Updated: May 21, 2015
Review: Water Country USA - Busch Gardens - Bush Gardens (misp!)Water Country Review from recent family visit...
No Williamsburg, VA summer vacation is complete without a visit to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, two amusement parks located just 10 minutes away. While Colonial Williamsburg is charming and fascinating in many ways, and kids do enjoy it, they really deserve a reward for putting up with so much history on a vacation. We took a 2010 trip to Washington DC and then detoured south to hit all the locations around Williamsburg, including Water Country. Given the heat we faced that week (heat index near 110, hottest place in the country - what gives?), Water Country was a welcome break from the history scene. Fortunately, Water Country offers plenty of fun for kids and adults, so apart from the crowds, the whole family should have a good time. In this guide, we'll cover the Water Country basics - where it is, hours, ticket information, what to expect, parking, etc. - and give you our first hand comments and reviews from the experience, complete with photos and videos.
Water Country USA Location and MapThe map below shows the location of Water Country in relation to Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, etc. Water Country USA is the blue marker at upper right and Busch Gardens is below it.
View Williamsburg VA Hotels and Lodging - Powhatan Resort Review in a larger map
This water park shares the same problems that all water parks have, the main ones being the lines and having to climb stairs and wait around for 10-30 minutes for each 30 second water slide ride, and finding a home base where you can sit and leave your belongings. Most people crowd around the wave pools or the endless rivers, so it can be tough to find lounge chairs, and sometimes there is barely room to move once to get settled in. Let's talk about crowds first. Like most amusement parks, Water Country also promotes itself pretty heavily to locals. How so? How about this... buy one ticket, and you can come every day, all summer for free! That's right - on a hot Virginia summer day (which is pretty much everyday), everyone and their brother who doesn't have a swimming pool is hanging out here since it costs them almost nothing. This is great for locals, not so great for tourists visiting from out of state.
We went on a Monday, end of June, very hot (104F). We arrived very close to opening time and had no problems getting a few louge chairs partly in the sun and partly in shade over by the Hubba Bubba Highway. We paid $10 for the use of a daily locker (photo below, left: drop off wallets, cameras, extra clothing, etc.). Lines for most attractions were long, and even the Hubba Bubba Highway was more like a traffic jam, clogged with so many Virginians in life vests. Sure, we still had fun and managed to stay cool, but water slide parks are SO much more fun when you can ride all the slides without standing around all day, dripping and waiting.
Now we had taken a trip to Disneyworld earlier in the year and enjoyed 2 visits to Typhoon Lagoon, one of the two water waters Disney offers. Let's think about something here --- who brings a bunch of beach towels with them on vacation? Nobody. So Disney wisely recognizes this and rents towels for $2 each. And Water Country...? Nope. We show up looking for towels and find they are happy to sell them for about $15 each, complete with a Water Country Logo. Just what I wanted, $50 of new towels than I can't fit in my suitcase for the return trip anyways. So lesson learned: Bring your own towels to Water Country. They do however provide plenty of lifevests in all different sizes, so safety counts, comfort and dryness, not so much.. One other thing, consider something like aqua socks for protecting your feet - the sidewalks there get SUPER hot, even with misters that spray water along some of the walkways. There are little cubby holes where you can stash flips flops and shoes before getting onto a slide, but the exit of the slide is sometimes far from the entrance, and then you have to run back along hot sidewalks to retrieve your shoes!
Here's is a sample video, showing you the wave pool called Surfer's Bay - pretty crowded..
What is Water Country USA like? Do they have water slides for small children?There are 9 main waterslides at Water Country:
- Big Daddy Falls
- Wild Thang
- Jet Scream
- Nitro Racer
- Malibu Pipeline
- Jammin Jukebox
Water Country has plenty of play areas for smaller children as well, like Cow-a-Bunga, complete with a mini water slide, fountains, shallow pool area, speed boat, and yes, a cow (on the speedboat!), H2O UFO (water jets, waterfalls, slides, for 55 inches and smaller), and the Kritter Korral (more kid-sized mini slides and water fun). Most of the larger water slides required kids to be 42" - smaller than that, many can still ride but are required to wear a life vest and be accompanied by an adult (for Rampage, the steepest slide, you MUST be more than 42" to ride). You can find all the specific height restrictions on the Water Country website, WaterCountryUSA.com.
Water Country USA Tickets - Water Country Coupons - Discount TicketsIn the summer, the park opens at 10AM each morning, and closes at 7 or 8PM, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the fun and sun. How much are Water Country USA tickets? Regular admisson for 2010 was $45 per person, $38 for kids 3-9, kids 2 and under free. Parking is $13 (free if you have a bounce pass, listed below..). You MAY NOT bring in coolers or food/drinks, though there is a picnic area out by the front gate. Looking for a discount, we purchased our Water Country Tickets as part of a "bounce pass" package, which allowed entry to Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, and Water Country (see link here: http://www.history.org/visit/planYourVisit/Ticketplans/ and click on "Multi-Attraction Passes" for info..). The Bounce Pass gives you unlimited access for 7 days to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, and Water Country at around $100 per adult, $82 for ages 6-17 (a 1-day basic pass to Williamsburg by itself is $36, Water Country is $45 as noted above, and Busch Gardens is $56, or $70 for a Busch Garden/Water Country Combo). The BuschGardens.com website also offers a few combination tickets with discounted prices (ticket prices are cheaper online than at the gate..). We read reports of local discount tickets offered at McDonalds, gas stations, grocery stores, and libraries, offering 25% off daily tickets -- so you could look around for those if you have the time or energy as well.
Overall, this is a great family park to add to your Virginia summer vacation. Just be prepared for crowds. But ages from 3-73 should find something at Water Country to keep them happy on a hot afternoon. We'd plan a return visit if we find ourselves back in Virginia..