Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay

When we got our tickets for Seaworld we got 14 days unlimited use for there, Aquatica and Busch Gardens. Aquatica is right next to Seaworld in Orlando but Busch Gardens is an hours drive away to Tampa Bay. We had a sat nav but it wasn’t hard to find at all, mostly one direct road down there.

We managed to go twice whilst we were there but we could have spent more days there and not been bored at all.

The park is much quieter than the ones in Orlando, we didn’t queue for any of the rides at all. Maybe because it was generally quieter in October anyway than Easter when we went before but possibly because the park is enormous and can take the volume of people as well as being further out.

The rides themselves are much better than Disney but then Disney is about the theme not the thrills.

The thing our kids loved most about Busch Gardens is that they had rides that went upside down and you only had to be 107cm tall.

Then there was a ride (Cheetah Hunt) that even I was too scared to go on because it went so fast and had loads of loops. For that you had to be 121cm which both Lottie and Romeo were talk enough for. This was Romeo’s favourite ride and he still talks about it.

There is an Sesame Street area with rides for smaller children and even Lottie and Romeo wanted to spend time in this section. There is a massive soft play area where they played for ages and we got time to chill out in the sunshine. Also in this areas was a meet and greet with the Sesame Street characters.

As well as Sesame area there is another area on the other side of the park with rides for small children. So Xavier got to go on lots of rides whilst the others were on the bigger ones.

The park has a huge range of animals to see with a train that goes through the safari area. You can also go over the safari in a cable car which gives a great view of the park.

We didn’t think we were going to be allowed in the kangaroo area as it said over 5’s but they didn’t question Xavier so we went in and hand fed them.

There is an amazing cargo net area that goes over the Orangutan and Monkey enclosures.

We saw all the animals but only briefly. I reckon we could have easily done a third or fourth day in the park. There is a safari that you can pay extra to do and you get to feed the giraffes. Romeo would have loved this but you have to be 5 to do it so with Xavier not being allowed (we thought they may question more on this one!) we decided none of us would do it. Save it for next time.

We went around Halloween so the park was reopened most evenings for fright nights but the normal opening hours are 10am til 5pm. Maybe an hour early or hour later here or there but it’s not a long day like the Disney parks. It does mean you don’t have to be up super early to get there for opening time. We did it on our first day as we were all up early with jet lag.

You are told you can’t take food into the park but I think they are just trying to stop people taking huge cooler boxes of food. We took sandwiches in plastic bags and crisps and snacks and we weren’t told we couldn’t have them. We were worried we couldn’t on the first day so we bought food there and Steff couldn’t resist the turkey legs.

But it was expensive to feed all of us and yet we didn’t think we would be able to eat enough to make use of the all day dinning. We did that at Alton Towers once and we spent so long worrying about food we didn’t go on many rides! There are water fountains around the park so we used our water bottles for free drinks.

There was a fair amount of walking but we didn’t need a buggy and Xavier was only 3. We used the train or the sky ride to get to the other side if he was tired. But as I said before it’s not a long day with the opening hours being so short that this helped and he then enjoyed an hour nap on the way home.

We throughly enjoyed Busch Gardens and can’t wait to go back. In terms of magic and atmosphere it’s no Disney but if you are into rides this park is awesome especially for smaller children who aren’t tall enough for the thrill rides at Universal.

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