Busch Gardens

BGTrainWhat 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 2006.

Plan a Trip to Williamsburg

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 Blackstone Group.

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 European ambience.

For one thing — well several — there are animals. Lots of animals.

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 skills.

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 http://livinginwilliamsburgvirginia.blogspot.com/

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