Busch Gardens Tampa

Busch Gardens Africa33113 224

This park is a hybrid zoo and theme park all wrapped up in one. There are several animal interactions, shows, and rides geared to everyone in your family. I personally love coming to this park and I hope you’ll see why in this review, but first, here’s some history about the park and the area it’s located in.

History

This area was once the south end of Hillsborough Army Airfield during World War Two. the field was abandoned after the end of World War Two and was eventually renamed Henderson Field which eventually became Tampa’s first Drag Racing strip. In 1957 Schlitz purchased 15 acres to build their “million dollar brewery” and a year later, Anheuser Busch bought the south end and built their brewery where the park currently stands. Busch Gardens opened on March 31, 1959 as a brewery with a tour and beer tasting class and a small aviary collection, all at no charge. The Brewery tour included a long escalator ride called the “Stairway to the Stars” that takes people to a room on the roof of the brewery where they can see the brewery operations and learn what it takes to brew Anheuser beer.

In 1965, Busch Gardens added the 29 acre Serengeti Plains which had free roaming animals, at this point, Busch Gardens began charging admission as the park was starting to add attractions that were expensive. In 2009, Busch Gardens celebrated its 50th anniversary and set up a small museum documenting its history which you will see in the video below.

Today, Busch Gardens has ten themed areas, twelve animal exhibits, and hundreds of animals most of which are in the Serengeti plains area. The Themed areas include Morocco (entrance/exit), Crossroads, Egypt, Nairobi, Pantopia, Congo, Stanleyville, Jungala, Sesame Street Safari of Fun, and the Bird Gardens. We’ll start at the entrance/exit area of the park but first there are some things you need to know before getting to the entrance. You’ll be parking in a lot across the street from the park and you can choose to take the tram to the front gate or you can walk but it is a long walk to the ticket booths so I do recommend taking the tram. There is also an indoor air-conditioned kennel here as well but it is a first come fist served basis and the kennels will fill up during the busier times of the year and there is an additional fee as well depending on the size of the kennel you rent. They do provide water but will not feed or walk your pet so you’ll need to do that yourself.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 014

Busch Gardens Tampa 062

Busch Gardens Tampa 061

Now that we’re at the front gate, there’s a few things I should tell you before you enter. Throughout the park there are several recycling containers where you can deposit your plastic and aluminum bottles so please do so instead of just throwing them away. It’ll help reduce the garbage that’s deposited in landfills and it will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil as it does require the use of oil to make those things. Here what those containers look like.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 100 Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 104

There are several spots in the park that are designated smoking sections so you’ll need to consult the Busch Gardens park map to see where they’re at as you cannot smoke anywhere in the park including indoors, and in ride queues (lines). You can be dismissed from the park without refund if you’re caught.

Off to the right as you approach the main gate is the Nairobi Gate. This gate is usually only open during the really busy times of the year for annual pass holders only in order to cut down on the traffic at the main gate and in the Morocco area.

 Busch Gardens Tampa 063

Now lets venture into the park through the main gate.

Morocco

This area is themed to the Moroccan area of the African continent and contains some rides a show, seasonal character meet and greet locations, an outdoor restaurant, and the parks main souvenir shops as well as guest relations, lost and found, and the ticket booths.

Busch Gardens Tampa 067Busch Gardens Tampa 068

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 240Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 053

Above are photos of the main gate where you’ll purchase you’re tickets, go through the security checkpoint, and enter the park. Guest assistance and will call is on the right side of the photo and here’s a photo of the Ride Height Check Station located on one of the ticket booths. It’ll tell you what height you child must be to ride certain rides. You’ll also see sign posts like the one above that will guide you to different areas in the park.

Once you enter the park, you’ll see the Adventurer’s Outpost on the left where you can book your behind the scenes tours and purchase dining plans, quick que passes, and other things.

Busch Gardens Tampa 070Busch Gardens Tampa 069

 park and in the middle is a small gift shop and the Adventurers Photo where you can pick up you photos that were taken by the parks employees throughout the park.

049

On either side of the shop are basically gift shops where you can pick up your last-minute gift or souvenir to remember your visit to the park. At this point, you can turn left and head to Sesame Street Safari of Fun, or turn right and head for Egypt and Nairobi. we’re going to eventually head right but we need to go left to see what else is in this area. The next thing we see right in front of us is the Zagora Café.

