This year’s exceptionally short holiday season has an upside: many of us have a 2 week winter break. While some of those days are obviously taken, there’s a BIG gap of time between Friday the 19th (our last day) and back to school on Jan 5. The Deal Kids and I were invited to visit the Busch Gardens Williamsburg Christmastown grand opening and we enjoyed it so much we’re going back before it closes on New Year’s Eve. Fortunately, Busch Gardens Christmastown tickets are reasonable at $32 for unlimited visits and frequent promo codes available.
If you’re new to Christmastown, you’re in for a treat! This time of year Busch Gardens gets festooned with 8 million lights that create distinct neighborhoods. My favorites include Holiday Hills, which is Vintage America in a way that Clark Griswold would love and the land surrounding Ice Palace: a Penguin Paradise that takes the 12 days of Christmas to an entirely new level. BTW, don’t forget to stop and say hi to the Penguins while you’re there! And of course, seeing the waterfalls of Pompeii completely covered in light is a sight you don’t soon forget.
The Kids and I especially enjoyed seeing the lights from above as the skyride whisked us from land to land. Many other rides are open, notably Verbolten ( if it’s not too cold). Details on specific rides are here. Tip: Ride Verbolten early as 36 degrees comes sooner than you think!
New this year is a fun scavenger hunt launched from the Busch Gardens App (available on Android and iPhone) that checks you in to each location as you get there. Find 10 of the 20 items and you win a prize. We had great fun with the app, but make sure you get right on top of each attraction in the app to find the check-in spot.
I don’t normally recommend extra meals at Busch Gardens as the park food is so good, but make an exception for Santa’s Fireside Feast. Not so much for the food (although it’s a step above your average theme park buffet) but for the Santa experience. Since the event is limited in size, each kid gets a real visit with Santa and each table gets a visit from an Elf. Our elf, Jolly, even showed the Deal Kids a magic trick. Santa himself was impeccable and his reading of The Night Before Christmas gave me goose bumps!
It makes sense that Santa’s Fireside Feast is well produced as I think Busch Gardens’ strength lies in its live productions. 4 theater shows give you ample time to both warm up and get into the spirit of the season. Fortunately (unlike Howl-O-Scream) all of the shows are family-friendly.
In fact, the entire park is not only family friendly, but friendly all around. I have friends of different faiths that attend Christmastown every year for the spectacle and shows. The message of Christmastown is heavy on the fun of the holiday season for all.
Have you been to Christmastown? Please share your thoughts in the comments.