Planning a Trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg? Here Are Tips From Local Families Who Are Busch Gardens Williamsburg Regulars!
1. When’s the Best Time to Visit the Park?
- Rainy days, when the lines tend to be much shorter. Besides, it’s kind of fun for the kids to get wet and play in the rain!
- Mid-week days tend to be lighter than weekends.
- Families have told us they’ve found that on Sunday’s the park is less crowded
- Arrive by 9:45 am. They’ll let you enter the park early so you are ready to go when the attractions open, avoid long lines. Enjoy the morning with well-rested kids before the meltdowns begin.
2. Any Tips on What to Bring?
- Sunscreen – Although if you forget (and we have), you can purchase it throughout the park – we purchased sunscreen where you rent strollers when you enter the park.
- Bug spray? Don’t bother, we have yet to be bit — even if you are a mosquito magnet.
- Drinks and snacks – We always bring our refillable souvenir cup. Drink refills are 99 cents, frozen drinks are $1.99. Snacks like granola bars, goldfish, and pretzels are always good to have on hand. INSIDER TIP – Any concession area that sells fountain drinks will give you a FREE cup of ice water – just ask!
- Wipes, tissues and hand sanitizer – Definitely with little ones but as the kids get older we can usually just get them to a restroom to wash up before eating.
- Beach towel – Keep it handy to dry off after splash pad in Sesame Street Forest of Fun & Land of the Dragons.
- Change of clothes – Have the kids wear their suits under their clothes. After getting wet, toss their wet suits into a Ziploc for their wet suits. Be sure to pack dry underwear! If it’s a super-hot July or August day – our kids just wear their regular clothes as they run in the splash pad and then dry in the sun on the playgrounds near the splash pads in both Sesame Street Forest of Fun and Land of the Dragons. It depends on your children. Ours tend to run through the water – others really get soaked – but remember a cool wet shirt can be a blessing in the heat! Even if you opt them to wear a bathing suit – you may want to let the kiddos get their shirts wet so they don’t over heat after the leaving the splash pad.
- Nursing / Family restrooms are in both Land of the Dragons and Sesame Street Village
- Busch Gardens Membership holders – (formerly Annual pass members) receive discounts on purchases throughout the park including food!
- Bring an ID so you can purchase an adult drink — as needed!
3. What are the Best Attractions for Families with Young Children?
- When you first enter the park, look for the red phone booths in England. There your kids will be measured and given a color-coded wristband so you will know which rides he or she is tall enough to ride. Check their list of height requirements for all the rides. Busch Gardens has KIDsiderate attractions throughout the park – even the youngest guests can enjoy age-appropriate rides and attractions.
- Sesame Street Forest of Fun: Forest of Fun has four rides: Grover’s Alpine Express (a kiddie-sized coaster), Oscar’s Whirly Worm (a rock-n-tug ride), Bert and Ernie’s Loch Adventure (a pint-sized flume ride), and Prince Elmo’s Spire (a child sized shot-n-drop tower). Parents are welcome to accompany kids on all of the rides. The big draw here though is the splash pad – especially on hot days! Kids will get soaked, so have kids wear suits or plan on having wet kids! Just above the splash pad, there is a stage where Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Grover, Cookie Monster Elmo and his friends have a since-along, dance-along show called Sunny Celebrations. The shows run throughout the day, and characters also stroll around. Swing by the meet & greet area, to the right of the splash pad, where you can get your picture taken with the characters). For little ones who aren’t ready for rides, there is a rubber-padded play area just past the gift shop. Forgot diapers/wipes or a swim diaper? You can buy them in the gift shop near the entrance of this area. There is also a comfy nursing room right next to the bathroom back by Oscar’s Whirly Worms.
- Italy: Young kids will like the Little Balloons and Little Gliders rides, although sometimes there is only one attendant working both rides, so you may have to wait if you want to do both. You can also wander back to the carnival rides (teacups, elephant run, and arcade) and Roman Rapids if you have kids that are tall enough (a river rafting ride with seats 6 per boat – prepare to get soaked!)
- Land of the Dragons in Germany: This area is a giant tree house playground with ropes nets and slides! There is also a small water play area in the front. Surrounding the tree house are kid-sized rides that are appropriate for toddlers and younger kids. Parents can accompany kids on some these rides, but not all. INSIDER TIP – The Eggery Deggery ride tends to be slow because it takes quite a while for the kids to get on and off. Bathrooms, first aid and nursing area are located in the front of Land of the Dragons, to the left as you enter. FYI – Land of Dragons closes at 8 pm, earlier than the park on days when the park is open until 9 pm or later.
- Pet Shenanigans in Ireland (and other shows) – This is a short show with rescued pets doing tricks to lively music — a good place to rest your feet while the kids are entertained! Check show times before you go. There are lots of animals around the park — in Ireland alone, there are wolves, bald eagles, and an exotic bird area; the famous Busch Clydesdales are in England near the train station, where you can also find Little Clydes ride. Our Williamsburg Families readers tell us their favorite show with kids is Celtic Fyre in Ireland. London Rocks in England is fun and energetic, but may be too loud for noise-sensitive kiddos. Kids will also like shows while they eat — at the Festhaus in Germany or Festa Italia in … Italy of course!
- Germany — Here you can find both big kid and little kid versions of the ever-popular swings. (The little kid version is for toddlers). Same goes for bumper cars — you can take your kid on the big bumper cars, or let your preschooler ride in his own car in the kiddie cars. The Roto Barons are little airplanes — usually no line for this one!
- Busch Gardens Railway – Kids love trains, and the Busch Gardens steam engines are amazing! You can choose to hop off at any of the three stations, or stay on for the entire loop. It’s a great way to appreciate how beautiful the park is while catching a breeze and relaxing for a bit. INSIDER TIP – If the kids are in meltdown mode, hop on a train and let them unwind and have a snack. And yes – there are rows on the train that fit strollers so no need to break them down! Stops are in Italy, New France and England.
- The Sky Ride – Kids love this ride that flies over the park, especially at night with the lights… but there can be long lines, so check the line before you wait, because you can always hit it at another point in the park –England, France or Germany. Only 3 adults per car, and locals tell us that ride attendants will sometimes, but not always, make you get off at each stop rather than riding the whole loop.
- The Rhine River Cruise – A great option if you want to get away from the crowds and relax; however it is only accessibly by stairs, so it may not be worth it if little feet are getting tired. This ride closes early (6pm), so try hitting it earlier in your day. INSIDER TIP – Taking the stairs from Land of the Dragons and crossing the boardwalk back over to Scotland saves time if you have to leave the park quickly (rather than walking all the way around.)
4. What About Rides for Bigger Kids and Adults?
- Kids who are too old for Elmo but not ready for big coasters may like some of the water rides like Roman Rapids, Escape from Pompeii. Italy also has 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, there is a new Busch Gardens VR ride opening in 2018 called Battle for Eire so get ready for something really cool — it’s right next to the pub.
- Adventurous souls – Busch Gardens won’t let you down – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Finnegan’s Flyer (newest ride to open in 2019), Apollo’s Chariot at night (really good during Howl-O-Scream when it gets dark earlier), Griffon, Verbolten, Tempesto and the wooden roller coaster – InvadR!
5. Any Recommendations on Food and Dining?
- Get a meal deal pass online before you go and save some cash.
- Here is a list of Kid Friendly Meals Busch Gardens’ created of for each Country
- Get a souvenir cup — it gets you 99 cent refills throughout the park, or FREE water refill. INSIDER TIP – Any concession area that sells fountain drinks will give you a FREE cup of ice water – just ask! If you are a fan of frozen drinks – you can refill your souvenir cup with a FREEZE (just like a Slurpee) in Sesame Street for $1.99. It’s a great way to cool off and stay hydrated!
