Busch Gardens - Williamsburg
The 12th day of our American roadtrip this year was the highlight for the children. They'd go to visit Elmo!! They had been anticipating this day for a long time and fortunately it was a beautiful warm day.
We had visited Busch Gardens a year ago in Tampa and we had quite enjoyed it. It came across as a fairly normal, relax amusement park with reasonable size ...in contrast to the Disneyland madness in Orlando. Now that Beertje is also into Elmo and Cookiemonster, we didn't hesitate to plan a day of Busch Gardens when we noticed we'd come by one.
At the start of our day, we headed to the animal habitats, visited the bird cages and observed the wolves after which we watched the Shenanigans pet show in the open air theatre.
Then we moved on through the other zones of the park. We marveled at the big attractions that were way to scary for all of us (ok, not for Jan). Both children had been measured at the park's entrance and our tiny Kabouter had received a red wristband that finally allowed him on some additional rides compared to the previous year and compared to his brother's baby orange wristband.
But Kabouter is a child of mine...so at the sight of the swinging pirate boat or the log boats, he chickened out and refused to the disappointment of Jan. I'm sure that in a couple of years, his younger brother will take the lead and Kabouter will eventually follow. Until then, we just sent them together on all baby rides without size restrictions. Fortunately Busch Gardens is family-friendly enough to give us a sufficient variety of kid's rides. I even had the impression that we had more rides to choose from than previous year in Tampa, but I might be mistaken.
After watching the children or chaperoning Beertje on some of the baby rides, Jan and I took turns to go splash some water on the Pompeii volcano ride. This way we also could experience at least one more thrilling ride during the day.
By then the children had used all their patience and could wait no longer "When are we going to see Elmo? Where is Elmo? Now we are going to Cookiemonster and Elmo!!".
We had saved Sesame street to the end of our day. We were right on time to see a little show after which we could meet some of our big furry friends and gave them elaborate hugs.
It was a thrilling and exhausting fun family day!
Practical tip: If you plan to visit Busch Gardens in Williamsburgh with a toddler age 3-5 during the summer, book a free (!!) pre-school pass online that gives you free admission all summer to the theme park and the nearby water park. You can only book it online and afterwards you must go stand in line (even though if you have other paid adult passes that do not require you to pass the cash booths anymore) to validate the pass with a travel passport or birth certificate. But the extra waiting time is worth the money, I'd say.
Children younger that age have free admission.