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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay – Something for everyone!

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay there’s something for everyone!

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a perfect day trip while visiting Clearwater Beach and the surrounding area for the amusement park and animal lovers!

Planning a day at Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is located an hour and a half south of Disney World in Tampa Bay on the Gulf Coast side of Florida. This is a perfect day trip from Disney but more so a great day trip while spending some time at the local beaches.

Often I’m asked which beach to visit when in Central Florida and the Gulf Coast beaches are some of my favorites! In fact, they’ve been named some of the “best beaches” by travel magazines numerous years in a row!

So pack your beach bag and bring along your courage then plan to spend a day at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay!

Quick Facts:

  • Located in Tampa Bay, Florida
  • About 1 and a half hours southeast of Disney World
  • Near the Gulf Coast Clearwater Beach area
  • 18 attractions with 2 new additions in 2019 and 2020
  • 11 Animal Habitats
  • Food & Wine Festival in March and April
  • Celebrating 60 Years in 2019 – with the Year of Beer

New Attractions

Tigris

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is home to some of the biggest roller coasters in the US.  Opening this spring 2019  Tigris, a 150 foot high new thrilling dare ride will open.  Tigris will thrill riders with an “exhilarating triple launch with forward and backward motion, catapulting riders through looping twists, daring drops, a 150-foot skyward surge, and an inverted heartline roll – all at more than 60 miles per hours.  Riders on Tigris will travel more than 1,800 feet as they race along steel track designed to mimic the awe-inspiring agility of the world’s most powerful cat – the tiger.”

Ride car for Tigris at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay New Tigris roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Tigris Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Current Attractions

  • Air Grover – Junior Coaster
  • Cheetah Hunt – 48″ minimum height
  • Cobra’s Curse – 42″ minimum height
  • Congo River Rapids – 42″ minimum height
  • Falcon’s Fury – 77″ minimum height
  • Gliders – 56″ minimum height
  • Kumba – 54″ minimum height
  • Montu – 54″ minimum height
  • Pantopia – for everyone
  • Phoenix – 54″ minimum height
  • Sandserpent – 46″ minimum height
  • Scorpion – 42″ minimum height
  • Serengeti Express Train – for everyone
  • Sesame Street Safari of Fun – for kids
  • Sheikra – 54″ minimum height
  • Sky Ride – for everyone
  • Stanley Falls Flume – 46″ minimum height
  • Ubanga – Banga Bumper Cars – 42″ minimum height

Animal Habitats

In addition to the large roller coasters, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay features fun for the whole family! One of my favorite parts is their world-renowned zoo facilities and animal care center.

Get up close and personal at Animal Connections with some famous animal ambassadors.  Isn’t this sloth so cute?  He was the highlight of my day at the park!

Sloth at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Animal AmbassadorJamie and the sloth at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

  • Animal Care Center – view animal check-ups, treatments, and surgeries up close
  • Animal Connections – meet the animal ambassadors
  • Cheetas
  • Edge of Africa – hippos, lions, hyenas and meerkat habitats
  • Elephants
  • Jungala – tigers and orangutans
  • Lory Landing – feed lorikeets
  • Myombe Reserve – gorillas and chimpanzees
  • Penguin Point – African penguins
  • Serengeti Plain – Train ride to see zebra’s, giraffes, rhinos and more.
  • Walkabout Way & Kookaburra’s Aviary

Baby Crocodile at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Kimami Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's porcupine

You can see more about Busch Gardens Tampa Bay animal offerings here.

Dining at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

There are plenty of places to choose from when you’re ready to eat at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.  Many of these restaurants offer a place to sit in the air conditioning which is a nice relief from the Florida heat.

  • Bengal Bistro
  • Dragon Fire Grill and Pub
  • Garden Gate Cafe
  • Kenya Kanteen
  • Moroccan Delights
  • Serengeti Overlook
  • Sheikra Eats
  • Sultan’s Sweets
  • Twisted Tails Pretzels
  • Zagora Cafe
  • Sambia Smokehouse

Outside food and drinks, besides water bottles, are not allowed inside the park.

Allergy Friendly:

For those of us with food allergies, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay can accommodate our dietary restrictions!  The park map notates dining locations that are designated “allergy friendly” locations.  While I have not personally eaten at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and can not report on exactly how this goes, they do at least seem to be making an effort to have something to offer everyone!

Upgrades for the Day

There are always extras at any theme park and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is no different.  You can view this one of two ways, more money spent or the ability to customize your experience.  I prefer the latter.  We all vacation differently and have different expectations of what makes our days more memorable.  Pick and choose the extras that help enhance your experience.  The ones that aren’t for you, leave them behind!  I love that more and more we’re seeing options to do this!

