Welcome back to our exploration of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, one of the most visited attractions in Virginia and consistently voted the most beautiful park in the world! If you missed our exploration of the park’s first three lands, be sure to check out last week’s article at www.theloaferonline.com.
We left off last week in Scotland, which serves as a central hub with pathways leading towards Ireland, Germany, and Italy. The park’s lands are laid out in a circular shape, making it fairly easy to find the many attractions.
Turning left to explore the park in a clockwise direction, you’ll cross the railroad tracks and enter the Mediterranean. On the right sits the first of Italy’s attractions, Escape from Pompeii. This is a classic boat chute ride that features extensive indoor themed areas and a refreshing splashdown as visitors evade the erupting Mt. Vesuvius. Leonardo da Vinci’s Garden of Inventions sits just beyond and is home to several of the great inventor’s creations. While they may only be carnival rides, the wonderful theming makes them a must stop. Da Vinci’s Cradle is our favorite of the bunch. Riders rock back and forth higher and higher before completing several rotations that provide a feeling of weightlessness!
Although it’s probably a good idea to rest after spinning around on da Vinci’s creations, Marco’s Marketplace has a wide variety of Italian dishes for lunch and dinner. It’s easy to lose track of time while viewing the wonderful Venetian architecture that surrounds the courtyard here.
Festa Italia is a land of bright colors and rowdy circus music. Several fun rides are scattered throughout the area, including the Roman Rapids, Turkish Delight (your classic tea cup attractions), and two smaller family attractions. The Italian fair is not home to one, but two of the park’s signature rollercoasters. Tempesto allows visitors to conquer the skies as the pilots of their own stunt plane. Daredevils blaze through a series of three launches before conquering a zero-g roll and a non-inverting loop. Apollo’s Chariot is the crown jewel of Busch Garden’s coaster collection. This monumental ride has a staggering first drop of 210 feet and multiple airtime hills, rightly earning its place among the enthusiast community as one of the country’s best rollercoasters.
Leaving the Italian peninsula, visitors reach Germany’s Oktoberfest via a bridge over the Rhine that offers outstanding views of another outstanding attraction, Verbolten. Visitors out for a tour of the German countryside get more than they bargain for when they are launched into the darkness of the Black Forest. A fast-paced run from supernatural forces ends with a surprise dive all the way down to the river. The themeing on this ride is outstanding and Disney level quality, so visitors should make it a top priority. In addition to more family rides, nearby visitors will find Mach Tower, an intimidating drop ride that offers unequaled views of the Williamsburg area.
What would Oktoberfest be without food and lots of beer? Visitors may want to time their visit to coincide with the annual Bierfest, with an array of almost two dozen beers available on tap. Catch the Oktoberzest show in Das Festhaus, and don’t forget to try the authentic pretzels before heading on. The pretzel bites were one of the lands’ tru highlights and are not to be missed!
Visitors entering the charming hamlet in Germany might miss the beautiful cobblestone streets. Everyone’s eyes immediately gravitate toward the giant mass of twisted steel known as Alpengiest. Themed to a runaway ski lift, this B&M rollercoaster opened in 1997 as the world’s tallest inverted coaster, a title it still holds until this day. The trains plunge from a height of 195 feet through a series of six inversions as it screams through the snow-covered landscape. If possessed chairlifts just don’t sound all that fun, there’s always the option of a leisurely cruise along the Rhine or exploring the treehouse and rides at Land of the Dragons.
Hewn logs and fort barricades let visitors know they have sailed across the Atlantic and landed in New France. The logging village here would fit right in at Dollywood and features multiple craft shops. Trapper’s Smokehouse is a favorite place to grab some delicious barbecue here. Two rides feature prominently here, Le Scoot, which is a classic log flume, and InvadR, a wooden family coaster. Constructed by Great Coasters International, InvadR has many of the same elements as its Dollywood cousin Thunderhead, albeit on a smaller scale the entire family can enjoy together.
It takes only mere steps for visitors to return to the Old Country once again. Perhaps the park’s most beautiful land, the streets of France are lined with boutiques to entice shoppers and lead to the Royal Palace Theater. Some of the area’s biggest acts come to perform here throughout the summer months. Here too is the park’s ultimate thrill machine, a dive coaster named Griffon. Those brave enough to take on the mythological creature will brave not one, but two ninety degree drops, the first standing at two hundred feet tall!
Ireland is perhaps the park’s most unique land, featuring a wide variety of attractions. Eagle Ridge, Wolf Valley, and Lorikeet glen are home to their namesake animals. Here too is the Abbey Stone Glen, currently housing Celtic Fyre, an award-winning show that is not to be missed. New for last year was Battle for Eire, a motion simulator ride where park guests are whisked away in a fight to save the magic of Ireland. We don’t recommend it for those who get motion sick easily, but it was a fun experience. This spring will see the opening of Finnegan’s Flyer, a brand new thrill family thrill ride. While it may look just like Dollywood’s Barnstormer, this S&S Screaming Swing sits on the edge of a deep ravine, only adding to the thrills. 2020 promises to be an even bigger year as the park has promised to add a record-breaking attraction to its rollercoaster lineup.
We have been to parks all across the U.S. in our wanders, and this one ranks up there with the very best. There are so many great reasons to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg we didn’t have the chance to cover, from the Food and Wine Festival, Howl-O-Scream, and Christmas Town, to the numerous shops, restaurants, and shows scattered throughout the park’s lush Virginia landscape. Visit www.buschgardens.com/williamsburg to explore even more of this wonderful park we fell in love with.