Busch Gardens expected to begin reopening in early August, parent company says

Around the South

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — The parent company of Busch Gardens says it expects its Williamsburg, Virginia park to start a phased reopening in early August, despite no indication from Gov. Ralph Northam that the park’s 1,000-person limit under Virginia’s Phase 3 reopening plan will be lifted.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. shared the news in a press release Wednesday. The release didn’t mention plans for reopening nearby Water Country USA.

The news comes just a day after Northam announced new restrictions in Williamsburg and elsewhere in Hampton Roads to curb the spread of COVID-19.

New cases numbers in Williamsburg and surrounding James City County have remained relatively low, but Hampton Roads overall has reported a surge in new cases recently, prompting a federal response team to come down.

Busch Gardens and Water Country USA technically allowed to reopen under Phase 3, but opted to stay closed because the cap of 1,000 people inside the parks wasn’t “economically sustainable.”

Park president Kevin Lembke told WAVY back in June that he was disappointing with the 1,000-person limit, which included the parks with smaller, inside businesses, such as bowling alleys and skating rinks.

SeaWorld Entertainment didn’t have details on Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s reopening plans, but said some its parks began reopening in June with reduced operating days and capacity, with attendance compared to last year ranging from 10% on the low end to about 50% on the high end, depending on the park.

At this time, both Busch Gardens and Water Country would still be capped at 1,000 people under Virginia’s Phase 3 plan. WAVY’s reached out to Busch Gardens for more information but have yet to hear back.

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