When vacation planning, it is very easy to get consumed with your Anna and Elsa FastPasses or your extra day with Harry and Hermione and overlook the other attractions that Central Florida has to offer. Busch Gardens Tampa offers a multitude of different rollercoasters, animal encounters, and experiences that prove this theme park is up to par with any other attraction in Central Florida.
Busch Gardens Tampa follows an African theme similar to Disney’s Animal Kingdom however, different parts of the park are supposed to represent different parts of Africa. For example, lands themed after Nairobi, the Congo, Morocco, and Egypt are spread around the park. In addition to the African themed areas there are lands themed around Sesame Street characters, exotic birds in the Bird Gardens, and the signature Stanleyville area that boasts two different log flume attractions. While the park is nowhere near Disney Imagineering’s version of Africa, Busch Gardens is definitely a close second.
Busch Gardens often gets forgotten about because of the park’s distance from many of the Orlando parks and resorts but their attractions definitely should not be overlooked for the thrill seeker in your family. While they do not have any signature dark rides they certainly have the thrill ride category covered, boasting some of the most intense roller coasters and thrill rides in the country. There is Sheikra, a coaster which soars over the park at two hundred feet then drops passengers straight down at a ninety degree angle, or Cheetah Hunt, a coaster themed around the world’s fastest land animal which launches thrill seekers into the Serengeti at Cheetah speed, and finally, the newest attraction to arrive at Busch Gardens Tampa is Falcon’s Fury a drop tower attraction that stands three hundred and thirty five feet in the air then drops riders straight down at a ninety degree angle, making Falcon’s Fury the tallest drop tower in the United States. While Expedition Everest and Dr. Doom are thrill rides in Orlando, the parks in Tampa have attractions that make adrenaline junkies stop in their tracks.
In my opinion, the only thing Disney’s Animal Kingdom lacks are animals. Sure, they have the Kilimanjaro Safaris, the few bird exhibits inside The Oasis, and the goats at Rafiki’s Planet Watch but I think they lack any real animal encounters. If you feel like you want a zoo mixed into a theme park Busch Gardens has a multitude of animal exhibits and encounters to fill that need. For example, in the Jungala section of the park there is literally a place where you can play tug-of-war with a tiger and even stick your head through a fiberglass capsule that is right inside their enclosure. In the past, Busch Gardens had an attraction called Rhino Rally that was similar to Kilimanjaro Safaris just with a little more intensity but since that attraction has gone to pasture the best way to truly get up and close with the safari animals is to take the park’s train that travels through the Serengeti Plain and is sometimes just feet away from giraffes, zebras, and many other species. There are plenty of places to get up and close with the animals at Busch Gardens Tampa that I could not even go into detail but for a family that is looking for a place to experience a zoo type atmosphere without actually having to visit a zoo then check Busch Gardens out.
The first thing anyone ever says when you’re pitching them an idea is “how much?” While a day at Busch Gardens is definitely not equivalent in price to a day at your local zoo however, it is quite cheaper than a day ticket to a Disney or Universal park in Orlando. With prices always changing I do not want to give exact dollar amounts but there are always deals and packages on Busch Gardens’ website that definitely make it affordable. My favorite package is the day ticket paired with their dining plan, this package gives you admission into the theme park and then ultimately unlimited meals inside the park. So if nothing makes you hungrier than soaring to the ground at ninety-degrees then you really can get your money’s worth out of this deal. Also, if you are staying in Orlando and are planning a day at SeaWorld then check out their packages where you can get into both SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Tampa and usually there is some kind of shuttle transportation available to and from each of the parks.
So overall, Busch Gardens Tampa is not going to hold a towel to the Walt Disney World Resort, however the park should be thought of when planning your next vacation!
Until next time remember, there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, just a dream away!
About the Author: Dwight describes his childhood as being “raised by Disney World” with most of his memories as a child taking place inside a Disney Park or Resort. He enjoys seeing newbies discover the Disney magic and introducing them to the parks we call home. Find him in the parks, or on Facebook and Instagram!