Since 1975, Anheuser-Busch
has been operating a theme park
three miles east of Williamsburg
in southeastern Virginia
. Voted America's Most Beautiful Theme Park for eight consecutive years by the National Amusement Park Historical Association
, Busch Gardens Williamsburg's 100+ acres are arranged into several sections, each based on historical appearances of regions of Europe and forming a loop route through the park.
After paying the admission price, visitors enter into the Banbury Cross section. While the area has hardly any rides, it is the park's performance and show headquarters, led by the Globe Theater. Banbury Cross also offers a number of gift shops and the World of Birds showcase. From England visitors may continue into Heatherdowns, an area crafted after Scotland. The biggest attraction here is the Loch Ness Monster roller coaster, which features a pair of interlocking loops. Heatherdowns also features the famous Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale horses. To the left of Heatherdowns is San Marco, the Spanish section of the park, which features the Escape From Pompeii ride in the style of movie-themed rides such as those at Universal Studios. San Marco blends into Festa Italia, one of the larger regions of the park. The renowned Apollo's Chariot coaster is here, as is the whitewater ride Roman Rapids. Da Vinci's Garden of Inventions spreads that theme through its medium-thrill rides. The park moves from Italy to Germany next, with the Rhinefeld area and its major attraction, the Big Bad Wolf suspended coaster. The smaller Wilde Maus coaster ride is also in Rhinefeld, as are several storefronts and an M.I. Hummel shop - the only location outside Germany authorized to make the figurines. The German theme continues into Oktoberfest, another mostly-performance area. Das Festhaus has oompah bands and German dances, and the autobahn is also in this section. Just off Rhinefeld is the Land of the Dragons, BGW's kiddie section featuring among its rides a miniature log flume, ferris wheel, and treehouse. From Rhinefeld visitors cross a bridge into New France, the home of Alpengeist - the world's largest inverted steel roller coaster - and the expansive "Le Scoot" log flume ride. New France blends in with Aquitaine, another performance-based area featuring the Le Palais Royal Theater as well as the Le Mans Raceway ride. Leaving Aquitaine, visitors enter into Jack Hanna's Wild Reserve, which features the gray wolf and a free-flight bird area combined with lessons about wildlife preservation. BGW's final area is Ireland, which first opened in the 2001 season and also features performances and shows.
There are a few different ways to see the park and get from one section to another. The Rhine River Cruise leaves from Rhinefeld and travels down the middle of the park, of course avoiding the Big Bad Wolf and Alpengeist tracks that pass over the water. The park's skyride has stations in Heatherdowns, Aquitaine, and just outside the Land of the Dragons. A train ride is also offered with a reproduction of an antique European steam locomotive, and stations are located in Heatherdowns, Festa Italia, and New France. Visitors who know where to look while riding the train may catch a glimpse of BGW's SBNO coaster, the slightly controversial Drachen Fire.
Official website: http://www.buschgardens.com/buschgardens/va/index.html