Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Why you should visit in 2010: Even after being tagged the country's most beautiful amusement park for 20 years running by the National Amusement Park Historical Association, the European-flavored Busch Gardens Williamsburg is far from resting on its laurels. "We re-envisioned the Ireland section of our park," spokesman Kevin Crossett says, adding a new show, "Celtic Fyre," and a new flight-simulation ride, "Europe in the Air," pictured. ("You're up in the air," get it?)
Even more colorfully, however, the park has added IllumiNights, a brightly lit nighttime display with elements in each of the park's four European-themed areas (16-foot-tall puppets in Ireland, a living cuckoo clock in Germany), ending in a spectacular fireworks display nightly at 9:30.
"It's kind of hard to put IllumiNights into words," says Crossett. But, he assures, it sure is pretty.--Chris Kaltenbach
IllumiNights runs through Aug. 22.
Address: Williamsburg, Va., Exit 243A off Interstate 64
Miles from the Inner Harbor: 200
Wow factor: Consistently rated even more beautiful than Disney World? That's impressive.
Hours through Labor Day: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily through Aug. 22; closes 8 p.m. Aug. 23-27, 9 p.m. Aug. 29, 7 p.m. Aug. 30
Information: 800-343-7946 or buschgardens.com/bgw