Awesome Reasons You Need to Visit Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

We wanted to do something different on our recent trip to Florida. We decided to head down to Tampa to check out Busch Gardens instead of our normal trip to Walt Disney World.  To help you plan your trip to Busch Gardens Tampa, we would like to share a few tips. These tips will make your trip even more AMAZING than it already will be.

Family at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Where is Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Located?

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is located in Tampa, Florida. The park is approximately one hour south of Orlando and 30 minutes from Clearwater and St. Pete's beaches.

Complimentary shuttle transportation from the Orlando area can be reserved with the purchase of a theme park ticket. You can call 1-800-221-1339 for more information.

How Much are Tickets to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay?

There are a lot of ticket options for Busch Gardens. One day, one-park tickets start at $84.99.

We decided to combine our visit to Busch Gardens with our visit to Discovery Cove. We purchased a package that gave us admission to Busch Gardens plus parking for $50 more than a regular Discovery Cove ticket. So be sure and check out the different ticket packages that allow you admission into SeaWorld, Aquatica, Adventure Island, and more.  This helps lower your price and extends your fun!

There are also the Fun Card and Annual Pass that get you admission all year long.

What are the MUST DO Rides at Busch Gardens Tampa?

One thing Busch Gardens does well is to combine thrill rides, kids rides, and animal encounters into one amazing park. Some MUST do rides are:

Sheikra, which is one of the many roller coasters Busch Gardens Tampa, has a great drop. It's 200 ft and 90 degrees straight down. Another good roller coaster is Cheetah Hunt, which is a triple launch coaster.

If you're looking for a more classic coaster, we liked the Montu.

For kids, Air Grover is the perfect first roller coaster experience.

Not into roller coasters? Well, there are rides for you too, like Congo River Rapids, which is a white water rafting ride and perfect for cooling off on a hot day.

There are also two great rides with views of the animals! The Serengeti Train goes through Busch Gardens, and the Sky Ride gives you an awesome bird's eye view of all of the animals.

There is also Falcon's Fury, a 350-foot drop tower, Stanley Farms Fume ride, and many more roller coasters. Busch Gardens is a thrill ride lovers DREAM!

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What Animal Encounters at Busch Gardens Should We do?

Busch Gardens is known for combining thrill rides with animal encounters you won't see anywhere else. Like getting up close and personal with a sloth, taking a penguin tour, or a safari ride.

You can also visit the animal care center and watch the veterinarians care for the animals at Busch Gardens.

With over 12,000 animals in the park, you are sure to find an animal for everyone to love.

One of our favorite animal encounters was feeding the kangaroos. None of us had ever seen actual kangaroos, and this was the highlight of our visit.

If you want to feed the kangaroos, check the guide to see what time of day this encounter is available and plan your day around it. Children must be five and older to participate in kangaroo feeding.

What Shows Should We See at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay?

Live entertainment is HUGE at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, with shoes throughout the park. I suggest checking them out beforehand, deciding which shows you would like to see, and planning your day around the shows.

Some of our favorites were:

  • Opening Night Critters which features rescue animals doing super cute tricks and is great for all ages.
  • Turn it Up is an ice skating show that is better suited for kids over the age of 4-5 unless they are really into dancing and ice skating.
  • Push Play is a dancing and singing show that is cute for all ages. The show is in the Dragon Fire Grill and Pub, which makes it the perfect place to also have lunch.

What is There for Toddlers to do at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay?

If your toddlers love Sesame Street, then Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is the place for you. There is a whole Sesame Street themed area just waiting for them to play and enjoy.

Not only can you meet and greet with your favorite Sesame Street friends like Julia, Abby,  and Elmo, but there are also rides and attractions, a splash zone, and even a character meal with Elmo.

Lunch with Elmo? That's every toddler's dream (make sure you book this in advance).

Treetop Trails is another area of the park toddlers and children can run “wild.” Jungala is a multi-level maze with tunnels, nets, and slides for big kids and a water play area for little kids.  This is perfect for some good old fashioned family fun.

There is also a train through the park that allows kids to view all the animals and a special kids area with rides just for them.

Is All Day Dining at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Worth it?

For our family All Day Dining at Busch Gardens was worth the cost.

The way it works is you get to choose from seven different restaurants around the park, and you could go through certain food lines at those places on time per house.

There were also BOGO dessert options for all-day dining guests for desserts that were not on the plan.

Does Busch Gardens Have a Water Park?

Yes there is a water park at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay!

Adventure Island Water Park is located across the street from Busch Gardens Tampa.

The park is 30 acres of water fun! Filled with water slides for every thrill level and a tranquil tropical scene for relaxing. Adventure Island is the perfect place to have fun and relax.

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What Special Events Does Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Have?

Busch Gardens has special seasonal events throughout the year to add to the fun!

During Halloween, there is Howl O Scream. Where you brave guests wander through haunted houses, scare zones, ride thrill rides, and have a scary good time. The event happens on select nights from September through November.

For little ones wanting to have some Halloween fun, there are Sesame Street Kids' Weekends. Kids can show off their costumes, trick or treat, enjoy crafts, explore a hay bale maze and play fall-inspired activities and games on weekends in October.

From Halloween night through early November, Busch Gardens also celebrates Dia de Los Muertos with music, food, face-painting, and more.

During Christmas, the park comes alive with over a million lights. Christmas Town is Busch Gardens Christmas celebration. With lights, special Christmas shows, food, and more. Best of all, it's all included in the cost of your admission.

In the spring, Busch Gardens hosts Tampa's favorite festival. The Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival. The festival features new and exciting foods for you to try, wines, craft brews, and cocktails.  Plus, some of the biggest acts in musical entertainment will take the stage every weekend on Festival Field. The festival is not included in your admission.

Busch Gardens is a great park that combines animals and rides that the whole family will enjoy. This makes for a great vacation. 

Reading to plan your trip to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay? Just fill out the form below or email cara@magicaldestinationstravel.com for your free quote. 

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About the author

Avatar of Lisa


Lisa is a mother to an awesome son and daughter. She has been married for 22 years to her lobster. She attended UNO more years ago than she would like to admit and has a full time job in the CBD. She grew up in Jefferson Parish and now lives on the Northshore. She loves spending her weekends gallivanting the area from Nola to Biloxi with her family and vacationing as much as her pocketbook and vacation time will allow. She loves Disney. She has a scrapbook habit that connects her with friends. She is a Christian that tries to walk the right path but stumbles a lot.

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