Hey y’all-hope you had a good weekend and that your week is off to a good start! I had a great time hosting one of my good friends for some girl time before she graduates from college and moves halfway across the country. We ordered pizza, went shopping, and watched movies. Anyways, today I’m sharing my first travel post in awhile. One of my goals for 2019 is to publish more travel content on the blog. Although I haven’t traveled to a ton of different places, I consider myself passionate and knowledgeable about the places I have been. So today’s post is my Busch Gardens Williamsburg Travel Guide. Williamsburg, VA is one of my favorite places to visit, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg is my favorite non-Disney theme park. I’m excited to share some highlights and tips to help you out if you’re planning a trip there soon!
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Basics
Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a family-friendly theme park located in Williamsburg, VA. Each area of the park is themed after a European country/festival: England, Scotland, France, New France, Italy, Festa Italia, Germany, Ocktoberfest, and Ireland. There’s also a couple of kid areas-Sesame Street Forest and Land of the Dragaons. Busch Gardens Williamsburg honestly has a little bit of everything for everyone. Thrill-seekers will find multiple roller coasters, but there’s also plenty of moderate to tame rides if roller coasters aren’t your thing. In addition, there’s plenty of scenery to simply walk around and enjoy. In fact, Busch Gardens Williamsburg frequently gets voted “most beautiful theme park in the world.”
You will get plenty of exercise walking around Busch Gardens Williamsburg, but it’s pretty easy to navigate and not quite as big in area as some of the Disney theme parks. The different countries are interconnected in a big loop. I recommend picking up a park map on your way for reference. This map will also show which rides are in which country. However, the park is a manageable size so that it’s not a big deal if you back track some. Definitely don’t feel pressure to do all the rides in one area before you move on to the next.
Also note that Busch Gardens is open weekends only starting in late March. Then from late May through Labor Day it’s open seven days a week. In September and October park hours return to weekends only. Then in November and December there’s a special event called Christmas Town on the weekends. You can check out the complete park calendar schedule here.
How Many Days Should I Spend at Busch Gardens Williamsburg?
While you can definitely do Busch Gardens Williamsburg in one day, I definitely recommend spending two days if you are able. This gives you the ability to have a bit more leisurely place, and to ride your favorite rides multiple times. In addition, a two-day ticket for Busch Gardens Williamsburg is only $5 more than a one-day ticket if you purchase online. There’s also some other multiple-day ticket packages that give you access to Colonial Williamsburg and other area attractions. You can check out all the different ticket packages here and determine which is the best deal for you.
When my bestie and I went in June 2016, we got the Summer Bounce Ticket. This gave us unlimited admission and free parking to Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, and Colonial Williamsburg for seven consecutive days. Although we were only there for three days, this was still less expensive than buying separate tickets for each attraction. The exact price breakdown may have changed in the past three years, but it’s definitely worth crunching the numbers.
Unless you are only going to be at Busch Gardens for one day and are super crunched for time, I don’t recommend investing in the Quick Queue pass that lets you jump to the front of lines for select attractions. One advantage of Busch Gardens is that it still isn’t nearly as busy as Disney World, even if you go on weekend day in the summer. My bestie and I were there on a Sunday and Monday in late June, and we probably didn’t wait longer than 30 minutes for anything.
Bring Back the Fanny Packs!
My mom is cringing right now if she’s reading this, but if you plan to ride roller coasters at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, I highly recommend bringing a fanny pack to hold your phone, wallet, sunscreen, and other essentials. There is no pocket to stash personal belongings on the roller coasters. Therefore, if your bring any other type of bag, you will have to put it in a locker while you ride, unless someone in your group doesn’t ride roller coasters. When you rent a locker, you set a PIN code that is valid the entire day at any locker you choose in the park.
Each of the major rides has lockers at the entrance, so you can stash your belongings right before you get in line, then retrieve them as soon as you get off the ride. It’s nice that you don’t have to constantly retrace your steps all day when you need to get something from your bag. However, my bestie had a small backpack, and she really wished she had brought a fanny pack, because it is more convenient!
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Must-Do’s
Now that I’ve given some basic info about Busch Gardens Williamsburg, I’m going to share some of my favorite attractions!