Skip the line

Just like Disney World and Universal, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers guests the opportunity to go straight to the front of the line.  They call it the “Quick Queue”

Unlike Disney, it’s an additional fee and can be purchased at any ticket window and some major rides.  There are varying levels of Quick Queue, one-time access to each major ride or unlimited access to all major rides.  The cost runs from $20 per person to $35 per person.  Before purchasing the “Quick Queue” I would see just how long the lines are.  Some days it may not be necessary.  Go here for more information.

Photo Key:

Similar to Disney’s Photo Pass but much more affordable!  Get all of your photos from the day with Photo Key.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay photo key photo download service

Shopping:

  • Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Hunt – for all of your Sesame Street favorites
  • Games
  • Moroccan Village Shops
  • Painted Camel Bazaar
  • Tiger Treasures
  • Xcursions – Busch Gardens Conservation shop

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Pin Trading

New in 2019 Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has introduced pin trading at their park.  This is a favorite of so many park goers and you can now collect and trade them at Busch Gardens as well!

All Day Dining Deal:

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers a way to make your day feel more all-inclusive and for many, this offers peace of mind.  You can budget up front what your day will cost and then not worry about the kids constantly asking for another snack.  Busch Gardens Tampa Bay “All Day Dining Deal” works at most dining locations.  Before deciding if it’s for you make sure to look over the map and see what it does and does not include.

Is the All Day Dining Deal a good value?

This depends on how long you will be in the park.  If you only plan to eat one meal and a snack or two during your visit this probably is not a good value.  If you will be visiting from open to close or spending at least two meals inside the park you should consider purchasing the All Day Dining Deal.  Do keep in mind that it does not work at all locations in the park and you could potentially have additional out of pocket expenses if you want to eat at the other locations.

Outside food and drink, besides water bottles, are not allowed inside the park.

Food and Wine Festival

For the 5th year in a row, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay brings back the Food and Wine Festival.  This fun festival happens every spring in March and April on weekends only.  In addition to food, wine, craft brews and cocktails the festival offers a nightly concert series included with the cost of your admission.

Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival has 13 Food and Wine Cabins for the 2019 season.  You can see all of the menus here.

  • Northern California
    Lamp Chops at the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Food and Wine Festival
    Lollipop Lamb Chops at the Northern California Food Cabin
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Nola Eats
    Banana Fosters Cheesecake at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Food and Wine Festival Nola Food Cabin
    Banana Fosters Cheesecake – Nola Eats Food Cabin
  • Southern Cuisine
  • The Boardwalk
  • New England Tavern
  • The Heartland
  • Social
  • Aloha Eats
  • Tex Mex Cantina
    Grilled Street Corn at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Food and Wine Festival
    Grilled Elote – Mexican Street Corn at Tex Mex Cantina
  • Coke FusionLollipop Lamb Chops at the Northern California Food Cabin
  • Vivi’s Fried Chicken

Food & Wine Festival Sampler

Purchase one of three Food and Wine Festival Samplers for easy access to food, wine, beer, and cocktails while you’re in the park.  It’s so much easier to not have to reach into your wallet over and over while your hands are full!  I think this is a great option if you’re having more than one or two things.  Consider sharing the sampler pass if you don’t want very many items.  There is a slight per item savings as you increase the number of items you pre-purchase.

  • 5 items – $29.99
  • 8 items – $39.99
  • 12 items – $54.99

#YearOfBeer

Historic photo of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Historic photo of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is bringing back FREE beer for its birthday!  2019 marks the 60 year anniversary of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay which began as a brewery and bird garden.  It’s grown over the years into a world-class theme park with so much more to offer its guests than just beer and birds!  But those roots have not been forgotten!  In 2019 to celebrate its successes past and present all guests 21 years and older can enjoy two free samples of beer each park visit at the Serengeti Overlook Pub. #YearOfBeer

For additional information on visiting Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay including current ticket prices, concert schedules, and events visit their website here!  Then make sure you let me know how I can help plan your vacation to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay!  As always, I’m happy to help!

Jamie Rumph
Jamie Rumphhttps://www.loveofthemagic.com
Hi, I'm Jamie, traveling mama, entrepreneur, and travel advisor. I'm addicted to Disney, traveling and exploring the world with my family, and have a passion for helping families experience the magic of travel. My home is filled with love and chaos, 2 crazy girls, 2 large dogs, and the most spectacular architect and Disney Cast Member I call my husband. We live in Florida and spend our weekends playing at Orlando's many theme parks and visiting the beach. In 2015, after helping numerous families plan their vacations to various Disney Destinations, I started a blog to answer all of the many travel questions I received daily. In 2016, the blog grew into a travel agency, and Love of the Magic Vacations was born. With a team of nearly 20, we spend our days creating family vacations around the world. What started as a blog is now a full service, worldwide vacation destination planning service. I create custom itineraries for each of my clients that not only meets but exceeds expectations. There is no greater gift than making memories while sharing the world and its cultures with your kids.
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