Harknell and I just got back from running away from demonic Santas and elves chasing us with chainsaws…err wait..wrong holiday. Our Haunted Attraction Tour has ended for 2012, but we still have lots of fun things to show you. When Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia contacted me and invited us to their Christmas Town event on December 1st we immediately blocked time off to make the 6-7 hour drive (Seems legit.) from New Jersey to check this out. This year the event is bigger than before and they have extended the festivities through more of the park than in past years.
This review will be a little bit different than many other reviews out there. You see, I grew up with Christmas but Harknell did not. I have heard from many Christian/Jewish marriages out there who have this dynamic and it often can be a tough thing to navigate through. I’m not going to lie to you – for awhile it was the yearly argument we’d have. That ended after we struck a compromise – we just go out and buy each other presents together at some point in December. This way we each get something we want and there is no pressure. We don’t do a Christmas Tree, but we have our Mickey Mouse Halloween Tree up all year round. This year we are throwing a Festivus dinner party for a select few people where we are going to put up some crazy decorations, build gingerbread houses, and make art. We’ve made a family tradition that is our own.
So is Christmas Town worth it even if you aren’t big into Christmas? We both believe the answer is a resounding “yes”.
Some places use the term “for the whole family” to mean that it’s for kids and the adults can suffer through the day. This is not the case here. Christmas Town is literally for the whole family. No matter if you are a child or a grandparent, you will have fun here. You can expect many shows, holiday dining with special menus, varied and well-stocked holiday shops, and drink stands carrying German Gluhwein and Wassail (spiced wine drinks). It felt almost like a scavenger hunt to find all of the cool seasonal items we could try.
Both Harknell and I do share a seething hatred of Christmas music. Christmas music was present, but the choices they made were good ones that did not set off any irritation. Germany had songs in German, France had songs in French and so on. The fact that they themed the choices like this amused us and the mixes they picked were not the kind that hammer your skull with the same melodies over and over again. No Rudolph Gangsta Rap or Heavy Metal Silent Night here.
The event is a hard ticketed event which I feel created a great guest experience. The park was busy, but not busy in such a way that I ever felt I had to wait too long for anything or worry about walking anywhere. We were free to concentrate on enjoyment rather than getting from place to place.
These pix might give you an idea of what went down.
Souvenir refillable mugs for hot chocolate:
Loved the white trees:
Ice Palace was a favorite of ours. We got to get really close to penguins and see some cute animatronic displays. The themeing was extremely high quality and reminded me of something you might see in Orlando.
Plenty of heated areas to sit in:
I tried the Gluhwein, which luckily I did not get a food sensitivity reaction to!
Holiday pretzel snacks (cinnamon sugar, chocolate filled and many more:
Gingerbread man and elf baker:
Every shop and area of the park has been meticulously converted into holiday shops and light displays. Both Christians and those who do not subscribe to any religion will find many varied things here to buy and enjoy because they had specific Christmas merchandise as well as Winter-themed merchandise. I was very impressed with how well they covered all of the bases.
You can also discover the holiday and seasonal crafts of local artisans set up in stalls. I saw anything from hats to plates to wreaths to jewelry. In previous years I decided not to make the trip for this because only some of the rides are up during this event. I now see that I made a mistake – this event is not about the rides. The rides are only a small part of the many activities the park has set up for you.
If you want to see literally everything Christmas Town has to offer, I advise you take 2 days even if you ride nothing. It’s that packed full of cool stuff. We felt we saw a good amount and we were satisfied with our visit, but even at a relatively quick pace we didn’t get to the shows. We would have made at least 1 if it weren’t for us getting so tired after the long drive. (Zzzzz…) If I were local to the area I most certainly would be coming back.
This isn’t a quick “just put some lights on things” affair. This is a whole, complete product of it’s own. We found the food to be excellent and there were so many special items that it was tough to try them all. We liked everything we tried.
Holiday Hills was a retro 50s themed Christmas land. We all enjoyed that a lot.
It was just outside Italy where they were hand painting flower jewelry that was awesome looking.
Polar Pathway is a new light display over Escape from Pompeii. It was so bright that our eyes almost freaked out.
The displays here are beautiful and you can take the skyride to see them from overhead. Get a run down on all of the attractions here.
Both Harknell and I recommend Busch Gardens Williamsburg Christmas town to you. The park really nailed it. They have something literally for everyone and the quality is extremely high. We both would love to come back.
Oni Hartstein is a Los Angeles-based CMO and entrepreneur that is obsessed with progressive rock / metal, marketing, and nightlife. Please direct all business inquiries or review requests to the "Contact" tab on the top nav bar.
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