Busch Gardens Plan to Launch New Special Event
UPDATE Aug. 18: Additional dates have been released:
Aug 18 – 19, 5 – 9 p.m.
Aug 20 – 23, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. & 5 – 9 p.m.
Aug 26 – 27, 5 – 9 p.m.
Aug. 28 – 30, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. & 5 – 9 p.m.
UPDATE Aug. 7: The Coasters and Craft Brews limited-capacity special event has been EXTENDED! Enjoy MORE DAYS and MORE FUN now through Aug. 23, Thursdays – Sundays from 11am to 3pm & 5pm to 9pm. Reservations open tomorrow, Aug. 8 at 10am, purchase tickets.
So we got to go on Member Preview Night and all we can say is “Thank you for reopening Busch Gardens!” They are only allowed 1000 patrons in the park so you know they are not making money on this one folks…and you feel like the park is your private party! Beers are on tap, food at the Smoke House is always delicious and the rides have short, short, short lines. Keep reading to learn about the proceedures put in place that we learned about a few days before Member Preview Day when we attended the Media Day event. Keep scrolling!
Great news — Busch Gardens Williamsburg will reopen on select days for Coasters and Craft Brews. While the general park remains closed three sections of the park will open. Rides include three roller coasters Griffin, Loch Ness Monster and Invader as well as Finnegan’s Flyer, Le Catapult and Li’l Clydes (kids ride). While this event is only a limited run, we hope this is just the beginning of things to come…and so do they!
Reservations are required with a limit of 1,000 guests permitted in the park. Special event tickets are available for $44.99 per person. Admission is free for active Members, Annual Pass Holders and Fun Card holders but you still have to reserve your spot by visiting buschgardens.com.
Today we had the opportunity to speak to Kevin Lembke, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA park president for an update on the park reopening and new protocols.
Details on new safety protocols are outlined below:
All guests and employees will have their temperatures checked before entering the park. CDC temperature recommendation of less than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more you will not be allowed to enter the park.
Face Masks at Busch Gardens
Yes, you have to wear a face mask in the park. Employees and guests (over age 2 years) must wear a face covering while in the park. Face coverings may be removed while eating, drinking or in designated relaxation areas but if you are walking around holding a drink…you need to have your mask on when you are not drinking. You may bring your own face covering, or you can purchase a mask at the park like the one in the picture above.
Physical Distancing at Busch Gardens
Signs are placed throughout the park to remind guests about six-foot physical distancing. While in line for rides, circular stickers like the one pictured above are placed on the ground alternating with green spots to show you where to stand. When you get close to boarding there will be line managers responsible for putting guests in each line to board based on the number in your party. Seats or rows will remain empty based on the rides seating arrangement. For example, Griffin will have two seats vacant between each party.
Cleaning and Sanitation at Busch Gardens
Hand sanitization stations as well as an increase in the frequency of cleaning for all key areas of the park. They are partnering with you, the visitor to keep everyone safe. They have hand sanitizer available for you before you get on the ride and then again when you exit.
They will also be increasing the frequency of cleanings during the day and doing deep cleanings after each session of the event. For Coasters and Craft Brew there are two sessions on Thurs – Sun: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM so the deep clean would happen in between those sessions.
Craft Brews at Busch Gardens
It is a craft brew event so don’t worry, there will be beer! In fact, the event promises to deliver over 20 craft and local beers. You will find them at Grogan’s Pub. Keep an eye out for local Virginia breweries such as Smartmouth and Three Notched along with classic German and Irish beer as well as many other favorites waiting for you! Payment includes Apple Pay and other contactless payment options.
Dining Options for this Event
Since this is my family’s favorite place to eat at the park, I am kind of thrilled Trapper’s Smokehouse will be open for outdoor dining with a full menu. Busch Gardens employees will serve guests the food instead of guest being able to reach in and select a plate. Also, plexiglass has been installed at the checkout stations and they have contactless payment as an option but it is not required. Don’t worry, other than the green stickers reminding you to stand 6 feet apart stuck on the ground in the cue line, the Smokehouse it still your favorite ol’ Smokehouse!
Outside, tables will either be spread out or covered to ensure everyone is at least 6′ apart. Remember you can eat with your family/friend unit, you just need to be socially distanced from other family/friend units.
Other places to enjoy some food during the event includes Three Rivers Snacks, Tap Room and Brady’s Drink for a quick refreshment or bite-to-eat.
Busch is still honoring the refillable souvenir cups, however you will need to use a new cup when filling at the soda fountain and then transfer it over to the refillable cup.
We asked Kevin Lembke, park president, if policy and procedures being used at Tampa Busch Gardens has helped Williamsburg Busch Gardens in their reopening phase. Click on the video below for his response.
Shopping at Busch Gardens during the Event
For the most part, during the Coasters and Craft Brew event, shops that are located in the areas of the park where the event will be held will be open. So if you have missed shopping for PINS or Busch Gardens swag – you will have your chance.
Do keep in mind that the State rules still apply, so 50% occupancy applies to retail stores in the park. But since the admission is limited to 1000 patrons the park will definitely not feel crowded!
Here are the shops that will be open during Coasters and Craft Brew:
THE EMPORIUM – Located in England – Find roller coaster memorabilia, apparel, face masks, accessories and more. This store is always full of good gifts and fun items to help you remember your visit!
TOYS O’ THE LEPRECHAUN – Located in Ireland – Visit this shop for kids that has kids’ apparel, fabulous accessories, stuffies and generally fun gifts. In case you don’t bring the kids to this event, at least you won’t come home empty handed!
EMERALD ISLE GIFTS Located in Ireland – This is a wonderful store. They have nice jewelry – like silver Celtic crosses, and Celtic friendship rings and necklaces. They have Irish wool sweaters and Guinness ® apparel. This is actually a really nice little gift store to visit to shop for family and friends.
TRAPPER DAVE’S GENERAL STORE – Located in New France – This is the place you can pan for gold, search for real gemstones and fossils, and then shop for InvadR, and Busch Gardens’ souvenirs, unique gifts, t-shirts and hand-carved candles. It is right by the Trapper’s Smokehouse so it is a great place to wander thru before or after you eat.
Get your tickets for Coasters and Craft Brew
We have heard that the tickets for members sold out quickly, and in some cases before members even had a chance to open their event emails. So what is Busch Gardens going to do to fix this?
Well, it is a pandemic folks, so they are doing their best just to open at all, however we did ask about member tickets. Their response was hopeful; if all goes well with this event, they will continue events like this – so that means members will have more opportunities to sign up for the next event (and maybe even this event if it gets extended).
Also, they may pre-announce the registration windows for future events, so members can log on when the reservations go live. Announcing upcoming ticketing dates prior to the date will allow for members to learn about the event before registration starts. This may help prevent tickets being sold out before some members knew about the event.
But if you would like to attend this event, there are still tickets available for purchase. This is a chance to get out of your house and come to Busch Gardens in the safest manner currently possible. We had the opportunity to go on Wednesday night, rest assured the park is doing a great job cleaning and being prepared with social distancing policies. Since there is a cap on the number of attendees you have plenty of room to distance yourself and everyone we saw were following face mask requirements. We all know that at 1000 person cap – the park isn’t making a sustainable income, so come and support our local amusement park if your able.
The staff we spoke to were thankful and happy to be back at the park. Rest assured, there will be a lot of smiles under all those face coverings! So strap on your mask, and enjoy your two faves: Busch Gardens and craft brew!
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