Monday, April 13, 2015

Busch Gardens Tampa: Attractions, Animals, Rides, Shows and More!

Busch Gardens logo
As the second most-visited state in America, Florida is no stranger to knowing how to wow tourists. No matter if you are a resident, a first-time vacationer or a repeat visitor that has explored every nook and cranny, there is something for everyone!

For my family, on our recent trip to the Sunshine State, we knew that it was the perfect time to head to the destination long known for combining a love of animals with a love of thrills, Busch Gardens Tampa!

Busch Gardens Tampa
© Busch Gardens Tampa. All rights reserved.

The ultimate family adventure, Busch Gardens Tampa consists of 297 acres of fascinating attractions based on exotic explorations around the world. If there is a location elsewhere in the U.S. that features thrilling rides with more than 12,000 animals, live shows, restaurants, shops and games, then I don't know of it!

After reading and hearing about how Busch Gardens Tampa provides unrivaled excitement for guests of every age, we were excited to head over and see for ourselves!

Busch Gardens Tampa entrance

Unfortunately our first impression wasn't as positive as I would have liked, as we spent quite a bit of time sitting in traffic just to get in the parking lot. Whether that was due to spring break in one or more surrounding counties (according to a friend that we met up with, the entire theme park was much more crowded than usual) or simply the layout of the park, surrounding streets, and parking lot, I'm not sure.

However, once we made it in and took a short tram ride to the front gates, it was time to explore!

Right off the bat we were oohing and ahhing over the impressive, creative horticulture displays that amazed us with their size, details, and colors...

Busch Gardens plants

...but it wasn't long before we had run into Sesame Street Safari of Fun, Busch Gardens' extremely kid-friendly adventure area.

Although Big Sister E and Little Sister B were a little on the old side (ages 8 and 6), they were still thrilled to see so many of their favorite childhood characters incorporated into the rides, shops, dining options, and meet-and-greets!

I had to admit that I was pretty drawn in by all of the attractions as well — there was everything from a three-story canopy climb to a huge splash pad (bring swimsuits!) to a large sandbox area and an even larger inflatable bouncy section. There's enough to keep the younger crowd entertained for days!

Busch Gardens Sesame Street

But let's get real, Sesame Street Safari of Fun is only one corner of Busch Gardens Tampa and there is still so much more for bigger kids, adults and the entire family!

My girls had a blast meeting characters from the Madagascar movies as well as going to see the Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation rock 'n roll live show...

Busch Gardens Madagascar

...and seeing all sorts of beautiful scenery and amazing animals while walking or gliding through the air over the park on the Skyride.

Busch Gardnes animals

Skyride hint: we walked right on the Skyride with no wait at the "exit" in Stanleyville and were shocked to see a huge line waiting at the "entrance" at the Cheetah Hunt station. Skip the massive wait by riding the ride in the other direction!

My family also spent a good deal of time in Busch Gardens Tampa's recently-remodeled and reimagined land, Pantopia. This area includes elaborately jeweled theming, tasty dining options, shopping, a renovated indoor theater and its thrill-ride centerpiece, Falcon's Fury.

If you've ever wanted to take a ride on North America's tallest freestanding drop tower (335 feet!), pivot 90 degrees in the air so that you're facing straight down, and then plunge towards the ground at 60 mph, this is the ride for you!

Busch Gardens Falcon's Fury
I'm going to stick with watching safely from the base of Falcon's Fury while I enjoy my delicious pretzel from Twisted Tails Pretzels. You have fun, though!

Although not nearly as death-defying, we still had fun in Pantopia on the Grand Caravan Carousel, various Kiddie Rides, gawking at the Phoenix, watching the newest live stage show Opening Night Critters in the comfortable (and air-conditioned) Pantopia Theater, and more!

Rides, characters, food, animals, shows, a splash pad, a huge play area... it was no wonder that my kids ended our day at Busch Gardens Tampa with big smiles on their faces.

And who knows? Maybe in the future when they're older and have possibly gained a love of thrill rides, we'll find ourselves back to take a turn on some of the huge roller coasters, water rides, and more!

Busch Gardens rides
"This theme park has the largest and most thrilling collection of roller coasters in Florida."

Whether you choose to visit Busch Gardens Tampa while on a fun-filled family vacation, because you have a love of animals, or specifically plan your trip to experience their breath-taking, hair-raising rides, you are sure to find yourself having a great time!

You'll definitely want to visit their website as well as connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to find out much more about all there is to offer, vacation planning tips, Quick Queue information (skip the lines!), their impressive commitment to wildlife and wild places, and more.

If you haven't headed to Busch Gardens Tampa recently, then it's time to start planning for a trip that will result in memories to last a lifetime!

I was provided complimentary tickets from Busch Gardens Tampa in order to help facilitate this review, but they in no way affected the fun time that we had and my completely honest opinions in this post.


slehan said...

I haven't been to Busch Gardens Tampa recently (like about 20 years) so this all looks like such a good place to spend time (and money, of course)

slehan at juno dot com

Stephania G said...

So fun! I've always wanted to go to Busch Gardens! Love the beautiful wildlife, and all of the amazing attractions for the whole family!

Heidi Salisbury said...

Would love to visit there someday. It looks beautiful.

hope_exists said...

This looks like it was so much fun!!! I've never been to Busch Gardens before.

lil_lady_dz said...

We have been here once while vacationing, with the entire family, we went with a bunch of family too, it was a lot of fun, wish we could have stayed longer when we where there. Great place for fun.

Joanne said...

I love to go there once in a while, have been going for decades and it is fun to see the changes over time. Tampa traffic can be a bear and the park has been there for so long that the city has grown up around it.

mom2twogirls82 said...

I've never been but we drive to Disney from Ft. Lauderdale twice a year so maybe we should check it out!

Rose-Marie said...

Busch Gardens Tampa sounds so much fun! I love the rides but not that drop tower! all the characters, good eats! I never thought of going here, it is a must do!