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The Official 2018 Recap: Best Attractions, Events and Celebrations at Our Virginia Parks

January 28, 2019
2018 was a year to remember! Take a look back at some of the best moments of our 2018 season.

2018 was a year to remember and was jam packed with amazing events, live entertainment and more. Revisit some of the best moments of 2018 or see what you may have missed. Whether you’re new to our park or a long-time guest, we hope you are just as excited as we are for everything coming in 2019!

The Best of 2018

New Virtual Reality Ride

Battle for Eire Virtual Reality Ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

We brought a virtual reality experience like no other to our park with Battle For Eire, which transported you to the Otherworld to fight alongside Addie, the last fairy guardian, and to save the sacred Heart of Eire from the evil Dark Lord, Balor.

Before its opening in March, we gave you a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this action VR ride – from character creation to the animation process.

Then to kickoff the attraction’s opening, we held a special ribbon cutting ceremony during Battle For Eire Fest, a four-day mini festival event. There was a meet-and-greet opportunity with Addie, live Irish music and specialty items like a limited-edition cocktail and green kettle corn.

For our die-hard fans, we revealed some of the surprises and Easter eggs hidden in Battle For Eire that paid tribute to previous rides at this attraction location.

Springtime Fun for Kids

Sesame Street Kids Weekends at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

We spring into fun every year with family-friendly events and offerings, and this year was no different. Sesame Street Kids’ Weekends debuted, which also included a new interactive show called Let’s Play Together! Your little ones were able to join Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby and all your favorite furry friends for a weekend party full of activities like scavenger hunts and story time.

New Tastes at Food & Wine Festival

With something new to eat and drink each year, Food & Wine at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a foodies dream come true!

Our annual food and wine festival is a celebration of cultures and food. This year we added flavors of Brazil, Cuba, Japan and South Korea and offered a variety of beer flights at Brauhaus Craft Bier Room. We provided you a taste of adventure with ride suggestions that may pique your interested based on festival dishes, and we asked our own Chef Justin which new dishes he was looking forward to most this year.

Local and celebrity guest chefs also came to demonstrate and provide tips on how to make different dishes around the park. And Scotty McCreery, Hunter Hayes and Andy Grammer performed live concerts on the Royal Palace Theatre stage.

40 Years of the Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness Monster turns 40 years old in 2018.

Loch Ness Monster celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, and in honor of this iconic and beloved double interlocking looped roller coaster, we threw a five-day celebration. It included an exclusive photo opportunity near the original Loch Ness Monster train car, temporary tattoo and limited-time offer ticket sale. Plus food and drink specials, vintage merchandise and more.

Cool Days and Sizzling Nights

Spark - laser light show during Summer Nights at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

With warm weather came hot new reasons to visit with an all-new show, special guests and sweet treats. Spark Presented by Coca-Cola® brought laser lights, pyrotechnics and a custom soundtrack to brighten your Summer Nights. We also gave you an inside look at the inspiration and design elements that made up this laser light show party.

Light Balance, popularized by NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” put on amazing performances that left the audience wanting more. This dance troupe consisted of a team of talented dancers, designers, programmers and choreographers that all came together to bring a seamless light-up dance show.

And to top the summer season at Busch Gardens off, the Freak Shakes at Josephine’s Creamery de Chocolat were the talk of the town!

Water Park Thrills

Water Country USA, Virginia's largest water park.

Of course as the weather gets hot, Water Country USA is one of the first places guests head to cool off. We gave you our top five list of the best thrill rides featured at our water park and even tested your knowledge with a little trivia.

Summer vacation got a whole lot more fun with our second annual High School Splash Night just for teens (no parents allowed). What’s more fun than an exclusive teen-only night filled with select water rides, backyard games and a summer soundtrack?

Toast to the End of the Season

Bier Fest, Virginia's best Beer Festival

We celebrated more than 200 years of Oktoberfest traditions as we said goodbye to summer and hello to fall. Our beer festival offered authentic German food, beverages from more than 50 breweries (nearly half of them from Virginia) and live music from local bands.

We also challenged beer enthusiasts to test their knowledge and taste buds while blindfolded; we called the game Sip & Spin.

20 Years of Fears Returned

Howl-o-Scream at Busch Gardens, celebrating 20 seasons of screams in 2018!

This year marked twenty years of fears, where all of the unsettling creatures of the night came out to play. We celebrated Howl-O-Scream’s 20th anniversary with more Halloween scares than ever before, including a special opening ceremony hosted by Jack, four new haunted houses, two more terror-tories, four all-new themed bars and two upbeat party zones.

With just a flip of a switch, thrill seekers and scaredy cats alike were given the power to throw an extra unexpected scare those brave enough to venture through our haunted houses!

A Not-So-Spooky Celebration

The Count's Spooktacular, family friendly Halloween event at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Our daytime Halloween event for kids returned with The Count’s Spooktacular. Families enjoyed an all-new hay maze, safe trick-or-treating locations, costume parade and interactive Sesame Street holiday show, Countdown to Halloween. Plus kids under nine years old were encouraged to dress in their favorite Halloween costumes.

10 Million Christmas Lights

Christmas at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, featuring over 10 million lights

This winter wonderland was truly a place to believe with 10 million twinkling lights across the park. Not only did we increase the number of light displays, we also added a new train experience, the Christmas Town Express, with two million Christmas lights. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and friends returned to celebrate this holiday season, and of course you can’t forget a visit to Santa!

There was plenty of holiday cheer and music to go around with an additional Christmas show this year. Elmo’s Christmas Wish brought Cookie Monster, Rosita, Grover and Zoe to Sesame Street Forest of Fun to help Elmo find his Christmas Wish. Our favorite ice show, ‘Twas That Night, starring world-champion figure skater Elvis Stojko returned this year for more family-friendly fun.

As 2018 ends, we revisit the infinite number of fun memories we’ve made this year, say farewell to the old year and welcome the new.

So… Hello 2019! Here’s what you can look forward to for the rest of the year:

Finnegan’s Flyer at Busch Gardens

Finnegan's Flyer, all new attraction coming in 2019 to Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Soar high over the cliffs of the Celtic coast on this all-new Screamin’ Swing thrill ride located in Ireland village. It’ll take you higher than 80 feet with a speed of 45 mph on an alternating set of pendulum-like arms that seat 32 riders. Will you take on this extreme swing ride?

A Reason for Every Season

There's always something new to see or do at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Keep an eye out for exciting events throughout the year and see what new experiences and offerings are coming. Stay up-to-date on the latest news on our social media (@buschgardensva) or through our mailing list!

For even more benefits and exclusive offers, consider becoming a Member! Find the plan that is best for you, all of which include Monthly Member Rewards, discounts and more.

Whether you’re a Member or Annual Pass holder that visits all the time, a Fun Card holder who visits each season or a family who vacations in Williamsburg, we can’t wait to see you!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and all related elements © & ™ under license to Character Arts, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

™/©2018 Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved.