Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

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Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by atlanta_dad » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:05 am

We are planning a 3 night stay in Williamsburg,VA to visit Busch gardens & Water Country USA with 2 kids. Please advise on some good places to stay and must dos in the area.

Thanks in advance

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by seanmerron » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:10 am

Well the Great Wolf lodge is not far away and also is a water park. I live in Virginia Beach and have the WC/BG fun pass and it's about 1 hour away if you'd prefer to stay at the beach and commute but you have to time tunnel traffic right. I've never actually stayed in Williamsburg (not much of a history buff) but the colonial area is pretty neat. I'm sure the kids would love to see Jamestown. Eating at Pierce's BBQ is a must every time I travel through there.
Last edited by seanmerron on Fri Aug 12, 2016 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by Conch55 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:20 am

If you wanted to continue the theme park thing Kings Dominion is located about 1 hour north of Busch Gardens and Williamsburg. There are a number of hotels/motels in the area so picking one close to attractions so you get away for some down time then returning at night is my recommendation.

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by NoVa Lurker » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:21 am

Are you going in the next few weeks? How old are your kids?

Really, the "must-do's" are the two parks you mentioned. We have annual passes and live about two hours away, so we get down there a few times a year. Our boys love it. In the summer, we like going to Water Country in the morning and Busch Gardens in the evening. If WC opens at 10 am, they'll have a few big slides running at 9:45, so we typically arrive around 9:30 to the parking lot, park close, and do around 10 water slide rides with very short lines by 11 am. Then we take it slow, mixing in a few more slides with the lazy river, wave pool, play areas, etc., and leave for lunch around 1 or 2 pm.

There are a ton of hotels and restaurants in the area, for every budget option. It just depends how much you want to spend. We usually just make it a day trip, but when we stay overnight, we like Embassy Suites, where we load up on the (very good, included) breakfast, so we can have a late lunch during the hot, crowded part of the day. You can find thousands of reviews on Trip Advisor, Priceline, Yelp, etc.

After lunch/rest, we head over to Busch Gardens, where the heat usually thins out the crowds by late afternoon on summer weekdays. Lines for some rides (like Roman Rapids) stay long until after around 7 pm. We typically stay till close. When we do it as a day trip, the boys sleep well in the car on the drive home.

If you're going to both parks on the same day, save your parking pass from the morning, as you can use it at the other park.

We like Colonial Williamsburg, but it's tough for young kids in the summer. It's really hot and humid. We usually just get out and let our boys run around and see the horses, outside structures, etc. We've never been to Great Wolf Lodge, but if you just have a few days and already have tickets to BG/Water Country, I'd probably stick with those parks and do Great Wolf Lodge as its own trip.

Have fun.

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by Bounca » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:36 am

Gobs of research can be done online for BG and Williamsburg. Typical hotels can be found with some good deals. Some personal thoughts/ideas here:

-You could nail it real good with timing regarding your kids to practically avoid lines at BG rides. Not sure when schools start for your kids and Virginia kids…but you see where I’m going here.

-Yankee Candle Factory nearby is a must. It’s immense, a site to see. Outlets too for further shopping deals.

+1 for Pierces. Very unique BBQ sauce. Too me it’s a cross between the typical Northern BBQ sauce most are accustomed too and the vinegary NC sauce. It has hints of cinnamon and cherry (I believe). A must try if you are a BBQ junkie. A nice “change of pace” sauce for me. Try the chili too. Instead of ground beef they break up bits of their smoked brisket in it instead. Yum. Lines can be crazy there though.

-Restaurant called Food for Thought on the main drag. Great service, awesome breakfast. We live in PA. Forgot my wallet on the table there, didn’t realize till we hit Maryland. Oh crap! Called, they said they put it in their safe for us. Shipped it overnight to us the next day. How cool is that. 8-)

-We are amusement park junkies. BG is one of the best. Done Cedar Point, Hershey, etc. and BG is without a doubt the cleanest most nicely landscaped, friendly and laid out park. Every coaster from classic ole’ Loch Ness to one of the few dive coasters around called the Griffon is top notch.

- If doing water country I wouldn't bother the expensive of Wolf Lodge. You and the kids will be waterlogged for weeks. Don't get me wrong WL is nice, especially for younger kids.

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by atlanta_dad » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:50 am

NoVa Lurker wrote:Are you going in the next few weeks? How old are your kids?
Planning to go on Aug 19th week end. Kids ages 12 and 6.

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by ddurrett896 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:09 am

Bounca wrote: +1 for Pierces.


I eat there anytime I drive by, even if I'm not hungry!

If your into history, Jamestown is another option.

