10 Tips for a First Visit to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA

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We visited Busch Gardens Williamsburg in August of 2019. I saved the following post, hoping to share it at the start of the 2020 season. Unfortunately, the COVID 19 pandemic hit and I didn’t feel it appropriate to post when the amusement park was closed. Busch Gardens is scheduled to open in late July and I am sharing the following observations and tips for families choosing to visit the park this summer. I also believe most of these tips will be relevant in future years as well. For the latest updates on Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s schedule check here and for updates on regulations, check here.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is an almost 400 aces amusement park in James City County, near the popular “Historic Triangle” of Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg. The complex is organized by European countries and includes over 50 rides, with 9 rollercoasters and 3 water rides, and plenty of family fun. The park is closed in January, February, and parts of March, with select hours and dates for early spring and later fall. Check the full calendar here. On a research trip to Busch Gardens, I learned quite a few tips for saving time and money and for maximizing family fun while visiting the park.

10 Tips for Visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg:

1. Strategize your route before you go: Check the height requirements and restrictions for each ride here. The park does a nice job of recording the experience of each ride on the website, which is especially helpful when deciding about roller coasters. Make a list of what each person wants to do and make a list based on location (park map here). Remember that the roller coasters tend to be popular and lines form quickly.  Also consider add ons like Quick Queue, Photokeys, and Behind the Scenes tours. 

2. Think about meals ahead of time: Busch Gardens has dozens of dining options, including full service restaurants, quick service meals, and over a dozen snack and drink concession stands, with different countries and representative foods from each country. More information can be found here. Kids meals include an entree, apple sauce, and juicebox, milk, or soda.

3. Take a look at the daily calendar and consider what shows or special presentations you might want to see, like daily encounter with various animals, musical performances and seasonal celebrations. More information and schedules can be found here

4. Dress accordingly: Consider the time of year and local weather conditions. We visited in peak summer heat and the happiest looking people were wearing loose fitting shorts and t-shirts. And wear sneakers for any seasons- there is so.much.walking.

5. Be careful what you pack: Guests can bring unopened single serve snacks and unopened water bottles. Don’t forget the sunscreen (all year- keep your skin healthy!) and bug spray. In the summer, consider purchasing a misting fan at a local store to save money and time in the park. Guests can rent lockers all day in “England” behind the confectionary and timed lockers near several thrill rides. 

6. Bring a stroller: Little kids will tire easily and the stroller will definitely ward off some tantrums (and save your back from having to carry everything). If you forget a stroller, guests can rent double strollers (no single), or wheelchairs, for $20/day (electric scooters are $50/day) from Guest Services just beyond the main gate ticket booths. 

7. Parking: The park staggers opening with various sections opening at different times- England parking lot opens first around 9:15am. When we arrived on a weekday peak summer day at 9:05 there were already three cars ahead of us in all 6 lanes. By 9:25am, each lane had 10 cars in line.  Guests who park in the general parking lots ($20/day, slight discount if prepaid online here) will need to take the (free) continuously running tram to the main gate. Guests can pay an additional fee to park closer to the main lots. Information here.  And remember where you park (Country and area number)

8. Know where to go if you need help or feel sick: Unfortunately my daughter got sick an hour into our day at the park. I had to quickly find health services- who were great with her. There are First Aid stations located throughout the park. Busch Gardens and Water Country also pride themselves on being fully accessible for all guests and have several programs to ensure all guests can have fun- read more about various programs here.

9. Save souvenirs for the end of the day. You don’t want to carry souvenirs all day, or worry about storing them somewhere safe. Consider visiting any of the almost dozen gifts at your exit out of the park. Find the full list and locations here. The easiest souvenirs? Busch Gardens trading pins.

10. Guests can board pets at the Pet Care area in the England Parking Lot, which is climate controlled. Owners are responsible for feeding and walking pets. Note: Guests must have preferred parking passes to access the Pet Care. 

For more family fun in the Williamsburg area, check out our adventures at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown , Yorktown Battlefield, Jamestown Settlement, and Historic Jamestowne.

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16 Comments

  1. We’ve been going to Busch for 27 years. Maybe your visit last year was good. Our visit this year was 2021 was horrible! Half the rides were closed, most of the food kiosks were closed. The parking fee was $25. The Groupon to let’s were $76 per person. Alot to charge for half a park. What a waste of money. Do. Not. Go. To. This. Park. When it was the original Busch it was SO different and so much better. SeaWorld is capitalizing on the great reputation of Busch. Don’t waste your money. Shame on these shiesters for charging and not delivering quality.

