Help for 1st timers going to Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Busch Gardens Williamsburg:
We are WDW vets but have no experience with BG at all.
My family is planning a trip to Busch Gardens & Colonial Williamsburg from 6/24-7/1. Can you tell me what to expect in terms of crowds at the park @ this time of the year?
We are WDW vets but have no experience with BG at all. Are there any accommodations that can be made for an autistic child in terms on the lines? At WDW we can ask for & receive a GAC that assists us with a more appropriate place to wait than in every line...curious if BG has anything like this?
Also, we're currently looking into renting a home as we've had good luck with this in other areas of the country...any suggestions, though, on a nice resort if we decide to go that route?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.
I can help with at least part of the question. We were at BGW in July, and even then crowds were quite manageable. Our family of five(children 11, 10, 8) rode everything we wanted to ride in one day. I didn't feel like we missed out on anything. The food/show at the Festhaus was good--the plates were large enough for the children to split. The Celtic Fyre show was also very good. Europe in the Air is NOT Soarin'; beware if you have motion sickness!
From Kim Shay
Posted January 17, 2011 at 3:06 PM
We always stay at the Quality Inn at Kingsmill in the summer. It is the closest hotel to the park. If you do not mind spending a little more Kingsmill Resort is very nice. We stay there when we go to Christmas Town because it is more affordable at that time of year. They have a shuttle that goes every hour to the park so you do not have to spend time and money parking.
From Tony Duda
Posted January 17, 2011 at 5:54 PM
I haven't been there in a over a decade but when I lived in Richmond I visited often. Colonial Williamsburg is a strange mix of public access and ticketed building access. You can walk around the public streets and stores and restaurants with no problem and have a great time. However, most of the display buildings require a pass purchase since they are museum-like attractions. You need to go to the CW visitor center to buy them and get maps and such as well as park in their lot. I bought annual passes when I was there but I expect shorter term ones are sold too. Have fun.
is the Colonial Williamsburg website.
Schools around here get out usually the second week in June out here, so I'd imagine towards the end of your stay the weekends will be much busier. As long as you get there early, you shouldn't have too much to worry about.
You'll also be there for Illuminights, which was pretty good last year. If you're making multiple trips, there's not a lot of planning involved. But if it's just one day at the park, you might want to put some effort into it. Last year they did a short show in 4 of the countries starting around 5pm and then again every hour. They haven't released any details for this year yet, but last year's was pretty good for the first time. There were also fireworks every night, that are made more special if you have gone to all of the shows.
You should be able to get a GAC though. The way they do that is you go to the ride entrance and give them your piece of paper and they will give you a time to come back based on the wait time in the ride. Another option is to buy a quick queue pass that automatically takes you to the front of the line.
From Tom Rigg
Posted January 18, 2011 at 9:04 AM
The Kings Mill Resort next to Busch Gardens is very nice and has a shuttle service to the park. It is a golfing resort so it doesn't feel as touristy.
Also, I would suggest spending two days at BG if you are going in July. You can get everything done in a day, but you'll run yourself ragged and one of the best aspects of BG is the environment. I have a season's pass, and there are times when I go and maybe only ride 4 rides because I simply like walking around and being there.
From M Prell
Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:12 PM
Busch Gardens/Colonial Williamsburg sells a "bounce" ticket which can be used at Busch Gardens, Water Country and Colonial Williamsburg (to get in to the buildings) which is good for 7 consecutive days. You can go to any or all of the places as much as you want in any day, and parking at Busch Gardens and Water Country is free with the pass. The pass will not only save you money if you plan to go to all 3 places (and if you buy them online ahead of time, you will save 20%!), but it's a great way to "break up" the day and still see/do everything on your trip. (Think of it as "park hopping" at Disney.) When my 3 kids were little, we went to Water Country first thing in the morning, when it was much less crowded, then left the park to get lunch and rest at the hotel, then went to Busch Gardens or Colonial Williamsburg later in the day after the peak crowds died down. It was a great way to keep my 2 boys from getting "sensory overload" (one borderline Aspergers, one developmentally delayed with anxiety and panic disorder). We plan to go back again this summer (we will miss you by one day!) and purchase the same passes again!
From Tony Duda
Posted January 24, 2011 at 5:52 PM
That Bounce ticket is a great deal. I just visited the BGW website and read the conditions which were quite good. Must use over 7 consecutive days between March 26 and October 30 and buy it online. Only $103/adult $86/child. Being able to visit BGW for only a few hours a day but everyday that week is nice.
Another good deal is the combined ticket that gives you admission to Water Country USA, Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Center and Yorktown Battlefield and includes free parking at Busch and Water Country. It is quite a bargain considering that you get unlimited admission to all of the attractions for 7 days. It may not be on their website for sale yet, but depending on the ages of your kids, if they are a certain age, you may get their admission free or discounted. It is not on the web pages yet.
From Lisa Z
Posted February 16, 2011 at 9:30 AM
We have visited BG several times with our two sons, age 4 and 7. Our 7 yr. old has autism and BG does a great job of accomodating him when it comes to waiting in lines. We go to guest relations/services and inform them about our son's diagnosis. They provided a pass which allows him to enter through the exit line on most rides or we receive a time stamp for us to come back (usually on the bigger rides). We have stayed at the Quality Inn Kingsmill which is right across the street from BG and have always been pleased with our stay there. I think our kids enjoy BG more than Disney!
Thanks for all the helpful hints! We are firming up our plans but are really undecided about where to stay. We like to rent vacation homes but those seem to be hard to find right in the Williamsburg area, most are about 30 mins away.
We also have researched renting a timeshare to have more space and a kitchen but the resorts seem to have fairly mixed reviews. Still have work to do in that area I guess!
