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View Full Version : Busch Gardens First Timers ; Never Again in Summer


erinch
07-21-2005, 11:41 PM
I'll admit we had very high hopes after hearing how beautiful this park is. We weren't prepared for how crowded and brutally hot. My 9 yo DD went into total meltdown, and my 17 yo DS rapidly had enough as well.

The downside seemed to be very narrow walkways crowded with people with no air moving; a truly abysmal lunch from the smokehouse; fans not working in the lines, all of which were 45 minutes or more with no fastpass/express pass options, and did I mention hot and crowded? The air temp was 100, and I'm sure all the bodies and concrete made it much hotter.

We enjoyed Katonga--a broadway style show, and seeing baby animals in the nursery. Otherwise, nothing was worth the heat and crowds...not the rides, not the animals. We spent less than 5 hours there total.

grover
07-24-2005, 10:20 AM
Well that sucks.
We have never been but plan on going next october..the weather aspect should be okay..but anyone know about the crowds?
Vanessa

mommyx2
07-24-2005, 10:50 AM
Yeah, what grover said.

We were planning on trying it out in a couple of weeks.

Maybe not. Especially in August when the heat can be brutal! :sunny:

champagnegirl26
07-24-2005, 03:29 PM
It was a hot but wet day when we went in june and i think the rain kept the crouds away and kept us cool .....fantastic!
Rides were virtually walk on too! Brilliant serengheti safari

Danauk
07-24-2005, 03:36 PM
My husband and I are going to Busch Gardens on our next trip as we love rollercoasters (I personally can't wait to ride Sheik'ra.) We are going during Christmas week so expect it to be crowded so we have booked one of the tours so we will not have to que for the main rides. It obviously cost us more but includes lunch and a discount in the shops, plus we know we will get to do the main rides we want during the tour and then we have the rest of the time to do other things. I hope this will be worth it. I'm sorry you had a bad day there, I wish they had a fast pass style system like many other parks now do.

MossMan
07-24-2005, 06:22 PM
Too bad about the horrible experience, and maybe Busch Gardens is not for the OP. But for those of you who have never visited Busch Gardens, I do think this post is a little unfair.

My family and I have had days at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom which have largely mirrored the experience the OP detailed at Busch Gardens. Yes, even Disney can start to pale when one has to swim through impossible crowds and withstand withering heat just to enjoy a few attractions.

Wish Upon A Star
07-24-2005, 06:43 PM
We just returned from Busch Gardens (Williamsburg) and like the OP had the same problems.

My family (12 of us) rented a house in Sandbridge and headed off to Busch Gardens on Monday, July 11th. It wasn't so much the heat and humidity that turned me off (although it did play a factor) it was how far spread out everything was. The park map was really lame (no descriptions of anything) and there was no fast food counters, just restaurants. We had lunch at the Smokehouse and it was absolutely terrible . . .$78 for a family of 4. The ribs were tough and had little meat on them.

Another huge disappointment was DarKastle . . .waited 2 hours in line for this ride which was pretty hyped up and it turned out to be very whimpy, not at all scary and (not to keep using the same word but) it was LAME!

Again, like the OP we left there after about 5 hours.

DH and other male members of the family enjoyed the beer school while us women were impressed and got cooled watching Irish Thunder. Other than that, Busch Gardens definately was not for us.

Had a better time at Water Country the next day!

erinch
07-24-2005, 11:02 PM
Hi Mossman--

I'm the "OP" -- name of Erin. I wasn't at all trying to be unfair, but to share our experience in the middle of summer, when we had no idea what actually to expect, but had very high hopes.

I suspect it's not Busch Gardens fault--the main problem I think was the narrow pathways combined with the heat. But the terrible food and service at the Smokehouse, the fact that in the long, long lines at least half of the overhead fans weren't working, and the very poor signage if you're not familiar with the park--all of these I think Anheuser-Busch could take a look at. Like another poster, we went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg last summer, and had similar experiences there.

We're just a few hours from Cedar Point, which does all of this right, and I really think BG could take a few pointers from them. We'll be at Discovery Cove tomorrow, expecting a miraculous day (repeat visitors) and the BG trip was a D Cove perk. Then we'll be at Sea World, which also does it right. But I think BG corporate ought to put on a baseball cap, shorts, and borrow a 7 year old, and go spend the day there. From arrival, when we got enmeshed in a 45 minute wait to redeem the Discovery Cove letter, on down the line, it was a day which could have been tweaked in park operations. And--I never once saw a cast member smile. We'd been at Universal parks a few days before and the difference in attitude was night and day.

If we had the opportunity, we'd love to give it another chance on a slow fall day, but this was our one shot. And I'll repeat it--the heat and crowds made it a misery. Maybe it's because I'm more familiar with Disney, but we were at Epot today--the crowds and heat were brutal--but we had advance reservations for 2 lovely sit down meals in the cool, got fast passes for all the major attractions, and did not wait more than 5 minutes to see anything we wanted to see. It seemd to me the problem with Busch Gardens is there's no way--without shelling out major bucks for a VIP tour, to avoid the lines and crowds; advance planning doesn't get you anywhere if you have to go in July.

Moosysmom
07-25-2005, 07:54 PM
I've discovered that is Florida in the Summertime
I've had days when I've thought of heading to Busch or even SeaWorld, and have decided to wait until fall when it cools off. Because I'm more familar with Disney, I know the places to hide out to escape the heat if need be.
Busch can be really spread out if you don't know where you are going. At least at Busch, I've been there twice now on Superbowl Sunday--No Lines--They let you ride the rollercoasters as many times as you want, you don't even have to get off unless there is a line.

turbo594
07-25-2005, 09:01 PM
Too bad about the horrible experience, and maybe Busch Gardens is not for the OP. But for those of you who have never visited Busch Gardens, I do think this post is a little unfair.

