Thursday, May 8, 2014

An Introduction to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, one of the greatest places in the world

Busch Gardens in Williamsburg Virginia is one of the greatest places on earth in my opinion. And I am fortunate to be honored with the task of writing for them this year.  Originally referred to as “The Old Country” the park has been designed much like Epcot (this came first in 1975 and Epcot wasn’t complete until 1982) The different areas are all European countries. You can visit England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy and France and New France (colonial French-Canadian), the architecture, shops and even the food is themed to these countries. Want some Irish stew; head to Grogan’s pub in Ireland…also where you can get a nice variety of drinks. If you are craving Italian, you can head into Italy of course for some Lasagna, chicken or eggplant parm, and if German food is your thing, you can find a nice assortment of sausages and German sides in Festivus house in the Oktoberfest section of Germany.  Busch Gardens is a family friendly place despite that fact it was originally started by a brewery. There are two separate areas for children, The Land of the Dragons and the Forest of Fun, plus other rides mixed into the other countries. The pricing for food is reasonable, but the booze is pricey, which I think curbs the people who enjoy abusing themselves and encourages moderation.

                                                          Part of Ireland, outside gift shop.

All types of visitors can enjoy themselves, those who love thrill rides, those who love food, beer coinsures, and those who want a clean place to take the kids. Busch Gardens works for people who don’t ride, flower lovers, animal lovers, music lovers and even more.  All of these options exist within the 383 acres of the park. A true balance for many people. You have rides like The Lockness Monster with its multiple inversions or The Griffin which is even more intense. But if you don’t care for the feeling that you are going to die you can take a peaceful ride around the park on the train, or down the “Rhine River” on a boat.
There are numerous musical shows, and the entire park is beautifully landscaped deserving of the title “America’s must beautiful park “for 23 years in a row.

                                                                              Entrance to France.

 If you love animals BG also rescues animals from shelters and those injured. There are several bald eagles, wolves, a Golden Eagle and more that have been rehabbed and are spending their time on several acres. And a whole crew of dogs, cats and other critters who have been trained that put on one heck of an adorable show called Pet Shenanigans.

In fact BG’s mission beyond providing fun (and a viable business model of course) is in conservation. All of the parks napkins and paper products (including maps) are made from 100% recyclable materials, the boats run on battery power to not cause pollution to the river and additional drainage of power, and those beautiful gardens are organic, free of pesticides. They take great care of the animals here; they aren’t just for our enjoyment. They have a purpose and are thus taken care of. You can find sheep, border collies and horses in Scotland, and in Ireland there is Jack Hanna’s Wild Life preserve where you will find the eagles, wolves, a bird reptiles, and the pet shenignagns show.

We started going to Busch Gardens because they have a program for kids like Noah, and because it is an affordable option. Since you can purchase season passes that you pay for monthly (at no additional cost) it made it a viable option for us. Passes for all of the parks start at around 12.00 a month, and since we live close to Sesame Place, this was our best deal.  

                     Noah very happy and engaged by Jim the magician at "The Magic Shop" in Ireland

The first year we did this started out as a consolation prize because we couldn’t get the money together to go to Disney. But it wound up being one of our favorite places, and we hope to actually move to the area if life brings us the opportunity. Williamsburg is a lot like the best parts of South Jersey, just not as crowded and a bit more spread out…and more affordable.
                                 Enjoying the Shenanigans of BG's special Pets.

All of Discovery Parks have a pass for kids with special needs; it works like a fast pass at many other parks. You sign up for a ride and are given a return time, if the line is under 30 minutes you are allowed immediate access to the fast pass return line, or in through the back door of carnival style rides. There is no fee for this; you just register at Guest Services. It has been greatly useful for us and anyone who has difficulty waiting in lines for reasons of stamina or overstimulation.

Affordable, beautiful, friendly, great customer service, options for those with special needs, lots of fun, delicious food and treats are just the highlights of what makes this place so wonderful.  We have visited the park on 8 different trips over the past 4 years, meaning we have been in the park about 22 days. Each time is just as exciting as the last, like coming home, a feeling of peace and contentment embraces us. Maybe it is because it is so beautiful and all those things, or maybe it’s because it was one of the first places we were able to take our son that didn’t have a bunch of sad-stressy-drama with it. Doesn’t matter, it is magic.
New London Rocks this year 

click here for HIGHLIGHTS of what is happening in 2014!!

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