Busch Gardens Tampa 074

his restaurant is an outdoor covered restaurant where you can pick up breakfast and lunch and dinner when the park is open late.

051

Busch Gardens Tampa 075

Next up is the Motor City Groove live stage show in the Marrakesh Theatre.

This show was formerly in the Pantopia Grill restaurant but was moved here during the renovations of the restaurant. The show is basically a musical revue filled with different popular songs.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 016

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 089

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 090Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 091Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 094Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 096

Next door is the Sultan’s Sweets ice cream shop to satisfy your sweet tooth while you watch the show.

Next up is a ride that is no-longer operational called Gwazi. This was two dueling wooden roller coasters in one location and it opened on June 18, 1999 and contained three fly by elements where the two trains came at each other. One side was called Lion and was more of a slalom type of coaster and the other side was called Tiger with tight turns. Each side had basically the same stats but were not racing as the did not run side by side. Each side was 3,508 feet long,105 feet tall, has a top speed of about 51 mph, and a total ride time of about two minutes and thirty seconds. This coaster was built by Great Coasters Inc. (GCI) who has built several other world-class coasters like Storm Runner at Hersheypark and White Lightning at Fun Spot America.

 2-1-14 101

SW&BGT 050

2-1-14 090

Gwazi 006 (2)Gwazi 007 (2)

Once you go through the main entry, you would have to choose which side you want to ride and believe me, they were far from being the same. My favorite side was the Tiger side due to the tight twists and turns.

BGA ! 032 (2)

Unfortunately, form 2005-2010, the ride had become pretty rough, even though it was a wooden coaster, it still was rough and I could only ride it once or twice without getting a slight headache. So it was decided that the whole ride would be completely re-tracked and had GCI’s new Millennium Flyer trains added that were lighter and more comfortable than the PTC trains the coaster originally opened with. It really helped and the ride was as good as it was when it originally opened. Here’s an off ride video I have on my YouTube channel that was shot not long after it reopened.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for it to resort to its rough ways and it was permanently shut down on February 1, 2015. There has been no decision on what will replace it yet as it does cost quite a bit of money to raze a structure of this size.

Busch Gardens 026

Next up is a kiddie ride called the Gwazi Gliders.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 021Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 022

This ride is pretty self-explanatory with riders sitting in gondolas that rotate around a central axis while going up and down at the same time. Also in this area is a gift shop and 3 point basketball challenge where you can possibly win merchandise for an extra fee.

Now, we’ll need to back track a bit and go around the Zagora Café to explore the rest of Morocco. The first thing we’ll see is a seasonal Character meet and greet location on the left where you can meet Santa, the Easter Bunny, and other characters during their respective seasons.

056

Then on the left are a few more gift shops and another ice cream shop called Moroccan Delights Ice Cream. Then, on our left, is our first animal encounter called the American Alligator Habitat.

057

You’ll get to see what an American Alligator looks like here and you can even meet the trainers and ask them questions at certain times of the day.

0581322-1-14 091

They’re not as big as their salt water crocodile cousins in Australia or Africa but they can get up to 15 or more feet long. Many people think that ring around their neck is just fat, well it isn’t. That is all muscle that is used when the Gators quickly clamp down on their prey. The force is so great that is can break bones and can actually be heard when the jaws close.

A little farther down on the right is the Moroccan Palace Theatre which currently houses a beautiful ice show called Iceploration.

061Busch Gardens Tampa 099

This is a story of a grandfather taking a reluctant grandchild away from electronics and on a voyage around the planet where the kid discovers the wonders of the world.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 215Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 218Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 219Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 220Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 223Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 224Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 225Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 226Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 227Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 228Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 229Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 232Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 233

The final area in Morocco is a large habitat called the Myombe Reserve that opened 1992. Here you’ll get to see Chimpanzees and Lowland Gorillas in their natural habitat.

Busch Gardens Tampa 080Busch Gardens Tampa 079

This area is heavily forested to give you the feel that you are in the jungle which is their native habitat and the first one is the Chimpanzee habitat.

Busch Gardens Tampa 081Busch Gardens Tampa 082Busch Gardens Tampa 088Busch Gardens Tampa 087Busch Gardens Tampa 085

Then comes the Gorilla Habitat and look closely as you’ll see two or three newborn babies.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 206Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 207Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 205

You can even learn about their plight and how they live, eat, and interact with each other and how they’re being threatened by human poaching and encroachment into their natural areas.

