Busch Gardens Williamsburg (formerly known as Busch Gardens Europe) is a 383 acre theme park located in James City County, Virginia about 3 miles (5 km) southeast of Williamsburg, originally developed by Anheuser-Busch (A-B) and currently owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, a division of The Blackstone Group. The park opened on May 16, 1975, adjacent to Anheuser-Busch's brewery and near its other developments including the Kingsmill Resort complex. The park is themed around old-World Europe.
The park was originally called Busch Gardens: The Old Country, reflecting the European theme. In 1993, the park was renamed Busch Gardens Williamsburg before briefly being named Busch Gardens Europe in 2006 until it returned to the Williamsburg name in 2008. Similarly, its sister park in Florida was originally called Busch Gardens: The Dark Continent until it was officially renamed Busch Gardens Tampa Bay until the same brief switch to Busch Gardens Africa. In 2010, the estimated attendance of 2.8 million placed it in the top 20 most-visited parks in the US.
Jack Hanna's Wildlife Reserve houses a variety of wild species including gray wolves and bald eagles. Busch Gardens is partnered with SeaWorld (also owned by Busch Entertainment Corp.) in the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, which offers guests the opportunity to contribute to wildlife conservation.
The Rhine River Cruise's Boats are battery powered to cut back on power generation and prevent water pollution. In addition Busch Gardens and Water Country USA both use insects rather than pesticides in the park's commitment to organic gardening. All brochures, maps, show guides, and all paper products in the restrooms are made from recycled material.
Howl-O-Scream, the park’s signature Halloween event, features more than a dozen attractions starring vampires, werewolves, witches and skeletons. Guests are immersed in an elaborate Halloween atmosphere including haunted houses and Halloween-themed shows. Howl-O-Scream opens September 24 and continues every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday usually through October 31. The event's mascot is pumpkin-headed Jack. Howl-O-Scream first began during the 1999 season.
Christmas Town is the park's Christmas event that began during the 2009 season. Several Christmas and holiday themed attractions and shows are showcased, including a 50-foot (15 m) animated Christmas tree called "O Tannenbaum" that lights up in sync to Christmas music in the Oktoberfest portion of the park.
During this park is decorated with millions of lights. Shopping is also an important part of Christmas Town. The event starts on Black Friday and continues every weekend until the week before Christmas, where it stays open for the rest of December, excluding Christmas Day, until New Years Day.
Sesame Street Forest of Fun:
Opened on April 3, 2009, Sesame Street Forest of Fun features four new family-friendly rides and attractions themed to Sesame Street, including a Zierer junior roller coaster named Grover's Alpine Express, Bert and Ernie's Loch Adventure flume ride, Oscar's Whirly Worms rock-n-tug-type ride, Prince Elmo's Spire shot-n-drop ride, and wet and dry play areas. The area also features a stage for the main show "Sunny Days Celebration" and a gift shop.
Centering around the village of Aquitaine, this section is based on France. It is home to many boutiques and one of the park's skyride stations, where the first leg of the skyride arrives from England and the second leg departs for Rhinefeld, Germany. The Royale Palace Theatre in France hosts numerous shows throughout the season.
- Griffon- A dive roller coaster, named after the legendary creature, the griffin; contains a ninety-degree drop from 205 feet, 2 immelman loops, and a "splashdown" finale; the brother ride of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's SheiKra.
Jack Hanna's Wild Reserve:
Along with various birds that inhabit Jack Hanna's Wild Reserve, attractions here are the bald eagles and wolves. Eagle Ridge
is a 3,000+ foot area set aside for housing and rehabilitating bald eagles and providing education to visitors.
Wolf Haven is a viewing area where guests may observe one of Busch Garden's pairs of wolves. One pair is on exhibition at a time. Busch Gardens also provides Wolf Valley for those wolves not on display. Over 8,000 feet (2,400 m) of natural habitat is intended to ensure the animals' health and well-being.