I so appreciate the information and advice about the multi-day and multi-attraction tickets. Through my husband's employer I've found what I think is a great deal on the tickets that were mentioned above for all the attractions, free parking etc. For the 3 of us for 7 days they cost right about $200 so I think that is quite a deal.
We will go ahead and get a GAC, especially if the crowds start to pick up during the stay but we plan to take our time at BG and tour more relaxed since we have the whole week to see what we want. We will be at the park on the 24th & 25th to see some Christian music artist performing those nights.
I will have to look more into Illuminights as I am unsure what it is but sounds interesting. Again, thanks for the advice.
If anyone has an opinion on whether they think renting a house about 25 miles away or staying at the Greensprings Plantation is a better option I'd love to hear what you have to say...trying to weigh all the options! :)
From Tom Rigg
Posted March 29, 2011 at 8:20 AM
It is bad news staying 25 minutes out from Williamsburg as in traffic that can easily turn into an hour. Unfortunately the interstate running through Williamsburg also cuts through to major metropolitan areas, one including the world's largest naval base, and so there is a great deal of commuter traffic. Also, the interstate if woefully out of date with too few lanes and very small exits causing lots of sluggish traffic. In the end it becomes a pain to move around in the Williamsburg area if you are staying outside of the area. As far as the mixed reviews for hotels in the area, the important thing to remember is that many of the hotels are older and therefore have a slightly outdated feel, but they aren't generally too bad. So take the reviews with a grain of salt and just look carefully at the pictures of the exterior of the hotel. In general, how old the outside looks is a good indicator of the condition of the hotel on the inside. Also, there are two Country INN and Suites in Willisamburg. I have stayed at both and they are both very nice and offer fairly large suites. I think some of them come with kitchens. There is also a Marriott Residence Inn very close to BG that also has suites with kitchens and lots of space.
What BGW does with guests that have disabilities is when you get there you will go to Guest Information Center in England right when you enter the park. They will basically ask you questions regarding your son's disability and take those into account along with his height. They will give you a sheet of all the rides he can ride and time slots. When you go up to the attendant standing at the entrance of the ride they will give you a time to come back depending on the wait time of the line. When you come back you show the entrance attendant the sheet and they will send you through the disabled guest entrance (normally this is the exit to the ride). Once you get to the station give one of the attendants on the platform your sheet and they will fit you in the next available train. But be warned, you must speak up to the attendants. Being a team member here (I work at the Loch Ness Monster roller coaster), during the summer it can get really busy and when we are running 3 trains it becomes really hectic in there. If you do not speak up, expect a little wait before an attendant helps you (we're very nice but sometimes we don't actually see everyone so don't worry...we're not ignoring you).
During the time you will be here, Bebe and Cece Winans will be playing June 25th and TobyMac will be playing the 26th. You will also be here for Illuminights which features a grand fireworks show every night and a show in every major country.
As for the rides, we have 4 coasters: Loch Ness Monster (height restriction 48"), Alpengeist (height restriction 56"), Apollo's Chariot (height restriction 52"), and Griffon (height restriction 56"). Our newest ride, the Mach Tower, should be open by then. It is a drop tower that will bring you up 260 feet in the air offering fantastic views that Williamsburg has to offer. With you guys being WDW vets, I'll tell you about some similar rides. We have the Curse of DarKastle which is a 4D dark ride that could be compared to Haunted Mansion. They are two totally different concepts/rides, but they both have to do with ghosts/hauntings. We also have Europe in the Air which is our European style "Soarin'." The seats aren't anything fancy like WDW and the video is, um...awkward at times. But it is a generally good ride great for the family. We also have many carnival style rides such as the tea cups, carousel, kiddie ferris wheel, and a little kid's coaster. All of our rides are great fun and enjoyed by all.
As for renting a house out:
Unfortunately a lot of the rental houses around are taken up by the William & Mary college students. There is a possibility you could find one, but don't expect much. Like people have said before, try Kingsmill. It is directly next door (with the Anheuser-Busch beer brewery in between) and is a very beautiful place. It also has great amenities such as a PGA tour golf course.
Also, try hitting up Water Country, USA. It is our water park about 10 minutes away and is also getting a brand new ride this season.
Colonial Williamsburg is a great place to walk around. Unfortunately, a lot of requires a paid ticket, but there are some ways around it (back roads that lead to buildings that lead into the paid stuff). However, you will not be able to get into the buildings without a ticket. There is a great vibe down there with William & Mary College and all of the shops and restaurants.
You definitely won't be bored s=during your stay.
P.S. If you're interested, BGW also offer up-close tours that take you behind the scenes of shows, takes you right onto the roller coasters, and lets you get up close with the animals! These tours are pretty awesome and you're sure to find one that interests you.
Hope I helped =)
Best advice I can give u about Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg is that it is a mostly local crowd so, go during the week. Crowds are fairly small during the week and packed on weekends. It is hot and humid there so dress appropriately, but not as bad as Florida. There is tons of walking up and down hills at Busch Gardens, u will be tired.
Also, I second the recommendation to go to water country its a very under-rated water park.
We love Busch Gardens because it's so family friendly, but we hate paying more than we have to, and neither should you. I run a travel site, Virginia Beach Family Fun, and I'm constantly scouring the web, stores, and more to find the latest ticket deals for Busch Gardens. I have info on discounts, hours & upcoming events, tips for saving money in the park, and more, all in one location.
In fact, I just found two new potential spots for saving $15 per ticket today and posted them on my site. Hope it helps!
The site is www.virginia-beach-family-fun.com
Update: Busch Gardens Williamsburg announced today that tomorrow only (April 12th) you can purchase single-day tickets for just $39 when you go to www.dailygetaways.com. That's a savings of about $25 per ticket.
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