Busch Gardens in Tampa has some 2,700 animals from across Africa including lions, tigers, elephants, camels, zebras, and more. This is also a very large amusement park, but easily overshadowed by nearby Disney World. Busch Gardens was owned by Anheuser-Busch until 2009 when it was purchased by the Blackstone Group and it became part of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
The park is divided into various cites, nations, and geographical areas of Africa including the Sarengeti Plain, Egypt, Morocco, Stanleyville, Timbuktu, Congo, Nairobi, and the Bird Gardens.
We were in the park for about five hours and had time to ride all five of the roller coasters, see the stupid 4D Pirates movie, take the relatively boring Rhino Rally safari ride, and grab a bite to eat at the Desert Grill restaurant. Luckily the lines were short on a rainy afternoon just a few days before Christmas, or all that might not have even been possible. The roller coasters are called SheiKra (which has a 200 foot 90 degree drop), Gwazi (a bone-rattling wooden coaster which, at 7,000 feet, is the longest roller coaster in the southeast), Scorpion (amazingly compact with lots of loops), Montu (an inverted roller coaster), and Kumba (a large & fast roller coaster).
Anheuser-Busch also owns the three Sea World parks in San Diego, San Antonia, and Orlando, as well as Sesame Place near Philadelphia.
Tickets for Busch Gardens cost about $62 for adults and $52 for children. Discounts are available for groups, for some online purchases, and for military members. We all agreed that if we had not entered using the military discount (free!) that a day there would have been a waste of money.
Busch Gardens is without a doubt one of the best priced family valued parks I know of.
We had a length of stay ticket so could come and go the entire time we were there, although once in the park we didnt leave until closing time. There are so many shows and rides and animals it took 3 days just to see it all and we still missed a bunch I am certain.
My favorite part was most likely the Safari tour and watching my girls feed and pet the Girrafes.
Very good value for the money, lots of things to do & see. A Must do if visiting the Tampa area. Busch Gardens does a great job of updating and adding new exhibits to make sure the park stays current. They dismantled the Skyride to make room for a new ride that will not be ready until spring 2011. So we will see what happens then.
(No more free beer or Clydesdale horses )
BUSCH WAS SOLD TO A NON AMERICAN COMPANY AND FREE BEER IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE AT BUSCH GARDENS.
THE BEER GARDEN IS STILL THERE AND NOW OFFERS A WIDE RANGE OF DRAFT BEERS (MANY HIGH END) AT A FRACTION OF THE PRICE THAT CAN BE FOUND FOR THOSE METAL "BOTTLES" SOLD INSIDE THE PARK. IN GENERAL THE PRICE OF DRAFT BEERS IS A LOT CHEAPER (AND YOU GET A HIGHER QUALITY BEER TOO)
-----FREE BEER NO LONGER
Busch Gardens was created as part of Anheuser Busch's (as in Beer) Brewery Tours and has expanded to the point where the Brewery is no longer on site.
HOWEVER, they do have a Beer Garden that offers FREE beer as a way to showcase their products.
The Beer Garden is not located near the rides and is a bit out of the way so plan your day accordingly so you don't have to walk all the way across the park to get there and back OR stop by for a bit on your way out of the park (the beer garden is located near a park exit)
The beer garden is a good place to chill out for a bit on hot days. Free beer tasting clinics are also available (times will be posted) . See the map for the Beer Garden.
Busch Gardens is an awesome value for the price. It offers tremendous Zoo exhibits, Broadway quality shows, killer rollercoaster’s, plenty of things for the kids to do. If you get there at 9am, you will have to chance to experience the whole park by 6pm. The plants & flowers are always immaculate and the park grounds are spotless. Plus, they let you bring in your own bottle water and snacks, so that helps cut down on the costs. On a sour note: they do not offer free samples of beer at the Hospitality House anymore; now the building is called the Garden Spot Café.
