When I was younger my family visited Busch Gardens Williamsburg every summer instead of a yearly beach vacation. It’s where I rode my first big roller coaster and have some of my best memories.
So you better believe when my sister asked if I wanted to go back, I jumped on the opportunity. We had such a good time at Busch Gardens and loved all the restaurants in Williamsburg and local Williamsburg wineries.
We recently did the same thing with Dollywood so I highly recommend revisiting places you vacationed when you were younger.
These Busch Gardens Williamsburg tips will help you plan your own trip to the park and make sure you have the best time while there. You’ll love this place – it’s one of the best theme parks in the US!
Busch Gardens should definitely be on your weekend in Williamsburg itinerary! Don’t miss Colonial Williamsburg nearby or a day trip to Yorktown and Jamestown.
- 15 Tips for Visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg
- 1. Wear the Right Clothing to Busch Gardens Williamsburg
- 2. Know What to Bring in the Park
- 3. Busch Gardens Williamsburg Parking
- 4. Busch Gardens Food Policy
- 5. Check Out the Daily Show Schedules
- 6. Busch Gardens Williamsburg Lockers
- 7. Getting Around the Park
- 8. Is Quick Queue Worth It?
- 9. Research the Best Days to Visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg
- 10. Board Your Pets With Pet Care Services
- 11. Buy Tickets Ahead of Time
- 12. Use the Busch Gardens App
- 13. Arrive Early
- 14. Save Souvenirs for the End of the Day
- 15. Tips for People Visiting With Kids
- FAQs for Visiting Busch Gardens
- Wrap Up: Busch Gardens Williamsburg Tips for 2023
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15 Tips for Visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg
This guide includes Busch Gardens Williamsburg insider tips and tricks for visiting this fun theme park.
1. Wear the Right Clothing to Busch Gardens Williamsburg
If you visit during the summer then be prepared for the heat and humidity. Wear light, moisture-wicking clothing that won’t make you uncomfortable when you are sweating.
My preference is athletic clothing – so shorts and a tank top or tshirt. Chacos are my go-to sandals for theme parks, especially when they have water rides. Here is my complete list of the perfect theme park shoes.
Don’t forget hairbows and a hat if you want it. Busch Gardens is a nice theme park because so much of it is in the shade since it’s back in the woods.
You may want to bring a raincoat just in case as well. It rains a good bit in the spring and then you’ll deal with afternoon thunderstorms in the summer.
Sunglasses are also a must here. On many rides, you are allowed to leave your glasses or hats on the other side of the exit gate if they won’t let you hold on to them.
If you are visiting during early spring or late fall then you may want to opt for leggings or long pants. If you plan on staying at the park past dark then you might even need a sweatshirt.
2. Know What to Bring in the Park
I went with my husband and one other couple so I just want to put it out there that we had no children with us. If you are bringing kids then your list will look a lot different.
We brought one bookbag between us so we only had to pay for one locker (more on lockers later). A few big things we had were raincoats, a change of shoes for the water rides, and multiple water bottles.
Note that the official policy on their website says you can’t bring anything in (except one water bottle per person) so they may crack down on this but we brought in a handful of snacks.
We brought our phones of course and a portable charging bank with the charging cord. If you like photography then you’ll want to bring your camera inside.
We really didn’t use much that we brought in. Water and our phones were the most important thing.
Make sure you either have printed tickets or save them as screenshots on your phone.
3. Busch Gardens Williamsburg Parking
There are three options for parking as of December 2022 – regular, preferred, and VIP. You can also purchase a multi-day pass for a bit cheaper if you’re visiting multiple days.
Regular parking was $30, preferred was $35, and VIP was $45. These prices are for parking passes purchased ahead.
They have trams that run back and forth from the parking lots to the entrance and usually once one is full, there is another one pulling up right after it.
We never had to wait on a tram so I wouldn’t pay for VIP or preferred. There isn’t any free parking at Busch Gardens Williamsburg unless you have a season pass (silver or above) or qualify for a military discount.
There is signage at the exit to the park stating that the parking lots were a 9 minute walk. However, when we tried to walk once we couldn’t find a sidewalk or path that links the parking lots so I recommend just taking the tram for safety.
Take a picture of where you parked so that’s one less thing you have to remember.
Once you enter the park they do a great job of directing you where you need to go. There are cones set up to guide you as well.
Have your GPS going at the end of the day if you aren’t familiar with the area because they direct you on the way out as well and they may not send you out the direction that you wanted to go.
