Greetings, Internet Stranger and welcome to a perfect 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA! You might be stroking your chin and saying to yourself, “Why would someone want to spend 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA? What even is a Busch Gardens?”
If these are the thoughts running through your brain, you are not alone. I’m from New York City, and some of my more unfortunate acquaintances and relations have never heard of this amusement park. If you are one of the unlucky ones who knows not of Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA, never fear! You have a treat in store this day.
I was once just like you, unfamiliar with the “World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park”. The first time I went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA was as a ridealong. My mother chaperoned a high school field trip to the theme park. I was only a pre-teen, but I could come with her as long as I promised to never speak to any of the actual teenagers.
Mom and I had such a magical time that I begged her to take a friend and me back the following year. Now I go as an adult as often as I can. Join me for 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA full of rollercoasters, artisanal earrings, lederhosen, and a cartoon ghost.
Just purchase your tickets in advance here and away we go!
24 Hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA
Where to Stay
Williamsburg is an extremely popular tourist attraction, so there’s no shortage of hotels at any price range. I usually go for hotels that are affordable, but not low-budget. After all, I don’t want to blow most of my budget on the hotel when I’m going to be out seeing the sights. But I still want to be comfortable.
I recommend the Hampton Inn and Suites–Richmond Road. It was definitely a great value for the 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA, while still being comfortable and convenient. It was actually within walking distance of some great restaurants and tourist attractions like Ripley’s Believe it Or Not. Plus, breakfast was free every morning!
24 Hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA
- An excellent small cell charger so you can keep taking pictures all during your one day in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA
- The best guidebook to Virginia, with DC even thrown in as a bonus.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly how solo travel can take your life from BLAH to amazing!
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- I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by a shark during your 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA.
24 Hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA
The first thing you need to know when spending 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA is that the theme park is divided into countries. Each country has more than one section. Italy is made up of Festa Italia and San Marco, which is sometimes just called Regular Old Italy.
Festa Italia has an Ancient Rome theme and San Marco is more modeled after the Renaissance. Italy, your country has such a rich and beautiful history. Why do you spoil things by insisting on thinking that Roberto Benigni is funny? I prefer ridiculous Latin-language humor like this:
Italy is my favorite section of the park. It has amazing rollercoasters, fantastic shopping, and the best food (and by food I mean gelato). Also it is probably the prettiest section of the theme park. That’s not too shabby considering Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA has been voted Prettiest Theme Park in the World 28 years in a row. So without further ado, I present…
Approximately top 5: Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA Italy
1) Apollo’s Chariot
I have to apollo-gize because I don’t always have a photo to match the ride. Of course photos are not allowed on the rollercoasters, so I had to spend a good portion of my day with my camera locked away in one of the pay lockers. But you don’t need a photo to understand Apollo’s Chariot. Just watch the video here.
If you are a rollercoaster junkie like I am, you’ll have a fabulous 24 hours in Busch Gardens. They have so many demented rides, each one with a special twist that will make you say BLARF! For Apollo’s Chariot, what stood out was the speed. The ride travels at 73 miles per hour. It’s like your very own Porsche in the sky!
The one thing I don’t understand is why they named it after Apollo. I guess cause it’s in the sky and Apollo was one of the sun gods? Was he also the god of speed? Wouldn’t that be Mercury? Has this post started to become unbearably nerdy? Moving on, then.
24 hour tip
If you plan on going on a lot of rides and you don’t have a friend with you, pay for an all-day locker code. This is known as a Transferable Locker Pass. You’ll save money because you can just move your bag to a new locker in each area without having to pay again.
At least there’s a vaguely Italian theme. Tempesto is meant to simulate the experience of flying through the air like an Italian daredevil pilot. I think Tempesto sounds like something you’d put on tempasta. It actually sounds pretty tasty.
I wouldn’t eat that tempesto sauce before going on this ride, though. The gimmick of Tempesto is its inversions. Yes, you will go completely upside down on this puppy. Make sure to not have any loose change in your pockets! You don’t want to kill the poor souls below.
3) Roman Rapids
All right, now for something a little tamer. This is the Roman Rapids. You can fit on a raft with five other people and turn round and round over and under waterfalls until you get completely splooshed.
Seriously, I cannot overstate this enough. You will NOT be a dry person when you emerge from this ride. If you are a person who hates soggy clothes, bring a change. Also, jf you are afraid of water, do not take this ride. (Also, if you are afraid of water, how are you still alive? You need to drink water to live, Internet Stranger.)
4) battering ram
A good portion of the San Marco hamlet is modeled after a Renaissance garden. I imagine the Battering Ram ride is meant to simulate one of the weapons that an Italian city-state might have used if it was trying to crush another city-state. This battering ram is greatly superior to the Renaissance ones because nobody has ever died because of this battering ram.
If you’re looking for a milder ride during your 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA, this is an excellent choice. There are no free falls, turbo speeds, or loop-the-loops. It’s just a good, old-fashioned pendulum that will swing you back and forth until your stomach feels like it’s going to come out your nose. You know, for kids!
5) Escape From Pompeii
If you are scared of both fire and water, do not take this ride! Escape from Pompeii is a thrilling journey that I believe is meant to simulate an escape from Pompeii. It’s short but packed with excitement. Flames will spurt directly on your face but not set you on fire! Water will sploosh you but not drench you! What more could you want?
6) Da Vinci’s Cradle
This ride is shaped like a cradle, but not any cradle I’ve ever seen, and it lifts you up in the air and swings you back and forth repeatedly. I was seated next to two teenage brothers who kept politely asking me what was about to happen and how far we were going to go in the air. Did I look like the conductor of Da Vinci’s Cradle? Or did I just give off a teacher vibe?
My favorite part of this ride was this little boy sitting across from me whose face filled with utter glee and shock every time we went into the air. The tenth time it happened seemed as surprising and delightful to him as the first. Don’t you wish you could go back and experience life that way just once?
7) Turkish Delight
Turkish Delight is exactly like the Mad Tea Party ride at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. You just sit in a teacup and spin round and round. It’s one of the more relaxing rides at Busch Gardens. I suppose the Italian connection is Italian trade with Turkey? See what an educational theme park this is?
8) Trade Wind
Trade Wind is a delicious ride that spins you around until you feel your face might fall off. It’s either love it or hate it. (Again, I’m a coaster junkie, so I definitely love it.) But one thing you don’t want to do is take this ride on a full stomach. Please don’t make me say why.
In my experience, Italy has the best shopping in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA. My favorite store was Artisans of Italy where I actually got to watch a Venetian artist making jewelry. And then I bought some, of course.
All of the artist’s designs were modeled on flowers, but I chose the lily because it goes with most of my clothes. Also it looks kind of like it’s sticking its tongue out at me, and I like rude jewelry. I collect earrings in every city I visit. At this point I have over 200. So get used to my poorly composed pictures of my earrings taken on my 70s-era floorboards! You’ll probably see one in every post.
And if it’s a hot day, which it probably will be, cool off with some hazelnut gelato at Gelato di San Marco. It was nothing fancy, but it has a pure taste and a smooth texture that will definitely tide us over so we can walk from Italy to Germany.
24 Hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA
Afternoon: Germany and the United Kingdom
When I say that Italy is my favorite country in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA, I don’t want that to prejudice you against the others. After all, the Busch family is obviously German in origin, so they put all their might into making the German rides as Achtung as possible. And of course, UK is full of great beer, lots of little flags, and even a ride or two!
Approximately top 5: Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA Germany and UK
1) Lunch at Das Festhaus
This giant sausage plate at Das Festhaus in Oktoberfest, which is the replica of Bavaria, is a highly decent value and a great choice for the lunch during your time at Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA. You get three sausages, potato salad, sauerkraut, red cabbage, and a roll. The three kinds of sausage are bratwurst, which is a pork sausage, knackwurst, which has garlic in it, and a spicier smoked sausage.
I’m no sausage expert, but they all definitely tasted like they had juicy meat encased in some animal intestine, and that’s enough to keep my tummy happy.
The Festhaus itself is huge, and as a solo diner it felt kind of cozy to be sitting at tables surrounded by so many people. Not cozy enough to actually chat with a stranger, but cozy nonetheless.
Try to time your lunch right so you’ll be able to watch the delightful oompah band show. I couldn’t help but wonder, how did they find so many Virginians who knew how to play oompah band music? Truly the world is full of surprises and delights.
2) Mach tower
Are you afraid of heights? Do you feel easily overcome with a sense of vertigo? Do you frequently wear loose shoes? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, Mach Tower is not for you. The fall is okay, but the ride up to a height of almost 240 feet was horrifying for me. Just for perspective, that is almost half the height of the tallest building in Zurich.
While I was ascending the ride, I kept worrying about my shoes. My sandals were a little on the loose side. I have somewhat of a morbid imagination and I kept worrying that one of my shoes would fly off and kill someone. Or at best, I’d just lose the shoe and have to spend the 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA hopping on one foot. Fortunately I made the drop with both my sanity and shoes intact.
Since we are in Bavaria, what could be finer than a pleasant ride through the Black Forest? What could possibly go wrong?
Answer: everything. As soon as the ride starts, your car is struck by lightning. You plunge through the darkness where you can’t see anything except the sound of your own screams. Wait–is that more lightning up ahead? Is that the cries of the dread evil forest spirit echoing in your brain? ARE THOSE THE EYES OF THE BIG BAD WOLF? WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD WOLF?
