As summer vacation season approaches, Busch Gardens is getting into the swing with a new ride that is the world’s tallest and fastest of its kind, and it is bringing back Summer Nights with extended hours and fireworks.
The park is also bringing back its Bier Fest, which offers a wide range of beer and cocktails paired with pub-inspired food.
The Tampa theme park opened the new swing ride Serengeti Flyer in February, retaining its crown as Florida’s thrill ride leader. The addition gives the park 11 thrill rides and coasters, the most of any theme park in the state. That includes the return of the Falcon’s Fury drop ride, which had been closed for almost a year for inspection and maintenance.
The park’s other recent addition, Iron Gwazi, took the Best New Roller Coaster title at the prestigious Golden Ticket Awards, which recognizes excellence in the theme park industry. Iron Gwazi, which debuted in March 2022, is the tallest coaster in North America at 206 feet high, with a 91-degree drop and a top speed of 76 miles per hour.
Serengeti Flyer isn’t quite as ambitious but is daunting on its own. Its dueling arms stand 105 feet tall and swing riders on a pendulum higher and higher over the park’s Serengeti Plain, reaching speeds of 68 miles per hour and a maximum height of 135 feet.
“Think about a swing set when you were a kid and people would give you a big push, this is the ultimate push, but a really, really comfortable ride experience,” Neal Thurman, president of Busch Gardens and Adventure Island, said when the ride opened in February.
Some other special events coming this summer include the return of Summer Nights, running daily May 26-Aug. 6. In addition to DJs and special food offerings, there will be fireworks on select nights.
The summer will wrap up with the return of Bier Fest, a celebration of the park’s brewery roots. This year the park is adding three extra weeks to the festival, which will run Fridays through Sundays from July 21 through Sept. 4. The park will have more than 70 craft beers and seasonal eats.
If you go
Admission starts at $89.99, ages 3 and younger free; $134.99 for Fun Card offering unlimited admission. Parking is $30; $35 for preferred lot. 10165 N McKinley Drive, Tampa. 813-884-4386. buschgardens.com.