Busch Gardens Tampa 094Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 208

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 211Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 213

the exit is in the Nairobi area so we’ll turn right pas a gift shop, then turn left at the Moroccan Palace Theatre and pass under a broken arch and enter our next area.

Egypt

062

This area now encompasses the area that was formerly known as the Crown Colony Plaza which had a beautiful restaurant called the Crown Colony Restaurant, the former Monorail station, and Skyride’s drive station. This area was briefly renamed the Crossroads when the new Cheetah Hunt roller coaster was installed in the old Monorail station but then the area was absorbed by Egypt. There are food stands, restrooms, a first aid location, and a gift shop at the Cheetah Hunt exit.

Here is a video from YouTube user weatherguru76 of the old monorail ride that used to be where Cheetah Hunt is now. The monorail would leave the station and go out over the Veldt and Serengeti Plains over what is now the Edge of Africa area and re-enter the station by going over the parking lot. That is just the opposite way that Cheetah Hunt exits and enters the station, just to give you an idea on how the station was oriented for the monorail.

Here is a video on my YouTube channel of what the area used to look like during the days when it was owned by Anheuser Busch that shows what the area looked like as well as the Clydesdale Hamlet that eventually became the Cheetah Run exhibit.

The fir thing we come to in this area is the Cheetah Run habitat that features the Cheetah Run demonstration at certain times of the day.

06433113 233

Here’s what the Cheetah Run demonstration looks like from wgd2005’s YouTube channel.

This habitat is actually quite large and there’s usually several Cheetahs outside. It’s best to see them early in the morning as they’ll be more active at that time.

33113 22933113 23033113 231

Later in the afternoon/evening they’re more likely to be laying down in the shade due to the heat of the day.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 237

There are several places where you can learn about the Cheetahs and get up close to them by looking through the glass windows.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 238Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 236Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 239

Now that we’ve seen the Cheetahs, we’ll walk under another set of arches and turn left and a roller coaster called Cheetah Hunt that tries to mimic a Cheetah on the hunt.

2-1-14 097

069

Busch Gardens 152 Busch Gardens 153

This coaster opened on May 27, 2011 and utilizes the old monorail station house and queue and inside the queue is the Cheetah Rock which is supposed to be have special powers.

0712-1-14 005

This roller coaster is a family friendly roller coaster that has three launches, the first of which launches riders out of the station from 0-40 mph.

2-1-14 092

After the launch, the coasters goes up and around to the left then down into a trench for the next speed boosting launch.

2-1-14 0952-1-14 006

The second launches riders up to 60 mph up to the top of the Cheetah Tree element which is 102 feet tall. This is one of the ways the coaster mimics a Cheetah hunting as the Cheetah first climbs to a high spot, which can be a rock formation or tree, to spot their prey.

0662-1-14 004

Then the coaster goes down a 130 foot drop right into a trench and then up over the Skyride which is the first time that has ever been done.

2-1-14 00733113 237

The ride then dives under a walkway, swings up to the right going through a heart line roll on it way to the mid-course brake run.

33113 239

After the brake run, the coaster dives down into the former water element of the Rhino Rally attraction, then turns right into its third and final speed boost that launches riders up and over this air time hill on the right side of the photo above. Then it returns to the station by going over a walkway, down into a trench while turning right then back up and into the final brake run but not before one small dip before the brakes.

This coaster is really fun and smooth as is most of the coasters that are built by Inamin. The coaster is 4,429 feet long, 102 feet tall with a drop of 130 feet, and has a top speed of about 60 mph with one inversion. Earlier I said this coaster attempts to mimic a Cheetah while it is hunting and described how it starts its hunt and now I’ll finish it. The Cheetah comes down off its perch and pursues it prey and uses its agility and ability to accelerate when needed to catch its prey.

Here’s an off ride video from my YouTube Channel called Themeparkfanatic.

The next ride is literally right behind Cheetah Hunt with its entrance right next to Cheetah Hunt’s main entrance and is one of the parks oldest rides called the Skyride.

