The sparkly spectacular of Christmas Town at Busch Gardens has become a tradition for my family. We’ve been several times and always have our favorite things to see and do. One of those favorites is visiting the penguins at the Ice Palace in the France section of the park. This year, we had the chance to “meet and greet” a penguin.
We got to meet and pet Maggie the magellanic penguin. I’m not exactly sure what I thought a penguin would feel like, but I was surprised at how soft she was, almost like velvet. We then got to sit beside the trainer, holding the penguin, and have our picture taken.
The magellanic penguins are visiting Christmas Town from SeaWorld San Antonio, and the African penguins are from the Columbus Zoo. Both varieties enjoy warmer climates. In fact, there are only about five species of penguin that actually live in the cold Arctic region. Most of them live in South America, South Africa, the Falkland Islands and other warm corners of the world.
After meeting Maggie, we watched the African penguins swimming, dipping and diving in their habitat while a Busch Gardens employee (Rob was our tour guide) gave a presentation on the habits, traits and lifestyle of penguins. Did you know that there are penguins in Hawaii? Or that their poop is valuable? Yes, when kids are around, the conversation can quickly turn to poop.
If you go:
While the penguin exhibit is free for all park guests to walk through, the Ultimate Penguin Insider Tour is a separate – and at an additional cost – 45-minute tour where you’ll meet the trainers and get up close to a perfectly proper, and equally adorable, penguin. I was very impressed with the tour and staff members. They were very friendly and incredibly knowledgeable about the penguins.
Learn more about the Ultimate Penguin Insider Tour and a variety of other animal and park tours at Busch Gardens Williamsburg by clicking right here.
New at Christmas Town
“Scrooge No More”
New this year is “Scrooge No More,” a brand new musical show presented in the completely renovated Globe Theatre. We ran out of time to see this show, but I hope to get back to check it out. If you’ve seen “London Rocks” or “Monster Stomp on Ripper Row,” you know the technological capabilities of the Globe. I can’t wait to see Scrooge brought to life through video mapping and projected images in the state-of-the-art theatre.
The park has also rolled out a brand new photo system called PhotoKey. There are several photo opp sites located around the park, including a polar bear snow globe in Festa Italia and the 50-foot Christmas tree in front of Das Festhaus.
PhotoKey works very similar to Disney’s Memory Maker and Universal’s Photo Connect. Simply present the card to the park photographer, who will then scan the code on the back and photograph your family in whatever silly or sophisticated poses you might choose. Then, you can view your photos at the photo booths located around the park or go online to view, share or order photo products. Busch Gardens has a Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal for PhotoKey where you can purchase it for $10 (regular price is $60). Click here for details.
Toys for Tots
Busch Gardens is collecting unwrapped toys for the Salvation Army’s Toys for Tots toy drive at its Welcome Center through December 14. The park will also contribute $5,000 in toys to the Toys for Tots toy drive.
Christmas Town tickets
Looking for discount tickets to Christmas Town or Busch Gardens’ 2015 season? Check out the park’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals by clicking right here.
Disclosure: The author received admission to Busch Gardens and the Penguin Insider Tour as part of the park’s Christmas Town media preview and Ambassador Blogger/Thrill Chaser program. All opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author.