Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been voted Most Beautiful Theme Park in the World, so why not give it a visit? Well, that’s exactly what we did one summer when visiting on a Baltimore road trip. It was a short trip during Spring Break, but we made sure to include some history as well in Williamsburg. As a theme park loving family, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is clearly one of our favorites (Disney World, you are still #1). Busch Gardens Williamsburg was the perfect mix of rides for the entire family to enjoy. If you are considering a visit to the area, maybe this Busch Gardens Williamsburg review will help you decide.
When our children were younger, we had annual passes to Disney World. We fell in love with the “magic” and enjoyed the attractions as well as the overall ambiance of a Disney park. Annual passes to Disney were quite expensive, even though we were Florida residents. We decided that it was time to stop, but still felt the itch of wanting to ride roller coasters. My husband and I decided to fly to Baltimore when we found cheap Southwest tickets. We had enough miles and then started researching what we wanted to do around Maryland and Virginia. Williamsburg was at the top of the list! After a day exploring Baltimore and another day at Colonial Williamsburg, we thought Busch Gardens Williamsburg would be the perfect theme park after our Disney experience.
Our Busch Gardens Williamsburg Review
First of all, the theming and landscaping at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
The first country after the entrance gates is Britain. Each country is so well themed, it really does feel like you are there (a similar feeling like visiting the countries in Epcot). There are many bridges to cross over, each unique in its’ own way. We tended to walk slowly and admired the lush trees and European decor around us. The rides carry the European theme as well. The entrance of each ride was elaborately adorned with pieces that helped you “buy in” to the theme. Kudos to Busch Gardens!
Now the best part about visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg with kids is definitely the rides! The roller coasters here are top-notch! They had all types and all thrill levels, which is perfect for our family. My husband and son are thrill-seekers; I am somewhat in the middle, and my daughter likes things “mild”. They had something for everyone! There are even carnival-style rides, which we did not expect. Here our Busch Gardens Williamsburg review broken down into young children and older kids/teens.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Review: Tips for Young Children
When you enter the park, look for the red phone booths in England. There is a staff member there that will measure your kids and give them a color-coded wristband so you will know which rides he or she is tall enough to ride. This makes checking which rides they can enjoy very easy. Busch Gardens has “KIDsiderate” attractions throughout the park – even the youngest guests can enjoy age-appropriate rides and attractions.
Sesame Street Forest of Fun
The Sesame Street area has four rides in which parents are welcome to accompany their kids on. The big draw to this area is the splash pad. There is also a stage where Sesame Street characters have a sing-along and dance show. Characters are also available in the meet and greet area.
Italy has quite a few rides for younger kids (balloons, gliders, teacups, and more) and an arcade too. The Roman Rapids ride is also in this area, if your kids are tall enough, and would like to get wet. The Festa Italia show is also quite popular with all ages.
Kids will love the giant treehouse playground with ropes, obstacles, nets, and slides. My own kids played in here for a while and they were 6 and 8 years old. There are also a few toddler rides surrounding the treehouse. Germany is also home to the famous bumper cars and swing area. If you have little ones, there is a smaller and separate bumper cars area just for them next to the bigger one. There is a big and little swing version for all ages. The shows at Germany’s dining pavilion, Festhaus, are sure to be a hit with younger kids too.
Ireland has a popular show called Celtic Fyre, and a short show where pets do tricks that kids are sure to love. The Ireland area also has an animal section with wolves, bald eagles, and a bird area.
England has the famous Busch Clydesdales near the train station that kids will enjoy taking a look at. Here you can also find Little Clydesdales to ride.
Other Rides in Busch Gardens Williamsburg with Kids
- Busch Gardens Railway – Kids will love this train that takes you around most of the park. You can choose to hop off at any of the three stations or stay on for the entire loop. Stops are in Italy, New France, and England. The railway is a great way to take in the beauty of the park while catching a breeze and giving your feet a little break.
- The Sky Ride – Kids will usually enjoy this ride as it flies over the park, especially at night with the lights. There are three stops in England, France or Germany.
- The Rhine River Cruise – This is a great option if your kids enjoy a relaxing boat ride; however it is a little hidden and you will have to go down stairs to get there.
My advice is to do some research ahead of time and plan to visit the park when it opens. We got our tickets ahead of time on Groupon and saved $8 per person. You can also buy the parking in advance if you’d like. Try to do the “popular” rides first, such as the roller coasters. Those usually have the longest wait times. Pick up a map when you arrive and use it to guide your travels.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Review: Older Kids and Teens
Busch Gardens has plenty of rides for thrill-seekers or moderate thrill-seekers. Kids who are too old for Sesame Street but not ready for big coasters may like some of the water rides like Roman Rapids and Escape from Pompeii. Italy and Germany also have some good carnival rides that are more adventurous but not too scary — DaVinci’s Cradle, the Battering Ram, the Trade Wind, and the Catapult. In Ireland, a VR ride opened called Battle for Eire which is entertaining but nothing crazy.
For the adventurous people in your group, check out Finnegan’s Flyer, Apollo’s Chariot, Griffon, Alpengeist, Verbolten, Tempesto, Loch Ness, and InvadR. Coming later in 2020 is a multi-launch coaster – Pantheon. Check out Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s list of all the roller coasters and “big kid” rides here.
General Tips when Visiting Busch Gardens with Kids
- Try to have lunch early or late to avoid the peak lunchtime crowds.
- In terms of food, there are a variety of options at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Theme park food is usually not great, and the food here was surprisingly delicious and not too crazy in price.
- I recommend you eat lunch at Festhaus in Germany because it is indoors and there is a show to watch to keep everyone entertained.
- If a meltdown is about to occur, try a train ride, boat ride, or sky ride to see if your little one falls asleep.
- For the parents, be sure to eat your way around the countries and sample dishes like Irish nachos, crepes, poutine, German sausages, gelato, and hand-battered fish and chips.
- Certain rides have a “no loose items policy”. This drives me crazy! The rides that do not allow bags or any items are clearly marked and will have lockers to rent by the hour for the whole day.
All in all, it was a terrific day filled with screams, laughter, and good old-fashioned family fun. My Busch Gardens Williamsburg review is basically this – GO! I highly recommend it if you are in the DC area. If you are looking for other things to do besides Busch Gardens Williamsburg, then check out my guide on visiting Williamsburg with kids.
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