Local family not amused with Busch Gardens’ policy on pandemic refunds


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Jennifer Lawrence and her family like going to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA — when they can.

The family bought five passes to the amusement park last October for a purchase price of more than $800, and $69 comes out of their bank account every month. But they haven’t been able to go thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

“My understanding is that I paid for unlimited use of the park for the duration of the time that they were open and I got a very, very small portion of that,” Lawrence said.

Busch Gardens reopened with a special event this month, Coasters and Craft Brews, but Lawrence says its limited rides and limited capacity for customers offer little opportunity for her family. Lawrence says Busch Gardens’ explanation for not giving a refund was that the pandemic was unforeseen circumstances.

Cindy Sarko, public relations manager for Busch Gardens, responded to 10 On Your Side Friday afternoon with this statement:

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is committed to providing guests with the flexibility they need right now. We are extending the expiration date of active passes for a period at least as long as the temporary closure and we continue to provide a process for customers to defer their monthly EZpay payments. We have a long standing policy of permitting guests with financial hardships to temporarily suspend their passes and related payments. Guests with further questions are encouraged to contact us directly.

“I completely understand that,” Lawrence said about Busch Garnens’ “unforeseen circumstances” reasoning. “But I still don’t see it as my responsibility as a consumer to have to just keep paying, what I see as essentially donating money to Busch Gardens for a service I can’t use.”

Busch Gardens also offered an extension of her passes beyond October.

“We didn’t want that option because we don’t know when they’re gonna open,” she said.

Lawrence says a fair refund, given the circumstances, would be half her initial investment, about $420.

She says just this week Busch Gardens has decided to let her out of the last two payments – a refund of $140. But she says they wouldn’t confirm it in writing, and told her the only way she would know is to check her bank account.

Click here for Busch Gardens Williamsburg membership frequently-asked questions.

Click here for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s information on COVID-19 response and membership information.

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