if you could "visit" Europe, but save you and your family the
expense and headache of travel "across The Pond?"
You can at Busch Gardens.
Located in Williamsburg, Busch Gardens was designed to
capture the charm and architecture of old-world Europe.
The park opened in 1975 about three miles southwest of
Williamsburg. Originally called Busch Gardens: The Old Country
to reflect its European theme, the amusement park's name was
changed to Busch Gardens Williamsburg in the 1990s and then to
Busch Gardens Europe -- again with the European theme! -- in
Busch Gardens is one of the top-20 most-visited amusement parks
in the country (three million people visited in 2009).
The park got its start in the early '70's when brewing company
Anheuser-Busch decided to expand its offerings in the
Williamsburg area beyond its brewing facility (additional
expansion included residential and office park developments).
Belgian brewer InBev purchased Anheuser-Busch in 2009 and sold
its 10 theme parks, including Williamsburg's in 2009, to the
Aside from the charming European village feel (visitors may walk
to and from "England" and "France" and other European
"countries"), Busch Gardens also is known for its great array of
roller coasters. Griffon ("Once you look this ride in the eye,
you'll find what it means to be brave," the park's website says
of this coaster) and Apollo's Chariot are quite popular, as is
the high-tech "dark ride," The Curse of DarKastle. Mach Tower
at 240 feet, it's the tallest ride in
the park. Verbolten is the newest ride which opened in 2012.
"Craning your neck to see the top," the Busch Gardens website
says of Mach Tower, "you notice a group of revelers being lifted
and spiraling into the stratosphere. Suddenly, in a rush of wind
and screams, they drop. So does your jaw."
Yet there's more to Busch Gardens than thrill rides and
For one thing -- well several -- there are animals. Lots of
At the park's Jack Hanna's Wild Reserve you'll see bald
eagles, wolves and other wildlife in 8,000 square feet of
natural habitat. You'll also be able to see Scottish Blackface
sheep, Border collies, Clydesdale horses and birds of prey in
the park's Highland Stables. It's here that you'll get a chance
to get real close with the animals (as in some actual
interaction with them) during daily demonstrations of their
Interesting fact about Busch Gardens, the park was named the
world's most beautiful park for the 22th consecutive year in
2012 by the National Amusement Park Historical Association.
Two seasonal attractions are
Howl-O-Scream and Christmastown.
Photos courtesy of
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