Busch Gardens, a leader in the business of fun for 38 seasons, opens Sunday, March 17, just in time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and kick off a season filled with fun for the entire family. After visiting favorites like Verbolten®, the park’s newest roller coaster, guests can join the party in the park’s Irish village. A celebration for this special day includes an exclusive Celtic Dyne experience, leprechauns and plenty of holiday-themed refreshments.

Park guests will notice some not-so-subtle changes at the park this year including the newly renovated and expanded entrance that highlights the park’s inherent beauty. Vibrant colors, a decorative water feature and beautiful landscapes will let guests know their fun is about to begin.

“We wanted to make a lasting first impression on our guests when they arrive and we believe these changes will kick off a memorable and fun day for everyone,” said Busch Gardens’ Park President Carl Lum.

At the close of the 2012 season, Verbolten left nearly one million guests breathless with its multiple launches and exciting journey through the forbidden Black Forest. This epic adventure coaster will celebrate its first birthday May 18.  In honor of this milestone, Busch Gardens is giving away a 2013 Mini Cooper Roadster to one lucky winner on Verbolten’s birthday. The giveaway begins March 17 and is open to legal residents of Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Complete details and information about the giveaway, including how to enter, can be found on the Busch Gardens Facebook page at www.facebook.com/buschgardens starting March 17.

In addition to the thrilling rides, the European-themed park will offer a unique encounter with the ancient art of falconry on the park’s new Birds of Prey Up-Close™ tour. Guests will don a leather glove and command raptors using the same techniques used by European royalty for centuries. Experts trained in falconry will tell the fascinating history between humans and birds of prey.

New shopping experiences throughout the park include England’s newly remodeled Emporium, which will feature roller coaster apparel and park souvenirs, and Union Jax™, a store that carries contemporary, youthful fashions reflective of British pop culture.

Food lovers are in for a special treat later this spring when the park explores culinary traditions from around the world at the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival. Guests will eat their way across 11 European countries every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 31 – June 23. This all-new event will feature superb foods, wines and other refreshments not usually found at Busch Gardens. Stroll through France and enjoy coq au vin with rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes, linger in Spain for venera con jamón with saffron rice and romesco sauce, and then stop in Germany for pork schnitzel and fine-crafted brews. It’s all in a day’s stroll for anyone with a taste for adventure.

The park’s popular Glory at the Gardens and Busch Gardens Live concert series are back with an expanded line-up of spring and summer shows. Glory at the Gardens will feature contemporary Christian artists including Casting Crowns, Third Day and Mary Mary. Busch Gardens Live showcases top talent from pop, country and classic rock, with Styx, Bridgit Mendler, Billy Currington and KC and the Sunshine Band among the announced acts. These popular concerts are free with park admission. A complete list of concerts can be found at buschgardens.com/va.

Das Festhaus®, the park’s popular German dining hall will feature two show productions in 2013.  An all-new designed Entwined: Tales of Good and Grimm will reach new heights with acrobatic silk artists, and a park classic, This is Oktoberfest, returns to stage featuring traditional Bavarian songs and dances.

Make every day count this season with a Busch Gardens annual pass. For just $10 a month, get unlimited fun all season, in-park discounts and free parking to the world’s most beautiful theme park. Explore all of the park’s ticket options by visiting buschgardens.com/va.