Theme Park of the Week: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

March 20, 2022, 7:07 PM · Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia resumes daily operation this Thursday, followed by the official opening of its ninth roller coaster, Pantheon, on Friday. So let's make Busch Gardens Williamsburg our Theme Park of the Week.

Opening in 1975 with the Euro-centric name of Busch Gardens: The Old Country, this two-time winner of our Theme Park Insider Award as the world's best theme park features lands themed to England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, and Italy. Since not everyone interested in visiting theme parks traces their ancestry back to those countries, Busch Gardens sensibly changed the park's name to Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 1992, though it switched to Busch Gardens Europe for a couple of years in 2006-08.

Built on a lovely, forested site surrounding Grove Creek, not far from the James River, Busch Gardens Williamsburg provides one of the nation's best examples of a non-Disney, non-Universal park blending theme with thrills. The park's award-winning Celtic Fyre show remains the park's top-rated attraction by Theme Park Insider readers.

Celtic Fyre
Celtic Fyre. Photo courtesy Busch Gardens

As for coasters, a trip of Bolliger & Mabillard productions lead Busch Gardens' line-up, starting with Apollo's Chariot,

followed by the inverted coaster Alpengeist and the flying coaster Griffon.

For me, my most beloved Busch Gardens Williamsburg roller coaster is its oldest - Arrow Dynamics' Loch Ness Monster. This interlocking double-loop coaster was the first of its kind and the first "upside down" roller coaster that I summoned the courage to ride. Many years later, "Nessie" became my daughter's first "upside down" coaster, too, ensuring an ever-lasting spot for Loch Ness Monster in my family's coaster hall of fame.

Next up at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is Pantheon, which Russell Meyer will be reviewing for us this week. Stay tuned!

Beyond the coasters, Busch Gardens Williamsburg often wins praise for its food - not just for restaurants such as Das Festhaus and Trapper's Smokehouse, but also for the park's food and drink festivals. Busch Gardens might not be run by a brewery company anymore, but its tradition of looking at food and beverages as attractions in their own right continues.

For discounted tickets and passes to the park Busch Gardens Williamsburg tickets page. And for tickets to other nearby attractions, including Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg, visit the Williamsburg, Virginia attractions page.

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Replies (3)

March 20, 2022 at 9:40 PM

Pantheon is the best ride at the park, but it is an Intamin, so set your operating expectations accordingly! And keep in mind SEAS is similar to Six Flags when it comes to pricing, so if you are going to visit other SEAS parks, shop around for the best Platinum pass/membership offering.

March 21, 2022 at 1:33 PM

My first "big girl" coaster was Big Bad Wolf. I've always had fond memories of BGW for that very reason.

March 21, 2022 at 1:46 PM

@Sarah - I thought it was interesting when we were walking around BGW on Saturday that they are selling new Big Bad Wolf merchandise (t-shirts, pins, and the like), and not just clearance rack stuff from over years ago (yeah, it's really been gone for that long). Even after its demise, the popularity of BBW hasn't waned.

FWIW, the new partial repaint on Alengeist is really strange (center portion of the course from the vertical loop through the MCBR). I'm not sure if these new colors were chosen for financial reasons (similar to Griffon and the SWSD coasters) or if James City County wouldn't let them use white and teal anymore, but I'm not a fan.

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