Last weekend we had the pleasure of visiting Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. While we’ve been to the park a handful of times in the past, this was the first time we were able to experience Christmas Town.
For 5 short weeks each year, the world’s most beautiful theme park transforms into Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration. Park guests enjoy a heart-warming Christmas experience that comes from walking among five million twinkling Christmas lights, sipping Busch Gardens’ signature peppermint fudge hot chocolate, watching wonderful Christmas-themed live shows, listening to Dickens-style carolers, and visiting Santa at his workshop. It was just what my family needed to get into the Christmas spirit!
Fun Facts about Christmas Town
- Five million Christmas lights (more than twice as many as in 2010)
- Enough light strands to stretch to Canada
- 1,500 fresh-cut Christmas trees
- 25 miles of cables
- Three miles of garland
- More than 700 wreathes and artificial trees
- 800 lit snowflakes and stars
- 20,000 Christmas ornaments
- 900 window candles and luminaries
- Thousands of hours of installation completed by a 70-person team
- And a partridge in a pear tree… 😉
Our Christmas Town journey started in England, with a production of “A Sesame Street Christmas,” a cute show where Abby Cadabby learns about giving and sharing with friends and family during the holiday season. The girls loved it. There are other shows, including Miracles in Italy, which features classical and contemporary movement and dance, and O Tannenbaum in Germany that showcases an iconic 50-foot Christmas tree lighting up the night and dancing to a booming musical score.
We then floated high above the park aboard a Flight of Lights gondola, which offers a breathtaking view of the park’s Christmas lights and decorations. This may have been our favorite attraction! It loops around the entire park, giving us plenty of time to relax and take it all in.
We took some time to get on a few of the ‘Kidsiderate’ rides, like the Little Gliders in Italy, Wirbelwindchen swings in Germany, and the Kinder Karussel at the North Pole. The lines for all of these were surprisingly short!
Visit Santa at his workshop at the North Pole was one of the highlights of the night. Mrs. Claus invited us in after a short wait outside, and the girls giggled with delight! The gentle, jolly Santa took his time to listen to what both my daughters had to say, posed for some photos, and was so very nice. We were given the option to buy a photo package, and then went on our way.
As for food, there are tons of choices. Das Festhaus has an all new buffet-style dinner featuring signature Christmas Town entrees and priority seating for Deck the Halls, a fun Christmas production that is fun for the whole family. You need a reservation for this, so we opted for another restaurant, Trappers Smokehouse in New France. There was a bit of a line, but it moved fast, and the food was plentiful and delicious.
After dinner, we took the train from New France to Scotland, made our way to the parking lot tram, and were home (spent the night at a local hotel, actually) by the girls’ bedtime. The night went by so fast, but it was worth the trip!
One thing I regret is not
sneaking away from the kids setting aside some time to do a little shopping. There were so many wonderful artisans in Germany’s outdoor Mistletoe Marketplace and candles flickering in every shop window!
New at Christmas Town this year
Polar Pathway turns Escape from Pompeii into breathtaking waterfalls of light. The smell of pine trees wafting through the crisp frosty air welcomes visitors to this winter wonderland. Amazing and so creative!
This all-new production reaches into the audiences’ souls and leaves their hearts singing. An ensemble of the park’s finest musicians and singers shines bright in the Abbey Stone Theatre as the true meaning of Christmas is revealed.
Experience Christmas Town at light speed aboard one of the world’s most intense roller coasters. German villagers have long told stories about a legendary snow beast they call Alpengeist, the ghost of the Alps. After climbing to an Alpine high of 195 feet, riders are hurtled through six staggering inversions at speeds up to 67 miles per hour.
Get a Santa-eye view of the five million twinkling lights from the park’s newest thrill ride, Mäch Tower. Riders are lifted 240 feet above Oktoberfest and dropped at breathtaking speed. This was a lot of fun. To watch from the ground. 😛
Christmas Town is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 3 – 10 p.m. starting through December 15th, and daily from Friday, December 16th through December 31st, excluding Christmas Day. The park will close at 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Expect the park to be crowded. My advice is to try to arrive when it first opens and try to catch a show or two before dark. This way you’ll have more time to stroll around the park enjoying the lights in the evening. If the weather is a concern, hot drinks and outdoor heaters abound, and you can always sneak into a live show or a gift shop to warm up.
Tickets cost $24.99 per person for ages 3 and up. I highly recommend paying a little extra for the Christmas Town Quick Queue Pass. This provides you with priority access to some of the most popular attractions, allowing you to make the most of your visit to Christmas Town. For example, we only waited 3 minutes to see Santa, when the regular line was almost 2 hours long! So awesome. Visit www.christmastown.com for complete details about this holiday extravaganza!
Disclosure: My family was provided with complimentary Christmas Town tickets, Quick Queue cards, meal vouchers, and a parking pass to facilitate my review, but all opinions are my own.