A Cajun Man's First Mardi Gras in Virginia

Family Photo Fleur de Lis
Characters at Busch Gardens
Beignets at Busch Gardens

Before we dive in, I suppose some introduction information is necessary. Hi, I'm Joey, and I'm a member of the Visit Williamsburg content team. When I moved to Virginia from southern Louisiana, I left behind the winding bayous, rhythms of zydeco, and sweetness of King Cake (if you've never tried King Cake, that's a Big Deal). I would have never guessed that I would be presented with the opportunity to write about Mardi Gras again, but Busch Gardens Williamsburg has provided just that with their new, limited-time Mardi Gras event. The park is bringing the sights, sounds, and tastes of Louisiana to the excitement of the park, and my family had the pleasure of experiencing it first hand.

Safety First

For the first time ever, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is open January through December with all-new, limited-capacity special events added to their lineup for the year. Covid precautions are taken very seriously for your safety, with temperature screenings at the park entrance, mask requirements during your entire visit, social distancing signage, hand sanitizing stations, and a reservation system to ensure limited capacity.

Entertainment and Music

As you enter Busch Gardens Mardi Gras, you will be immediately encapsulated in the festive atmosphere of the event. The park is entirely draped in purple, green, and gold - the traditional colors of Mardi Gras. My husband and I immediately ran to the giant fleur de lis, a symbol of Louisiana's French heritage, to take a family selfie.

Family Photo Fleur de Lis

The transformation isn't simply visual, though. The music you will hear throughout the park is incredibly authentic to what you hear at a Louisiana Mardi Gras parade. My family had a great time listening to the New Orleans jazz band and then danced our way down the streets to find more performers, including stilt walkers, jugglers, and costumed entertainers.

Band Plays at Busch Gardens

Mardi Gras Characters Busch Gardens

Rides

Rides are one of the highlights of any theme park experience, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg has some outstanding options. For the thrill-seeker, test your nerve on the twists and turns of Alpengeist, Verbolten, or InvadR. For younger family members (or young at heart), try out Busch Gardens Railway or Seasame Street Forest of Fun. My son Cooper and I giggled our way around on carousel horses with Kinder Karussel, and we all enjoyed the stomach-churning action of Le Catapult.

Tilt Walker Mardis Gras Busch Gardens

Thumbs Up on Ride

Food

A Mardi Gras experience is not complete without a taste of Louisiana. Be sure to check out classic Cajun and Creole dishes such as gumbo and red beans and rice. Our daughter, Delaney, is the family's sweet tooth, and she devoured the King Cake funnel cake, a delicious fried dessert covered in cinnamon-sugar, whipped cream, and colored chocolate. As a native Louisianan, the beignets were my favorite. The pillowy texture and sweet coating took me right back to the French Market in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras Gumbo Busch Gardens   Funnel Cake Mardi Gras Busch Gardens  

Beignets at Busch Gardens Mardi Gras.  Mardi Gras Food Display Busch Gardens

A theme park day is great family fun any time of year, but to combine that with a special event that is so close to my heart was a truly wonderful experience. A special thank you to Busch Gardens Williamsburg for bringing a bit of Mardi Gras to us here in Virginia. Busch Gardens Mardi Gras will take place on select dates between now and February 28. Be sure to learn more about all there is to see and do in Williamsburg with Visit Williamsburg's trip planning tools.

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