Busch Gardens Europe and Africa are part of the Busch Entertainment chain of theme parks. With locations in Williamsburg, Virginia and Tampa, Florida, they are famous for their unique combination of daring rides, live entertainment and animal habitats. Each park is infused with cultural elements from its namesake continent and showcases the popular foods, landmarks, gardens, shops and entertainment of a particular country.
Both parks are famous or their landscaping, so famous in fact that Busch Gardens Europe has been voted the world’s “Most Beautiful Theme Park” for 17 consecutive years. Park attractions are integrated seamlessly into lush landscapes, adding to the experience of each guest. There are a variety of rides and attractions for the whole family to enjoy that include several top-ranking roller coasters like the “Griffon” in Williamsburg and the “SheiKra” in Tampa.
While the types of animal habitats at BG Africa and BG Europe may vary from the exotic to the familiar, both parks allow guests to get up close and personal with the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales. These incredible horses are always crowd pleasers and have been entertaining visitors for decades. The parks also feature separate, seasonally operating water parks that are located nearby. The Key West-inspired Adventure Island is a 34-acre park located in Tampa. Water Country USA is a 40-acre park located in Williamsburg with a 50’s and 60’s surf theme.
It’s important to start doing some homework when you’re planning your trip. BG Africa is located about an hour away from other major theme parks in the Orlando area and BG Europe is located near famous Colonial Williamsburg. You may want to visit these nearby attractions so it’s important that you plan your time and budget wisely. Here are a few free resources to take advantage of:
1. Visit all the major airlines and sign up for their weekly email specials. Southwest Airlines usually has great deals on airfare and has an excellent all-in-one online vacation planner with deals on Busch Gardens and other BEC theme parks. You also can book it all from air, rental cars, accommodations (even 5 bedroom rental homes), and park tickets – from their website. The BG website does offer a vacation planning feature that allows you to purchase park tickets and book accommodations in their approved hotels but it’s not always the most cost-effective option.
2. Check out your local library to see which “unofficial” Busch Gardens vacation guides they may have. For BG Africa, I would recommend Beyond Disney: The Unofficial Guide to Universal, Sea World & the Best of Central Florida by Bob Sehlinger and Grant Rafter. It has several money-saving tips and the “must do’s” section for each park to help you make the most of your time and also gets you familiar with the park before you go.
3. Have you already paid for a club membership? Sam’s Club, AAA and AARP members often get special discounts on vacations and tickets to major theme parks. Be sure to check out each organizations website or just call the 800 number on the back of your membership card for details.
4. Busch Entertainment Corporation is offering all active duty and ready reserve members of the service one day’s free admission along with up to three direct dependents to either Busch Gardens park or one of BEC’s other parks. For more information on the Here’s to the Heroes program, visit the official BG website.
This is a good place to start getting the information you’ll need to save time and money on your vacation. You will need to budget for length of stay, transportation, accommodations, park tickets, food and souvenirs. With gas prices going nowhere but up, the task of preplanning a well-deserved vacation has never been more important. With a little forward thinking, you and your family can stay within your budget as well as enjoy a great trip to one of the beautiful Busch Gardens theme parks.