Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a world-renowned theme park located in Tampa, Florida. The park is part of the SeaWorld family and known for its thrilling rides, exotic animal exhibits, and immersive themed lands. With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming for first-time visitors to plan their day at the park – that’s why this complete guide to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is here to help.
Visitors to this theme park will enjoy a variety of experiences, from high-speed roller coasters to up-close encounters with exotic animals. The park’s newest attraction, Iron Gwazi, is one of the tallest and fastest hybrid coaster in the world, while the Serengeti Safari allows guests to get up close and personal with giraffes, zebras, and other African wildlife.
In addition to its rides and animal exhibits, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay also offers a variety of dining and shopping options. From quick-service restaurants to sit-down eateries, there are plenty of options to satisfy any craving. And with a variety of gift shops and souvenir stands, visitors can take home a piece of the park to remember their visit.
This guide will cover everything visitors need to know before they arrive, including how to get there, what rides and attractions to prioritize, and where to eat. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a nature lover, this guide will ensure you make the most of your visit to this iconic theme park.
About Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay opened its doors on June 1, 1959, as a free attraction to promote the Anheuser-Busch line of products. The park was initially designed as a brewery tour and botanical garden, but it has since evolved into one of the nation’s top theme parks, with world-class roller coasters, animals, and attractions.
In 1965, the park added its first roller coaster, the Python. The park continued to expand over the years, adding new rides and attractions such as the Scorpion, the Phoenix and the Cheetah Hunt.
In 1998, the park was acquired by the Blackstone Group and became part of the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment family. Since then, the park has continued to expand and add new attractions, including the Falcon’s Fury, Cobra’s Curse, Tigris and Iron Gwazi.
Today, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a 335-acre theme park located in Tampa, Florida, with the sections of the park landscaped and designed around themes of Africa and Asia. The park features a variety of attractions, including thrill rides, family rides, animal exhibits, and live shows.
Getting to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is located in Tampa, Florida, and can be easily accessed by car, bus, or shuttle. The park is situated at 10165 N McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612, and is just a short drive from downtown Tampa.
If you’re driving to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the park is conveniently located just off of I-75. You can take Exit 265 and follow the signs to the park. Parking is available on-site for a fee, and there are several parking options to choose from, including general parking, preferred parking, and VIP parking.
If you’re traveling to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay by bus, there are several options available. The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) offers bus service to the park, and there are several other bus companies that provide transportation to the area as well. You can check the Busch Gardens website for more information on bus routes and schedules.
If you’re staying at a hotel in the Tampa area, there are several shuttle services that offer transportation to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Many of these shuttle services also offer discounted park tickets, so be sure to check with your hotel or shuttle service for more information.
There is a round trip shuttle to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay provided by Mears Destination Services. Guests holding a paid ticket ride free and there are designated pickup locations throughout the greater Orlando area. Mears can be reached at 800.221.1339 for more information.
No matter how you choose to get to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, you’re sure to have a fun and exciting day at one of Florida’s top theme parks.
Park Map and Layout
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a large theme park with a variety of attractions and shows spread across its 335-acre area. A park map is an essential tool for visitors to navigate their way around the park and make the most of their visit.
The park map is available at the entrance of the park and can also be downloaded from the official Busch Gardens website. The map is color-coded and divided into different sections, each with its own theme and attractions.
The major sections of the park are:
- Sesame Street Safari of Fun
Each section has its own unique rides, shows and dining options. The map also includes the location of restrooms, first aid stations, and guest services.
In addition to the paper map, visitors can also use the Busch Gardens mobile app to navigate the park. The app includes an interactive map, real-time wait times for attractions, and show schedules.
Overall, the park map is an essential tool for visitors to make the most of their visit to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. With its clear layout and easy-to-read design, visitors can navigate the park with confidence and enjoy all the attractions and shows the park has to offer.