Eventually the ride comes to an end. You’ve learned your lesson though. Don’t ride rollercoasters through the Black Forest.
4) Der Wirbelwind
Every region of Busch Gardens has a more quiet and soothing ride, and in Germany that ride is Der Wirbelwind. It’s a pleasant spinny ride that will lift you up, give you a few twirls around in the air, and then gently blop you down. If you’ve got kids, this would be a great ride for them.
I assume that’s true, at least. I didn’t ask any children for their opinion because going up to random children and asking them what they think about theme park rides tends to scare them.
It’s time on our 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA to leave Oktoberfest and head for Rhinefeld, which is modeled after the Rhineland/a German ski resort. I’m not sure how accurate that mashup is, but it sure is pretty! Observe!
But we’re not here to watch on the Rhine! We’re here to get our face melted off! Alpengeist, which I assume translates to Ghost of the Alps, is an ominous name. Who is the Alpengeist? Is it me? Is the ride going to turn me into a ghost? You need to relax, Internet Stranger. The rides at Busch Gardens are all very safe.
But you won’t necessarily feel safe when you start riding Alpengeist and realize that you are suspended in midair. I think this is supposed to feel like skiing. Now, maybe I’ve been doing skiing all wrong, but my skis were frequently touching the ground. Most of the time even.
Also this ride turns you upside down six times and I have never even been upside down once while skiing. Once I crashed into a little boy because he didn’t get out of the way fast enough and then I fell on my butt. But that’s the closest I got to being upside down.
6) Loch Ness Monster
We’ve seen the main sights in Germany, so now it’s time to head on over to the UK portion of our Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA itinerary. Above you see old Nessie here in the Scotland hamlet. She is the oldest rollercoaster in the park, but don’t let that scare you.
It is also the only coaster in the world with two interlocking loops. I don’t know what effect that has on the rider, but it’s nice to know. And all the hoops and loop-the-loops do kind of make you feel like you’re riding a magical serpent’s back, which I imagine is the idea.
7) Celtic Fyre
Ireland is the newest country in Busch Gardens and there wasn’t a lot going on during my 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA. I hear it is rapidly expanding even as we speak. (Or rather as I type and you read through your computer screen.) But I did enjoy Celtic Fyre, which is an ode to the Irish dance.
The performers, who looked all of about 12 years old to me, had some impression tricks and high kicks up their sleeve. But my favorite part of the show was their performance of The Wild Rover. The way they sang it, it sounded almost like a country western song. I bet it could be a hit on country radio today! Consider this idea shared freely with my readers! I only ask for 10 percent of the gross.
8) Finnegan’s Flyer
Ireland does have one ride that you shouldn’t miss during your time at Busch Gardens, and that is Finnegan’s Flyer. This swing takes you so high up above the river that it does feel like you’ll come crashing down into the briny deep, ne’er to be seen e’er more. At least, that’s what I assume the large family taking the ride with me was thinking because they kept shrieking their lungs out.
But we aren’t worried, are we? We’re roller coaster junkies, after all, and we know the rides couldn’t be safer.
9) Grogan’s Pub
If you’re looking for a break when you’re in Ireland, step into the adorable replica of an Irish pub. This is an especially nice stop if there’s a thunderstorm while you’re at Busch Gardens because the rides won’t operate during the storm. (I found this out the hard way.)
You can indulge in a typical Irish beer, but you can also get something stranger like this melon ball cocktail made with Midori, vodka, and lemonade. I’m not sure what’s Irish about this except that it’s really great, but it was super drinkable.
24 Hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA
Where would you like to dine in Europe? Did you say France? May oui, cherie! After all, a dinner here is never second best. That’s why we’re going to spend the whole evening of our time in Busch Gardens at the France section.
I’ll take you to the Quebec-esque part of France, which Busch Gardens calls New France, but I prefer to call Fake Canada. Then we’ll head over to Real Fake France (or Fake Real France) for some ice cream and wine. There might even be a few roller coasters! Let’s head over right away!
Approximately top 5: Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA France
1) Le Scoot
We’ve had our fun in the Alps of the Rhineland, so now it’s time to head to our next European destination: Canada. To be fair, this hamlet is part of France, and they call it New Canada. So let’s make like a Quebecois and chop down some trees!
But instead of chopping down trees, let’s get inside a hollowed-out plastic pretend tree and go through an imitation sawmill. This ride is a good choice for people who do want a water ride but don’t want to be completely soaking wet at the end.
2) Trappers Smokehouse
Next up, dinner! I mean, you might want to hold off on dinner until after you’ve done all the roller coasters. Or you might be feeling snacky and want to chow down. Up to you!
