Williamsburg, VA

A theme park for the holidays

B.R. Shenoy

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Busch Gardens Christmas TownB.R. Shenoy

This past holiday season, we went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Christmas Town. I’d visited Busch Gardens a couple of times as a teenager, but I’d never taken my own children there.

Furthermore, I had wanted to visit Christmas Town for years because it is billed as one of North America’s largest light displays.

Arrival at the Park

We arrived shortly before the opening time of 2 pm, hoping to beat the crowds. Since the focus is on the lights, the park opens in the afternoon, so there was no point in arriving early.

To our dismay, everyone was thinking the same way as the lines to enter the parking area were long.

The theme of Busch Gardens is vintage Europe, with nine villages in all, based around six nations. Since 1990, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, has been voted the world’s most beautiful amusement park.

Each country in Christmas Town was decked in style to celebrate the holidays.

Rides

Since it was December in Virginia, the weather was frigid.

If the temperature drops below 40 degrees, most rides will close for safety reasons. Regrettably, the temperature reached a high of 29 degrees on the day we visited.

As a result, the majority of the rides were closed, so there were long lines for the few that were still open. Due to COVID, the park was also severely understaffed.

All of the roller coasters were closed, which disappointed the youngsters in our group. After long wait times, the only three rides we enjoyed all day were the Skyride, the merry-go-round, and the flying carousel.

Shows

The majority of the shows had been canceled. The few shows that were still on might have been entertaining if we had attended. However, there was such a long gap between shows, and it was so bitterly cold that we decided to call it a night after we saw the light displays.

Dinner

Several food kiosks and restaurants were closed or opened late in the afternoon.

Restaurants that were usually open were only partially open due to staffing shortages. As a result, the total number of people who could be served was significantly reduced.

Since dining options were limited, we settled on Trapper’s Smokehouse in New France and dined on ribs and fries. The meal was decent, albeit overpriced.

Fortunately, there was a warm seating area to take a break from the cold and enjoy the meal.

We also enjoyed sipping hot chocolate and munching on soft pretzels, while we browsed the numerous souvenir shops located throughout the park.

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Holiday Lights at Busch Gardens Christmas TownB.R. Shenoy

Lack of COVID Protocols

Despite the new Omicron variant, the majority of people were not masking up nor socially distancing themselves. To be as safe as possible, my family and I kept our masks on at all times except while eating.

We had planned this trip months in advance, so we decided to stick to our plans while exercising caution.

Sadly, Christmastown, which was supposed to be the highlight of our Virginia vacation, was a huge disappointment.

Winter Wonderland

The park’s only saving grace was that it had been transformed into a breathtaking holiday wonderland with over 10 million twinkling lights.The lighting and decorations were stunning. Every country in the park was decked out in Christmas lights. It was great fun to walk around and take in the sights. Not to mention snap selfies and family photos near light displays.

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Holiday Lights at Busch Gardens Christmas TownB.R. Shenoy

Takeaway

If you don’t mind the crowds or the high admission prices, and if you only want to view the Christmas decorations and light displays, the park will not disappoint.

Visit the park at a different time of year if you enjoy rides and performances.

This is an ideal Virginia getaway with your loved ones, especially when paired with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg.

What are some of your favorite wintertime theme park memories? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

This article originally appeared on Medium.

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Houston, TX
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