The history of Busch Gardens Williamsburg

SINCE 1975, BUSCH GARDENS WILLIAMSBURG has given guests all over the world a glimpse into multiple European countries in one place in America: the historic city of Williamsburg, Virginia. Today, nine themed hamlets representing seven countries and two children’s areas are arranged around the park’s iconic Rhine River. The park has won amusement industry polls as the Most Beautiful Park for each of the past 22 years.

Watching Busch Gardens Williamsburg over time, we have seen the 25-year run of the Big Bad Wolf suspended roller coaster start and end. We have seen new countries open up, such as Ireland and the Oktoberfest Village. Over the years, we have seen 12 different roller coasters open in the park, including perennial amusement poll favorite Apollo’s Chariot, record-breakers Alpengeist and Griffon, and several rides with “world’s firsts”: Loch Ness Monster, Drachen Fire, and Griffon.

Past roller coasters

The park’s owners



Anheuser-Busch InBev


SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment


Past countries

Hastings: 1975-2001 (now Ireland)

Park timeline


1975: Park opens

Busch Gardens: The Old Country opens their doors featuring England, Scotland, France and Germany


Oktoberfest opens along with Die Wildkatze, a Schwartzkopf Wildcat coaster

1978: Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness Monster opens on June 6 for the price of $1 million



Busch Gardens adds their fifth country, Italy.


The Battering Ram is opened in San Marco


Da Vinci’s Cradle is added and Die Wildkatze is removed

1984: Big Bad Wolf (until 2009)

The Big Bad Wolf opens in the Oktoberfest section of the park for the cost of $5 million


Festa Italia is added to the parks line up of themed hamlets


Roman Rapids begins soaking riders in Festa Italia, as well as Gladiators Gauntlet opening



Questor opens in Hastings (Currently Ireland)

1992: Drachen Fire (operating until 1998)

Drachen Fire opened; the park is renamed to “Busch Gardens Williamsburg”


Haunts of the Olde Country, a 3D film opens in the Globe Theater


Land of the Dragons, a children’s area, is opened


Escape From Pompeii is added to Italy

1996: Wild Izzy (until 2003)

Wild Izzy opens, and Questor is replaced by King Arthur’s Challenge

1997: Alpengeist

Alpengeist opens, and Wild Izzy is renames to Wild Maus


Pirates, a 4-D show, replaces Haunts of the Old Country, American Jukebox is opened at the Canadian Palladium in New France, and Drachen Fire closes in July

1999: Apollo’s Chariot

Apollo’s Chariot opens for the price of $20 million, and Howl-O-Scream kicks off



Jack Hanna’s Wild Reserve is added between France and Hastings


Ireland replaces Hastings becoming the parks sixth country, as well as King Arthur’s Challenge is replaced by Corkscrew Hill


Drachen Fire is dismantled after no buyer is found for it


Pirates 4D is replaced by Haunted Lighthouse 4D, Trapper’s Smokehouse is added in New France, and Wild Maus is removed

2005: Curse of DarKastle

Curse of DarKastle opens where Wild Maus was once located


2 new shows, Emerald Beat and Kinetix, open

2007: Griffon

Griffon opens up replacing Le Mans Raceway


Busch Gardens opens their second children’s area: Sesame Street Forest of Fun, it is announced that The Big Bad Wolf would be closing on September 7, and Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration opens. Also in 2009, Busch Gardens Williamsburg as well as their 9 sister parks are sold to the Blackstone Group



Europe in the Air replaces Corkscrew Hill, the park opens their night-time event, IllumiNights: A Busch Gardens Encore, and Italy is added to the list of countries open during Christmas Town


Busch Gardens’ new Oktoberfest village opens with Mäch Tower, and Beste Brezeln und Bier, and Verbolten is announced

2012: Verbolten

Busch Gardens Williamsburg opens their first multi-launching coaster: Verbolten, Entwind replaces This is Oktoberfest


Busch Gardens adds the Food and Wine Festival in the Spring

2014 and beyond

To be announced. Discuss in the forums!

History articles