I have to admit, Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg far exceeded my expectations. The lights this year are more spectacular than ever (my personal favorite is the amazing river of lights on Escape from Pompeii-- mind-boggling!).
But DON'T visit the park until you've read these tips I learned on my last visit to this wonderful winter wonderland attraction. It has become a family tradition which we've enjoyed again and again and which your family will love for years!
Park Hours (plus what you DON'T know)
Running on weekends and on select days of the end of November through the first weekend in January, the park is open Fridays through Sundays starting Nov. 17 and then daily Dec. 1-2, Dec. 7-31, and Jan 1-2, and 4-5.
Park hours vary by day, so here's a guide:
Parking is $20 per car per day ($18 if you purchase it in advance online). If you don't want to pay for parking, buy a pass, or a 3-day Bounce Ticket.
This year's Christmas Town shows haven't been announced, so here's what the had last year:
Deck the Halls - a song and dance tribute to Christmas traditions in Das Festhaus - a great way to be entertained while you dine, plus catch a little warmth!
Gloria! - a musical retelling of the first Christmas in Ireland's Abbey Stone Theater.
Twas' that Night - a full-scale ice show inspired by the classic poem "A Visit from Saint Nicolas." It's in the outdoor Royal Palace Theater, so I recommend you have one member of your party snags seats while the other buys some nearby hot chocolate for you to sip while watching.
Scrooge No More - a retelling of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol."
O' Tannenbaum - a special light show near Das Festhaus.
Gift of Harmony - features old favorites an new holiday songs, with an emphasis on a cappella songs. Located in the San Marco Theatre, so consider watching while dining on pizza and cannoli's from the nearby restaurants.
Williamsburg also offers a Christmas Town Quick Queue Pass which gives you priority seating at shows and lets you hop to the front of the line on select rides.
Quick Queue Passes are $30-50 per person, depending on the date you want to visit. There are five Quick Queue options which vary depending on the time you want reserved show seating.
Plus, you'll get unlimited priority access to Santa's Workshop, Ice Palace: Penguin Paradise, and one-time priority access to Verbolten.
The Quick Queue Pass is certainly not for everybody since the cost is in addition to the regular admission fee. (Ouch!) so it's really best for hard-core amusement park afficionados, or those who've really want to maximize their time.
Like the concept but wrong season? For details on Quick Queue Passes during Howl-O-Scream, click here.
If you're willing to pay more, the park offers a variety of extras, including Santa's Fireside Chats, wine tasting, insider tours, Santa's Photo Packages, and more. You can find them, and their latest prices, at the Busch Gardens Williamsburg website.
Best places to eat while being entertained:
Best places to see the lights:
Must-Sees and What to Skip...
My highlights of Christmas Town include all the shows (especially Glory (the true meaning of Christmas in song), Miracles (a little song, a little ballet), Deck the Halls, the ice-skating show "Twas the Night," and the show in the Globe Theatre, Scrooge No More.
As I mentioned, at Christmas, Mach Tower is now Nacht Tower, giving you all the joys of a great view without the scary, sudden drop (a good or bad thing depending on whether you like to be scared).
If you want an overview of the park, or just want to give your feet a rest, taking a trip on the train is a great way to enjoy the lights.
Don't miss: Escape from Pompeii's Polar Pathway - One of our favorite parts of the park, the ride (which is closed) is decked with lights that make it seem like a waterfall of light. Breathtaking!
Once Christmas Town gets dark, you'll be amazed at how hard it is to see your friends and family (particularly in the Scotland/Ireland/France part of the park, which is considerably darker than the rest). It's a recipe for losing the little ones.
So take my advice: Skip buying the brightly-lit hats, wands, and other things at the park to find each other. Stop by the Dollar Store ahead of time and buy glow sticks or light up necklaces for your party so you can find each other in the crowd.
Bring along a good coat, hat, gloves, and comfortable walking shoes, since the park is pretty hilly.
Also, do bring along Hot Hands, those air-activated hand warmers which you can put in your pockets. They really make a difference!
As for saving money on food at Christmas Town, try these tips:
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