My family and I have had days at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom which have largely mirrored the experience the OP detailed at Busch Gardens. Yes, even Disney can start to pale when one has to swim through impossible crowds and withstand withering heat just to enjoy a few attractions.

What he SAID!

I live in Tampa.
Crowds are usually only a problem right before and after school lets out (Mid June and late Aug). Also October sometimes because of Holloween party.
First: Florida summer: Brutally hot and muggy (usually Aug/Sept). This July had been bad though. However there are several water rides that are meant to get you wet, and I mean wet. A couple of them have areas that are not on the ride that allow you to get wet also. The water cannons overlooking Congo river rapids are fantastic (Bring quarters). The bridge leading to tanganyika tidal wave is in the path of the ride itself so you watch the coaster hit the water in front of you as you get overflowed. The flume ride is also wet and fun.
Second: Busch Gardens cannot really be compared to any Disney park except Animal Kingdom. It is a fast paced park that in the past 10 years or so; I think has geared itself to locals, the <40 crowd, and roller coaster freaks from around the world. It is not really meant for small children (I would say none 5-6 or less), although there are small children things like the land of the dragons which is a huge "park". Big treehouse, slides, waterfall and such.
Third: This is not Disney, it's not always perfect. Let me repeat that...It's not always perfect. Most people go to this park for two things: The zoo aspect; which is incredible. And also the main reason: The roller coasters and rides. Period
So if you love incredible roller coasters and a fantastic and educational zoo. This is the place. Greg
P.S. Don't forget the beer stuff and the beer!

erinch
07-25-2005, 09:40 PM
Okay--I'm not trying to beat a dead horse here. I'm a 46 yr old mom, with a penchant for roller coasters. But I'm old enough that a gallons of water dumped on my head doesn't seem like a very appealing solution to the heat.

It's been a long time since I've been in a situation in which there seemed to be NO option to avoid hour plus waits to get on a coaster in the blazing heat. At Cedar Point, you beat the system by staying in a resort hotel and getting early entry. Universal does front of the line. Disney fast pass. I guess partly I'm used to having a way to streamline a park visit and there just doesn't seem to be that option at BG.

I really think what I hear being said is that if you're NOT a local, and the heat/humidity are likely to be troublesome, that if a July/August visit is your only option you might want to reconsider. (The day we went it was over 100 degrees).

One rational warning to newbies might be that if the park is going to be open late, it would make sense to go mid-afternoon, do shows first, and plan on standing in line once the direct sun has tapered off a bit. I really wish we had done that. We got there at park opening, but had that 45 minute wait for the passes and it was blazing by 10 am.

lookingforward
07-27-2005, 07:38 PM
Now I am nervous! We are planning on going this Saturday. We did book the Thrill seekers tour which costs $74.00 but includes lunch and a 20% discount. It takes you to all the major rides without waiting in line. That is at 10:30 for five hours. After that I think we will just explore for a while and let our youngest (age 6 and a MAJOR coaster fan...at least the ones she can qualify for at 45 inches) see the animals and water park area for younger children. My two teen boys will be so psyched!

Does anyone have any specific recommendations for how to spend the afternoon when the tour is over? The park is open till 10 p.m.

erinch
07-28-2005, 12:01 AM
if you have the tour and can get to the front of the line, then I think you'll have a lovely day.

2BigKIdz
08-03-2005, 03:47 AM
We just returned from Busch Gardens (Williamsburg) and like the OP had the same problems.

My family (12 of us) rented a house in Sandbridge and headed off to Busch Gardens on Monday, July 11th. It wasn't so much the heat and humidity that turned me off (although it did play a factor) it was how far spread out everything was. The park map was really lame (no descriptions of anything) and there was no fast food counters, just restaurants. We had lunch at the Smokehouse and it was absolutely terrible . . .$78 for a family of 4. The ribs were tough and had little meat on them.

Another huge disappointment was DarKastle . . .waited 2 hours in line for this ride which was pretty hyped up and it turned out to be very whimpy, not at all scary and (not to keep using the same word but) it was LAME!

Again, like the OP we left there after about 5 hours.


DH and other male members of the family enjoyed the beer school while us women were impressed and got cooled watching Irish Thunder. Other than that, Busch Gardens definately was not for us.

Had a better time at Water Country the next day!

Sorry you had a bad experience but I have been twice to BG Williamsburg this summer, and there were hardly any crowds at all. Went the Saturday before Memorial day and again on a Wednesday in June. The Wednesday we basically walked on every ride, Alpengeist was doing re-rides without getting off. We rode Alpengeist and Apollo's chariot so many times I lost count.

There are counter service restaurants, there is 1 near Apollo's chariot, and Oktoberfest has counter service, the food there is normally very good, especially the turkey sandwiches. The map is sort of silly, even an employee made a comment that the map was a waste on our last visit. But really once you know your way around it's very simple and really not that spread out, but it does seem so at first.

I will admit DarKastle is a total waste of time, maybe if I had never ridden Spiderman I would feel differently. We did have a long wait for it on the Saturday, about an hour, but they were handing out free bottles of Aquafina in line and at the end gave us a card to receive 30% off all food and merchandise that day, which is something I have not seen at any other park.

It's definitely not the most exciting park but I really like BG, for me Alpengeist and Apollo's Chariot make it all worthwhile.