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.
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.
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What to Wear 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.
What to Bring to Busch Gardens Williamsburg
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.
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.
Parking at Busch Gardens
There are three options for parking as of July 2021 – regular, preferred, and VIP. Regular parking was $25 and VIP was $55.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Make sure you stop at the exit to get a wristband so you can re-enter the park.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Isn’t Like Busch Gardens Tampa
Some people assume that both parks are the same but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
They both are centered around having a single continent for a theme – Williamsburg is Europe and Tampa is Africa.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg highlights countries like England, Ireland, and Germany while Tampa contains Nairobi, Egypt, and Morocco.
The main similarities are that they both have shows, animal encounters, and fantastic roller coasters.
Lockers Aren’t Free
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.
Download a Map
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.
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 it unless you only have one day in the park and you really want to ride everything.
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Weekdays vs. Weekends
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 actually found that there were also a couple of dining places that were 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.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Tips for 2021 Recap
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!