    1. I don’t think you realize how bad they’re hurting for workers right now. They simply don’t have enough employees right now because they usually rely on international students.

  2. We’ve been going to Busch for 27 years. Maybe your visit last year was good. Our visit this year was 2021 was horrible! Half the rides were closed, most of the food kiosks were closed. The parking fee was $25. The Groupon to let’s were $76 per person. Alot to charge for half a park. What a waste of money. Do. Not. Go. To. This. Park. When it was the original Busch it was SO different and so much better. SeaWorld is capitalizing on the great reputation of Busch. Don’t waste your money. Shame on these shiesters for charging and not delivering quality.

    1. I don’t think you realize how bad they’re hurting for workers right now. They simply don’t have enough employees right now because they usually rely on international students.

  3. We’ve been going to Busch for 27 years. Maybe your visit last year was good. Our visit this year was 2021 was horrible! Half the rides were closed, most of the food kiosks were closed. The parking fee was $25. The Groupon to let’s were $76 per person. Alot to charge for half a park. What a waste of money. Do. Not. Go. To. This. Park. When it was the original Busch it was SO different and so much better. SeaWorld is capitalizing on the great reputation of Busch. Don’t waste your money. Shame on these shiesters for charging and not delivering quality.

    1. I don’t think you realize how bad they’re hurting for workers right now. They simply don’t have enough employees right now because they usually rely on international students.

  4. We just went to this park July 1 2021 half the rides were closed, and a lot of the food places were closed.
    With so much of the park closed ticket prices need to be adjusted. Very disappointing. The ONLY reason we went was because our son was home on leave and brought his girlfriend with him. She had never been here before, we were very disappointed.
    Yes we know everyone is looking for help, but if your gonna close almost half your park adjust the ticket prices. On top of all that a storm came that day and then all the rides were closed.
    This is our last trip to Bush Gardens Williamsburg.
    The only good thing about the whole experience of the day was Military members(our son) got in free.

  5. We just went to this park July 1 2021 half the rides were closed, and a lot of the food places were closed.
    With so much of the park closed ticket prices need to be adjusted. Very disappointing. The ONLY reason we went was because our son was home on leave and brought his girlfriend with him. She had never been here before, we were very disappointed.
    Yes we know everyone is looking for help, but if your gonna close almost half your park adjust the ticket prices. On top of all that a storm came that day and then all the rides were closed.
    This is our last trip to Bush Gardens Williamsburg.
    The only good thing about the whole experience of the day was Military members(our son) got in free.

  6. We just went to this park July 1 2021 half the rides were closed, and a lot of the food places were closed.
    With so much of the park closed ticket prices need to be adjusted. Very disappointing. The ONLY reason we went was because our son was home on leave and brought his girlfriend with him. She had never been here before, we were very disappointed.
    Yes we know everyone is looking for help, but if your gonna close almost half your park adjust the ticket prices. On top of all that a storm came that day and then all the rides were closed.
    This is our last trip to Bush Gardens Williamsburg.
    The only good thing about the whole experience of the day was Military members(our son) got in free.

  7. I went to Busch Gardens with my boys and had an amazing time! The lines were super fast was able to go on ride multiple times with no long wait.The only part was that it was so hot other then that we had an amazing time! I only seen one ride closed which was the one you ride in the air across the park. Employees we’re nice and very helpful when I needed help finding my way back to meet my boys one employee even walked me their very sweet girl.

  8. I went to Busch Gardens with my boys and had an amazing time! The lines were super fast was able to go on ride multiple times with no long wait.The only part was that it was so hot other then that we had an amazing time! I only seen one ride closed which was the one you ride in the air across the park. Employees we’re nice and very helpful when I needed help finding my way back to meet my boys one employee even walked me their very sweet girl.

  9. I went to Busch Gardens with my boys and had an amazing time! The lines were super fast was able to go on ride multiple times with no long wait.The only part was that it was so hot other then that we had an amazing time! I only seen one ride closed which was the one you ride in the air across the park. Employees we’re nice and very helpful when I needed help finding my way back to meet my boys one employee even walked me their very sweet girl.

  10. Took my daughter to Busch Gardens Williamsburg just yesterday. While the prices are a bit steep, we did have a good time. Unfortunately none of the shows were open, and a lot of the food places were also closed. Which I understand due to them typically hiring international students. Only a few of the rides were closed, and lines were remotely short. However we went looking for one of the popular water rides in the park Roman Rapids, after having to ask an employee where it was even though we’ve been there numerous times before covid, and found out according to the employee that Roman Rapids hasn’t been open for 2 years, which is severely disappointing. Also both of their 4D experiences were closed as well.

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