***Free for Military***
This was such a wonderful day! Rides, animals, and good friends; what more can you ask for? Please see my "Busch Gardens" travelogue for a more in depth story of how our day went.
Tips on making the most of the park
1) Be sure to get a map and show schedule when you enter the park or print the map and show schedule from the website listed below.
2) The park is large so plan your day to avoid continually walking back and forth across the park. I would recommend starting at the back of the park and working forward
3) The park gets VERY crowded during its peak hours 11 am to 2 PM. This is the best time to take in the numerous shows and take a long lunch
4) There are some wonderful places to have that long lunch. My favorite on hot days is the restaurant that overlooks the African Plain and Animals. Its cool, has a great view & the food is excellent. Another favorite is the German Dining hall that offers hot dog, beer and a show
THE WAY to visit the park
1) Arrive early & chill out during the hot/crowed times
2) The real trick to this and any amusement park is to be at the gate before the park opens. Factor in parking, take the shuttle and buy tickets (20 minutes minimum). Arriving early will allow you to go on 3 to 5 of the rides in the first hour, during peak times this same feat may take you 4 hours!
3) The parks hours change based on the day and season so check the website for that day/seasons opening times and get there 30 MINUTES BEFORE the opening time. It will take you at least 20 minutes to park, ride the tram from the parking garage to the park and get your tickets.
4) The park often opens a few minutes before the posted time so be there
5) Do the roller coasters and more popular rides in during the off peak times (do them first if you get to the park early)
6) When it gets hot and busy take a long lunch within the park and see a show or two. Both the heat and crowds die down by 3 PM and then you will be re-energized to enjoy the park
7) During the shoulder seasons (and week days) the park is less crowed and lines are minimal. This is when Bucsh Garden has the most price specials too.
Tampa has a premier amusement park, called Busch Gardens.
Bucsh Gardens is an extra special treat to those who love animals and roller coasters. The park is essentially built around a zoo so there are tons of animal to see, in fact you can spend a day looking at the animals and gardens and not go on any rides.
There are a few ?Tricks? to Bucsh Garden?s that will make a big difference in your trip
Discounts on Admission
1) Discounts to the park are available. Discount are always available from the Bucsh Garden website when you buy your ticket in advance.
2) AAA Auto also has discounted tickets and fast food places like Wendy?s and McDonalds in the area often offer discounts off of the admission price. Discounts are also regularly found on locally sold Coke cans.
3) Buy today and ride free all year ? if you?re a Florida resident Bucsh Gardens has a special promotion at least once a year where if you buy a ticket into the park you can get into the park for free for the rest of the year. Note this promotion does not include parking which can be quite expensive.
4) If you live in the local area yearly passes are often the equivalent to 1 to 2 visits to the park AND include free parking. These passes also offer discounts on food and concessions within the park as well as discounted admission to other parks. I get these passes every few years and they are well worth it
Current day pass pricing - $61.95 for adults and $51.95 for children ages 3-9
Check website for latest on Senior Pricing
The employees seem to hate their job...no personality at all. There is nothing aestheticly pleasing to look at while in line, it's just a big long wait with nothing to do, no TV's, no artifacts...nothing. Employees were painting things in the park during the day! I almost touched wet paint more than 4 times! The park seems dirty and the floor is ALWAYS wet. The lines were long because most of the coasters only had 1 cart on the track, while the others were away in storage, even on the new shiekra, they had only 1 cart on the track with a 30min+ wait. The employees don't bother to fill the ride either....while you are waiting in line they will send a coaster down the track with 4 or 5 empty seats...often with 2 next to each other and not bother to fill them and keep the line moving. I tried to get a funnel cake at the FUNNEL CAKE STAND and they told me they didn't have any funnel cakes!!! I had to walk to the other side of the park where I ordered a funnel cake and they looked at me like they had no idea what I was talking about. The park is just trashy and gross and I was finished after a day there, We arrived at 9:15, the park opens at 10....they actually make you sit in your car in line to recieve your parking pass until 9:30 there are NO employees to attend to you...by 2:00 I wanted to go home but since there is NOTHING to do in tampa anywhere near the park, we stayed. We paid about $70 for a FULL YEAR PASS which I thought was an amazing price until I realized it was only good because the park is horrible and they are trying deprately to get people to come!
