If you love thrilling white-knuckle rides, roller coasters, and the odd water hazard, you’ll love Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. If you prefer a day enjoying tropical gardens and zoo animals including elephants, tigers, and kangaroos – well, you’ll enjoy Busch Gardens too! This popular Florida theme park weaves thrilling rides for kids and adults with entertaining shows and more traditional wildlife attractions to create a fun day out in Tampa for all ages.
Highlights and Rides at Tampa’s Busch Gardens
Florida’s sunny climate makes water rides a real treat and a welcome cool off on a hot day. Prepare for a quick soaking as you navigate the Congo River Rapids in a 12-person raft down the white water rapids. Stanley Falls offers a more merciful experience on the flume ride while Tanganyika Tidal Wave truly lives up to its name with a thorough soaking!
Up in the air, Montu is an inverted roller coaster ride and is one of the longest and highest in the world. Hold onto your ice cream! You’ll experience vertical loops, curves and drops on the Kumba and 70mph thrills on SheiKra which also has a scary tunnel.
More family-friendly rides are available for juniors and chickens! These include a cable car ride with treetop views of the park and AirGrover – a junior roller coaster for kids and parents. The Serengeti Railway is a must-do as it takes you on a journey through Africa passing free-roaming giraffe, zebra, and ostriches. Sesame Street fans can climb Elmo’s Tree House and cool off in the water fountain play area.
Busch Garden Wildlife Exhibits
Busch Gardens brings Africa to Florida with 12 animal attractions that include roaming herds of animals as well as gorillas, cheetahs, tigers, and elephants. You can get up-close to some animals at interactive exhibits and you can even hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies at Australia’s Walkabout Way. Be warned, they have coarse tongues and tickly whiskers!
The animals are the inspiration for many of the rides, For example, Cheetah’s Run takes you through a glass-paneled cheetah enclosure while Falcon’s Fury gives you the sensation of a bird of prey diving 60mph down to seize its prey. If you want a real bird experience (which goes back to Busch Gardens original core) head to Bird Gardens where lagoons are filled with bright pink flamingos and other wading birds.
Festivals, Live Shows and More!
You’ve probably had your money’s worth after all that, but Busch Gardens also hosts live shows and entertainment. See world-class ice skaters, top musicians and singers, and an amazing critter show where the stars are rescued and domestic animals. On weekends, kids will love the Madagascar Live Show where their favorite stars from the movie will entertain at the Stanleyville Theatre. Busch Gardens also hosts many festivals, from Food and Wine in March and April to Bier Fest and Howl-O-Scream in the Fall. Check the dates and plan your visit carefully!
Located on McKinley Drive in Tampa, Busch Gardens is easy to reach from Sarasota via the I-275N to exit 50. Then head east on the 580 (East Busch Blvd) and follow the signs into McKinley Drive. The drive takes approximately an hour, though of course traffic can affect overall drive time. Best deals are with multi-pass tickets combining other attractions, and some deals provide unlimited admission for 14 days or longer.
There is so much to see and do at Busch Gardens you’ll probably want to plan a return trip soon!