Sunday, August 7, 2022

Busch Gardens Williamsburg gives season ticket holders options during the coronavirus

Busch Gardens, located in lower James City County, was recently honored by the National Amusement Park Historical Association for the 29th year in a row. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Busch Gardens)
Busch Gardens is still closed. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Busch Gardens)

Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been mostly shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving season ticket holders and other members in limbo, waiting for the park to reopen.

The amusement park shut down in March and has been fighting gathering restrictions set by Gov. Ralph Northam.

Hampton Roads and the Peninsula have seen a spike in coronavirus cases but it didn’t stop Busch Garden’s parent company, SeaWorld to announce a phased reopening plan of the theme park starting in early August.

Busch Gardens created a new outdoor event called Coasters and Craft Brews but with added precautions such as requiring face covering and physical distancing as well as temperature screenings and increased sanitation efforts — the rest of the park remains closed.

But with most of the season already gone, how is the theme park helping season ticket holders with refunds, delayed membership fees or other accommodations?

WYDaily asked Busch Gardens spokeswoman Cindy Sarko how the amusement park was processing payments and season passes during the pandemic, what Busch Gardens was doing to communicate with season tickets holders about their membership, if they offered a relief program until the park reopens at full capacity and what measures the park was taking to help people cancel or refund their membership fees.

“Busch Gardens Williamsburg is committed to providing guests with the flexibility they need right now,” Sarko wrote in an email. “We are extending the expiration date of active passes for a period at least as long as the temporary closure and we continue to provide a process for customers to defer their monthly EZpay payments.”

“We have a long standing policy of permitting guests with financial hardships to temporarily suspend their passes and related payments,” she added.

Sarko sent a WYDaily a couple paragraphs from the park’s website which related to membership pass holders.

SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Aquatica automatically extended all annual passes and memberships “as long as the temporary closure,” according to the website.

Members who paid with EZpay before the park closed and did not defer or stop payments can get their payments waived once the park reopens for the number of months the park was closed.

Those who recently became members and did not defer payments will also have their payments waived for the same length of time, too.

“For EZpay members who completed the initial term of their contract during park closure and did not defer payments, the payments after we reopen will be waived for a period of time equivalent to the length of closure,” according to the website.

Busch Gardens is giving their pass members “complimentary rewards” and “special benefits” to show their appreciation such as an additional “bring a friend days” and tier upgrades for the rest of the year and  other pass member events, according to the “What are you doing for your Pass Members?” section of the Update on SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Operations webpage.

Pass members get those “special benefits” automatically before the park reopens.

For more information, call 407-794-0017 or email SEAGuestRelationsTeam@seaworld.com. If you send an email include the bar code and name of the park.

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Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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