Looking for a fun place to visit with your family? How about Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay? Recently, on the coldest day Florida will likely see in 2016 I think, my Husband and Sister and I decided to take the little ones to Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay . 2, 4, and 6. This certainly was going to be an interesting experience. Personally, I never let the number of children outnumber how many adults we have. It’s a big step for me to take those wandering minds (and bodies) into such a busy public place.
And we’re off. Bellies full of breakfast, clothes layered on, anticipation of the upcoming adventure, here we go!
Busch Gardens has so much to offer. When you are older, and above certain height requirements, it is a place full of adrenaline pumping , smoked bbq smelling, craft beer selling, concert performing, entertaining kind of place. I’ve grown up in Tampa Bay and I have played in the ball pits as a tyke, ridden the roller coasters as a fearless teenager, and now, watched the sheer joy on the faces of the new generation.
We learned a great path through the park when traveling with the younger crowd. In the morning they were energetic. And excited. And eager to absorb what was going on. What better time to learn about animals?
The animals were tremendous. When you enter the park, you first come to the Alligator exhibit. A is for Alligator after all, and it’s a wonderful start to the day. We watched two of them climb out of the pond and one swim around carelessly. On such a cool day, they were a little active when in the warm water. Those in the sun were proudly showing off their teeth and posing for photos. Good ol’ Florida Alligators.
When you leave this area it’s into the Gorilla habitat after a quick climb on the statues. A wonderful family of Gorillas the children can climb on and start those imaginations! We didn’t get a lot of action from these guys but they were having a nice picnic in the sun near the viewing area.
Next stop was a short walk and a quick stop for pizza at The Crown Colony Cafe near the Africa exhibit. The first animals here you come to are the Meerkats near the Zebras and Giraffes. They were a hit! The kids squealed with delight when those guys popped out of their holes to greet their handler coming up for a visit. It was fun for all, followed by some pretend play in the rocks nearby to pop around.
Onto the Lions in Edge of Africa exhibit. I was thrilled! Again, the energy was high. Near the Lion viewing area is a safari truck kids can climb in and on and pretend they are traveling through Africa. This was a great place to let them play with other kids. I did take a few minutes to acquaint myself with Simon the lion. I plan to visit him again in the very near future. He was certainly in the photogenic mood that day.
Coming out of Edge of Africa, we ended in the hippo play area. A good place for some potty breaks and lesser crowds. It’s another interactive area where the kids could climb on statues, pretend they were hippos, and interact with some of their peers which I find extremely important when we go out in public.
Train Ride and Pantopia
Time for a rest. Even if only for the Adults haha. We took a train ride from here to Congo on the Serengeti Railway. We saw Giraffes, Zebras, Antelope, and White Rhinos, including Busch Garden’s newest white rhino baby. We could have gone further but we had 2 of 3 asking when we could get off. They were ready for more excitement! Naturally, the adults took the boys on the bumper cars while the two year old and I cheered them on.
We found ourselves roaming to Pantopia. The Opening Night Critters Animal Show began at 3pm. This show was incredible and is a show that features rescued dogs, cats, birds, a horse, a kangaroo, a skunk, and a pig! It was completely after my own heart. The show’s story is all about the animals being trained and getting over their fears for their “Big Show.” The stunts were great and the kids were completely mesmerized the entire time.
We had some time to hang out before the show, so the kids rode the Motorcycle ride and the smaller train. The adults got to watch Falcon’s Fury. One crazy ride if you ask me but I do hear it’s pretty incredible. It’s advertised as “North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower.” I’m a little proud that the 2 year old pointed at this, and all of the large roller coaster tracks throughout the day (after the cars came screaming by) and said to me, “I ride that”. I think we have a future daredevil on our hands.
Enter, Sesame Street Safari of Fun. What a GREAT place to take these guys. This area really renewed their energy. Those little tired legs suddenly had more energy than I’ve had in years. There’s an inflatable bounce house type area, this fantastic rope bridge tree house area, and some rides of the smaller caliber. Some thrills but on a 40inch tall level. Zeo-Patra and the Hippos of the Nile, a mini flume ride was worth the wait to them. As was Rosita’s Djembe Fly Away. The favorite I observed was Elmo’s Tree House Trek and Cookie Monster’s Canopy Crawl. There were more rides we didn’t make it to, but hey. We can always use a reason to go back!
This day, Busch Gardens gave us $10 to spend in the park as pass holders. For $11.99 we purchased an all you can drink refillable cup. We had some pizza, some hot dogs, and still scored some coffee and treats for everyone at the end of the night for under $100. Way to go Busch Gardens for not only supplying us with the ability to experience the rarities of the African wildlife but also the exhilarating rides and the incredible show for a reasonably affordable price. In the future, we will definitely do this again as they also offer extra ticket discounts to pass holders. We closed out with dinner right outside of the park to reflect together on this incredible day. I can’t wait to do it all over again.
If you’re planning a family vacation to Central Florida, I highly recommend spending a day or two visiting Busch Gardens in Tampa.
Written by About a Mom contributor, Sarah. Sarah is 34, married to her true prince, and a loving Aunt to 3 amazing kiddos 2, 4, and 6. Her days are spent with family and friends, traveling, cooking, her pets, or gardening. There’s also the occasional sci-fi celebration that brightens her life.