072

This Skyride was built by Von Roll and opened here in 1974 and really offers great aerial views of the park. This is a transportation type ride that ends in the Stanleyville section of the park so you will have to disembark and get in line to make a return trip. The ride is 60 feet high and travels at a stately 3 mph and is the only operating Skyride of its kind that has a 90 degree bend in the middle. That bend was actually a station that used to serve the Treetops observation stand that was near the Veldt/Serengeti Plains. The Treetops was located off to the right side of the ride as you approach the mid-point check station. It was over the railroad tracks and had a small snack stand inside, but it didn’t last long as it really wasn’t able to accommodate the disabled guests at all as they would have to climb several flights of stairs to get to the observation stand.

073074075

The next photos are of the midpoint check station and the second leg of the trip to the Stanleyville area.

08108233113 243

Here are some photos of the Stanleyville station and a photo of the return trip.

088Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 167079

Here is my video of the trip from Egypt to Stanleyville and back.

Next up is a place to eat if you’re at the park during the busy season.

068

This is the Crown Colony House with a full service sit down restaurant upstairs and a quick counter service restaurant downstairs.

BGA ! 006 (2)067

There is an elevator in the clock tower that’ll get you to the first and second floors.

Busch Gardens Tampa 106

Busch Gardens Tampa 101BGA ! 005

Now we’ll head into the rest of Egypt which opened in the mid 1990’s.

Busch Gardens Tampa 102

This area is filled with games, photo opps, a gift shop, arcade, restrooms, a world-class roller coaster, and a children’s archeological dig sand box. There used to be a air-conditioned walk-through attraction called Tut’s Tomb which closed in the winter of 2014 to make room for a new family attraction. This attraction was really quite neat as it was narrated from room to room with the recorded voice of the deceased Pharaoh. Here’s my walk-through video of the experience and I do apologize if I didn’t capture the narration. Hindsight is always 20/20 and now I wish I had done that now that it is gone.

Cobra’s Curse

IMG_8797

This is a very family friendly coaster and it really is quite fun as well.

Cobra's%20Curse%20Key%20Rendering%20#2 Cobra's%20Curse%20Key%20Rendering

SW&BGT 072IMG_8798

This coaster is a custom family coaster from Mack Rides and it opened here on June 16, 2016 and it is really well themed and comes complete with a back story. An excavation company called VISE discovered an ancient temple in Egypt that was dedicated to the Snake King. The Snake King was a benevolent god that got too powerful so the Snake King’s subjects revolted and tore down all the Snake Kings statues and temples so nobody could worship him, thereby robbing him of all his power. Then VISE discovered the temple and statue in pieces and began to reassemble them and that is when the Snake King took revenge on everyone by calling to all the snakes to destroy the humans. This coaster is very unique in that it has an elevator lift instead of a traditional lift hill that takes a two car train to the top of the 70 foot tall coaster. Then riders pass very close to the Snake King’s open mouth all while hearing the statue talk to them. Then riders take a dive at a top speed of 40 mph into a helix and the first brake run. Then the Snake King talks to the riders again and turns the cars around so the go through the next helix backwards. Then the train ascends the final lift hill backwards where the Snake King again talks to you and releases the trains cars to free spin through the rest of the course. A free spin means that it isn’t programmed and is dependent on the weight distribution of the riders so each ride will be different from that point forward.

IMG_8794IMG_8795IMG_8793IMG_8800IMG_8799IMG_8801IMG_8803IMG_8802IMG_8806IMG_8804

Here is my off ride video of this amazingly fun coaster from my YouTube channel, Themeparkfanatic. This video includes a walk-through of the queue which includes a look at several Cobra snakes and a projection show telling the story of the Snake King.

Next up we take on Egypt’s marquee attraction called Montu.

Montu was built by B&M in 1996.The crown this particular god is wearing shows that he is Pharo of both Upper and Lower Egypt. (2)

Montu is named after the Egyptian Falcon god of war and this incredible coaster was built by Bollinger & Mabillard (B&M) and opened on May 16, 1996 and has consistently been ranked in the top ten ever since for worlds best steel roller coasters.

Busch Garden Africa 003 (2)

Busch Garden Africa 006 (2)Busch Garden Africa 008 (2)Busch Garden Africa 007 (2)

This coaster is a steel Inverted coaster which means the track is above you with no floor below you. Please don’t confuse Inverted with suspended as there is a difference as a suspended coaster has the track above riders but there is a floor and suspended coasters do not go upside down and Inverted coasters do go upside down.

