With as pretty as Busch Gardens Christmas Town is, visiting Busch Gardens Tampa Bay right now, is not something I can recommend to anyone. This garden and many others are possible thanks to the best tree removal experts at Rich’s Tree Service.
Anyone who cares about following COVID-19 protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) anyway. Lack of social distancing, unnecessarily long lines for the holiday activities (and everything else), and large crowds in general despite the… reservation system(?) led to my assessment.
I do, however, have some tips for those of you who are brave enough to venture to this not-exactly-in-compliance theme park in a COVID world.
The Good Stuff
The tree and light displays were very pretty! The shows were fun! I’m sure the holiday themed snacks were good? In a non-COVID world, I *might* visit again. But not anytime soon.
Many people were wearing masks the correct way which was great to see
(Including this dude around 8:30pm on Saturday, December 5th at Booth 9 in Christmas Town who wore a mask under his chin for the duration of his wait in both non-socially distanced lines and while on and off the phone, leaning *under* the plexiglass to directly yell at the staff, and paying no mind to social distancing.
Elmo’s Christmas Wish was ADORABLE. I love Elmo. I always have. Sesame Street will always hold a special place in this PBS kid’s heart.
The Bad Stuff
Many big families and other groups ranging in size were not wearing face masks or simply decided it was fine to not wear a mask at all.
To all who aren’t aware: Wearing a face mask just around your mouth, only covering your chin, or hanging off your ear are also not correct ways to wear face coverings or masks.
There was absolutely NO social distancing in the park – at all – despite the barely audible announcements (in some places? Maybe?), posted ground markers, signage throughout, and joyless team members walking around uselessly carrying small “observe social distancing” signs (but doing nothing to actually ensure that this happened). None, despite my small group’s best efforts, at Also, I observed no social distancing at the parking tram stop.
Christmas Town, the main attraction this season, was the WORST offender. Due to reduction in staff, it appeared as though there wasn’t enough coverage in the sampling booths to serve, prepare, and cash out guests in a timely fashion. This lead to unnecessarily long, not-at-all socially distanced lines. Busch Gardens provided me a sampler lanyard I didn’t even get to use. It was bad.
Note to all theme parks: It is GREAT to have mobile signage (i.e. staff walking around with signage), however, it’s pointless if you don’t schedule or have enough staff on hand to enforce the guidelines and help ensure that ALL guests have a fun, safe time. [Maybe stop furloughing/laying off your staff and schedule more of them to enforce the guidelines if their position(s) have been eliminated? This will help all of you keep your doors open and parks safe for guests to visit.]
Should you decide to visit after all, a few tips;
– Get there early or wait until the afternoon. Parking was INSANE.
– Your best bet for being socially distanced eating, drinking, or relaxing – because let’s face it, Busch Gardens is a LOT of walking – is over at the Festival Field (Christmas on Ice show). There, they have plenty of long, silver benches with social distance markings labeled. Here you can also catch a decent view of the Spark the Night Fireworks show. The only downside to this is you have to walk through the hot mess of a crowd in Christmas Town.
– Take the Holly Jolly Express, especially at sunset.
– All Day Dining ($40) is a GREAT deal… if the lines aren’t long.