BUSCH GARDENS: If Disney were to build a coaster park?
So as the headlines say, we didn’t go back to Disney again. We’ve taken a lot of flak (mostly jokingly) about our trips to Disney. It seems like we spend a lot of time at theme parks, but with Six Flags Great Adventure just a few miles away, and Sesame Place just across the state line. But we also tend to take one big trip to Disney World every year. It sounds like a lot, but somehow it just really isn’t and it allows us to spend a lot of time doing something help us de-stress from daily life. Because our membership at Six Flags includes Dining Plan, we have been known to say “hey, lets go dinner at Six Flags”, and have a great time.
But one of the great advantages that comes with out Sesame Membership (we have memberships at both Sesame Place, and SixFlags, and at one time, and possibly in the future, will have Disney World Annual Passes) is that we get access to all the Sea World/Busch Gardens family of parks.
So on the spur of the moment, we decided to take a short weekend trip to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA as it is somewhere none of us have been before. And surprisingly, few of our close friends have been. So we packed up the car, and headed out.
Now, not knowing better, I expected Busch Gardens to be something closer to Six Flags than anything else we had experienced. It has a lot of kiddie rides on the guide, but a whole lot more thrill rides and roller coasters. But to compare Busch Gardens to Six Flags or even Disney, doesn’t do anyone any favors. I mean it has a lot of thrill rides and coasters like Six Flags, but it has hospitality more like Disney (in all fairness, Six Flags is getting much better at this themselves) while the over all park theming and beauty are just on it’s own plane of existence.
The coasters instead of being on boring flat land, loop over, and under walkways, they intersect with each other, they splash through specially designed pools of water, and they just bring an awe of excitement and wonder as you walk through and watch them. Busch has done a great job of using the natural beauty around them, and just adding to it.
We were able to spend two whole days in the park, and feel like we didn’t get to spend enough time there. Sure we walked the whole park at least once, and did both the Rhine River Cruise and the Train…. But there is just so much to do, so many shows to see, and we did not get to see any shows.
BUSCH GARDENS: Day One
We entered the park into the England area, where we got the NinjaBaby measured, and started our tour. A bit of advice here. If you want your little one to ride the most rides, have him measured using Shoes not Sandals. Sandals have a much thinner sole. The first day of our visit the NinjaBaby measured just below the 42 inch mark, because he was wearing sandals, but the 2nd day, he wore proper shoes, and measured a little above 42. This isn’t cheating, as the ride measurements are designed assuming that people will be wearing normal shoes and not thin soled sandals or water shoes.
And on the first day, we proceeded promptly to the Sesame area at Busch Gardens. Because the NinjaBaby definitely wanted some rides.
Now, since Sesame is our home park, we didn’t have super high hopes for the Sesame Area at Busch Gardens. I mean, how could you expect a themed area of a larger park, to measure up to an entire park, but we were pleasantly surprised at the selection of rides and the theming of the area. It was well done, decently thought out, and made for a great, and very popular area.
This isn’t the only selection of smaller/kids rides in the park, but it is probably the largest concentration. A and the NinjaBaby sure seemed to like Oscar’s Whirly Worms and the NinjaBaby liked the kiddie/baby Locheness boats enough to want to do it the 2nd day also.
And got a picture with Abby Cadabby to boot!
From there we crossed the railroad tracks, and headed towards Italy where the first thing we found was Escape from Pompeii. Now this is a ride that A and I had seen on the website and YouTube. We were greatly looking forward to riding it, but knew with this technically being pre-season that it might not be open. And while they were running empty test cars, and an employee promised us it would be running passengers later that day, we never saw any riders on the ride, and the next day it was completely closed. No test cars, no water running in the slides.
We definitely enjoyed watching the splashdown of the boats, and were impressed by the fact that there was a windowed shelter provided so that you could get close without getting wet, which then opened out to another open deck, that allowed you to get super close, and wet. This area seemed deliberately built to allow you to watch close and stay dry or get wet as you needed, with no other reason than allowing people to get as close to the action as possible. It’s the type of theming that many places miss, in favor of keeping everyone far away, and as with many of the coasters, I was surprised just how much of the ride excitement the spectators were allowed to be part of/designed to be a part of the thrill.
As we made it further into italy, there were some very extreme coasters, a lot of well done theming and some more kiddie rides. The NinjaBaby found one of his favorites, the Elephant Run, which is basically a kiddie friendly version of a Himalayan, but this one ran a bit faster than the one at SixFlags and the NinjaBaby seemed to love that. He did it 4x times on the first day, and at least 6 on the 2nd. He even met a ride-buddy/friend.
After wandering around in Italy a little, past some more kiddie rides, we made our way across a bridge and ended up in Germany. We had lunch at Das Festhaus.
Now from this point, day one thins out. You see after this, we walked a bit, ended up by the carousel, and then took the Rhine River Cruise. After that, the NinjaBaby was goofing off, fell and scrapped his knee.
A helpful employee let us know that first-aide was between France and Ireland, so we made our way through the rest of the park at a decent pace, not really stopping for much. I did manage to take many pictures of flowers however. The general beauty of this park, is something to be marveled at. Around every corner there seemed to be a flower, bush, shrub or tree that was worthy of a photo.
After a quick wound cleaning and a band-aid, we set out again and went towards Ireland. We wanted to do Celtic Fyre (show) but the last one was over and since the NinjaBaby was under 42 inches that ruled out Battle for Eire. But we did get the NinjaBaby the “Squid Hat” he had been wanting since the very first shop he had found, and listened briefly to an Irish band in the square. We also got to watch them test the new Finnegan’s Flyer ride (with and without test subjects) but the noise quickly over-stimulated our NinjaBaby and we made our way out of the parks.
It was a great day for sure, a lot of new things for us to see, and I was surprised the little Ninja made it this far before he started to fall apart. Especially considering the 5-7hr drive we made from New Jersey the night before.
Now this is where I bring this post to an end… We have a whole 2nd day of excitement ahead of us, and while I would love to keep going, it’s time. . .