WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Holiday cheer is already underway at Busch Gardens. Their new Christmas Celebration event launched Friday, the same day Governor Ralph Northam announced increased restrictions across the Commonwealth.
However, park officials said this won't affect them.
Park guests felt a sense of normalcy as they strolled through the gates of Busch Gardens on Friday. Holiday lights and festive music hitting them at every turn.
The Christmas Celebration is a pandemic-friendly spin on the park's usual Christmas Town event.
"Guests are going to be able to see all kinds of Christmas decorations,” said Busch Gardens Leader of Events Matthew Edwards. “Some that are new, some that we haven't had out before."
Busch Gardens is still operating at a limited capacity with increased safety mitigations, which includes wearing a mask inside, outside, and on rides. Even Santa wears a mask, too.
Just last week the park was able to increase capacity from 1,000 to 4,000 after a change to Governor Ralph Northam's executive order.
"Given our acreage and outdoor space, it was clear we were able to handle more guests in a very safe way,” said Park President Kevin Lembke.
Lembke said the Governor’s new restrictions, to their understanding, won't affect the park.
"We are still operating under the theme park guidance that was released a couple of weeks ago,” Lembke said.
In fact, Lembke said they were already ahead of the curve.
"Masks have been mandated outdoors or indoors for us since we reopened,” Lembke said. “And we are not open after 10 o'clock. That was one of the things about serving alcohol after 10."
There is also plenty to ride. Fifteen rides are open, including three coasters.
Lembke said six feet of distancing is maintained on all rides and in line queues. Staff are on hand every step of the way to make sure people are spaced properly and that masks are secure.
There is also a lot of holiday magic to go around.
"You can come here and just be a kid again,” said Edwards. “Really, get that childlike enjoyment that you get from the holidays."
The event runs select days through January 3. Reservations are required.