• Joey

Mardi Gras at Busch Gardens

We recently took a trip back home to Louisiana to enjoy some time with our younger kids and family. It was a fantastic trip filled with love, music, family, and food! With a full belly and a full heart, we returned home to Virginia and immediately thought of a really fun day we recently had at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

For the first time, Busch Gardens Williamsburg made the decision to open year-round in 2021 by including three limited-capacity events - Winter Weekends, Mardi Gras, and St. Patrick’s. You can imagine my excitement when I saw the words Mardi Gras in Virginia! We absolutely had to go! Since our older kids are season ticket holders, we swept them up and made our way to the park.

Since we are talking 2021, we can’t get too far into this post without addressing COVID-19. Busch Gardens Williamsburg took the safety of its guests and staff very seriously. Before entering the park, guests first had to go through a screening tent which included temperature checks. A reservation was required in addition to your ticket to ensure that capacity was kept small in order to ensure social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations and social distancing signage were abundant throughout the park and masks were required at all times. With all of this in place, we certainly felt safe to enjoy our day.

I was immediately struck by the music. There wasn’t just generic big band jazz music playing, but instead what you would actually hear at Mardi Gras, including Mardi Gras Mambo, Jack-a-mo, and Mardi Gras Time. Just as we entered, a brass band was playing which took me right back to the parade routes with marching bands passing by. It didn’t take long for us to be dancing through the walkways.

The decorations throughout the park were spot on as well, with everything draped in purple, green, and gold. Carnival masks and over-sized decorations, like those on Mardi Gras floats, were everywhere also. Costumed stilt walkers, musicians, and dancers added to the ambiance. My favorite piece was a giant fleur de lis at the entrance of the park.

Louisiana food is a tough one for those who are not familiar with the cuisine. Busch Gardens Williamsburg offered an abundance of options including hurricane cocktails and jambalaya. We tried the gumbo and sausage with grits. The gumbo was a thick, okra-based stew with chicken served over rice. The sausage was grilled and tossed with onions, peppers, and tomatoes before being tossed over a bed of grits. Although neither dish was traditionally accurate, they were tasty. We also tried the beignets, which were quite tasty, and the king cake funnel cake, which was a fun and yummy interpretation of one of my favorite Mardi Gras traditions.

As someone who grew up in south Louisiana, cold weather is not something that I’m knowledgeable about. Since this event took place in February, it was rather cold, and we were informed as we entered the park that roller coasters can not operate at certain temperatures. As a nice gesture, they did offer us discounted hot chocolate. Other rides were open though and we had a great time riding Le Catapult, Der Wirbelwind, and Kinder Karussel. I think my favorite was, strangely enough, Kinder Karussel. Cooper and I had a great time acting like big kids, picking out which horse to ride, and waving at Jaime and Laney.

Now that weather is warming and Spring is around the corner, we’re certainly looking forward to another trip to Busch Gardens to enjoy all the park has to offer.

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