Busch Gardens Williamsburg Tips?

Edited: January 16, 2020, 6:50 PM

I am planning on taking a trip to see this park. Before doing so I have an number of questions I would like your help with.
How many days are required to see it all? Is there a waterpark nearby? Where are the best places to stay nearby and also are there any other parks nearby which I could take in on my trip? and if so is there a ticket that will cover more than one park?

Replies (14)

January 13, 2020, 9:55 AM

When I went in May last year I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott on McLaws circle. Superb hotel and excellent close location to the park. Next year when I return I will definitely stay there again.

Kings Dominion is about 70 miles away, and would be drivable for a day's visit.

If you go, make sure you do the roller coaster insider tour. Highly recommended, and something I will also do again. You get to go on all of the rides during the 5-6 hour tour .... on any seat you choose, and you skip all the lines ... :)

Mid week was nice and quiet, not sure what a weekend would be like.

January 13, 2020, 11:04 AM

Depending on when you visit, BGW can be seen in a single day, but is probably best if you allot at least 2 days. Summer (especially holiday weekend) Saturdays tend to be the most crowded, but weather can also heavily impact crowds. We tend to visit most often on Sundays, and if you can arrive just prior to the park opening and have the ability to stay through closing, you can experience virtually every major attraction in the park in a single day.

BGW is near Williamsburg, which is a very popular tourist corridor. There are hundreds of hotels in the region at pretty much every price level. It really depends on whether amenities and proximity are more important to you than price. We don't usually stay at hotels in Williamsburg since the park is about 2-2.5 hours from our house, but we have stayed at a few in the area, mostly on the value end of the spectrum.

Water Country USA is across I-64 from BGW, and is the sister water park for Busch Gardens. It's a very solid water park with a good variety of attractions and slides. You can purchase a combo ticket that will get you access to both Busch Gardens and Water Country (there are even packages that include local Colonial Williamsburg attraction as well).

Kings Dominion is the next closest theme park, but unless you're spending a full week in the area or taking a larger coaster-style trip, it's probably not worth trekking up to KD, especially if you're basing yourself in the Williamsburg area. KD would be a separate ticket, but single day admission prices are usually a bit cheaper than BGW.

January 14, 2020, 5:04 AM

Thanks for the replies but what if I was to stay longer than a week are there other parks I could drive too after a couple of days and stay there ?. I don't mind driving a fairly long distance to get to other parks and stay in a hotel nearby.

January 14, 2020, 7:11 AM

There's a few parks within a days drive of Williamsburg, so plenty to keep you occupied. My trip last year included Carowinds, BGW, Kings Dominion, and Six Flags over Georgia. I'm going back to Carowinds in May, and plan to stay at the new 'onsite' Springhill Suites, to see what it's like. Got to be better than the current dire selection of hotels in close proximity to the park.

January 14, 2020, 7:27 AM

The major parks close to BGW include:

Kings Dominion - 1-1.5 hours
Six Flags America - 2.5-3 hours
Hersheypark - @4.5 hours
Carowinds - 5-5.5 hours
Dorney Park - @5.5 hours
Six Flags Great Adventure - 5.5-6 hours
Dollywood - 7.5-8 hours
Six Flags Over Georgia - @9 hours

Aside from Kings Dominion, all of the other major parks in the region are pretty far away, so trying to visit any of them while basing yourself in Williamsburg would necessitate a lot of driving back and forth. If you want to visit these other parks, you'd be much better doing it "road trip" style by switching hotels between parks. I would say if you wanted to do all of the parks listed above, you'd need at least 10 days to do it comfortably, and you'd probably be smart to either start in Atlanta or in Newark/NYC/Philly, which would probably be cheaper if you were flying in anyway since those are both home to major airports.

January 14, 2020, 7:33 AM

Yes that would be my plan to stay at different hotels and do a road trip.

January 15, 2020, 2:32 PM

A bit late to the party, but my thoughts...

How many days are required to see it all?

If you mainly care about rides and headliner shows, you can do everything at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in a single full day. If you also want to see all the exhibits and take the park at a relaxed pace, 1.5-2 days would be better. You shouldn't need more than two days for the park even on a peak weekend.

Is there a waterpark nearby?

Yes, Water Country USA is located a short distance away and combo tickets are available for both parks. I haven't been to the waterpark myself, but I've heard good things about it.

Where are the best places to stay nearby?

I unfortunately can't help here, but there's plenty of options in the Williamsburg area. If you're doing a larger trip and only visiting BGW for a day, it might be better to stay in the Richmond area and drive in. Otherwise, I'd recommend finding something close to the park.

Are there any other parks nearby which I could take in on my trip?

The only park within day trip distance is Kings Dominion, which is a great park if you're into thrill rides but a bit lacking in other areas. If you're looking into doing a road trip, the east coast has several major parks that are worth checking out. My recommendation for a week long road trip (starting/ending in Washington, D.C.) would be the following:

Day 1: Hersheypark
Day 2: Hersheypark & Dorney Park (only need 1/2 day at Dorney)
Day 3: Six Flags Great Adventure
Day 4: Morey's Piers (1/2 day park) & drive to Williamsburg (~6 hours)
Day 5: Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Day 6: Kings Dominion

The above can be adjusted depending on preferences. If you have more time, I'd recommend extending the trip to cover Kennywood and/or Knoebels in Pennsylvania (two outstanding parks with a more old-school feel). Six Flags America is right near Washington, D.C. and can also be added at the beginning or end of the trip, but it is the lowest priority of all the parks mentioned here.

