This year I am so honored to be a MomCentral Ambassador for Busch Gardens here in Williamsburg, Virginia for the 2014-2015 year. We have never has the pleasure of visiting the park, although I had heard from many people (including my mom) how wonderful it is. Having not been on a "family" vacation for almost eight years - you know, the kind where you are just going away as a family and not going to visit family - we thought that this was the perfect time to do it. Our summer was rather crazy so we settled on an "End of Season" getaway to Williamsburg. We stayed at the lovely Williamsburg La Quinta with our Military Gold Card and set out on our adventure to the park.
Before I get on to my tips for visiting with kids, lets start with talking about the theme park itself. Its a beautiful park, with probably the most amazing customer service/attendants I have seen since first discovering Chick-Fil-A. They were wonderfully kind to my children, helpful and fun. One of the most surprising parts was the carnival games sections. We never felt cheated or taken advantage of and the pricing wasn't overkill. The attendant even switched out our winnings when some of the kids realized they had a different kind or color they wanted, no questions asked.
The park is extremely clean, the food areas great (although the bees, sheesh, so many bees in one place), and even the cost of the on-site food wasn't absolutely terrifying. There were enough rides to keep everyone happy and the rentable strollers were pretty cool. We also happened to be in the park just at the beginning of their Hall-O-Scream! *scary!* It was actually really cool and made me wish that hubby and I could have stayed for that part. It was obviously meant for adults, but again we were pleasantly surprised how the actors curbed their behaviors when small children were around. A+++ job Busch Gardens!
on the tram from parking to the park
getting our heights checked for the rides - BG's color guide makes it so easy
the kids' first ride in Seasame Street Place
Can't believe my cautious first-born went on this!
yet another ride I'm amazed he went on!
the park is sectioned into "Country" themes. They are beautiful to look at.
some of the gardens in England. Beautifully designed and decorated
some of the fall/Halloween decorations
Tips for Visiting Busch Gardens with Kids and On a Budget
1. Stroller rental, while convenient is kind of expensive. With lots of scheduled breaks even my two-year old
walked around for the eight hours we were there. So bring your own or chance it. If you are economizing the rest of your trip, springing for the rental could fit into your budget.
2. While food is available, I love that Busch Gardens has taken into consideration budgeting for families. In each of the parking structures there are picnic tables that are lovely. These are easily accessed with the tram system. So bring your cooler and take a break from the park to eat your homemade meals.
3. Visit on a Sunday. While we went at the very end of the season, after Labor Day, apparently Sunday is
a great day to go. The park isn't quite as busy as it is Saturday, and we didn't really have to deal with lines. So attending in the off season, and on Sunday will be our MO from now on, at least until the kids are older.
4. Study the park map and circle all the rides you will be able to go on. We didn't do this ahead of time and we walked around to some locations where there really weren't any rides for us to go on. The park is great
and measures the kids, bands them, and then gives you a color-coded paper with the names of the rides you can go on. Save walking time by figuring this out before-hand.
5. Take advantage of some of the built-in rest areas! Through-out the day we took advantage of the play areas, with benches, or places for us to watch the kids get out some energy and hang out. There's a air tram that goes between the different countries and a climbing area in the Sesame Street Place. There is also a splash park in Sesame Place that we didn't know about. Bring a swimsuit and towel for the kids and take a splash break!