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by njboater74 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:09 am

There will be plenty to do between Busch Gardens and Water Country and Williamsburg over a 3 nights stay. I wouldn't stray too much further afield.

Historic Williamsburg and Jamestown are sites you can enjoy when you want a relief from the theme parks. You can get a decent experience in Historic Williamsburg just walking around for a couple hours.

BG can be very crowded, but I imagine that will drop sharply once schools start as Bounca mentioned. They don't start until September in the northeast, so you'll still have some volume from there. They have a Sesame Street area for your 6 year old that doesn't typically have the same volume of crowds. 12 and 6 aren't that far apart in age, but can be in very different places as to what will interest them at a theme park.
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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by wolf359 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:41 am

Busch Gardens tips:

- Don't buy single-day tickets. Buy the Fun Card. They cost the same, but the Fun Card is essentially a season pass that lets you go back unlimited times until Sept 5 (when the summer season ends.) Since you're going to Water Country, buy the two park Fun Card. You still have to pay for parking ($15).

- For Water Country, wear surf shoes. You don't have to take them off on the rides, so you don't have to be barefoot.

- The quick queue passes aren't worth it if you're going for three days. If you miss a ride, just skip it and come back. There are no crowds in the morning, at dinner time and on weekdays. If you are going to be at the park just one day, wait until that day to get the pass. If it's raining, there are no crowds and it isn't needed. The cheaper quick queue is the better option.

- Busch Gardens is a clean, well-maintained park. They're better known for their shows than their rides, but they still have some good rides. It's an excellent choice for a family that isn't only about roller coasters (there's something for everyone.)

Williamsburg area tips:

Virginia beach is nearby. It's a typical tourist beach. Restaurants, hotels, boardwalk, salt water taffy.

Colonial Williamsburg is great for kids. You can walk around and interact with actors in Colonial costumes without paying anything. To go on tours or go into the buildings, you have to buy a pass. Jamestown is also nearby. You have to pay to enter the town, but it is a more immersive experience. Yorktown doesn't have much there -- if you want to see where the United States was born, you can see the monument where the surrender was accepted. Otherwise, it's still sleepy and very undeveloped.

Great Wolf Lodge is better in the winter because they have an indoor swim park. If your kids are under 10, you can still visit the lodge without staying there to play MagiQuest. That's a game with interactive magic wands. (Still works if your kids are over 10, but there is really something wondrous when a 5-year-old waves a magic wand and a tree lights up.)

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by Kenkat » Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:20 am

We went a few years ago. We stayed in Hampton vs. Williamsburg - more hotel options. We went to Colonial Williamsburg for a day, Jamestown on Day 2 and Norfolk Naval Base on Day 3 before continuing on to Virginia Beach for the second half of the week.

Traffic on I-64 was pretty much gridlock mornings and afternoons - sections are two lanes only (maybe that has changed); at least we could use the HOV lanes once we got closer to Hampton. So that is one possible downside.

If you wanted to carve out a day, I think you could combine a quick visit to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown into a single day.

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by vabeek » Fri Aug 12, 2016 2:22 pm

Williamsburg is awesome. As a resident of Williamsburg, I am of course biased.

That said, I would stay close and spend your time at the theme parks.
The colonial areas are tough in the hot weather. They are worth a return visit when it cools off for young and old alike.

Between Busch Gardens and WC on route 60 is "Deraldos" with very good Italian food.
In town (10 minutes away) is Pauls Deli. This is the typical college diner with good, reasonably priced food and plenty of beer.
I prefer the "downtown" location to the newer "newtown" location. The college of william and mary is across the street and is nice to stroll through in the evening. Same goes for Duke of Glouscter Street where you can see the colonial area from the outside.

"Sals by Victor" also offers solid Italian food. "Duck Donuts" on monticello avenue is worth the extra effort - fresh, hot donuts with lots of toppings.
I understand Pierces is good but i've never been. No vegetarian options. I have friends who travel long distances to go there, though.

Hope you enjoy your vacation.

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by Da5id » Fri Aug 12, 2016 2:27 pm

Last time we went to Busch Gardens lines were pretty long during the day. But they were open until 10 PM. After dark it got less crowded and cooler, both wins. Almost at closing time, went on all the roller coasters one after another without any lines at all...

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 2:40 pm

We've gone many, many times to Busch Gardens. Weekdays are less crowded than weekends. Although kids are out of school, a lot of locals get season passes and the parents are working during the week. Your bags will likely be searched for food, so don't waste time attempting to hide those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. However.....if you leave a nice full cooler of ice in the car with your lunches, it's not difficult to take some time to go out and eat.

