Whether your visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg for the first time or you’re a local, making the most out of your Busch Gardens trip will help you see and experience all the park has to offer.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg is more than your typical amusement park. It has been voted the “World’s Most Beautiful Park” every year since 1990. Take time to enjoy the landscape or you’ll miss out on what sets Busch Gardens apart from other theme parks in the US.
How to Maximize Your Visit to Busch Gardens Williamsburg
First, don’t wait in line to purchase your tickets. Buy your tickets online before you go, redeem at the kiosk (when required) and head right into the park. Even better? You can take advantage of Busch Gardens discount coupons to help you save more on your trip.
If you’re planning to visit for multiple days, you may want to consider a seasons pass, at least for one adult. The hefty parking fee of $15 can add up quickly if you don’t have a seasons pass!
Keep in mind that you will need to have your bags checked before entering the park. If you don’t have a bag, just keep left and skip that line. You will also need to wait in line to scan your ticket at the turnstiles to enter the park. Take a look at the far left and far right sides for the best line. Everyone seems to gather in the middle, so you can usually get through faster by avoiding the center lines.
Also, don’t waste time and stop for a potty break at the restrooms near the ticket buildings. This location is always crazy busy, so unless the kids are dancing, get into the park and visit the restrooms to the left of the clock tower (past the Globe Theater) or near the Clydesdale stables.
When to Go:
Busch Gardens will be crowded during the peak season and at certain times of the day. School gets out about 2-weeks into June, so you will find the park to be even more crowded after summer vacation begins. Heading into the park on a Friday before it opens daily will save you a lot of time fighting crowds.
Plan to arrive early in the morning – just before opening time or right at 10am. If not, try to wait until 2pm – 4pm during the summer. The lines for entry can get extremely long during peak times. It’s common for visitors with young kids to be done with the park around 2pm to get home for naps. You’ll notice more people heading out of the park during this time.
As you can imagine, weekends are prime theme park time! Sunday afternoon is good if you are a passholder as well as holidays such as Mother’s day. Most families are taking Mom to dinner or spending time with extended family not wanting to ride roller coasters.
Evenings are also another great time to visit – except on Friday and Saturday nights. Just keep in mind traffic in the Williamsburg area is ridiculous during rush hour.
Don’t let bad weather deter you. If there is a day with slightly questionable weather, the park will be significantly less crowded. As long as it’s not pouring rain or lightening, most rides will remain open. There have been days when they called for rain and with the exception of occasional drizzle is was a perfectly lovely day and the park felt empty.
Please note that refunds and rain checks will not be issued due to inclement weather. This is an at your own risk time saver….
Make a plan of attack before heading to the park. Do you want to see all the shows? Ride all of the roller coasters five times? Eat your way through Europe? A little bit of planning before your trip can save you hours of running around the park.
My kids always want to ride the roller coasters, so we will try to hit the popular rides such as Griffon early. Don’t try to squeeze into Sesame Street Fun Forest first, that is where all the other parents head. Instead get the roller coasters done before the lines form or visit Land of the Dragons before other visitors make their way to that side of the park.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg features more than 50 rides and attractions, so every member of the family will find something they enjoy.
Adults and older kids can get their adrenaline rush on the 5 roller coasters. Verbolten, the newest ride, is a favorite of my 10-year old. However, it kills my neck and gives me the most awful migraine. It’s just as bad – if not worse than the Big Bad Wolf that used to be in the same area. It’s is a fun ride with the indoor/outdoor experience and the plunge toward the Rhine River, if your body can handle it though. My son and his friends will ride it over and over again on a slow day.
The Griffon is amazing as are the other rides; Alpengeist, Apollo’s Chariot and the original Loch Ness Monster. The Loch Ness is typically a ride that can be ridden multiple times as the lines aren’t usually as long.