Attractions and Rides
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a theme park that is home to some of the best rides and attractions in Florida. The park has a variety of rides and attractions that cater to all ages and interests. Here are some of the top rides and attractions at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
For thrill-seekers, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has some of the best roller coasters in Florida. The park’s roller coasters are designed to provide riders with an adrenaline rush and a thrilling experience. Thrill rides at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay include:
- Iron Gwazi: This fairly new coaster takes riders to a 206 feet in the air before dropping 91 degrees at speeds of up to 76 mph.
- Tigris: Ride at more than 60 miles per hour with an 150-foot skyward surge.
- SheiKra: This floorless roller coaster features a 200-foot drop and speeds of up to 70 mph.
- Montu:Inverted roller coaster that features seven inversions and speeds of up to 60 mph.
- Kumba: Twists and turns about on this amazing steel coaster.
- Falcon’s Fury: This is a drop tower ride that takes riders 335 feet into the air before dropping them at speeds of up to 60 mph.
- Scorpion: This is a classic roller coaster that features a loop and speeds of up to 50 mph.
- Serengeti Flyer: This screaming swing is the fastest of its kind, taking riders to speeds of up to 68 mph.
- Phoenix Rising (coming Spring 2024)
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has a variety of family-Friends rides that are perfect for families with young children. These rides are designed to be fun and exciting, but not too intense for younger riders. Family rides at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay include:
- Cobra’s Curse: This was Florida’s first spin roller coaster.
- Congo River Rapids: Prepare to get wet on this whitewater raft ride.
- Cheetah Hunt: This is a triple-launch coaster that takes riders on a high-speed journey through the park’s African landscape.
- Stanley Falls Flume: This is a log flume ride that takes riders on a journey through the park’s Congo area.
- Skyride: Ride high above Busch Gardens (temporarily closed)
Kid-Friendly Rides & Activities
For younger visitors, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has a variety of kid-friendly rides and attractions. These rides are designed to be fun and exciting, but not too intense for young children. Kid-friendly rides at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay include:
- Air Grover: This is a small roller coaster that is perfect for young children. Riders must be at least 38″ tall to ride.
- Grand Caravan Carousel: Kids will love this classic carrousel ride.
- Ubanga-Banga Bumper Cars: Another classic carnival ride, bump your friends and family.
- Gwazi Gliders: Kids will love this aerial ride.
- Sesame Street Safari of Fun: This is an area of the park that is designed specifically for young children. It features a variety of kid-friendly rides and attractions.
- Elmo’s Treehouse Trek: This is a treehouse play area that is perfect for young children.
- Welcome to Our Street: Watch an amazing show with your favorite characters from Sesame Street.
- Storytime at Sesame Street Safari of Fun
In addition to its rides and attractions, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is also home to a variety of animal exhibits. These exhibits allow visitors to get up close and personal with a variety of animals, including giraffes, zebras, and sloths. Animal exhibits at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay include:
- Animal Connections: An area of the park where visitors can get up close and personal with a variety of animals, including sloths and armadillos.
- Serengeti Plain: This is a large area of the park that is home to a variety of free-roaming animals, including giraffes, zebras, and antelopes.
- Serengeti Express: Guests will love this train ride through the Serengeti.
- Animal Care Center: This is an area of the park where visitors can watch as animal care professionals provide routine care and medical treatment to a variety of animals.
- Lory Landing: Enjoy a variety of birds.
- Walkabout Way: Meet the macropods.
Tours and Encounters:
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers a variety of tours and animal encounters for visitors to get up close and personal with some of the park’s amazing animals. From behind-the-scenes tours to hand-feeding giraffes, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about and interact with wildlife.
Some of the tours and encounters available at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay include the Serengeti Safari Tour, which takes guests on a guided tour of the Serengeti Plain and includes up-close encounters with giraffes, zebras, and other animals. The Animal Care Center Tour gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the park’s animal care facilities and includes a chance to meet some of the animals up close.