Take your time and plan things out. If you and your kids are roller coaster junkies (my boys and I are) you might want to consider whether to buy the fast pass. We did but for us, the roller coasters were the biggest reason to be there. Also, be aware that the minimum height is different on a lot of the roller coasters, so where you can go on one with a kid who's 48 inches tall, another is going to require 53 inches. You can also plan well to just hit the coasters during the lag times and hit shows and things like the animal area, train ride and sky rides. Pay attention to the map. You can take the skyride and/or train to get from one area to another rather than walking 20 miles for the day.
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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by RadAudit » Fri Aug 12, 2016 2:47 pm

Just a heads up, they're working on I-64 at the north (west?) end of Newport News. Expect delays there. They are scheduled to be working on widening I-64 from Newport News to Richmond in stages for the next five years. So, that and the usual morning and evening back-ups at the Hampton Roads tunnel - especially on Friday afternoons in the summer - may restrict your plans of going to Wmsburg to VA Beach for a day trip. YMMV.
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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by JimmyD » Fri Aug 12, 2016 2:56 pm

seanmerron wrote:Eating at Pierce's BBQ is a must every time I travel through there.
I was born and raised in Virginia Beach. Lived there for about a quarter century before moving to Atlanta.

I just wanted to drop by and say, AMEN! Pierce's is absolutely phenomenal. Fond memories of that place over the years.

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by TCP » Fri Aug 12, 2016 3:01 pm

Also a Williamsburg resident (hi dkluger!!) here.

BG regularly wins "Most beautiful theme park" for the country. The Gardens part is aptly used as there are flowers everywhere. I have young children and we go often, but only for short periods. The main gate opens well before the advertised 10 am opening, but they limit your access to the different countries and thus most of the rides/entertainment don't open until 10. They do have a few great coasters for the kids/adults (my favorites are Griffin and Verbolten). but they also have lots of stuff sprinkled throughout the park for younger kids. The Elmo's world area has a water area for young kids so bathing suits are a possibility if your kids are young and it is hot. Also, Land of the Dragons has 4 or 5 rides for small children with lots of climbing stuff and slides.

Haven't been to Water Country in years, but we'll be going back as my kids get older.

+1 on Food for Thought, Sals By Victor, and Pierces.
3 "best" restaurants in Williamsburg in my opinion are Le Yaca, Fat Canary, and Chef's Kitchen. None of them are inexpensive though.
For better or worse we also have all of the chain restaurants here.

Colonial Williamsburg is great for history buffs and eminently walkable. CW is also right next to the College of William and Mary. The Wren Building is the oldest college building in continuous use. Lots of taverns and places to eat. They have a ghost tour at night and can ride though the "village" via horse-drawn carriage too.

Jamestown Island and Jamestown Festival Park (separate entities) are about 10 minutes away next to each other. Replica Native American village and replica ships (Susan Constant, Discovery, and the Godspeed) that you can walk on/through and see just how harrowing the transatlantic voyage must have been.

Day trips possible to Richmond (1 hour), Norfolk (1 hour) and Va Beach (1:15). If you only have 3 days would suggest staying in Williamsburg as there is plenty to see do.

Kingsmill resort is here, the LPGA plays golf here every year on the River Course. PGA used to come but it was week before British Open and couldn't get the top players to come so it folded. The Golden Horseshoe has the Gold course but it is closed for renovations this year. It is the course associated with CW and the Williamsburg Inn.

Lots of timeshares in convenient locations where you could stay instead of a hotel room. Not sure if they have minimum stays but I think 3 nights would be accommodated.

If flying, try to fly into Newport News (PHF) or Richmond (RIC) instead of Norfolk (ORF) due to traffic and the tunnel.

You have to stay the The Great Wolf Lodge in order to use their indoor water park I believe.

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by gmc4h232 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:17 pm

+1 for Pierce's. It's pretty good for Virginia BBQ...

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by Flobes » Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:44 pm

Cream of peanut soup!

It's what I most remember from visiting Williamsburg, long ago. Yummy...

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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by radiowave » Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:52 pm

Consider Yorktown if you have the time. It's a piece of our history that literally won the revolutionary war and great views of the river as well. If you go, be sure to catch the National Park Ranger's tour.

Another possibility is the Mariner's museum over the bridge in Hampton http://www.marinersmuseum.org/
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Re: Busch gardens & Water Country, Williamsburg - Suggetions

Post by edge » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:45 pm

We stay at Kings Mill.

Waypoint is a good seafood restaurant.

I advise going during the week during the school year (Early Fall / Mid-Late Spring). With the shorter lines you can do all the rides and/or do rides multiple times. Griffon is a favorite.

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