Busch Gardens

Editor's pick


Categories: Theme parks, Tourist attraction

Features: Guided tours, Kid-friendly, Play area, Sprayground

Payment options: Credit cards accepted

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.

Read a review of Cheetah Hunt.

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.

Events at Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Serengeti Night Safari
Saturday, April 26, 2014 6:30pm
Saturday, May 3, 2014 6:30pm
Saturday, May 10, 2014 6:30pm
Saturday, May 17, 2014 6:30pm

Busch Gardens/SeaWorld Weekday Special
Friday, April 18, 2014 9:00am
Monday, April 21, 2014 9:00am
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:00am
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 9:00am
Thursday, April 24, 2014 9:00am
Friday, April 25, 2014 9:00am
Monday, April 28, 2014 9:00am
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 9:00am
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 9:00am
Thursday, May 1, 2014 9:00am
Friday, May 2, 2014 9:00am
Monday, May 5, 2014 9:00am

Reader reviews

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Busch Gardens - Tampa