The Tampa Bay Area Sights


Busch Gardens

water in Sesame Street area

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Busch Gardens Review

The Jungala exhibit at Busch Gardens brings Bengal tigers to center stage and puts them at eye level—allowing you to view them from underground caves and underwater windows. The big cats are just one of the reasons the theme park attracts some 4.5 million visitors each year. This is a world-class zoo, with more than 2,000 animals, and a live-entertainment venue that provides a full day (or more) of fun for the whole family. If you want to beat the crowds, start in the back of the park and work your way around clockwise.

The 335-acre adventure park's habitats offer views of some of the world's most endangered and exotic animals. For the best animal sightings, go to their habitats early, when it's cooler. You can experience up-close animal encounters on the Serengeti Plain, a 65-acre free-roaming habitat, home to reticulated giraffes, Grevy's zebras, white rhinos, bongos, impalas, and more. Myombe Reserve allows you to view lowland gorillas and chimpanzees in a lush, tropical-rain-forest environment. Down Under–themed Walkabout Way offers those ages five and up an opportunity to hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies (a cup of vittles is $5).

Interested in watching a tiger get a dental checkup? Then head over to the Animal Care & Nutrition Center, where you can observe veterinary care for many of the park's animals.

The park's newest thrill ride is Falcon's Fury, a 335-foot drop that is reportedly the tallest freestanding drop ride on the continent. It's the centerpiece of a the park's newest "land," Pantopia, a colorful collection of rides, cafés, and retail space that replaces its Timbuktu section.

Many consider the seven roller coasters to be the biggest lure. On the wings of an African hawk, SheiKra—North America's first dive coaster—takes riders on a three-minute journey 200 feet up, then (gulp!) plunges 90 degrees straight down at 70 mph. The park's coaster lineup also includes steel giants Kumba, Scorpion, and Montu; a double, wooden roller coaster called Gwazi; and Sand Serpent, a five-story family coaster full of hairpin turns and breathtaking dips. When it's running, the Cheetah Hunt is an absolutely exhilarating 4,429-foot-high launch coaster. With three different launch points, this coaster takes you through the Serengeti and into a rocky gorge with a top speed of 60 mph.

The off-road-safari Rhino Rally brings you face-to-face with zebras, elephants, and white rhinos. Catering to the shorter set, the Sesame Street Safari of Fun is a 5-acre kids' playground with Sesame-themed rides, shows, and water adventures. The Air Grover Rollercoaster takes kids (and parents) on minidives and twisty turns over the Sahara, while Jungle Flyers gets them swinging and screeching. If you're looking to cool off, your best bets are Congo River Rapids, Tanganyika Tidal Wave, Stanleyville Falls (a flume ride), or Bert & Ernie's Water Hole—complete with bubblers, geysers, water jets, and dumping buckets. Character lunches are available (but you might want to wait until after your rides).

    Contact Information

  • Address: 10165 N. Malcolm McKinley Dr., Central Tampa, Tampa, FL, 33612 | Map It
  • Phone: 813/987–5000; 888/800–5447
  • Cost: $92; parking $15
  • Hours: Daily 9:30–6
  • Website:
  • Location: Tampa
Updated: 04-24-2014

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating:  
  • Service  

    Pretty good theme park

    True enough, it's not as big a deal as the large Orlando parks. It's still pretty good, with several roller coasters and flume rides, gardens, a bird house, African animals in a Serengeti style setting, shops, eateries, arcades, and live theater. Two days for the price of one deals make this less of a financial bite than it might be otherwise.

    by bachslunch, 11/12/08

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