Busch Gardens is a massive theme park and zoo in Tampa Bay, Florida. It’s a place for roller coaster enthusiasts, animal lovers, thrill seekers, foodies, families, and those wanting holiday attractions. The park is well-marked and set on beautiful grounds. Here is my list of 9 fun things to do at Busch Gardens.
1. Ride the Coasters
If you enjoy the thrills of spins, drops, rolls, and the unusual, you are going to LOVE the roller coasters at Busch Gardens. My daughter, Peyton, and I both love Cobra’s Curse. This unique coaster actually spins backwards and forwards along the track, making part of your loops and dips sideways. I can’t figure out how it works, but it is spectacular!
Kumba is a steel roller roaster with the most loops, seven in total. SheiKra is a favorite of everyone I know who visits Busch Gardens. It is a steel dive (flourless) coaster with a 200 foot drop and 70 mph speeds. The ride is thrilling, to say the least!
Cheetah Hunt is another one of Peyton’s preferred rides. This blitz coaster goes across the Serengeti from 0 to 30 mph at the start, but accelerates to 60 mph throughout the ride with helixes, enormous drops, and a heartland roll. Montu is another thrill seekers delight with seven inversions, an 128-foot drop, and an Immelmann loop (a simultaneous loop and roll).
2. Take the Sky and Train Rides
Busch Gardens’ Skyride takes you high above the Serengeti Plain and offers fantastic views of the park. The Skyride is a great way to save steps going across the extremely large park. Riders under 56″ must be accompanied by someone over 14 years old.
The Serengeti Express Train is an old-fashioned steam locomotive that takes a 30-minute journey around the park and makes two stops: Stanleyville and Nairobi. You can ride the complete loop or just use the train to get from one part of the park to another.
On the ride, we saw giraffe, rhino, zebra, and antelope. The Serengeti Express train conductor is friendly and great at making the guests laugh, plus the train is decorated with vintage suitcases, which I love!
3. Check Out Sesame Street Safari of Fun
This family-friendly African safari adventure has kid-sized rides, games, and water attractions. There is also a character greeting opportunity, dining, and live show (Let’s Play Together) with singing and dancing, featuring all of your favorite Sesame Street names, like Elmo, Zoey, Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, and Cookie Monster. 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the beloved children’s TV show, so there are even more special things to see and do in this section of Busch Gardens.
Some things to check out are Air Grover (kid roller coaster), Big Bird’s Whirly Birdie (Ferris wheel), Elmo’s Treehouse Trek (3-story interactive play structure), and Rosita’s Djembe Fly-Away (chair swings).
4. Explore Animal Adventures
Busch Gardens is famous for its animal habitat. One of the most fun things to do at the park is to check out the animals and see these beauties for yourself.
The Myombe Reserve houses gorillas and chimps in a lush rainforest setting, while the Edge of Africa has hippos, hyenas, and meerkats. You’ll find tigers and orangutans at Jungle, and African penguins in an underwater viewing tank at Penguin Point.
At the Animal Care Center, get up close and personal as the staff checks on the animals’ health. It is an interesting option, plus educational.
5. Eat Tasty Food
The food is always really good at Busch Gardens. I like the Zambia Smokehouse for anytime dining. They serve barbecue meats (chicken, brisket, pork, and ribs) and salads. Dragon Fire Grill has the most food options available in a marketplace setting, with American, Mexican, and Asian dishes.
For typical wraps, burgers, and sandwiches, both the Bengal Bistro and Zagora Cafe have tasty options.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Sultan’s Sweets, with a plethora of sugary favorites including hand-dipped chocolates, waffle cone sundaes, cakes, candies, and Starbucks drinks. Moroccan Delights is a spot for old-fashioned hand-scooped ice cream specialities like banana splits, sundaes, and fruit smoothies.
6. Partake in the Special Events
There are many noteworthy holiday events or seasonal happenings at Busch Gardens, such as:
- Real Music, Real Masters (free musical entertainment) January 7th through March 15th
- Safari of Fun Kids’ Weekends February 1st through 16th
- Mardi Gras
- Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival February 29th through April 26th
- Howl-O-Scream (fall)
- Christmas Town from November 16th to January 6th
- Three Kings Celebration January 3rd through 6th
Busch Gardens has dozens of things to see and do, and special events add even more great options.
7. Rock Out to Free Concerts
Busch Gardens’ Real Music, Real Maters series is a great way to see awesome musical performances for free; the price for attending these events is included with your admission. Plus, the park crowds are virtually non-existent in January and February, so you almost have a private show. In fact, one year Peter Noone, of Herman’s Hermits, sang Happy Birthday to me. The photo-ops are incredible, too.
8. Feed the Birds
Lory Landing is a great way to see lorikeets and parrots at arms length. You can purchase a cup of nectar to feed the birds but beware, as they will swarm all over you. It’s pretty intense, but great for pictures. The birds are so colorful and pretty.
Don’t miss the Walkabout Way & Kookaburra’s Aviary (a walk-through aviary experience). You’ll see and be able to hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies, plus learn to tell the difference in them, in this cool attraction. Children must be age 5 or over to feed the animals.
Busch Gardens has charts hanging around so you can easily identify the different colored birds, a big thumbs up in my book.
9. Do Some Shopping
You can pick up some cool souvenirs or things you love at Busch Gardens between the five onsite shops. XCursions has unique gifts from around the world and Guy Harvey merchandise. The Painted Camel Bazaar is my favorite shop, where I have purchased delicious smelling soaps, hand-painted tops, fun earrings, and gourmet food items.
Tigris Gifts gives 5% of all sales to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, so definitely shop there.
Busch Gardens, A Top-Notch Florida Attraction
I think that Busch Gardens often gets overlooked by other Florida attractions; but it shouldn’t! This theme park has the best thrill rides of any park I’ve been to the in country and is a colorful, fun-filled one-stop-shop for rides, concerts, shopping, games, food, and animal experiences. You can even get your hands on many of the animals at the park, and participate in immersive tour and enriching encounters.
Trivia: Busch Gardens is open 365 days a year.
Tip: Air-conditioned kennels are available for boarding your pet at the front of the main parking lot. Rabies certificate and tags are required. There is a fee for this service.
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