A Zoo of Coasters

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by airynfaerie on December 21, 2009

Although themeparks normally aren't my favorite places to visit, one of them that I do enjoy every now and then is Busch Gardens. There are two Busch Gardens in the nation - one in Williamsburg, VA and one in Tampa Bay, FL. Both are very differently themed, but both packed with great coasters and animals.

The one I visited most recently was the Tampa Bay location, which is a 335acre African themed park. Originally opened in 1959 as a manufacturing plant of the Anheuser-Busch brewing company. The company offered free tours of the grounds and free beer tastings. Through the years it evolved to a full tropical garden complete with exotic animals, rides, roller coasters, entertainment venues, shops and restaurants.

The Tampa Bay park is divided into several sections all with a different African theme from Morocco and the Congo, to Nairobi and Egypt. To see the entire park thoroughly, plan an entire day. There's an open passenger train system taking guests from one part of the park to the next, or you can follow the carefully marked walkways. One of the best things about this park is that it's as much of a zoo as a themepark and will satisfy the animal-lovers as much as the thrill-seekers.

Stop by the bird gardens, or the "Serengeti Plain" where you'll find plenty of animals and animal shows to keep you occupied. The array of species is quite impressive, from elephants, giraffes, zebras, and gazelles, to lions, hippos, gorillas, and eagles. There are also a couple of children's play areas with tree houses, petting zoos, and zip lines.

For the more adult rides there are several record-breaking roller coasters from the floorless "Sheikra" and award-winning "Kumba" to the inverted Montu. There are water rides and a 4-D movie theatre show as well. Be sure to check teh daily schedule for live entertainment like the Busch Gardens band to the reptile presentation. On holidays throughout the year there are several special events like the "Howl-O-Screem" October nights.

Before leaving, be sure to take the brewery tour, check out the famous Busch Clydesdale horses, and sample some beer.

• http://www.buschgardens.com/Bgt/default.aspx
• 10165 N McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612
• 1-888-800-5447
• $12 parking, $74 general admission (special discounts available)
• Hours vary by season
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
3000 East Busch Boulevard
Tampa, Florida, 33612
(813) 987-5000


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