Busch Gardens Offers Diversion
from Colonial Williamsburg History
by Colette Connolly
Reminders of the past are everywhere in Colonial Williamsburg, once the capital of 18th-century Virginia. You’ll find it in the houses that line Duke of Gloucester Street, in the shop fronts that open on to Merchant’s Square and in the grounds of the nearby College of William and Mary, the second oldest university in the country.
But take a short trip outside Williamsburg and you’ll be surprised to find that a completely different attraction is closer than you think, and it’s in the form of Busch Gardens Europe, a 360-acre European-themed entertainment park recreating the sights and sounds of six different European countries, including England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Scotland.
Walking through the various European hamlets that represent each country is a pleasant experience as all of them are connected together with tree-lined walkways and attractive bridges.
During a recent visit, my family and I made the Busch Gardens recreated version of Ireland our first stop. There we experienced “Corkscrew Hill,” a 4-D adventure ride that invites guests to experience life in a world ruled by roaming giants. The ride takes some dips and turns, so be prepared and hold on to your seats.
A more relaxing activity involves watching the daily Irish dance show, “Emerald Beat,” a Riverdance-type, high-energy performance in the Abbey Stone Theatre by step dancers from the Dublin-based O’Shea’s School of Irish Dance.
Moving on to Italy, we decided to take a ride on the “Roman Rapids,” a whitewater adventure that left us a tad bit soggy. Hungry for more adventure, we also tried the ride “Escape from Pompeii,” which is not as scary as the literature suggests, and in Germany, my husband and two children braved a white-knuckle, free-flight roller coaster called “The Big Bad Wolf,” which takes riders through a Bavarian village while suspended from an overhead track. I was the chicken, preferring to wait it out in a nearby seating area.
We also tried other, more relaxing activities at Busch Gardens Virginia that are particularly suited to younger children. Taking a swirl in the teacups and riding the carousel is always a lot of fun. My 7-year-old son and I were pulled from the audience and asked to participate in an outdoor theatrical performance. Apart from wearing bunny ears and an apron, and feeling silly for all of 15 minutes, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
If you’d rather not walk the entire park (Busch Gardens is rather hilly), you can take the Sky Ride, an overhead tram that accommodates up to four people. You can take a full ride around the park and enjoy the view (it takes about 30 minutes), or you can use it to get to specific areas in the park. There are stations in Scotland (near the Loch Ness Monster), Italy (near Roman Rapids and Apollo's Chariot), and New France (near Griffon and the Le Scoot Log Flume).
To round off our day at Busch Gardens, we visited the stables that house the famous Clydesdale horses, the mascot for the Anheuser-Busch Budweiser brand.
For more information on attractions and special hotel packages in the Williamsburg area, check out www.officialwilliamsburg.com
To find out about additional attractions, admission and other information on Busch Gardens Europe, visit http://www.buschgardens.com/BGW/default.aspx
Colette Connolly is a freelance travel writer living in the New York area.
courtesy of the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va., and Busch Entertainment Corporation.