Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Florida (formerly known as Busch Gardens Africa) was one of amusement parks that we’ve wanted to visit for a long time. This was mainly because of the safari park (known as Serengeti Safari) located inside Busch Gardens Florida! How cool is that? Thanks to the great folks at Visit Orlando and Busch Gardens (big shout-out to Cory & Stephanie), we were able to enjoy a fantastic day at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Florida!
About Busch Gardens Florida Tampa Bay
Believe it or not, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay was actually opened in 1959! WHAT?! :O Although she is actually close to 60 years old, the rides, shows and collection of animals have kept with the times, making it one of the premier amusement park destinations in Florida! There are many themed zones in Busch Gardens Florida including Morocco, Bird Gardens, Sesame Street Safari of Fun, Stanleyville, Congo, Jungala, Pantopia, Nairobi, Edge of Africa and Egypt.
With regard to parking, there are over 5000 parking lots available. General parking costs $20 while preferred parking (spots closer to the entrance of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay) costs $26. After we parked our car at the general parking area, we took a short walk to the tram station which takes guests to Busch Gardens. Probably a 2 minutes ride. The frequency of the trams were pretty good (less than 5 minutes) and soon, we were entering into Busch Gardens. Take note that the parking areas are on the opposite side of the road of Busch Gardens. The tram enters Busch Gardens via an underground pass. So don’t be surprised if the signs direct you away from Busch Gardens.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is located at 10165 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612. Opening hours of Busch Gardens Florida is from 10am to 6pm with extended hours during summer months.
Attractions and Shows at Busch Gardens Florida Tampa Bay
Having visited Busch Gardens Williamsburg, we can say that the shows and attractions are pretty unique to each of the parks. This is because Busch Gardens Williamsburg is “European” themed with zones such as France, Ireland and Italy. At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the entire park is “Africa” themed with zones such as Congo, Nairobi and Africa. As it was the Christmas season, the shows in the park ran along the same theme – Christmas Town. We first headed over to Sesame Street of Fun to catch Elmo’s Christmas Wish…
As we dropped by during a week day, there was practically no queues for the rides. Rides such as Sheikra. Somehow, Kate managed to psycho Tom to take the ride even though the name for the ride sounds like “SHRIEK LAH!”.
You know the feeling of “Why am I doing this?!” each time the roller coaster ascends slowly but surely up the highest peak of the ride? But at that point, you’ll probably have no other choice but to hold on tight and scream. A fellow rider once asked me as we were ascending one of this peaks, “So, tell me frankly, are you a screamer or the silent type?”. Apparently, there are 2 types of riders on roller coasters. The ones who are silent because they really want to scream but are too stunned to let out any sound. The rest are like Tom – screamers or in his case, shriekers!
On the way to the next show, we decided to drop by the bumper cars for a quick ride…
As it was the Christmas season, there were several Christmas-themed performances. Instead of merely listening to Christmas tunes, we opted for the Gospel-themed performance. Afterall, He’s the reason for the season right?
Lunch was at Zambia Smokehouse. We had the combination plate which included BBQ Chicken and Ribs, Smoked Beef Brisket, fries and a bun. Good for 2bearbear to share. Next it was time to board our favourite attraction at Busch Gardens Florida – Serengeti Railway!
There are only 3 stations to board the Serengeti Rail – Nairobi, Congo & Stanleyville. We actually loved the train ride so much that we took it twice. Each ride round the park takes about 45 minutes. Of course, our favourite part of the ride was when it passed through the Serengeti Plains (Serengeti Safari)…
The cool part of the ride is that the train does get really close to the animals. This why there were constant reminders for passengers to stay within the bounds of the train at all times. Sometimes, the animals cross or rest on the tracks. Trains would therefore have to stop and wait for the animals to clear. As to which side of the train gives you the best view of the animals? Left!
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As always, Busch Gardens always delivers on experience. Whether you’re into roller coaster rides, shows or animal encounters, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Florida has it all and more!