Constructing fun memories and good times at Busch Gardens – Introducing Marco Polo’s Marketplace

Whether you’re looking for food, fun or family time, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has it all. It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent wanting to bond with your kids, or a group of high school or college buddies out for a memorable day – the amusement park has something to offer everyone.

And we at Henderson, Inc. have been privileged enough over the years to play a role in creating those memories for families and friends through our work constructing new rides and accommodations at the park. Our latest contribution at Busch Gardens debuted in March with the opening of Marco Polo’s Marketplace.

The restaurant replaced Ristorante della Piazza, an Italian eatery within the park’s Italy section. The project involved a complete renovation of the 7,000-square-foot space including a total overhaul of the building’s kitchen, serving lines and restrooms.

The dining area was reconfigured to improve efficiency with new salad, entrée and dessert stations to better serve hungry park goers. The restaurant’s new décor offers something different as well with the addition of wood beams along the ceiling and other architectural features to reflect the restaurant’s theme of European explorer Marco Polo. A new 2,000-square-foot steel canopy was erected outside to create a covered courtyard for diners to enjoy.




Along with the restaurant’s new design aesthetics, the eatery has added Mediterranean and Asian dishes to the original Italian fare to reflect the varied travels of the establishment’s namesake.




There’s something humbling about knowing that your work is breathing new life into a space that will offer tasty cuisine and a place to rest for park goers as they make their way through a day of fun and excitement.

And when we at Henderson walk around the park, we can’t help but feel delight as we hear the thrilled cheers and screams coming from the rides and attractions we’ve built over the years, like (just to name a few) the Griffon, Mach Tower, Apollo’s Chariot, Verbolten, Roman Rapids and the Curse of Darkastle. We also still feel a sense of pride when we pass by Trapper’s Smokehouse and smell the robust scent of smoked spare ribs wafting through the air as patrons line up to taste the mouth watering meat.




To play a role in the continuing evolution of Busch Gardens Williamsburg is an experience that’s hard to put into words. Project Manager Ron Houser, who oversaw the renovation at Marco Polo’s Marketplace, perhaps summed up that feeling best through the memory of his own journey at the park.

“When I came to work at Henderson, my first job out was at Busch Gardens banging nails as a carpenter’s helper at the renovation in Italy,” Houser recalled. “It’s always cool to go back out there and know that Henderson’s been a part of so many things at the park. To take your family by a ride or building and say ‘We built that’ is kind of cool.”

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