Griffon roller coaster Busch Gardens

The Griffon roller coaster at Busch Gardens is one of the attractions that will be open for the theme park's special event in August. 

Busch Gardens in Williamsburg announced Thursday it will open in a limited format in August for a special event called "Coasters and Craft Brews."

The theme park, along with Kings Dominion in Doswell, has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

In a news release, Busch Gardens said the special outdoor event will include include three roller coasters, the Screamin' Swing ride, local and craft beers, and barbecue. The event will run Aug. 6-16 on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m. and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.   A members-only event will be held Aug. 5 from 5-9 p.m.

The park said it will evaluate to see whether it will extend the event beyond Aug. 16.

Reservations for the Coasters and Craft Brews special event are required and are available at buschgardens.com/williamsburg/reservation. Tickets are $44.99.

The park said it will operate with enhanced health and safety protocols for cleaning and sanitizing, physical distancing, face covering requirements and temperature screenings. Event capacity will be limited.

Under Phase Three of Virginia's reopening plan, entertainment venues such as theme parks must limit attendance to 50% of capacity or 1,000 visitors at any one time. Both Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion said in June that it was not financially feasible for them to reopen under those restrictions, and Gov. Ralph Northam declined to give the theme parks an exception.

During the "Coasters and Craft Brews" event, select parts of Busch Garden will be open, including IrelandScotlandFrance and New France. Coasters that will be operating include InvadR, Griffon, Loch Ness Monster and Finnegan's Flyer.   

"We want to thank our guests for their patience and are so excited to be able to give them a taste of Busch Gardens Williamsburg when we safely welcome them back," said Kevin Lembke, president of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. "The health and safety of our guests and employees is our foremost priority and we are working hard to prepare the park for this special event so guests can join us for a fun and safe experience." 

SeaWorld Entertainment, which owns Busch Gardens, has reopened eight of its parks with capacity limitations, including SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and SeaWorld San Antonio.

The company said in its earnings report Wednesday that despite capacity limitations, attendance at the parks has improved since reopening. "Total park attendance at reopened parks has increased 14% on a same park basis from the week ended June 28 [the first full week these parks were open] to the most recent week ended July 26," the company said.

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