The Magic and Memory of Busch Garden’s Christmas Town

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Christmas is one of my favorite times of year, and Busch Garden’s Christmas Town has become my tradition to start off the holiday season right since 2011. Because I’ve had the super amazing chance to be an Ambassador Blogger (aka “Thrill Chaser”) for Busch Gardens: Williamsburg, VA in 2014, I had the opportunity to visit the park on opening night where I experienced the lighting of all the Christmas lights and watched as the magic came to life!

You can watch the vlog I did about my experience above, but there was so much goodness packed into my two visits that I felt like it deserved a blog post too!

I garnered an extreme love for Busch Gardens during my time at the College of William and Mary. The park was just down the road. A season’s pass was WAY worth its money if I visited a few times during the school year and came back in the summer with my parents. And my college boyfriend, Andrew, LOVED (and I MEAN LOVED) to ride roller coasters. During the fall of my sophomore year at W&M, Andrew and I visited the park 4 out of the 5 weekends in late September and October. I’m still not quite sure HOW we did that considering October is one of the busiest college months with midterms, Fall Break, Parent’s Weekend, and Homecoming, but I consider it a feat worth noting to this day. Over my four years at W&M (and even as an alumni), I visited the park during all of its many events and changes. I’ve been to Pass Member Preview Day (which is always a treat because of the lighter crowds). I’ve seen the park in spring, summer, fall, and winter. I’ve rocked out at park concerts. I’ve been terrified at Howl-O-Scream and in awe at Christmas Town. I’ve seen the Griffon built, the Big Bad Wolf torn down, the Verbolten and Mach Tower added, the Globe Theatre reinvented for live performance. The park has changed so much since I became a “Busch Garden’s Snob” as a college sophomore. (And by “snob” I mean that I had memorized the park layout and generally knew when and where to be places to have the shortest lines and the best food). And yet, even today I’m still discovering new things about the park.

Christmas Town for me is all about nostalgia.

I love this event at the park more than any of the others because I feel like it really captures the wonder and beauty of being a child at Christmas. When I walk into the park, I don’t feel like the adult-world-war-torn 24-year-old that I am. I remember all the wonderful and beautiful things about Christmas, not how expensive and stressful it’s probably going to be. I remember the smell of a fresh cut pine tree sitting new and unadorned in my childhood living room and eating a bowl of buttery macaroni in front of it while just glorying in the awesomeness of Christmas coming soon. I remember the seemingly long car journeys to see the best Christmas light displays in the area with my family. I remember the magic of new toys and “elf feet” in the snow and the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church. I remember belting out the carols with my grandmother. I remember the movies I watched with my dad cuddled on the coach with the gas logs keeping us warm in the hearth.

It’s amazing to me that something so obviously orchestrated can elicit for me such deeply ingrained feelings and memories. It’s a combination of the music, the sights, and the lighting, but I don’t feel manipulated like I might in other situations. While Disneyland and Disney World reminds me of the magic of my childhood because I was an avid Disney consumer as a kid, Busch Garden’s Christmas Town really puts me back into the childlike mindset. And THAT is better “magic” to me because I can experience the park in the same state of wonder and awe that I experienced Christmas as a child.

For this reason, Christmas Town is my favorite Christmas experience, and I hope that you have something similar to do during the holidays to evoke all the warm and fuzzies that you deserve as not only a child but an adult too during the Christmas season!

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