3605 Bougainvillea Ave., Tampa, FL 33612
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Alcohol: Beer and wine only
One of Tampa Bay's top tourist attractions, Busch Gardens is an Africa-themed park with some of the southeast's largest roller coasters, Broadway-style shows, exotic animals, multi-story family play areas, rides and live entertainment.
Rollercoaster enthusiasts, you'll love the choices here. The newest is Cheetah Hunt, a launch coaster that opened in summer 2011 and is meant to mimic the speed and movements of the cheetahs that are housed in the Cheetah Run habitat at its entrance. Sheikra is a floorless plunge coaster whose first drop will leave you breathless. Kumba offers a smooth ride that features a distinct roar, while the floorless Montu flips, dips and zips. Gwazi is that rarity: two wooden coasters that cross at "approaching speeds" up to 100 miles per hour. Too chicken to do these? The Scorpion is a must for the beginner.
The Florida attraction's newest family-friendly area is the Sesame Street exhibit, where kids can interact with all of the familiar characters like Big Bird and Elmo. And fear not, it still has the fun sprayground that keeps them cool on a sunny Florida day.
Adults who are rollercoaster averse can amuse themselves with water rides like Congo River Rapids, the Tanganyika Tidal Wave and Stanley Falls. Or take a ride across the Serengeti Plain on an old-time train.
You'll find plenty of dining options, with either sit-down family dining (Zagora Cafe) or quick-bite places like the Kenya Kanteen or Oasis Snacks.
Be sure to visit the animal exhibits. Jungala offers a chance for animal interactions (that lion seems awfully close!), while the Myombe Reserve lets you see magnificent gorillas safely from a distance.
World-class skaters, amazing aerial performances, master puppetry and live animal stars take to the ice in Iceploration beginning Feb. 2, 2012. Shows will run daily in the Moroccan Palace.
And here's the lowdown on the other coasters.
New for 2013 is the musical show Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation. The 20-minute musical show follows the antics of Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien, Mort and the Penguins during a vacation adventure. The characters also conduct meet and greets with guests. The show opens May 18 and runs through Dec. 31, 2013.