Busch Gardens is undeniably a strong draw for the Tampa Bay area, as it combines an excellent zoo with some of the best roller coasters you’ll encounter. Sprawling over 300 acres and the area’s biggest theme park draws big crowds. Despite the theme park atmosphere, the real stars are the thousands of animals wandering around African-style environments.
Despite the woolly mammoth-sized admission price, a trip to Busch Gardens is worth it. You should probably pay out $16 more per person for a Next-day Ticket, which will entitle you to a visit the following day. Consider a combination ticket to Busch Gardens and Adventure Island.
Stop at the Visitor Information Center (813-985-3601; 3601E Busch Blvd; 10am-5:30pm Mon-Sat, to 2pm Sun) across from the park for discounted tickets which will save you time as well as money.
You can use the Skyride cable car as an orientation tour. The Hospitality Center overlooking the Serengety Plain has a welcome center where you can get a complimentary 10oz cup of Anheuser-Busch Beer. The Clydesdale Hamlet features trademark Budweiser Clydesdale horses.
In general, lines are far shorter than their Orlando counterparts on a high-season day, you’ll probably only have to wait 10 minutes for a ride. Themed shows, performances and craft demonstrations occur several times daily and change often. Check at the ticket window for the day’s shows and activities. The same goes for animal acts starring alligators, elephants, tortoises, orangutans, warthogs and tigers; they occur at various villages around the park.
Additionally, in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, the park is always inventing new rides and theme areas. Check at the gate. Quite a few rides have height restrictions which vary from 42 inches to 56 inches. Plan to spend the whole day at Busch Gardens.