Busch Gardens Tampa

After a week of family vacation in St. Augustine, Michael is now officially on his fifth grade trip. As part of that Mom bought tickets for him to go to Busch Gardens and said if I tagged along, she would get me a ticket too (I never got a fifth grade trip, but I got to go to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg with Andrew, too). We got a 2-day ticket for not much more than a single day ticket and it includes lunch both days. We went to the first day today by ourselves, but Mom and Don will join us tomorrow.

Busch Gardens has some of the best roller coasters in Florida, but I wasn’t sure how Michael would do on them. He said he would try out Cheetah Hunt first, their newest roller coaster. Since we got there right at the opening, there was only about a 5-minute wait. As he saw how high the track goes and how fast the cars flew by, he started getting a little nervous. We sat about halfway back so we couldn’t get the front row view of the drops and loops. Once we were in our seats and buckled in I asked him if he wanted to get off and he said yes. I tried to get the attention of an attendant, but they have a procedure they follow. Michael raised his hand to get off. Too late. He was very nervous, but during the ride he seemed pretty calm. After it was over, he said he wanted to go home immediately and never wanted to come back to Busch Gardens. I said we could take the cable car ride over the animal habitat to at least see some more of the park and again there was hardly any waiting. He resisted at first, but liked that ride. That took us to part of the park with a log flume ride, so we rode that. It was such a big hit we got back in line and rode it again. At some point we came across an area where one of the biggest roller coasters, Sheikra, causes a huge splash that soaks people standing nearby, so Michael stood there and got soaked a few times. He tried to get me to come over, but there was no way I was going to be soaking wet for the rest of the day.

lorikeetsWhile we were walking, we came across a bird enclosure where you could feed birds nectar, so we stopped in there, bought a tiny cup of nectar and the guides showed Michael how to stand so that the birds would feel comfortable landing on him and walking down his arm to the nectar he was holding. He had three birds on him at once. In the picture he is still soaking wet from Sheikra’s splashes.

In the Sesame Street section we found a kid’s roller coaster with Grover on the front of it and rode that. It wasn’t even full, but it was still kind of fun. We rode that one again right away.

We found a play area for kids that had rope bridges and mazes and tunnels that Michael enjoyed working his way through even though we found eventually that at 57 inches tall he was taller than the maximum height allowed.

We started to get hungry by this time and looked for a new food court at the park called the Dragon Grill. It was in another part of the park, and we saw the train was at the station near us, so we got on that. It took us through some animal habitat and not particularly close to the food court which we eventually found, but only saw its bar and a big seating area, not the food court. It turned out we didn’t go in far enough, but it was definitely there. So Michael wound up picking up chicken fingers and fries outside the food court along with a drink and I tried again to find the food court, successfully this time, getting a cuban sandwich which was actually very good.

After that I asked Michael if we could go by the nearby Falcon’s Fury, a 300′ drop ride. I knew he wouldn’t ride it, but the line was only 15 minutes and it is brand new so, like Cheetah Hunt, I had never been on it before. Even though I had just eaten and it is an incredibly scary ride, I didn’t really have any problems. It doesn’t really shake you around, just drops you from way, way up.

We walked around looking for more things that Michael would like. He wanted to do some more water rides, but I wanted to avoid those until the end of the day. Michael’s solutions was that we would just do those rides and then leave. They were doing a tiger feeding, so we went to go look at that. The tigers come up pretty close to the glass (they’re getting hungry), so that was pretty neat. Eventually we rode a river rapids ride that had about a 45-minute wait and got me completely soaked and Michael mostly soaked. We found another area where Michael could climb around on rope bridges near some ape enclosures, so he did that for a while.

We were both pretty tired, but on the way out we went by the Australian area to see a bunch of kangaroos. They were mostly just lying around. We had just missed their feeding time, so they weren’t real active and it was the hottest part of the day, around 4:30.

We picked up our picture from the bird feeding and took the tram back to our car. Even though we skipped most of the major roller coasters, we actually got a lot in.

3 thoughts on “Busch Gardens Tampa

  1. We went back today with Mom and Don. Today’s emphasis was going to be more on shows, but we got a few rides in. Michael was not interested in Cheetah Hunt again, so our first stop was for a talk by the lion and hyena keepers. They had a pride of 2 females and 1 male lion and threw balls of meat out to them, talking about lions to a very small crowd of pretty much me after everyone else wandered off. After they stopped throwing meatballs, honestly, it was a lot less exciting. They hyenas were neat. One of the lions saw one of the hyenas through windows on each side of the viewing area and ran over to the glass. So the lions and hyenas don’t get along. We saw some other animals in that area including a hippo swimming around in the water.

    After that we got on the sky buckets, which maybe wasn’t that smart because it is pretty close to the entrance and everyone gets on that even though almost all of the buckets were coming back are empty (no line on the other side), so it was maybe a half hour line. Michael wanted to go on the flume ride, but I opted out to go ride Sheikra, a dive coaster that goes down a 90 degree hill. The line for Sheikra was actually much shorter than for the flume, so I got back in time to take a video of the others coming down to the big splashdown at the bottom of the hill. After that I told them about Sheikra and Don thought he would like to ride that while Mom and Michael hit the Grover roller coaster, so much to my surprise, I was on my way back to Sheikra with Don. Even with the short Sheikra line, Michael had ridden Grover 3 times by the time we caught back up with them.

    We wanted to catch an ice skating show at 1:00, so we hustled to the other side of the park and enjoyed the air conditioning of the theater. The show had ice skaters dressed as animals from different parts of the world and had neat costumes as well as some trapeze and trampoline stuff, so it was kind of based on Cirque du Soleil.

    After that we were hungry so we walked to the food court I had gone to the day before. In the Dragon Grill they had a cover band playing Billy Joel songs. Michael was glad to get a cheeseburger, I got teriyaki stir fry, and Mom and Don got pressed sandwiches.

    After that Michael wanted to try a mouse type roller coaster which takes sharp turns on unbanked tracks and Michael thought he was going to get slung out. So for him that was a pretty scary ride, but for me it was just kind of uncomfortable. When we finished, Mom had found an animal tricks show nearby, but we had just enough time for Michael and me to ride a merry go round. Michael said he had never been on one before and it was broken the day before. The animal show was pretty good with lots of dogs and cats, plus birds flying around (the ice show had a few animals as well, but not as many).

    Once we got out of that, Michael was about ready to go, but Don pointed out there were bumper cars. So Mom and Michael went on the bumper cars and Don and I went to the nearby Kumba, a steel roller coaster with tons of loops and turns (7 inversions). Even though Kumba had almost no line, Michael was about to go on his second bumper car ride when we got back.

    Michael was almost ready to go home but wanted to go to the river rapids ride and talked Mom into it, even though they would almost certainly both get soaking wet. Don and I wandered around over to the tiger section and watched them for a while, so we missed their river journey.

    After that we got on the train, which is a nice ride through some animal habitat. From the train we could see some dark clouds approaching. Everybody was going to go to an exhibit with night animals, so I wanted to run over to Cheetah Hunt, but before I could get there, there was thunder and lightning and they announced the park was shutting down until the storm was over, including the parking trams, and please seek shelter immediately. By the time we got to the park exit, the bottom fell out with huge lightning bolts and thunder. After maybe half an hour we walked through the last of the rain back to the car rather than wait with soaking wet crowds for just a few trams.

    I feel like we had a pretty different day today than yesterday with the addition of the shows, bumper cars, and I got to ride two of the best roller coasters at the park (Sheikra twice), only missing Montu and a second stab at Cheetah Hunt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *