Year in Review: Top Tourism Hits of 2015 is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

Tempesto, the newest roller coaster at Busch Gardens, sends riders 154 feet in the air to experience an inversion and wide loops. It is now open. (Photo courtesy Busch Gardens)
Tempesto, the newest roller coaster at Busch Gardens, sends riders 154 feet in the air to experience an inversion and wide loops. (Photo courtesy Busch Gardens)

From awe-inspiring history lessons to adrenaline-boosting thrills, tourist destinations around the Historic Triangle continued to provide world-class experiences for both locals and visitors to the area in 2015.

WYDaily has compiled a list of the highlights over the course of the past 12 months at some of the area’s most popular attractions. Read on to find out what made the list.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

  • For the third year in a row, Apollo’s Chariot was the most popular ride based on ridership at the theme park.
  • The most popular children’s ride was Grover’s Alpine Express.
  • Busch Gardens introduced one new ride this season: Tempesto, a roller coaster that launched in April.
  • The single most popular piece of merchandise sold in the park was a light-up Christmas bulb necklace available for purchase during Christmas Town.

Most popular foods:

  • Once again the Smokehouse Sampler took the top prize for most popular adult entrée among the park’s many eateries.
  • The most popular dessert item was a fruit cup. Visitors need not feel guilty if they prefer to indulge in sweeter desserts, as chocolate cake was a close second.
  • Funnel cakes were the most popular snack item.
  • The most popular food item during Busch Gardens’ Food and Wine Festival was macaroni and cheese with peameal from the Canada kiosk.

Water Country USA

  • Aquazoid was the most popular ride at the park this year.
  • The most popular pieces of merchandise for 2015 were flip-flops and water shoes.
  • Chicken tenders were the most popular food item this year.

Colonial Williamsburg

  • The biggest attendance day for Colonial Williamsburg this year was July 4. Second was Dec. 6, the day of Grand Illumination.
  • Colonial Williamsburg celebrated several new offerings in 2015, including the new puzzle game program “Escape the King,” a children’s hands-on archaeological dig site next to the Archibald Blair Storehouse and the debut of an ice skating rink on Duke of Gloucester Street.
  • The new Halloween program, “A Haunting on DoG Street,” featured both family friendly trick-or-treating and seriously spooky haunt experiences, which together attracted more than 10,000 guests over the two-day event.
  • The Market House joined the lineup of major attractions in the historic area, serving as both a hub for historical interpretation programs and a functional market selling produce, specialty foods and other colonial-style handcrafts and wares.
  • The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Historic Jamestowne

  • The busiest month at Historic Jamestowne was April, with a grand total of 26,017 visitors.
  • July and October took second and third place with 25,410 and 23,603 visitors, respectively.
  • Overall visitation was up over last year by 3 percent – more than 200,000 people visited in 2015.
  • The months immediately following the announcement about the discovery of the bodies of four Jamestown founders saw the biggest increase in visitation. August and September visitation numbers were up 14 percent over last year.

Jamestown Settlement

  • Easter was once again a popular time to visit Jamestown Settlement. The top 10 individual visitation days for the year were March 21, April 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9, May 24, July 15 and Nov. 27.
  • Special events were a major driver for visitation numbers this year. “Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia” snagged the top spot for visitation numbers Nov. 27. Also popular were the “Military Through the Ages” event in March and the “Family Frights” event around Halloween.
  • Top group visitation months were March, April, May, October and November.

Yorktown Victory Center

  • The most popular individual visitation days for Yorktown Victory Center were April 8 and 9, May 24 and 25, June 23 and 25, July 4, 5 and 15 and November 27.
  • Patriotic events were a major draw this year, with particularly high attendance days occurring over Memorial Day weekend, around Independence Day and during the Yorktown Victory Celebration in October.
  • The most popular months for visiting groups were March, April, May, October and November.
  • 2015 also marked the midpoint milestone for the transformation of Yorktown Victory Center into the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. The new 80,000-square-foot building opened in mid-March.