I am personally not a fan of water rides, but my kids enjoy Escape from Pompeii, Le Scoot & Roman Rapids. Just be warned that the lines for Roman Rapids can get extremely long. Even on a slow day at the park, waiting over an hour isn’t unusual.
There are also a ton of other adventure rides that will give visitors old and young a thrill. My favorite ride, even as a kid, has always been the Battering Ram. It’s one of the many rides at Busch Gardens that the whole family can enjoy.
There are even quite a few rides for the little ones. In addition to Land of the Dragons and Sesame Street Forest of Fun which are dedicated specifically for the youngest visitors, there are kiddie rides scattered throughout the park including lil’ Clydes, airplanes (Der Roto Baron) and little balloons – just to name a few. Don’t miss the carrousel or mini swings while you’re making your way through the park as well!
Quick queue is a paid option to help save time by skipping the lines. I have not personally paid for this service, but you may find it advantageous if you are visiting for a single day when it’s extremely busy in the park.
Dress for Success:
Busch Gardens Williamsburg consists of rolling hills, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes. It is also advisable to put swimsuits under the kids clothes and to bring a towel for little ones that will want to splash in the water. There is an opportunity for water fun in Sesame Street Forest and Land of the Dragons. This is a fantastic way to let the kids cool off during those hot summer days and to give parents a break.
If you forget a change of clothes or decide to try a water ride, there are family drying stations available for a fee near all the water ride locations.
Take a Break:
If you need to take a break from the fun, ride on the Rhine River cruise, skyride or steam train. These are 3 ways to see the beautiful landscape and get some downtime.
Let the kids rest and cool off during the heat of the day when you view one of the many fabulous shows. You can even see this super cool show, Mix It Up!, while dining on Italian food at Ristorante della Plazza. Feel the energy of Irish dance with Celtic Fyre or explore rock-n-roll in England with London Rocks!
You can also stroll through Lorikeet Glen to get a close-up look at a wide variety of gorgeous birds or rest your tired feet and sit on the nearby benches surrounded by lush trees and fragrant flowers.
My kids love spending time gazing at the animals at Wolf Haven and Eagle Ridge. They also enjoy taking time to learn about a hawk or other bird of prey that is out on display. You’ll typically find these animals just on the outskirts of Ireland.
Keep Your Wallet Full:
Let’s face it. Busch Gardens makes a lot of money selling food, drinks and gifts. You’ll find world-class shopping and a variety of culinary experiences to tempt your taste buds and wallet.
Save money by packing water bottles and a few snacks for the kids in your backpack or stroller. Kids need to eat constantly to keep their energy up, so don’t get stuck at the pretzel vendor every 30 minutes! Sit behind the swings for a quick snack and a quiet spot to recharge.
Pack lunch and leave it in your car instead of dining in the park. Ride the tram back to your car, grab lunch and eat outside at one of the picnic tables. Then you can just ride the tram back to the park after everyone has a full belly.
The food is decent a far as theme parks go, so if you are only making one trip – you may want spend a little and enjoy food and a show at Das Festhaus in Oktoberfest or ribs at Trapper’s Smokehouse. We tend to split plates of food – there is worse than trying to walk around overstuffed in the heat.
You can also set up a Food & Wine Cashless Wristband at the beginning of your visit if you want to avoid pulling out your wallet throughout the day. Set up a spending account with your credit card or cash and charge purchases throughout the park with just the swipe of your waterproof wristband. It’s a FREE and convenient way to enjoy the park without worrying about misplacing your cash or credit card.
Dining deals are available for pre-purchase as well. It’s worth a look to see if this is the best option for your budget.
My family can usually complete everything we want at the park in about 4-hours. Now, we do visit multiple times per year, so I could pretty much navigate the park with my eyes closed.
Busch Gardens Europe will definitely be on your list of favorite amusement parks once you experience the cleanliness, friendliness of staff and perfect combination of thrill and nature.
What are your tips to make the most out of a trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg?
Photo Credit: Busch Gardens