The Trappers Smokehouse specializes in barbecue and I suggest getting the smokehouse sampler so you can try a bit of everything. There’s ribs, which have good flavor in the meat but a little too much fat for my taste. Then there was the chicken, which was the least salty and surprisingly moist for theme park chicken. Finally, the brisket was my favorite because it was the least fatty and the meat was still moist.
The sides included waffle fries and yeast bread. I found the slightly sweet yeast bread tastier than the bland waffle fries, but the main reason I used either one was to soak up the yummy bbq sauce. It had a mild amount of heat and a mild amount of sweet, so it was perfect for a treat.
The last stop on the Fake Canada portion of our 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA is the Invadr ride. This wooden roller coaster is surprisingly solid, but the wood gives it that old-tymey roller coaster feel.
I am not 100 percent sure why there is a Viking themed ride in Fake Canada. Is this meant to represent the historical battles between the Normans and the Vikings? That would be a historical deep cut for sure! But the French connection I am sure of is that there’s a big sign at the end that says La Victoire! (That’s French for Yay! We Win!)
We’ve had our Canadian fun in the forest, and now it’s the time in our 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA to head to Actual France. (I mean Actual Fake France.) This hamlet is known as Aquitaine and it’s quite a bit dreamier than New Canada.
This is quite lovely, but I don’t know if the clocks in France actually say France on them. I feel like they already know what country they are in.
But we’re not here for Obvious Clocks. We’re here to get freaky with a Griffon. I’m a big fictional monster nerd, so I was a bit disappointed to hear that the Griffon here is a ride and not a winged lion. I was less disappointed when I found out the Griffon has a 90 degree drop in it. Have you ever experienced a 90 degree drop?
I felt like that egg I kept trying to get fall to the ground during physics class as I hurtled to the ground. But unlike that egg, I made it to the end very much in one piece and eager to go again.
5) Ice Cream at josephine’s creamery
It’s been a little while since our giant plate of Fake Canadian barbecue, so it’s time for a light snack! And by light, I mean a mint chocolate milkshake with gobs of whipped cream on the top. I’m not exactly sure what’s French about this except that the French are good at making ice cream. But it was excellent and refreshing on a hot 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA, so I’m not complaining.
6) Wine Tasting at La Belle Cellier Du Vin
One very pleasant treat I experienced as a single adult at Busch Gardens was that wine tastings are offered in most of the countries. I decided to take a chance on French wines. In order to get a wine tasting, everyone has to show ID, even the elderly.
I guess this is in case some crafty teenagers put talcum powder in their hair and draw on wrinkles in an effort to sneak some theme park wine. Once you’ve proved yourself to be old, you’re rewarded with four wines.
The sommelier (who was really a retired teacher from Virginia) poured me the wines from sweetest to driest. I got to sample a sparkling, a white, a rosé, and a red, so I truly felt like I had my money’s worth. Plus you get to keep your wine glass. Mrs. Sommelier even gave me an iced sparkling wine, which I had never tried before. (It’s a sweet wine that is meant to be served over ice. How glamorously trashy!)
Now that I was a little tipsy and had made a new Virginia friend/sommelier, it was time to call an Uber and go back to my motel. The 24 hours in Busch Gardens started with Apollo’s Chariot and ended with a Bordeaux. That’s what I call a perfect theme park day!
24 Hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA
How to Get There?
By Car: This is an easy way to get to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, if you are coming from somewhere else on the East Coast in the United States. You can drive here easily from Richmond, VA, Washington DC, or Baltimore.
However, I don’t know how to drive, so this wasn’t an option for me. You’ll need a car to get from and back to your hotel from Busch Gardens, but Uber is widely available if you don’t drive. If you need to rent a car, you can use the search engine Expedia to find the best price from the available car rental companies.
By Plane: There’s no airport in Williamsburg. But if you need to fly to get to coastal Virginia, the closest airport where you can get a flight is probably Norfolk. You can fly into Norfolk and then drive or take a Greyhound bus into Williamsburg. (Again, I recommend using a search engine like Expedia to search for the best prices on flights.)
By Train or Bus: I used the Amtrak train to get from Baltimore to Richmond, and it was both cheap and convenient, like I like my ice cream. Amtrak does have a train that goes from Richmond to Williamsburg, but not one that left at the time I wanted, so from Richmond I had to take the Hound bus to Williamsburg. Just check the schedules and see what works best for you!
Just keep in mind that Richmond has more than one train station, so your train to Williamsburg might not leave from the station where you arrived.
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA
What would you do with 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Williamsburg? Can you really tell the difference between bratwurst and knockwurst? And are melon cocktails secretly very Irish? Email me at [email protected] and let me know!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Remember that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA. If you have another 24 hours in Williamsburg, try this itinerary for Colonial Williamsburg too!