Busch Gardens Tampa Trip Report

Apr 3rd, 2005, 05:31 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 316
Busch Gardens Tampa Trip Report

We just returned from a 2 day trip to Tampa and Busch Gardens. Here's my "unofficial guide" to BG. To me, BG is two parks - one for the thrill seeker with Roller Coasters, a couple of water rides and some more carnival style rides and one with relaxed walking thru the gardens and animal exhibits (seeing hippos swim was particularly amazing). While all ages can entertain themselves at BG, I think it's most fun if you are interested in, and tall enough, to go on the coasters.
We stayed at the Doubletree Suites. It was just "okay." The room interior was nice enough but a little small for 4 people. The exterior was tired. Next time, I'll try the Baymont Suites. It looked newer (but I didn't go inside). Nothing around BG is going to be in the "great" category. For that, you need to decide that you will invest more significant driving time.
Our original plan was to do BG one day and the water park the next. However, it was a little cool and windy so we opted for 2 days at BG. Call BG before you arrive to discuss the possible ticket combinations. I didn't find the website very helpful in that regard.
No surprise but the key to BG is to get there early. We got to the park at 8:30, which is when the parking lot opened. Took the tram to the gates, bought our tickets and were some of the first folks thru the gates when the park opened at 9. And at 9, there weren't many people at the gates. By afternoon, the park was jam packed.
If you want to ride the big coasters, head for them first and save the animals for the afternoon when the park is more crowded. My son rode Montu 3 times in about 20 minutes when the park first opened. The wait was up to 90 min when we left the park about 2:00 on the second day.
The only "fast pass" type service in the park was at the Rhino Rally. You might want to pick on up as you pass Rhino on your way from Montu to another coaster. (Although we just went ahead and rode it after Montu and were still able to get on Kumba with no line.)
There are 3 water rides. We had ponchos for the adults and swim suits/shirts for the kids. There are lockers at the big rides so you can store backpacks, hats, etc.
Take the Skyride from Stanleyville back towards the main gate. We had no line on that side. The main gate entrance had a 90 min wait.
The park does a good job getting you very close to the animals. The park was really full by lunch. Once the lines for the rides got really long, we headed for the animal side of the park.
The only show we saw was the 4-D lighthouse show. Go only if you have kids in the 7 - 10 age group. We skipped the big show but heard good buzz about it in the park.
We live in Florida and have been to Universal and Disney parks many times. BG doesn't have the theming feel of those parks. However, my husband and son would tell you that the big coasters more than make up for that. We had a good trip and I suspect we'll end up in Tampa and BG again.
keysmom is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2005, 07:12 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,336
keysmom, thanks for that report. I almost hate to recommend hotels around BG. I've not stayed at any of them so can only hope they're good. Hoping more people weigh in on their hotel rooms so we can get a tally going on the best ones. I don't do roller coasters and rides much anymore so I stick to walking around and doing the shows. And yes, isn't it cool to see that hippo swim!?!?
Tandoori_Girl is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2005, 07:39 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,075
keysmom makes a good point about studying the ticket combinations before arriving at the park. There are four in our family; two went to BG and two went to the water park. The gal selling tickets didn't speak English very well and she couldn't understand what we wanted. Unbeknowst to us, when the two of us went to the water park, our tickets wouldn't allow admission. We got the situation rectified, but lost an hours time doing so.
sunbabe is offline  
Apr 4th, 2005, 06:00 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 104
Just back from Busch Gardens. Family group of 10 ages from 2 to 72. Had a wonderful time. Keysmom is right on the mark. We did go to the Africian show and it was wonderful. The 2 7 year olds like the show as well as the adults. The water rides are great, but expect to get very wet on all, but the log ride which depends on how heavy the front person is. Tip-- We all carried cell phones and kept track where people were. We changed groups depending on what people were doing. Example all of the family, but the teens went to the the haunted light house, but only grandma and grandpa went to the rock and roll show ( we wanted ice cream and a place to sit).
About where to stay, around the university on Fowler might be better choice. BG parking lots are north of Busch Blvd anyway.
judya is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 06:28 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 142
We just came back from our first trip to BG over Spring Break. After a horrible first experience at parking and subsequent awful time time trying to leave the park, people were actually fighting to get on the tramsn because there was no order anywhere and no workers to be found, we arrived very early the next day. Busch Gardens is not as well organized as Universal or Disney. Tickets are much cheaper though, an annual pass can be had for as little as $60. The park which was clean though did not have the same excitment as those parks. If you arrive early in the morning you can get on all the rides which we did without problems. They don't seem to take as much care with their animals which seems concerning. Their were never any zookeepers near the animal exhibits, people were allowed to smoke and tap on cages. This upset my family a great deal.

Also the area surrounding the park is not the best. We stayed at AmeriSuites which was mediocre at best. We took a drive and found restaurant row near the Hyde Park area S.Howard is the street, where we enjoyed a nice meal. That area seemed to be a lot nicer. You have to be careful where you go in Tampa. I would love to find a better hotel next time, any recommendations?
cbr is offline  
Jun 1st, 2005, 06:24 PM
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keysmom is offline  
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