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Busch Gardens launches new app for smart phones

If you've ever been in Nairobi in Busch Gardens and wondered how far it was to get over to Egypt, now there's an app for that.

Not only that, it will tell you how to get there, where you can find that Bennett's Wallaby you read about, where the nearest bathrooms or lockers are and how long that wait time is going to be for the new Cheetah Hunt launch coaster.

The free app is now available in the iTunes App Store and will be coming soon to the Android market, Busch announced in a news release Thursday. The app includes information for both its Tampa and Williamsburg, Va., locations.

An interactive map will show guests where they are in the park and allow them to highlight the quickest real-time route to their next destination by clicking the "Take Me There" button on any destination page.

And here's something fun for those who want a Busch Gardens souvenir photo but don't want to pay a lot for it: The in-app camera offers branded frames that wrap around your photo, giving you the illusion of one of those pricey glossies. It also has a zoom feature, a bonus if you have an older phone that doesn't offer you the chance to catch Kasi and Mtani playing in the Cheetah Run habitat. And the user doesn't even have to leave the app to snap a photo. It also saves it to your album.

The concept of an app for theme parks isn't new. There are several Disney World apps available; most of them charge fees ranging from 99 cents to $2.99.

Here are some of the features of the new app, according to the Busch Gardens news release:

• Interactive real-time map. The app uses GPS when you're inside the park to calculate distances and routes. (It doesn't work outside the park, however, based on our testing and the message it gave us when we tried to use the feature in our office.)

• Updated ride wait times and height requirements

• Detailed information pages for all major shows, rides, habitats and restaurants

• In-app camera

• Important phone numbers to make reservations or schedule tours

• Connections for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter

• General park information and operating hours

• "Find My Car" pin drop locator

• Live local weather and forecast updates

• A link to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund site

To download the free app, search the keyword "Busch Gardens" in the iTunes App Store. It's the free one that says SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Inc., not the $1.99 version by Flora's Secret.

Busch Gardens launches new app for smart phones 08/05/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 5, 2011 10:45am]
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