One of the main attractions in Tampa is for sure Busch Gardens. It is even a great choice if you are having an Orlando vacation to take a day and get all the way to Tampa for it. And now we will talk a little bit about it on this review with some tips to enoy Busch Gardens.
What is Busch Gardens?
It is a bit of everything, a theme park related with animals and nature with tons of attractions:
The Animals at Busch Gardens:
You can see them on different themed sections, my favorite being the Serengeti area, as it is the most open of them all and you can see the animals roaming around in a very similar to their own habitat.
You can see the animals while walking, in a little train that goes around the park or you can upgrade your ticket for an encounter experience as I´ll tell you more.
There are several areas:
There is a bird haven where you can get close with the chirpers, and some of them get quite comfortable around people.
The Flamingos, Kangaroos, and Alligators are all very close to the people trails and you can visit them and take a long look.
The are lots of Animal Attractions including:
- The Animal Care Center which explains to guests how the animals are treated, and shows some behind the scenes of the overall process of human animal interaction.
- The Bird Gardens that include nearly 500 tropical birds from everywhere. A colorful experience that families can hav hands on.
- The Cheetah Run, these mysterious big cats are majestic.
- The Curiosity Caverns, where guests go meet nocturnal species.
- The Edge of Africa is a behind glass close encounter with some Big Mammals.
- The Jambo Junction is another animal care experience.
- The Jungala is a great time to meet some of our closest relatives: The Monkeys.
- Lory Landing is another bird experience, perfect for little kids to enjoy.
- The Myombe Reserve is where you meet Goirllas and Chimpanzees.
- The Serengeti Plain is a big open space where there are Rhinos, Giraffes, Zebras, Lions, and many more. Just like in documentaries.
- The Walkabout Way is where you will find the kangaroos.
The Theme Park area:
Just like its sister park SeaWorld, Busch Gardens has some great rollercoasters, that include some of the most intense in Florida, as well as some other rides, a train that goes around the park and a Sesame Street area for the little ones.
- Cobra´s Curse is a new rollercoaster that is coming soon
- Falcon´s Fury is a big freefall drop that is much harder than most others, as in this one you start the fall facing the floor instead of just being seated.
- Cheetah Hunt is the longest coaster.
- SheiKra is probably the toughest one.
- Jungle Flyers is a quiet ride to enjoy the view from above.
- The Wild Surge is a a small drop for kids and those who won´t do Falcon´s Fury.
- Air Grover, which is a Sesame Street themed rollercoaster for the family to ride together.
- The Sand Serpent, another family friendly ride.
- Congo River Rapids, a twelve person circular raft designed to get everybody soaking wet.
- Kumba, one of the most twist and turny rollercoasters of Florida.
- Montu, the upside down rollercoaster.
- The Scorpion, with its 360-degree loop.
- The Serengeti Railway, a must do for the family, as it is a train that goes around the park and journeys the African plain.
- The Stanley Falls, another water ride that features a very splashy end.
- The Skyride, a scenic view in an overhead cable car.
The Park Sculptures:
There is one at the beginning of the article of a lady made of plants and flowers, there´s an octopus, a butterfly and many more. Great for photos, and to enjoy watching the details. My advice, take two different pictures of each, one at 10-20 feet (depending on the size of the sculpture) and one three times as far.
Food and Beverage Options
Especially if you are going to get onto the Serengeti plain you need to be hydrated, carry water around. There are several hydration stations where you can get cold iced water before entering the Serengeti Safari.
Prices are regular to what you would expect on any theme park. And you can also get a meal plan for the whole day.
Upgrades: Serengeti Safari
Adding 29 bucks to your ticket you can get the Serengeti Safari as an upgrade. It is a one hour tour through the Serengeti plains of the park where you will get to see Elephants, Rhinos, Antelopes, Zebras and many many more. You will board the back of a truck and you will get to take closer pictures of the animals roaming around.
Take notice that there are no seats in the truck and you will be standing the whole hour and since it is a natural environment thought animals first, you may have delays because they are on the tracks, or you may experience some bumps on the road. After all, it´s part of the experience.
Also, since the truck is uncovered so you can see and interact with animals, you will get direct sun on you, it is advised that you use sunscreen and a hat. Don´t say I didn´t warn you.
The best moment of the Serengeti Safari experience is the interaction with the giraffes. You can feed them lettuce, and boy do they like lettuce! They are very soft and lovely, they are gentle to take the lettuce but they want more and more. Make sure to have your camera ready. That moment alone pays for the whole experience.
A tip here: Ask somebody to take your picture with the giraffe, if you try a selfie, they are so big it is not gonna be good.
There are three year-round shows:
- Kareebu Jungala
- Opening Night Critters
And the seasonal shows
- Treasures of the Mirage
- Motor City Groove
And a special show mostly for kids is A is for Africa.
Other Upgrade Options:
I did not try any of these ones, but there are some other options you can purchase to upgrade your ticket.
- Serengeti Night Safari
- Guided Adventure Tour
- Penguin Insider
- Elephant Insider
- Quick Queue
All in all a great option to visit as it is not as crowded as the theme parks in Orlando, and you will get to experience animals, shows, rides and sculptures.
I hope this is helpful for when you think about visiting Tampa. You can follow me on Twitter for more scoop and travel tips and reviews.