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My family has been traveling to Williamsburg, Virginia during the holiday season and visiting Busch Gardens theme park for their Christmas Town event for years now. But this year, we tried a new experience. And that is Santa’s Fireside Feast!
Santa’s Fireside Feast is a great character dining experience. It is a buffet, so you can pay before you go here. I would advise booking it in advance because, especially as we get closer to Christmas, dining experiences like these do sell out. So you’ll especially need to book ahead if you are planning on visiting on a peak time.
And speaking of which time you pick, if you go on a more offpeak time (like a weekday) the price is lower. So if you have flexibility on when you visit, keep that in mind.
An exciting part of this experience to me is where it takes place. It takes place inside Castle O’Sullivan over in Busch Gardens’ Ireland section!
I’ve always noticed the castle but have never been inside before. So I was excited to finally see what’s inside.
An added bonus of this location? It’s inside! Being outside at Christmas Town and seeing all the lights and decor is great. But it can get very cold in Williamsburg during the holiday season, especially at night. So it’s really nice to have a place inside to go with the heat on and eat!
Unlike an experience you would have at a restaurant, this is an experience with a start and end time. It lasts about an hour. You book a scheduled time, but you need to check in fifteen minutes early. You can do that right outside the castle.
Once we checked in, they let us right in.
Once you walk in, you are taken aback by how great the place looks. It is set up like a dinner theater, with a stage in front and tables with most of the seats facing frontwards. Each table is a little higher than the one before it so the stage is more visible. And the entire room is decorated for the holiday season.
Character Dining Experience
So I would say that one of the main draws, if not the main draw, of this experience is getting to meet Santa. And the whole experience is about that from the beginning. In fact, there are letters at each table and writing utensils so kids can write letters to Santa they can give him when they meet him.
I thought that was a really neat touch.
So how does meeting Santa work? Well, there’s a big chair on the stage Santa sits in.
They’ll let each table know when it is their turn. And then you can go up on stage and get your picture! The pictures are even given to you there.
It’s an amazing, special way to get a picture with Santa. It sure beats standing in line at the mall, as there’s no waiting at all. Plus, you get a good amount of time to interact with Santa and have your kid talk to Santa. It’s the best interaction with Santa at a theme park I have ever seen.
But Santa’s not the only one there! Mrs. Claus and two elves, Holly and Jolly, are there. The four provide some entertainment and acting on stage.
The highlight though would have to be when Santa Claus read out “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore.
Now, this is a poem I have always loved so that may have influenced my feeling this way, but others in my family agreed: Santa was wonderful reading this poem. A definite highlight of the night.
In addition to performing on stage, Holly and Mrs. Claus go from table to table throughout the meal interacting with guests. I thought they were both really good and great with young children.
It is a buffet, and they set the food up in the back. It was very easy to go back and get seconds.
One thing I also liked they did was they had cups with drinks laid out labeled so you could just grab a cup of say Coke, Diet Coke, or Sprite and not have to keep asking someone for a refill.
So I liked the buffet, but onto the actual food. One of the reasons I wanted to do this was after I saw the menu. They had so many good foods listed.
But unfortunately, I have to say I was a bit disappointed by the food. Now, don’t get me wrong. There were a lot of fun I liked. But I think if you were booking this just for the food, you would be disappointed.
So let me start with the positives in what I liked best. One of the absolute best dishes I had was the macaroni and cheese. That was so good, as in some of the best mac & cheese I have ever had.
The best dessert was the red velvet cupcake. It was so good even family members who don’t like sweets thought it was good.
The stuffing was very good and some of the best stuffing we’ve ever had (that wasn’t made by my mother, of course). The ham was good, though parts of it were hard. The turkey was also good.
The chicken alfredo was pretty good. Not the best I have ever had but I still liked it.
The mashed potatoes were disappointing. They were a bit runny and that was disappointing since mashed potatoes is one of my favorite foods.
Probably the worst thing for me was the cookies. They were very hard, so hard in fact I couldn’t bite into them. I know I do have a weak jaw, though.
But, there was definitely a lot there to like, and more food I liked than disliked. They do have a great variety. But if you are expecting this to be an amazing culinary experience, I would say you’ll be disappointed. The focus is definitely the experience and meeting Santa.
Santa’s Fireside Feast is a wonderful experience. It’s in a beautifully decorated castle and is indoors in the heat. It’s a great chance to meet and interact with Santa Claus without lines. They have a large variety of food.
It is a bit expensive and if you were paying for just the food, I do not think it would be worth it. But with the added experience, I think it’s worth the price.
You can go ahead and book Santa’s Fireside Feast here. As I mentioned earlier, I would go ahead and do it as soon as possible before it sells out.
For more information about other fun experiences you can have at Busch Gardens Christmas Town, check out our Busch Gardens Christmas Town Guide.