busch gardens is the most visited attraction in tampa. you need a full day to experience all of the attractions of the park. busch gardens offer high tech thrill rides, water flumes, animal exhibits, and motion picture shows. the park has an african safari theme. of course you can sample some of busch's products at the brewmaster's club. a fun family oriented theme park.
Bush Gardens is more than just an amusement park it is also quite the zoo so please take time to enjoy the animals. I have had season passes about 5 of the 10 years I've lived in Tampa and still enjoy wondering around the park - even on those days when I don't feel like doing the rides.
My favorites are the various talks the zoo keepers do (will be on the park schedule), the Hippo pool & the gorillas wildlife area.
If you are really into animals there are several back stage tours you can do for a fee. There is even a "zoo keeper for the day" program.
If you are really into animals it is well worth buying a season pass and also visiting Bush Gardens two sister parks in Orlando - Sea World and Discovery Cove (dolphins and snorkeling). If your interested in going to these parks buy the tickets at the same time for a discount.
Link to educational resources on Bush Garden's Animals see below
I haven't been to Busch Gardens in a long time, however for those of you traveling with families, this was the coolest place to be when I was a kid. I had a yearly pass up through middle school and there is a lot of really fun stuff to do there. They have many great roller coasters (Montu is my favorite, it takes you right over a pond of crocodiles) and water rides, and the animals are so much fun to watch. Maybe I'm easily entertained, but I could sit at the gorilla exhibit and watch them for hours on end. There are also hippos, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, crocodiles, flamingos... they've got it all!
Bush Gardens is great for thrill rides and animals, and its somewhere pretty much all locals and tourists go. However, personally, it never held the same magic that Disney World did for me.
Also a word of warning: the area around Bush Gardens is sketchy at best. You may want to book a hotel elsewhere in town.
Beware of careless drivers in Tampa--they will cut in front of you, run you off of the road, etc.
Most are drivers from third world countries that have never driven in a civilized country.
Beware of traffic from 7 A.M. to 9 A. M. and 4 P.M. to 6:30 P.M.; the traffic is bumper to bumper. And if it's raining hard, the streets will flood and gridlock will happen; causing your drive time to double or even triple.
Tampa is the pits!
If you are in love with the beautiful "Dark Continent" of Africa like I am then you will definitely not want to miss Busch Gardens... its an excellent zoo/ride park. Of course living in Florida I tend to try to go during the winter season when its cooler but the lines are usually longer because everyone else has the same idea. There is plenty to do here... I enjoy taking the skyride over the exhibits in the Serengetti Plains and the many shows they have to offer as well as the Nairobi Reserve with lots of primates straight out of Central Africa! Be sure to grab your 2 free Budweisers at the hospitality house at some point. Aside from the zoo portion of Busch Gardens the other main attractions are the many roller coasters spread throughout the park... from a classic wooden dueler called "Gwazi" to a suspended loop coaster called "Montu"... explore every corner of Africa from the plains of Tanzania to the bizzares of Morocco and back into the thick jungles of the Congo!
Located in Tampa proper, Busch Gardens is a great theme park on the caliber of those in Orlando. It features several great roller coasters, a huge wildlife area where you can watch giraffes, camels, elephants, and several other animals in a natural, free roaming setting either from a train or from above on their ski-lift ride. They also have a water park area full of water themed rides and a cool 3-D movie theatre called the Haunted Lighthouse. Food and beverages are available througout the park. Note that if you go on any rides involving water you will get really wet, so don't go on them if this in not what you want!