If you want free parking at Busch Gardens Williamsburg then you’ll have to splurge for a membership pass. Make sure you run the numbers to figure out if it’s worth it for your family.
Basic membership does not include free parking but the Unlimited, Premiere, and Platinum plans do.
4. Busch Gardens Food Policy
I found conflicting information online vs. on the signs when you enter the park so I am just going to share my experience with this. Signs in the park state that snack sized items are permitted. Online it says no outside food is permitted.
We brought in a personal sized bag of Cheez-its, a Nutrigrain bar, and some small packs of candy. They thoroughly checked our bag and said nothing about those.
The food inside of the theme park is just so-so. I didn’t have anything that I thought was particularly great. In fact, most of it was actually pretty bad except the ice cream.
They have picnic areas set up in a few of the parking lots so I think if we go back I would pack a picnic lunch. If you pack it in a cooler then you can run out to your car when you get hungry, eat, and then head back inside.
Bringing your own food is probably my biggest Busch Gardens Williamsburg tip. You’ll save money and have better food that way.
Make sure you stop at the exit to get a wristband so you can re-enter the park.
5. Check Out the Daily Show Schedules
There are multiple shows running throughout the year with a few showtimes each day! At Christmas, they even do special programming.
Before you visit, check out the showtimes and make a plan for the shows you know you want to see. You can find the showtime schedule here. Just click on the day that you’ll be visiting.
Das Festhaus has a show that I loved as a kid – mostly because of the chicken dance. In the summer, the shows are a great way to get out of the heat and rest your feet a while.
6. Busch Gardens Williamsburg Lockers
One thing that I was pretty disappointed with is that the lockers were not free for two hours like they are at Universal Studios.
You can pay a single fee for all day ($8 when we went) or pay per ride which I believe was $2 each time. We spent all day riding roller coasters so the $8 was well worth it.
On Friday we had no issues finding a locker but on Saturday afternoon many of the lockers at popular rides were sold out.
We had to search for a ride that had an open locker and finally just had to wait for someone to come get their things out.
7. Getting Around the Park
I pride myself in being able to find my way around pretty easily and read a map but this park is a little tough to find your way around.
There are a couple of dead ends and even though the general layout is in a circle, it’s easy to get turned around.
Go ahead and download the map on your cell phone so you can reference it anytime you would like. If you are more of a paper person then you can check at the main office in England to see if they have those.
8. Is Quick Queue Worth It?
If you read my tips for Universal Studios post then you know I was a huge fan of buying the fast pass there.
You would think it would be the same for Busch Gardens Williamsburg, right?
Well, I don’t think so.
We were at the theme park on Friday from 10 am – 3 pm and then Saturday from about 1 pm – 9:30 pm. Friday we almost walked directly onto anything we wanted to ride other than Griffon.
On Saturday our longest wait time was maybe one hour. The only thing we didn’t get to ride because the wait time was too long was Griffon.
At Universal, we were waiting 1 and a half and sometimes 2 or more hours to get on rides. Then I considered the fast pass worth it.
For Busch Gardens I really don’t think you’ll need the quick queue pass unless you only have one day in the park and you really want to ride everything.
9. Research the Best Days to Visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg
I was incredibly surprised that it wasn’t more crowded when I visited on a Friday. Like I said, we were able to walk on to pretty much anything we wanted to.
The thing is – if you like playing the carnival games then those are typically only open on the weekends and possibly high traffic weekdays.
We found that there were also a couple of dining places only open on Saturday and not on Friday.
Basically, there is a balancing act between fewer crowds and some things not being open. As for me? I’ll take fewer crowds any day of the week so visiting on Friday didn’t bother me at all.
The east coast of Virginia is great to visit year-round though – Williamsburg and Virginia Beach are popular vacation spots.
10. Board Your Pets With Pet Care Services
Did you know that you can board your pets at Busch Gardens Williamsburg? I didn’t realize this was a thing! Since I’ve been visiting a lot of theme parks lately – like Dollywood – I’ve noticed most theme parks have this option.
It’s super helpful when you love visiting amusement parks but don’t want to board your dog for your entire trip.
Just note that you are responsible for walking and feeding your dog and you’ll have to purchase preferred parking to access the kennel.
11. Buy Tickets Ahead of Time
Busch Gardens Williamsburg runs deals often so keep a watch on their website and purchase in advance! You can also join their email list and be notified when they offer discount tickets.
If you’re planning to visit for multiple days or multiple times during the year then an annual pass might make sense. Especially with the perks that the pass comes with.
Buying in advance is a great money saving tip for Busch Gardens Williamsburg!
12. Use the Busch Gardens App
Most theme parks that I’ve been to this year have their own app and honestly, it’s been so helpful. It’s a great resource for planning your trip to Busch Gardens.
You can see park hours and showtimes plus you can use the app for your tickets. There is an interactive map where you can see all the roller coasters with information about them and height requirements.
It also offers directions in the map from your location to destinations inside the park. Super handy if you need to get somewhere quick.
13. Arrive Early
This is especially important during the summer. You may even want to arrive 10 – 15 minutes before the park opens because cars will start lining up at the entrance.
When we visited, we got there right when the park opened and there were already a few cars in line. We quickly parked and got into the park though and didn’t have to wait in line for any coasters.
It’s nice to have the park to yourself for the first couple hours of the day. If you visit on a Friday or other weekday then this is especially true.
14. Save Souvenirs for the End of the Day
If you plan on buying any souvenirs then do that at the end of the day so you don’t have to deal with carrying things around the park.
It’s especially a hassle when you have to deal with shoving things in a locker before each ride. Just take note of where you saw something that you might like and come back before you leave.
15. Tips for People Visiting With Kids
If you’re visiting with kids then this is a whole different bear. Here are a few general tips from my trips here as a kid.
Make sure to check the height requirements for each roller coaster and if your kid is new to big kid coasters then start out with one of the easier rides.
My first ever big kid coaster was the Big Bad Wolf but they’ve since replaced it with Verbolten. Loch Ness Monster would be the one I recommend for an “introductory” high thrill coaster.
Next tip – if you don’t want to deal with bringing your own stroller then you can rent one inside the park. They are currently $30 to rent.
Research where the kid-friendly rides are before-hand if you have very small kids. Land of the Dragons was by far my favorite part of the park when I was younger. It’s only open on weekends now. These days kids really love the Sesame Street Forest.
FAQs for Visiting Busch Gardens
How do I get the most out of Busch Gardens Williamsburg?
To get the most out of your trip, buy your Busch Gardens tickets in advance to save money, arrive at the park right when it opens, and make a plan ahead of time. Download the app so you can take a look at the map to determine what rides and shows you want to see.
What can you not miss at Busch Garden Williamsburg?
The roller coasters! My favorite part about Busch Gardens is the number of high thrill roller coasters. Verbolten, Griffon, and Alpengheist are three of the best and they recently opened a new one – Pantheon.
Apollo’s Chariot is nothing to sneeze at either. They also have a fun wooden roller coaster named invadR.
What are the slowest days at Busch Gardens Williamsburg?
The slowest days are weekdays so Monday – Friday but note they are not open daily year-round. In the spring, fall, and winter they close on some weekdays. Fridays are great days to visit because they are not as busy but most rides and dining options are still open.
When is the best time to visit?
October, April, and August are typically the busiest months so it’s best to avoid those times. The best months to visit are May or September for fewer crowds and November or December if you love Christmas events.
Christmas Town and Howl-O-Scream are some of their most popular events during the year.
How long do you need at Busch Garden Williamsburg?
This varies depending on how much you love theme parks and roller coasters. My family and I love them and like to ride coasters more than once so I found that two days was good for us.
If you aren’t concerned with riding every coaster then visiting for one day is fine.
When I was younger, we typically spent three days in the park because my parents and grandparents loved the shows, my siblings and I wanted to ride all the kiddie rides and my parents wanted to ride the high thrill coasters.
What happens if it rains?
If there is heavy rain or thunder/lightning, then rides will close in Busch Gardens. They will still run in just light rain.
The park does have a Sunny Day Guarantee Policy where you can receive a complimentary ticket to come back within one year your visit if your trip is impacted by weather. Just note that giving these out is at the discretion of Guest Services.
Wrap Up: Busch Gardens Williamsburg Tips for 2023
If you live within a 4 or 5 hour drive of Busch Gardens Williamsburg then I highly recommend you give it a try.
In 2019 it was voted the “World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park” for the 29th year in a row. I would argue that they have the best thrill rides on the east coast.
If you don’t like rides they also have great shows for entertainment as well. This is such a family-friendly place and is especially great since you don’t have to deal with the crowds like at Universal Studios or Walt Disney World.
I hope these Busch Gardens Williamsburg tips will help you plan your perfect trip to the park!