Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

A thrilling and exotic adventure park

Address

10165 North Malcolm McKinley Drive, Tampa FL 33612, USA

GPS: 28.038515099691, -82.419192968939

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Located an hour’s drive from Orlando, Florida, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a family adventure park themed around the wildlife of the African continent. It dates back to the late 1950s, when it was developed as an exotic garden with free admission. Today, it is part of the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment company, which also manages the other park, Busch Gardens (Williamsburg, Virginia) and the trio of SeaWorld theme parks (based in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego).

Considered one of the best zoological parks in the United States, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is nonetheless a pure thrill park, with loops and roller coasters with breathtaking effects. The Falcon’s Fury, for example, a dizzying 100-meter-high drop tower, will send you plunging into the void at a speed of almost 100 km/h. An aquatic zone, leisure areas, shows, restaurants, stores, typical African savannah landscapes and rides of all kinds complete the plethora of attractions in this adventure park. By deploying a great variety of attractions, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has succeeded in seducing adults as well as families accompanied by young children.

With its four million annual visitors, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is one of the 25 most visited theme parks in the world and the second largest zoo in the United States. It features more than 12,000 animals, 2,000 exotic creatures and 200 different species, many of which are endangered, all in a lush flora surrounding. A tourist train (Serengeti Express) and a cable car (Skyride) provide effortless access to the different areas of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Since 2020, the park has added its 10th roller coaster (Iron Gwazi), a hybrid concept that uses the wooden track of a previous attraction (Gwazi in operation from 1999 to 2015) equipped with a new steel structure. It is considered the steepest (91-degree descent angle), fastest (122 km/h), and highest (63 metres) roller coaster in North America. In an effort to provide more thrills to its visitors, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is planning to open a new ride in spring 2023 that will reach a dizzying 110 km/h. Called the Serengeti Flyer, this family-friendly ride is not technically a roller coaster and will swing you back and forth through 230 degrees of rotation.

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  • Falcon’s Fury, the highest free-fall tower in North America ; the all-new Serengeti Flyer, in the Nairobi section (accessible for children who are at least 1.20 m tall)
  • Multiple roller coasters (Cheetah Hunt, Kumba, Scorpion, Sand Serpent, Cobra’s Curse, Air Grover, Montu, SheiKra and the newest additions Tigris (opened in 2019) and Iron Gwazi (completed in 2022)
  • Outdoor activities in a jungle setting (Jungala area); Congo River Rapids water attraction
  • Tropical landscape with exotic animals (cheetahs, tigers, lions, gorillas, monkeys, elephants, giraffes, hippos, hyenas, rhinos, zebras, penguins, kangaroos, sloths, flamingos, meerkats…)
  • The cable car overlooking the African wildlife and the Serengeti Express steam train across the plain
  • The section dedicated to crocodiles and alligators (Nairobi); the original part of the park dedicated to birds (Bird Gardens)
  • Shows, restaurants, stores and various entertainment venues
  • The Animal Care Center, which is open to the public, and the opportunity to feed some of the park’s animals
  • The completely renovated Pantopia Theater adjacent to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay; the events organized each year in the park (music concert from January to March, gastronomic festival in March and April, night shows in summer, Christmas celebrations…)
  • When it was established in 1959 as Busch Gardens Africa, the site consisted solely of a brewery for the production and tasting of beer (Anheuser-Busch), coupled with an exotic bird garden. The brewery has been closed since 1995 and Tampa Busch Gardens is now focusing its efforts on developing the theme park.
  • In 2019, the park celebrated its 60th anniversary by returning to its brew master roots. Any visitor over the age of 21 was offered two free beers with every visit to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay during this special anniversary period.
  • Each year, the magazine Amusement Today presents awards for excellence in the theme park industry at the Golden Ticket Awards ceremony. Experts, journalists and ride suppliers come together to vote in various categories. Iron Gwazi was awarded the prize for the Best New Roller Coaster in 2022.
  • Buy your ticket online to get the best price.
  • Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to see the animals.
  • If possible, avoid going to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay on a stormy day or you may miss out on most attractions (which are closed for safety reasons at the first sign of a storm).
  • Park hours may vary depending on the season.

Where to eat

  • First Watch Restaurant
    (diversified breakfast)
  • Al's Finger Licking Good Bar-B-Que
    (American-style grilling)
  • Bern's Steak House
    (fabulous desserts)

Where to go

  • Henry B. Plant Museum
    (listed building)
  • Tampa Theatre
    (Tampa's historic theater)
  • Lettuce Lake Park
    (wetland sanctuary)

Where to stay

  • Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa
    (quiet and comfortable)
  • Holiday Inn Tampa North
    (near Busch Gardens Tampa Bay)
  • Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
    (great view of the bay)