Thinking about attending MADExpo as either a speaker or attendee? The Hampton Roads area has many awesome attractions that will give your family members plenty to do while you’re off enjoying yourself at the conference. In this series, I’m going to skim the surface on some of the really cool things you can do in Hampton Roads.
- Virginia Air and Space Center
- Busch Gardens (this post)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Parking: $13.00 (Preferred is $18.00 – gets you closer to the main gate.)
Originally owned by Anheuser-Busch, Busch Gardens has been a model amusement park since 1975. It has been named the “Country’s Most Beautiful Amusement Park” for 21 straight years. Walking around the park, you’ll be taken back to old Europe. The park is divided into several “countries", England, France, Germany, Spain, and Scotland. All the rides in the difference countries are themed after legends and culture references.
If you’re a roller coaster fan, Busch Gardens has 4 major roller coasters. Depending on schedule, a 5th coaster called Verbolten should be open during MADExpo. That doesn’t mean all the fun is for adults. There are several kid oriented sections of the park, including a full section themed after Sesame Street. There is literally fun for the whole family.
If you’re trying to be frugal, think about eating at one of the many restaurants around the park. Better yet, there is a full picnic area out the main gates. Many families bring food with them, and take a break at lunch time.
Best food and entertainment in the park, in my opinion, is the Festhaus. Authentic german cuisine! Oh yeah, there is pizza, burgers, and stuff like that too for the kids (wussy adults). BBQ over in France is also an excellent choice, unless it’s raining.
My favorite roller coaster is, without a doubt, Apollo’s Chariot. The best seat on the ride is in the very last row, left (driver side) of the car. A trick for the harness is to ball your hands into fists and positions them between the ride restraint and your lap. This prevents the ride operators from locking them down too tightly, and you can experience some excellent weightlessness on the first several drops. Don’t worry, you won’t fall out.
A word of caution. Busch Gardens is designed around the hills and river. This means a lot of walking up and down huge hills to get from one side of the park to the other. There is a train and a skyride for these purposes. I recommend you study the map, and where the stations are. A train ride at the very being of the trip will provide you with an excellent view of what the park has to offer.
Oh yeah, lastly… preferred parking is only good if you get there first thing in the morning. All other parking requires a quick tram ride to the main entrance, and preferred puts you near the main gate. It’s my experience that you’ll actually walk more with preferred parking if you get there late. What I’m saying is… it’s not really worth the $5 more.