When it comes to theme parks in Florida, Disney and Universal might get more headlines, but Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has legions of die-hard fans who faithfully visit the park whenever possible to enjoy the gut-tossing coasters, the cutesy animal interactions and African-themed attractions. Here are some fun fan pics from Instagram along with tips for making the most of your visit to Busch Gardens.
High enough for ya?
Busch Gardens has an elite collection of coasters. Even the Scorpion coaster – a steel looping roller coaster that first opened in 1980 – still gives thrill-ride fans an invigorating ride. The park’s newest ride – Cobra’s Curse – takes guests up a 70-foot vertical lift and then travels forward, backward and ends in a free-spinning finale. Other gut-busters include Falcon’s Fury (North America’s tallest free-standing dive coaster), the triple launch coaster Cheetah Hunt, the floorless SheiKra, the inversion-crazy Montu and Kumba, which gives thrill-seekers a three full seconds of weightlessness during the dive loop. (Enjoy a POV ride on the Cobra’s Curse.)
While some fans might think coasters are the kings here, Busch Garden’s animal collection draws equal raves – with some fans saying they prefer Busch Garden’s animal attraction over Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Everywhere you turn, you can see giant tortoises, lazy Florida alligators, cheetahs, elephants, playful orangutans and white tigers that seem to prefer to lounge around in the water more than on land. If you’re brave enough to feed them, kangaroos, sloths, lemurs and even giraffes will be more than happy to enjoy a snack.
Family Fun Time
If your kids like Sesame Street, definitely take them to Sesame Street Safari of Fun. Here they can ride kid-friendly coasters, climb in Elmo’s Treehouse, splash around in Bert & Ernie’s Watering Hole and more. Families can share lunch with Elmo and his friends on select days.
One of the more unique opportunities at Busch Gardens is the Serengeti Night Safari. On select nights during the winter and spring, Busch Gardens offers a 2 1/2 hour walking tour after the park closes and the sun sets. Appetizers and drinks are available before guests board open safari trucks to explore areas populated by rhinos, giraffes and more. The evening finishes with a campfire and tales of African lore. (You can book a reservation online here.)
Don’t Forget the Music
Each year, Busch Gardens presents its Real Music Series, eight weeks of concerts by performers from the 1950s to today. Concerts are held at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday (subject to change) and are free with park admission. However, guests still need to pick up show tickets, which are available in the Moroccan Village Plaza by the front gate.
Frequent Busch Gardens guests will urge you to plan ahead and buy your pass or ticket online before arriving at the park. You can do that at Busch Garden’s official website. Annual passes are available using EZPay, starting at $14 a month. If you plan to frequent Adventure Island – the neighboring water park – you can get a two-park pass starting at $16 a month. (You can also get a three-park pass that includes SeaWorld in Orlando starting at $21 a month. Annual passes include free parking and half-off tickets to Busch Garden’s Howl-O-Scream event in the fall.