Greetings, Internet Stranger! 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 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.
24 Hour tip
Most people get to Busch Gardens like normal Americans, by driving. However there is a really cheap bus that goes to Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA and leaves from the Williamsburg train station. It got me to Williamsburg with no difficulty or delay.
From the train station it was but a short trip to my hotel in Williamsburg. And if you want to explore almost 100 great deals on hotels in Williamsburg, click here.
24 Hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
Virginia is hot in the summer, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, since we’re going to be out all day, you’ll want a battery for your cell phone. I always use the Anker charger. It’s light enough to fit in even a small purse. And you won’t want a big purse because you can’t take them on the roller coaster! Plus the Anker lasts for several full charges of a phone, so I’ll never run out of juice!
24 Hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA
The first thing you need to know when spending 24 hours in Busch Gardens 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? But I digress.
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 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.
Once again, no matching photo. 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. And finally a photo that matches the ride! 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!
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.
6) Lunch At Marco Polo’s Marketplace
Busch Gardens is not nearly as known for its food as Epcot in Disney World is. And I…am not going to change that impression. The food at Busch Gardens is totally fine, but not up to the magic of its scenery and rollercoasters. But don’t let that dissuade you from eating there. In fact, Marco Polo’s Marketplace is a perfectly pleasant place to get a panini or a pizza. Also, true to Marco Polo’s life and history, they have Asian food options here as well as Italian. Way to celebrate diversity, Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA.
24 Hour treasure
The main reason I suggest Marco Polo’s Marketplace is because while you dine, you can watch the completely insane show, Mix It Up. These performers boogie on down to classic Italian-American songs like Mambo Italiano and The Godfather theme while…banging on pots and pans, playing musical instruments, and performing flag semaphore with giant orange pieces of fabric. You know, just like Nonna used to do.
There’s nothing authentically Italian about Mix It Up, but the kids performing the show are authentically enthusiastic and it’s a hysterical way to sit and digest your food before heading off to the afternoon’s rollercoasters/
24 Hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA
Afternoon: Germany and France
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. France is certainly one of the prettier spots in the park, and they have a real, live griffon. An afternoon here will not be wasted, especially if you follow…
Approximately top 5: germany and france
1) 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.
Like Italy, Germany is divided into two hamlets, and we are now in the Bavarian imitation known as Oktoberfest. 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.
It’s time 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 look at flowers! 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.
4) 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.
We’ve had our Canadian fun in the forest, and now it’s the time in our 24 hours in Busch Gardens 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.
6) Ice Cream at josephine’s creamery
It’s been a few hours since our lunch of panini and musical pannery, 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, so I’m not complaining.
24 Hours in Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA
Evening: Dinner, a Drink, and Some Shows
I’m cheating a little bit in this section because we’re not actually going to spend the entire evening in the British Isles hamlet. There’s better food back in Germany, so we’ll go there for dinner. But England and Ireland are the best places in Busch Gardens to go for shows, and there’s one last roller coaster in Scotland, so this area is a peaceful place to start winding down the evening.
Approximately top 5: busch gardens nightlife
1) cool britannia
What’s the one thing everybody loves about England? Shakespeare? Tea and scones? The Queen? Wrong! All wrong! The answer is British Invasion music. There’s always a show of classic British rocks tunes going down in the England hamlet. When I was there the show was called London Rocks, and it’s now called Britmania. But I imagine the principle is the same. You can hear Virginia’s most energetic teenagers rocking out to the Beatles, Eric Clapton, Queen, David Bowie, the Zombies…
What I really want to know is what happened that made English music so excellent very suddenly in the 1960s. It’s like there’s nothing but Benjamin Britton forever, and then BOOM! Every great musician is English. I assume Dumbledore is involved somehow.
2) 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 expanded 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.
3) Loch Ness Monster
Our last coaster of the night is 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.
4) Dinner at Das Festhaus
This giant sausage plate at Das Festhaus back in Oktoberfest is a highly decent value. 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.
5) 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!
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 what’s the best kitchen-themed musical performance you’ve ever seen? Please leave your thoughts below!
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!