Of the parks listed, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, Six Flags America, and Kings Dominion all have waterparks included with the admission price, so if doing a road trip I'd recommend checking one of those out over spending a day at Water Country USA to save time and money.

Is there a ticket that will cover more than one park?

A Six Flags pass is good at all Six Flags parks, so if you'll be visiting two on the trip definitely get one of those. Cedar Fair also offers a pass that covers the entire chain (Dorney and Kings Dominion are the Cedar Fair parks here), but if you won't be visiting at least three separate parks in the chain in the year it doesn't really save much. You'll have to pay separately for the other parks.

January 16, 2020, 4:23 AM

AJ Russell and Makorider big thanks for all your help.

January 16, 2020, 1:20 PM

AJ .... I like the way you say "for a week long road trip".
It would take me 2-3 weeks to do all that lot .... :)

One thought ..... you mention 9 different parks. You've been to them all. If I was to pick 3, for a late August/early September road trip which 3 would you list as must visits ? I will always use 1 day for travelling so no issues with distance between parks.

And any one else's views and opinions would be welcome also ?

January 16, 2020, 1:37 PM

Picking 3 parks is pretty tough, especially not knowing exactly what you're interested in. I'm guessing that you're more into coasters since you have Fury 325 at the top of your list, so I would say SFGAdv is probably a must. I love the coaster collection there, but I just don't really care for the park itself and how its run and the propensity for long, slow-moving lines. Jersey Devil probably would clinch it for me though, since the next closest single-rail coaster is in Texas.

I would also probably choose Hersheypark. While it doesn't have a single coaster that I would consider anywhere close to the best of its type, it has volume and a brand new hypercoaster opening this summer. If you're a coaster counter, Hersheypark will give you more credits than any other park in the region (14). It also has some classic rides and old school charm that's lacking from the more corporate parks.

That third choice is a tricky one. Kennywood might work if you confine your trip to Pennsylvania, and you could drive almost the entire length of the PA Turnpike from Pittsburgh to NJ. However, Kennywood is similar in many ways to Hersheypark with even less of a corporate feel. If you wanted to have 3 completely different experiences and still maximize the coasters, BGW would probably be my choice, which has the added bonus of Pantheon (and free admission and parking assuming your a Sea World Platinum pass holder). Unlike Hersheypark, the coasters at BGW are some of the best of their types on the world, and the atmosphere is highly themed. Kings Dominion would be my runner up just for Intimidator 305 and Twisted Timbers, but the Cedar Fair park lacks intricate theming and is pretty similar in feel to any Six Flags park. If you wanted to go off the beaten path, it's hard to top Knoebell's, which is more of a permanent carnival than a theme park, but it's a total throwback unlike any other park you'll visit with still a good collection of attractions worth a full day's visit.

January 16, 2020, 2:23 PM

Thanks Russell .... BGW will be next year. I'm still intrigued by the 2021 mystery project. I'll do KD again whilst I'm up that way as well.

It's such a pain in the proverbial ass that one way car rentals are so expensive. I could travel from CP, to Kennywood, Herschy Park and then great adventure. I don't really want to drive up to Ohio, but that is a last resort option I suppose.

I've never been to Kennywood or Herschy Park, so they are on my radar for sure. Decisions, decisions. I sorta-kinda count my coasters, but these days I won't get on anything that's been labeled as life threatening .. :) It's just not worth the risk for me any more.

Edited: January 16, 2020, 3:55 PM

Well, Makorider, you take things at a much slower pace than most. Generally I recommend one day per park on roadtrips, but nothing wrong with doing more time if that's your style.

As for which three to choose, that depends. If you're going mainly for coasters and thrill rides, I'd go with Hersheypark, Kings Dominion, and Six Flags Great Adventure. For highest quality park experience, I'd keep Hershey but swap the other two for Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Knoebels. If you want to minimize driving distance, do Kennywood instead of Busch Gardens. For a budget trip, do the two Six Flags parks along with Hersheypark or Knoebels. If you want the Mako comparison trip: BGW, Hershey, SFGAdv. Ultimately, it's largely up to your preferences, but if restricted to three I'd say Hersheypark should definitely be one of them (especially if you haven't been before) and Dorney is probably the least worthwhile of the bunch. If simply looking for must visits, drop Dorney, Morey's, and SFA from consideration, then pick three of the remaining six...I'd recommend them all.

January 17, 2020, 1:28 PM

@makorider - I wouldn't get too excited for BGW's 2021 addition. It sounds like it will be a SkyScreamer, and while it's rumored to be over 300 feet tall, it won't be as tall as the one in your backyard. However, it does sound like Kings Dominion will be adding a coaster for 2021 in the old Volcano spot, but early rumors are that it will be a relatively compact wing coaster. Though, there was some whispers floating around that B&M were finally going to tinker with their wing coaster trains to allow for rotation a la X2, and a smaller layout rumored for KD would serve more as a prototype for the style. Kings Dominion has been a guinea pig before for new coaster styles and it would be appropriate to replace the one-of-a-kind Volcano with a similarly unique coaster.

January 17, 2020, 2:53 PM

Thanks for the input guys .... plenty to ponder over that’s for sure.

Russell, I’m with on the 2021 BGW project. Just too many rumors flying around right now. It’s even started down here with rumors of another coaster for SWO in 2021. And yes, a lot of people think it’s going to be a winged coaster. Give me a Mystic Timbers, and I’ll be very happy.

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