Consistently named as one of the most beautiful theme parks in the world, Busch Gardens Williamsburg draws millions of visitors every year. Designed to feel like a condensed tour of Europe, the park features several lands that each pay homage to a unique country including England, France, Italy and Germany.
While the areas do play into some cultural stereotypes (think men in lederhosen in the German area), Busch Gardens succeeds in capturing the charm and spirit of the countries that inspire the rides and landscapes.
I visited Busch Gardens several times as a child, and like most kids, was more focused on the rides then the landscape design of the park. I thought it was cool that there were different lands, yet didn’t appreciate the beauty of my surroundings.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Was Just As Beautiful As I Remembered
When my husband and I took our kids to Busch Gardens as part of a vacation to Virginia Beach, I wanted to be more mindful of the park and absorb all the effort the designers made to create a unique experience. From the moment we arrived, I was reminded of my childhood time at the park. All the beautiful details of the buildings and thoughtful design of the walkways create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Going In The Middle Of The Week Was A Smart Choice
We chose to visit the park in the middle of the week, to help minimize the potential for encountering a huge crowd. Considering this was in the middle of summer break for most schools in the United States, we knew the park wouldn’t be empty, however, we were confident a Tuesday visit would be better than going over the weekend. When we arrived at the park in the morning, we were hardly the first ones there, but had no trouble getting onto our first ride of the day. We waited maybe 15 minutes at most to ride the Verbolten roller coaster.
The New Straddle Coaster, “DarKoaster,” Was A Hit
The next ride we decided to try was the new Darkoaster, an indoor straddle coaster, which claims to be the first of its kind. Being the newest and most anticipated ride of the season, this coaster had the longest wait time. As we waited the 30 minutes or so to get on the ride, our youngest decided the coaster seemed to scary for him (he was nervous about being in the dark and the scary images projected during the ride. I volunteered to leave with him, admittedly bummed I couldn’t experience the ride.
Lunch Was Satisfying
After my son and husband came off the ride, we were ready for lunch, and headed over to eat in the huge German biergarten-like food hall which was close by (as we were already in the German section of the park). I don’t want to make this post about the food, so I will say I thought the food was OK, but my husband enjoyed it.
Rain Shuts Down Rides, Doesn’t Stop The Fun
Neither of my kids wanted to try out the bigger coasters, much to my chagrin, but hey, this wasn’t about me. Instead, we agreed to check out the water rides, which were my favorite as a child.
Right at this time, however, an announcer came on and said that severe weather in the area meant that all rides and even the tram out of the park had to shut down. Though at the time, I felt nary a raindrop, sure enough, within the next hour the rain started coming down.
We did what any family would do, seek shelter in a wine shop. To be fair, it happened to be the closest building at the time. Of course, while my husband and I were trying to stay dry, our kids were having an absolute ball playing in the rain. It was like a bonus water ride!
No Ride Access Means Time To Explore Other Park Features
Unable to leave the park, we made the most of it, and waited out the storm. The rain stopped, however, for safety reasons, the rides remained closed. During this time, we enjoyed some ice cream and explored the grounds, taking time to admire the animals and other interesting features of the park.
After about two hours, the rides re-opened, and, by this point the crowd had thinned out even more. We had little wait time in getting onto Roman Rapids and Escape From Pompeii, which were both just as fun and cheesy as I remembered from the 90s.
Rides Re-Opened And We Finished With Favorites
After we finished with those two rides, we were all ready to wrap up. Some may think we didn’t take advantage of our time, yet I feel like we got to experience the park in a unique way.
Before we left, my husband and son agreed I had to try the Darkoaster, so I went on with my oldest, while my husband and youngest enjoyed the swings. I am happy I got the chance to go on this coaster. The experience was filled with exciting twists and the visual elements were stunning.
If you ever find yourself caught in a storm at Busch Gardens, don’t fret, an amazing time can still be had.