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My name is Madison and welcome to my blog! I'm sharing my life with you – from fun food finds to travel and everything in between! If you like Disney and dessert, you're going to love it here!

Busch Gardens Williamsburg | Travel Diary

Thursday, August 29, 2019

I received tickets to Busch Gardens in order to create Instagram content for a social campaign. This blog post is NOT part of the campaign, but I wanted to share my experience with y'all. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Mads Maybe!

As you may have seen on Instagram this week, I was invited to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia with my family to check out what's new in the park this summer. I received tickets and was asked to share my experience through an Instagram story and Instagram post. I was not asked to write a blog post, but I wanted to share my thoughts here with some additional tips about the park. I always want to be as transparent as possible, so I wanted to fully explain my relationship with the brand before diving into the post, which of course, contains my own thoughts and opinions. 

In my opinion, Busch Gardens is the nicest theme park within day trip driving distance of North Carolina. I absolutely find it superior to Carowinds and I haven't been to Kings Dominion in probably 10+ years, but I have to guess it's very similar to Carowinds. I just feel like Busch Gardens put in the extra effort to create an atmosphere and theme with attention to detail and it's more than just an area with a bunch of rides randomly placed here and there. You'll definitely find tons of photo spots and cute areas that really highlight the attention to detail that was put into the park.

My family lives in central North Carolina so when we go to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, we typically make it a day trip. This past Saturday, we left our house at 6 a.m. and got to the park around 10 a.m. when it opened. We took snacks to eat for breakfast before going into the park. I wasn't provided parking {in the spirit of transparency} and the general, cheapest option for parking was $20 which is what we got and you take a short tram ride from the lot to the entrance of the park. I'm not sure if their website states more information about parking, but that's definitely an expense to keep in mind when planning for your trip.

I recommend taking as few loose items as possible into the park — if you're taking a bag, opt for a fanny pack / belt bag because their rides have more restrictions about what you're allowed to bring on. Keep your items to a minimum because if you have bags, phones, and other loose items, you'll have no choice but to rent a locker or have a member of your party sit out with the stuff when you're going on the majority of the rides.

The first ride we went on was their brand new extreme swing ride, Finnegan's Flyer. It was actually a lot more intense and thrilling than I anticipated. It takes you very, very high backwards and forwards, but you never go upside down. If you like thrills and heights, I definitely recommend it, but if you're more on the scared side when it comes to rides, be prepared! 

I won't list every ride, but I did want to briefly talk about the second ride we went on because it's unique and it was my first time going on it. They have a fairly new virtual reality ride called Battle for Eire. Fun fact about me: I'll take any roller coaster over 3D/4D rides any day. I don't know why but rides like that always freak me out. I lumped this ride into that category too, because I knew you wore glasses to experience it and I have never worn VR googles before so I didn't know what it was like. I refused to go on this ride when we went to Busch Gardens in 2018, but I went on it this year! It really wasn't bad and there aren't any super intense things "jumping out" at you or scaring you, so if you have this fear like me, just go for it!

My favorite roller coasters at Busch Gardens are Griffon, Apollo's Chariot, and Verbolten. I highly recommend using the train and skyride to navigate around the park. There are a lot more rides that I haven't mentioned, particularly milder ones and more kid-friendly ones, so be sure to check out their website for more details about the rides and the full list of attractions. They also offer a variety of shows if you aren't much of a rider. 

We ate lunch in the park because we were there from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There used to be a pizza buffet in Busch Gardens that my family loved going to for lunch, but sadly, it's no longer there. We had a little bit of difficulty deciding what to eat for lunch without this option. I would suggest exploring the menus on their website ahead of time so you have an idea of what's available.

Be prepared to spend around $12 to $15 per meal plus $3 to $4 per drink. This is typical for theme park food, but it might not be something you're thinking about in advance and I know I would like to be aware ahead of time, especially if you're planning out how much cash to bring. Another option is to do what my family did and get kids meals! 5 chicken nuggets plus fries and a small drink was $7.50 and I've included a picture below. As a self-proclaimed chicken nugget expert, these were far from my favorite so if you're going for a great taste, you might want to splurge on a more sophisticated meal. They also have dining deal options that you should probably consider if you plan to eat more than one meal in the park that day. 

Outside of the lunch, we got a few different snacks throughout the day: a big ice cream to split, a flight of frozen alcoholic beverages (ages 21+), and some cinnamon pretzel bites that were pretty good. If you're getting a frozen alcoholic beverage in the Oktoberfest area, I would recommend the frozen bellini. I had high hopes for the frosé but it was really my least favorite of the four. Honestly, if you aren't staying for a full day, I suggest getting a kids meal lunch and trying a few different snacks throughout the day for variety.

We left the park around 6 p.m. and ate dinner at a fast food restaurant. We made a few stops and got home around 11:30 p.m. Like I mentioned earlier, it's not a bad day trip if you're traveling from central North Carolina! I had a lot of fun, particularly riding roller coasters, and I definitely recommend Busch Gardens if you live within driving distance!