- Split a meal — especially for kids, portions can be big enough to share. Williamsburg Families readers really like Trappers Smokehouse in New France the best for quality and variety of food options for the whole family. Most of the dining options have kid-friendly meals (chicken nuggets, hot dogs, fruit cups, pizza, etc.) If you need to cool off, try the air-conditioned Fest Haus in Germany — very large seating area, live show, and lots of food options — head to the back right and there is a little cafe with more made-to-order items (hot paninis!) and YES! Starbucks Coffee! In Italy, there are several places with pasta and pizza, including a live show in Ristorante dela Plazza (BONUS — you can get a carafe of wine there… which you may need by dinnertime!) Our family also really likes the (relatively) new pretzel place next to Mach Tower — soft pretzels, pretzel dogs, and beer….yummmmm.
- Picnic anyone? If you want to bring a picnic, there are eating areas complete with picnic tables in the parking lots. Officially, the rule is no outside food or drink allowed in the park, but in our experience, the park attendants will not stop if you bring in small snacks, especially when you have young children and water bottles.
5. Where Can I Find Discounts on Busch Gardens Tickets?
- Busch Gardens Season Passes – If you’re planning on going more than once a year, this is worthwhile – plus FREE parking!
6. Dead Cell Phone Battery?
- Maybe you have drained your battery taking cute videos of your kiddos or maybe too much Pokémon Go! Head over to the Brauhaus Craft Bier Room and grab a beer or a snack and recharge your phone at one of Busch Gardens’ free charging stations inside.
7. Want to Cool Off and Be Entertained? Catch a Show – They’re Really Good!
- You may know Busch Gardens for its amazing rides, food, and gardens but don’t pass up on the shows that are included in your ticket price. Also check to see if they are holding any concerts during the time you visit – Glory in the Garden’s Concert Series and other national performers perform at Busch Gardens and you can attend with just your admission ticket.
- Busch Gardens is a large supporter of the arts – they employ singers, dancers and musicians and their shows are live. We love to sit up close so my kids can watch the orchestras and the performers – what a treat!
- Currently the shows at Busch Gardens
8. Have a Baby or Toddler? Not to Worry – Busch Gardens Has You Covered! Nursing Rooms, Changing Stations & More:
- If you get to the park and realize your little one needs a stroller (it’s a BIG park for little legs), they are available for rent by the main gate ticket windows.
- Diapers, wipes, children’s Advil can be purchased at most of the main gift shops throughout the park.
- Changing tables are available in all restrooms.
- You are always welcome to nurse your child anywhere you choose in the park. At one time or another we have nursed our little ones here there any everywhere under the blue sunny sky. If you’d rather have a private, quiet and air conditioned space, Busch Gardens has them set up for you too. Nursing Rooms have sinks and offer mothers a comfortable place to sit and nurse. There are several nursing rooms throughout the park as follows: Lost Children area of Land of the Dragons® in Germany, next to Marco Polo’s Marketplace in Italy, New France and Sesame Street® Forest of Fun™. Das Festhaus® in Germany has a private nursing room within the restroom.
- Family Restrooms can be found at the park entrance, Sesame Street® Forest of Fun™, by Griffon® in France and in Germany.
- First Aid – Situated between Jack Hanna’s Wild Reserve and France. Mobile first aid units are also available. Please request assistance from the nearest team member in an emergency.
Need a Busch Garden’s Howl-O-Scream Unofficial Guide – here is our guide!
Need a Busch Garden’s Christmas Town Unofficial Guide – here is our guide!
Need a Busch Garden’s Food & Wine Festival Unofficial Guide – here is our guide!
We hope you enjoy the park with your family – we love it there!
WilliamsburgFamilies.com is happy to be a Thrill Chaser Official Blogger for Busch Gardens. As such, we often attend opening performances and special events that we review and share with our readers.