Several weeks ago, Busch Gardens Williamsburg (BGW) released their 2015 operating schedule to the eager masses of future vacation-planners. But the initial reactions to the new hours for the park’s upcoming 40th anniversary season have been less than favorable. Busch Gardens has, unfortunately, been subjected to major budget cuts due to ever-increasing financial troubles throughout their parent company, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. These cuts have inevitably made their way through the multitude of park departments and into the operating schedule. The schedule for both Busch Gardens Williamsburg and its water park, Water Country USA can be viewed below.
One of the first things you may notice is that opening day is set to be pushed further back into March than in previous seasons. On February 13th the Park announced that Pass Member Preview Day will be on March 21st, a week later than in the past. Unlike in past seasons, however, the park will not open the day after Pass Members are able to get their first visit. Instead, they will be opening the weekend after.
The schedule looks fairly typical until the month of July. Unlike in years past, when the park was open until 10 p.m. on weekdays during peak season (July through early August), they are now closing at 9 p.m. However, weekends are still scheduled to have 10 p.m. closing times. Without the later weekday closings, the nightly fireworks that park patrons have come to expect from the infamous summer events of the last few seasons may not happen this year. While many people may be more than happy if the park decided to scrap the idea of a summer event, its absence has yet to be confirmed.
In September hours have been reduced throughout the later half of the month. This change suggests a later start of the Park’s favored Fall event, Howl-O-Scream, which started nearly 2 weeks earlier in both 2013 and 2014. However, if we look at the month of October, we see that Friday hours are now extended to 11 p.m. While this is a puzzling change, it’s good to see hours increased in a way that may be more reasonably attempted as opposed to the ill-fated plans for midnight closings on Saturdays in 2014. Another noteworthy addition is the November 1st end to the regular operating season, which is one weekend later than usual.
The first thing to note about Christmas Town is the later start of the Winter season due to the extension of Fall operations into November. The main concern with this change will be the shorter amount of time BGW will have to redecorate from Halloween to Christmas. Other than the later start, Christmas Town’s operating hours are, for the most part, the same. In total, the park has managed to lose only one operating day for the 2015 season (compared to the 2014 season); down from 190 operating days last season to 189 operating days this upcoming season.
At first glance Water Country USA’s operating schedule seems unchanged. It opens on the same weekend as it did last year and ends on Labor Day, as it did last year. However, like Busch Gardens, Water Country USA seems to have cut weekday hours during peak season. Unlike Busch Gardens, the number of operating days for Water Country USA is actually increasing from 104 last year to 110 this year due mostly to when Labor Day falls.
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