Other experiences include the Elephant Insider Tour, where guests can see the park’s elephants up close and learn about their care, and the Sloth Encounter, where visitors can meet and feed the park’s adorable sloths. With so many tours and encounters to choose from, there’s something for everyone at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
- Serengeti Safari
- Spotlight Tour
- Elephant Insider Tour
- Roller Coaster Insider Tour
- Cheetah Insider Tour
- Orangutan Insider Tour
- Tiger Insider Tour
- Australia Insider Tour
- Keeper for a Day Tours
- Animal Ambassador Insider
- Animal Care Center Tour
- Sloth Encounter
- Gorilla Insider Tour
- Hippo Insider Tour
- Aldabra Insider Tour
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers a variety of dining options to satisfy every taste and budget. From full-service restaurants to quick snack bars, visitors can find something to eat throughout the park.
Dragon Fire Grill & Pub is a market-style restaurant that offers a delectable menu of international cuisine. The restaurant is a popular choice for visitors who want to enjoy a full meal while taking a break from the rides. The restaurant accepts the All-Day Dining Deal and has a full-service bar.
Oasis Pizza is a great option for visitors who want a quick bite to eat. Visitors can accompany their view from the Serengeti Overlook with fresh-from-the-oven pizza or a garden salad. The restaurant is also a great option for visitors who are on a budget.
Springs Taproom is a new addition to the park that offers a full-service bar. Visitors can come here for a snack and one of their cocktails or frozen cocktails on hotter days. The restaurant is a popular choice for visitors who want to take a break from the rides and enjoy a cold drink.
Dragon Dog is a popular snack bar that offers signature gourmet hot dogs and sausages. Visitors can enjoy a quick snack while exploring the park. The snack bar is a great option for visitors who are on a budget.
Zambia Smokehouse is a great option for visitors who want to grab a quick bite to eat. The restaurant is located next to Sheikra and is the perfect spot for lunch between rides. Visitors can enjoy a variety of smoked meats and sandwiches.
Overall, visitors to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will have no trouble finding something to eat. The park offers a variety of dining options to satisfy every taste and budget.
Special Events and Shows
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is not only a theme park but also a hub of entertainment. The park features a variety of live shows and special events throughout the year. Visitors can enjoy seasonal events, live performances, and more.
One of the most popular events is Christmas Town, which takes place daily from November 11 to January 7. During this event, the park is transformed into a winter wonderland with millions of twinkling lights, festive shows, and holiday-inspired culinary delights.
Another popular seasonal events which runs on select nights from September 8th to October 31, 2023 is Howl-O-Scream. Visitors will love the haunted houses, scare zones and frightful entertainment which includes Cirque X-Scream and The Rolling Bones live band.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers a variety of live performances throughout the park. One of the most popular shows is Turn It Up! Remix, which takes place in the Moroccan Palace Theater. This show features talented skaters performing mesmerizing routines on ice, intertwined with stunning video and projection.
Another popular show is Elmo Rocks!, which takes place in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun area. This show features Elmo and his friends performing rock-inspired songs that are sure to get the whole family dancing and singing along.
Overall, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers a variety of special events and live performances that are sure to entertain visitors of all ages.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers various ticket options for visitors. One-day tickets start at $84.99 per person, but there are discounts available for Florida residents, military personnel, and students. Multi-day tickets and annual passes are also available and can provide significant savings for frequent visitors. It is recommended to purchase tickets online in advance to avoid long lines at the park entrance.
General parking costs $30.00 per car, motorcycle, truck or recreational vehicles. Preferred parking (closer to the entrance) starts at $35.00.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is open daily from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, with extended hours during peak seasons and holidays. The park may close early due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances, so it is recommended to check the park’s website or social media channels for any updates on operating hours.
Tampa Bay’s weather can be unpredictable, with hot and humid summers and occasional thunderstorms. Visitors should dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable shoes for walking around the park. It is also recommended to bring sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect against the sun’s rays. In the event of thunderstorms, certain rides and attractions may be temporarily closed for safety reasons.