The last and only time I was at Busch Gardens was on my sixth grade trip which was… never mind how many years. I was excited to be spending my birthday exploring Busch Gardens Tampa to see how it had changed and boy was I in for a surprise. This park is nothing like the one in Virginia Beach.
What to Expect at Busch Gardens Theme Park
My friend, Ann, and I arrived at Busch Gardens and used their friendly kiosk machine to buy a daily dining ticket. Parking was easy and the cost $17. Make note of where you parked your vehicle.
The crowds were nonexistent on the day we visited the park and we were able to walk up to any ride and ride immediately, perhaps only a 5 minute wait. Busch Gardens is all about the roller coasters and they have several to choose from. Ann loved the Falcon’s Fury and the Sheikra, a 200 ft and 90 degree straight down drop coaster. I preferred the Phoenix that flips upside down. You are sure to have your fair share of twists, turns, drops, and thrills at this epic theme park.
Sky and Train Rides
We rode the Skyride which takes you high above the Serengeti Plain and the views are fantastic. This is a great way to save steps traveling across the park, which is extremely large. Be sure to have your camera ready. A cute ride is the Serengeti Express Train, an old fashioned steam locomotive that makes a couple of stops as you get to sit back and see the park and animals such giraffe, zebra, and rhinos. The conductor was friendly and the nostalgic train is decorated with vintage suitcases, which I loved!
Though we did not have any children with us, Busch Gardens has really cool areas for children and my favorite was the Sesame Street Safari of Fun and Elmo’s Tree House. The cleanliness of the park is admirable.
Busch Garden’s Animal Adventures
Busch Gardens is notorious for animal habitats and there are plenty to choose from. More an animal lover than amusement rider, I was thrilled at all the offerings. Lory Landing is the best; you can actually hand-feed parrots and larikeets (nectar is available to purchase for $7). Busch Gardens has charts hanging around so you can easily identify the different colored birds, a big thumbs up in my book. We saw many species that were rare and many unique to Florida.
Mytombe Reserve houses gorillas and chimpanzees while the Edge of Africa has hippos, hyenas and meerkats. They were so flipping cute, especially the meerkats! At the Animal Care Center you can get up close and personal as the staff checks out the animals. There were several other animal exhibits but we ran out of time. I could have spent all day just hanging out with the animals at the park.
We Worked up an Appetite
For lunch, Ann and I dined at the Zambia Smokehouse. With our all-day dining coupon, we were entitled to an entree platter, 1 side item or dessert, and a fountain drink or bottled water. The cost was around $15. The food is served through a cafeteria style line and was decent quality for a theme park. Ann loved the ribs and I thought the barbecue was good.
Overall, I was extremely pleased with my day at Busch Gardens. I will definitely be visiting on a regular basis since I am now a Florida resident. It is certainly a great way to spend the day and enjoy a wide array of activities and sights.
FYI: Busch Gardens has a Real Music Series in the winter featuring free concerts, Howl-O-Scream event for Halloween, and a Christmas event called Christmas Town. See their website for details.
Trivia: Busch Gardens is open 365 days a year.
Tip: Air conditioned kennels are available for $10 at the front of the main parking lot. Rabies certificate and tags are required.
Busch Gardens Photo Gallery:
Check out our posts on other amusement parks in Florida: