coaster at BG and many fans were sad to see it go.
Haven't been to BG for a really long time? Yup Drachen Fire has been gone since 1998 due to it roughness. Its train station is now used as a haunted house during Howl-O-Scream! The Wild Maus was a temporary ride from 1996 to 2003 it length of stay was due to it popularity till it moved down to Williamsburg's sister park Busch Gardens Tampa.
Walking away from the Bavarian Black Forrest you will cross the Rhine River and here you can snap an amazing shot of the Verbolten to the right and to the left The Rhine River Boat ride, Alpengiest, the Griffon, and the Loch Ness Monster. Dine and relax to Mix it Up an exciting explosion of music and color.
Working your way into the the Italian Village you can do some more shopping or climb aboard the battering ram and battle for the loudest side!
Climb onto Apollo's Chariot and rise and set the sun at 73 mph! The 210 ft drop will take your breath away! While climbing your way up you can look to your right and see the James River once again! Apollo's Chariot is a unique in its seating restraint. The rider sits in a cozy bucket seat while the restraint bar is pulled back from between the legs to secure the rider from the waist down leaving your whole upper body free, being the first of its kind! It is an amazing sensation!
Past Apollo's Chariot is more carnival rides and games, foods, and yet another train station!
New for 2015, arriving in late spring, Busch Gardens is proud to add another white-knuckle roller coaster Tempesto. Speeding at 63 MPH this daring ride is 154 feet high, boasting 3 launch elements and a unique loop-the-loop exxperiance that will leave your head spinning.
Cool off on Roman Rapids a traditional tube water ride or Escape from Pompeii an indoor outdoor water ride. Or Challenge your sibling or friend to the sling shot water balloon fight Spashus Maximus.
Sesame Street Forest of Fun
Located between Italy and England Sesame Street Forest of Fun is another Kiddie getaway.
Hop on kiddie sized rides such as Prince Elmo's Spire (kid sized drop tower) and Bert and Ernies Loch Adventure (kid sized roller coaster).
See Elmo and his friends in the Sunny Days Celebration!
Some extra notes:
- Each section of the park tells a story. Each major ride has a backstory as well! These stories captivate you. Sometimes these stories can give you the creeps letting your imagination take control as you strap your self into your seat.
- Some rides have seats for bustier guests, Griffon and Alpengeist tend to have these in the center of the row. When boarding Alpengeist these seats are located under the black diamond sign in the station.
- It is possible to do all of these activities in one day! I have done it many times. Before you go plan your trip may it be a day or a week. If you are staying a week and are doing a multi-days at the park one can spread out the activities!
- If you are doing just a single day/ weekend trip/ stopping by on the way to the beach etc you plan out the top activities that you want to do.
- Try an get to the park as early as you can.
- Hit the rides early in the morning or later at night- the lines tend to be shorter at these times
- See the shows and ride the smaller rides during the day- during the summer the shows offer a nice cool retreat. Ducking into the shops also offer a cool down period
- I feel as though the Quick Que pass for the Roller coasters are really not worth the extra cost. If you stick to the three tips above you should be fine and can keep that extra cash in your pocket.
- Always have rain gear on hand you never know if a little shower will come through or not...and be sure to check the weather before you go
- Try going on a non holiday or during peak months/days. Check events that maybe going on in Williamsburg such as the Grand Illumination in the winter season can add more visitors to the city and park.