This roller coaster suspends you from an overhead track, so if you’re not wearing secure shoes definitely leave them on the ride platform. Alpengeist is one of the tallest and and fastest roller coasters in the world. Read more here!
This coaster might be one of my favorites at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Although it doesn’t turn you upside down, it has a 210 foot drop and reaches speeds of 73 miles per hour, creating the sensation of flying. Learn more here.
Escape from Pompeii
This water ride takes you on a brief tour of the ruins of ancient Pompeii, complete with realistic burning smells. It ends in a thrilling drop. Although this drop isn’t nearly as steep as Disney World’s Splash Mountain, you will get extremely wet, so be prepared. I actually got more wet on Escape from Pompeii than I ever have in the front row of Splash Mountain! Read more here.
Pictures don’t do it justice, but this gives you a bit of an idea of how wet I was after riding Escape from Pompeii!
As soon as you pull away from the loading area of the Griffon, you inch up an incline, dangle for a few seconds, then drop 90 degrees at 75 miles an hour. It honestly looks and sounds a lot scarier than it actually is though! Read more about the Griffon here.
A carousel is always a classic must-do at any theme park, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg is no exception. This is great to do if you need a break from roller coasters, or while your lunch settles. Read more here.
Loch Ness Monster
Although the Loch Ness Monster is a bit jerkier than the newer roller coasters at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, it’s still a classic and worth riding. Read more here.
This is one of those rides where you go up to the top of a tower, and then it drops you straight down. It feels a lot like the Tower of Terror at Disney World, except you are in the open air and your feet are dangling straight down. Definitely avoid if you’re scared of heights. Read more here.
This is a nice leisurely ride that gives you a bird’s eye view of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It’s a great one to go on while you wait for your food to settle, and it’s a good opportunity for snapping some great pictures. Read more here. I still have memories of riding this years ago as a preschooler.
One of the pictures I took while on the Skyride.
This is a carnival style ride that goes around in circles and is set to music. My friend and I rode it shortly before we left the park before closing, and the ride operators were very entertaining. You could tell it was near the end of their shift and they were feeling punchy. It definitely made some fun memories! It’s honestly hard to describe Tradewind, so you can read more about it here.
It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite roller coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, but I think Verbolten is in my top two. Although it doesn’t turn you upside down, part of it is in a dark tunnel, which adds an element of thrill for sure. Read more here.
Sesame Street Forest
I have zero shame in admitting that we enjoyed visiting Sesame Street Forest while we waited for our lunch to settle our second day at Busch Gardens. We had fun riding the kiddie rides that didn’t have a maximum height. And I shamelessly took advantage of a photo opportunity with Elmo. Read more about Sesame Street Forest here.
Food at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Now that I’ve shared some of my favorite attractions at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, I wanted to share just a couple tips on food in the park. From late May through the end of June, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has a Food & Wine festival, where you can buy special foods from different countries around the world. We happened to visit during this time, and got some Greek salad and Asian lettuce wraps.
I also highly recommend the soft serve ice cream from London Dairy at Busch Gardens. The waffle cones are so big that we just made that our dinner one night. London Dairy is obviously in the England section of the park. They played British Invasion rock music in the background while we ate. Pro tip-don’t ride a roller coaster right after eating one of these waffle cones, no matter how good you feel!
Our second day in the park we ate lunch at Marco Polo’s Marketplace in the Italy section of the park. They have pizza, pasta, Mediterranean, and Asian food. Note that portion sizes are huge and you can easily share. You can buy meal plans for Busch Gardens Williamsburg, but it honestly isn’t worth the extra money, unless you plan on eating a ton.
I hope that y’all enjoyed this post and found it helpful if you’re planning to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg in the near future. My trip in summer 2016 was the first time I went since I was either 4 or 5. It was nice to finally get to experience Busch Gardens from an adult perspective. There are a few rides that have opened up since my 2016 trip, and I can’t wait to check them out whenever I go back. If you’re on the fence about visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg, then definitely go for it! You won’t regret it! Also, if you have any particular questions about Busch Gardens Williamsburg, then please don’t hesitate to reach out!