When I was a kid, my brother rode the Big Bad Wolf and Loch Ness Monster while I just watched, too scared to go with him. We were at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Virginia but at this point in my life, I was too scared to ride roller coasters. A few years after that, I discovered the adrenaline rush from riding roller coasters. Recently, I wanted to go back as an adult to ride the coasters and let my daughter who had never been there experience the amusement park. Unfortunately Big Bad Wolf, a suspended roller coaster that was in service since 1984 was closed permanently in 2009. I love suspended coasters so I missed the boat on that one, but there are plenty of other roller coasters at BGW, which brings me to reason number 1 why Busch Gardens Williamsburg has something for everyone: there are some great roller coasters here.
Busch Gardens’ newest coaster Tempesto is a launch coaster with speeds up to 63 mph and a complete inversion 154 feet in the air. Alpengeist is an inversion roller coaster that climbs to 195 feet and riders are hurtled through six inversions at speeds up to 67 mph. Apollo’s Chariot has a drop of 210 feet and reaches a maximum speed of 73 mph. Griffon has a 205-foot, 90-degree, 75 mph free fall. Verboten® is a somewhat tamer roller coaster than the previously mentioned ones. It is an indoor/outdoor ride with an 88-foot plunge toward the river. A long-time favorite of the Busch Gardens coasters is Loch Ness Monster®. This coaster has two loops and stretches 13 stories tall before racing down a 114-foot drop, with speeds as fast as 60 miles per hour. Loch Ness is what I think of when I think of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The fact that is has been in operation since 1978 shows why it’s one of the most popular rides in the park. It is a classic.
Reason number 2: Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a beautiful amusement park. It is divided into sections with different European countries as themes. These sections are Germany and Octoberfest, France and New France, Ireland, Scotland, England, Italy, and Festa Italia, and Jack Hanna’s Wild Reserve. Each section has corresponding scenery, rides, attractions, and restaurants. It is nice to just walk around the park and take in all of the details and the scenery. If you don’t like riding amusement park rides, you can easily fill your day with shopping, dining, sightseeing, and people-watching.
When you need a break from riding rides, you can always take in a show, which is reason number 3: the shows are good with high-quality actors, singers, and dancers. There are 8 family-friendly shows spread out all throughout the day so watching at least one or two shouldn’t be too difficult for most people. All For One™ premiered July 1 and is about the Musketeers. Mix it Up! includes a team of chef musicians in Italy’s il Teatro di San Marco. Celtic Fyre is a popular show featuring Irish song and dance. London Rocks™ is a musical journey that explores the roots of rock-n-roll and in a 25-minute live action and multi-media rock show. Roll Out The Barrel includes live musicians, singers and dancers, and incorporates some acrobatics in this musical about a contest in a German village. Sunny Days Celebration is a sing- and dance-along for younger children and their families featuring Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Grover, Cookie Monster and Zoe. I really wanted to see The Secret Life of Predators but there just wasn’t enough time. This is a live-animal show featuring some of North America’s top predators. One of my favorite shows is More…Pet Shenanigans. I love the fact that the animal trainers at the park wanted to incorporate rescued and shelter animals in a show. The park also supports animal shelters with a program called Happy Tails in which they offer two free single-day tickets to the park to those who adopt a dog or cat from participating shelters.
BGW also offers several special events throughout the year, which is reason number 4: there are five festivals or special events throughout the year. The Food & Wine Festival is late May through late June. For the weekend of July 4th, there is the Fireworks Spectacular. Similar to Octoberfest is the Beer Festival, Bier Fest in September. The month leading up to Halloween includes Howl-O-Scream. During the holiday season beginning around Thanksgiving there is Christmas Town.
Often we think of amusement parks as a place to go for fast roller coasters and other rides, but Busch Gardens Williamsburg has many rides, shows, and attractions for younger children, making this park truly family-friendly, my reason number 5. They call it “KIDsiderate” and while they offer play areas like Land of the Dragons® and the Sesame Street® Forest of Fun™ there are also an abundance of strollers, changing tables, nursing rooms, and of course kid-friendly food offerings. BGW also takes safety seriously and offer height-check stations to make sure your child is tall enough to ride certain rides.
Although I didn’t even mention any of the other rides, there are many that are a lot of fun and definitely worth checking out! Some of my family’s favorites include Escape from Pompeii, Le Scoot, Roman Rapids, and Aeronaut Skyride. Although I’ve never done it, the Rhine River Cruise looks like fun. Hmmmm, maybe next time!
Logistics: check the website for up-to-date pricing but generally, a one-day ticket for an adult costs $80 online and $70 for children ages 3-9. Buying tickets online generally saves you money and time (you don’t have to wait in line to buy tickets when you arrive at the park). You can also add animal tours, dining plans, and wine tastings online for additional fees.
GPS Driving Directions
One Busch Gardens Blvd.
Williamsburg, VA 23185
Busch Gardens is located in Williamsburg, VA at Exit 243A on I-64. Alternative local routes include US Route 60, and State Routes 143 and 199. Major nearby cities include Virginia Beach (55 miles), Richmond (55 miles) and Washington, DC (150 miles).
Flying? Three airports are situated within a 45-minute drive of Busch Gardens.
Taking a train?
The Williamsburg Amtrak Train Station is just 10 minutes from Busch Gardens. For more information about routes and schedules, visit Amtrak’s website.