Williamsburg, Va. is headed to the beach – at least where Water Country USA’s ride attractions are concerned. The park, which is adjacent to Busch Gardens, includes 40 water rides and attractions. And this year, guests got a beach vibe going with resort-style cabanas and new drinks and dining options that bring out the idea that summer is all about the water.
Virginia’s largest waterpark, Water Country USA gives guests more chances to get wet and refreshed all summer long with a buy-a-day, come back all summer long promo. Billed as the Water Country USA Fun Card, pricing is $55, with $5-off online. The pass was good through September 9th.
The enhanced, mega cabana areas provide a vacation feeling, with Wi-Fi, fans and charging stations inside spacious shady coverage. The H2Oasis area of the waterpark has been redesigned with added shade and new fencing that creates a private oasis out of the sun. Loungers with umbrellas and the cabanas can both be reserved in advance.
Meanwhile, at the Dock Bar, there’s a new rotating craft beer line-up as well as a wide range of Coca-Cola beverages, and Surfside Sips – adult frozen alcoholic beverages that definitely bring in the on-vacation feeling. Guests are encouraged to try an icy fruit and rum concoction served in a pineapple.
Evoking memories of boardwalks past, Nathan’s Hot Dogs is now serving up a new chili and cheese dog at the Village Grill Cart. Homemade ice cream sandwiches shaped and rolled in guests’ choices of toppings are the ultimate summer treat at Coolsville. And there’s artisan flatbread pizza at Traveler’s Treats.
Gift and souvenir offerings further the beachy outlook with surf brands and merchandise from Salt Life and Simply Southern, among others.
There’s a creature reputed to live in the water celebrating its 40th anniversary next door to Water Country at Busch Gardens. Deals on treats such as Loch Ness Monster pretzels, doughnuts, and Dippin’ Dots pop up along with a souvenir Loch Ness Monster cup. Billed as the only interlocking double looping roller coaster worldwide, passengers rise over 3200-feet of steel track and plunge through a dark cave –which stayed dark until this anniversary year, when lights and sound effects herald Nessie’s residency. Plans are not official but may be afoot to expand Nessie’s influence further. According to park president Kevin Lembke, “The legend of this magnificent coaster has only just begun.” The park encourages thrill seekers celebrating the park’s oldest coaster to share their memories of the ride on social media using @buschgardensva, #sharemyBGWstory and #LochNess40.
As cool as riding the iconic Loch Ness may be, there are other cool spots in the park this summer: new Cool Off Zones scattered through the park feature giant misters; while the new Spritzer Squad offers a roaming variation – park service staff members travel throughout the park spraying willing guests.
According to communications department staff, there’s something cool especially for kids, too. Choo Choo Soul with Genevieve returns to Busch Gardens July 21st for three live performances. “This diverse and incredibly hip act teaches children through music on an animated train. All are free with park admission.”
Other new entertainment options this summer include Spark by Coca-Cola, a pyrotechnic laser show complete with a bubble dance floor for park guests. The neon dance troupe Light Balance of America’s Got Talent fame perform 4 shows nightly on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings – Both shows run through August 12th. And the park offers Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night fireworks through September 12th.
August 17 through September 23rd, park guests are invited to raise a glass to the end of summer at Busch Gardens® Bier Fest, featuring international craft beers, live music, and traditional Bavarian cuisine.
And then there’s the hot attraction of VR this summer, in the form of Battle for Eire, the park’s newest ride which opened this spring. A motion-based theater simulator with VR headsets that immerses viewers in a strange fairy-tale world, the ride tells the journey of the last fairy garden of Ireland. Lembke weighs in “It’s truly a one-of-a-kind attraction.” He adds “It’s VR…being done in a way that hasn’t been done before…It really fits seamlessly in the Ireland area” of the park.
Busch Gardens has revved up more excitement this summer with monthly announcements about their Howl-O-Scream event, the annual Halloween season event that adds fresh features this year. Promising announcements on the 20th of each month, the June announcement revealed that a new haunted house will be added. Called Demented Dimensions, the Sterling Manor set’s theme is that the structure is built on top of a dimensional vortex with energies to other realms filled with monsters who hunt humans and aliens who rule the earth. While waiting for the July announcement, park president Lembke and staff communication gurus have revealed that there will be 7 total haunts with three that are brand new, and 6 Terror-Tories, two of which are new. One of the Terror-Tories is called Fools Court, with some scary jesters hoping to create a joke on park guests. The screams emanating will not be screams of laughter. The event will also include two party zones, three bars, and two “No Escape” experiences, one of which will also be brand new. The event runs September 15 through October 28 with another summer announcement revealing more details July 20th.
With park attendance up this year at both Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, Lembke notes that this is due entirely to continued commitment to innovation and evolution of rides and attractions while still preserving the park’s charm. That, he says, is “what keeps people coming back.”