Montu is truely a great ride. This one ranks highly in my list of most favorite coasters. (2)

This coaster is 150 feet tall, is 3,983 feet long, has seven inversions, a top speed of about 60 mph, and a ride time of about three minutes long. Here’s a photo of the first drop,

Montu 1 (2)

followed by a loop,

Montu 003 (2)

then a trip through a tunnel and into the second inversion called an Immelmann.

Busch Garden Africa 005 (2)2-1-14 094Busch Garden Africa 004 (2)

Then comes a zero-g roll which is the photo on the left and the third inversion and the Batwing, a double in he photo on the right. The Batwing (inversions four and five) is the first element of its kind on a roller coaster and is half buried in a trench.

Busch Garden Africa 013 (2)This is the fourth and fifth inversion. It's called the Batwing, a first of it's kind for an Inverted coaster (2)

Then a trip through the mid-course brake run and right into inversion number six, a loop that’s half buried in a trench.

Montu 007 (2)

Then a quick series of turns and into the seventh and final inversion, a corkscrew that is half buried in a trench and then a quick turn into the final brake run into the station.

Busch Garden Africa 017 (2)Busch Garden Africa 018 (2)

Here’s my off ride video of Montu and I hope you see why I consider this one of the best coasters I’ve ever been on.

Well. We’re done with Egypt but we must backtrack through the land and then turn right at the Crown Colony House Restaurant and head to the next area called the Edge of Africa.

Busch Gardens Tampa 104

This area has nothing but animals that can be found in the African continent. It is a walk-through attraction that opened in 1997 that has Meerkats, Lions, Spotted Hyenas, Hippos, Lemurs, and a view of the Serengeti Plain.

Here is the first one which is an outlook on the Serengeti Plain with Giraffes,

Busch Gardens Tampa 123

Busch Gardens Tampa 120

Busch Gardens Tampa 122Busch Gardens Tampa 121

Busch Gardens Tampa 107

Up next is a Troup of Meerkats that are sleeping.

Busch Gardens Tampa 124

Then the Hippopotamus habitat that has multiple viewing areas.

Busch Gardens Tampa 116

Busch Gardens Tampa 115Busch Gardens Tampa 113Busch Gardens Tampa 114

You may see one or many see one or many of the Ring-tailed Lemurs that live here.

Busch Gardens Tampa 109Busch Gardens Tampa 111

Next up are the Pride of Lions.

Busch Gardens Tampa 126Busch Gardens Tampa 117

Only these three were in sight this time as the rest were sleeping off the afternoon heat. There are several interesting places to view the Lions from including these Land Rovers.

Busch Gardens Tampa 119Busch Gardens Tampa 118

Last but not least are the Spotted Hyenas.

Busch Gardens Tampa 125

Like I said earlier, the best time to see these animals is in the morning when they’re up and about and the heat of the day hasn’t hit yet.

Now we walk over and under the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster and cross over the railroad tracks to enter our next area.

Nairobi

We’ll have to turn left and go all the way down to Curiosity Caverns to start out tour of Nairobi.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 198

This area is hard to find so I’ll tell you it is between Jambo Jct and the current penguin enclosure.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 199

This area really dispels the rumors of some of the smaller species of animals like fruit bats, snakes, some small monkey species, and other animals.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 203Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 202Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 201Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 200

Next up is Jambo Junction where you can participate in animal feeding, husbandry lessons, and behavior training. There are many animals here to see such as Cuscuses, Caribbean Flamingos, Sloths, various birds, a Rock Hyrax, and Opossums.

Busch Gardens Tampa 176

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 197

Busch Gardens Tampa 178Busch Gardens Tampa 181Busch Gardens Tampa 179Busch Gardens Tampa 182Busch Gardens Tampa 183

Next up is the Serengeti Railway, one of the parks transportation rides.

2-1-14 009

From here, you can see all the animals on the Veldt and Serengeti Plains and you can stay on it as long as you want to. There are three trains in the fleet, this yellow one came to the park from Six Flags St Louis, the green one came from Kings Dominion just north of Richmond, Virginia, USA, and the red one was original to the park when the ride opened as the Zuma Express in 1971. There are three station on this loop and they are in Nairobi, Congo, and Stanleyville.

Here’s part one of my full circuit on ride video.

Here’s part two of this ride.

Now that we’ve ridden the train, we’ll disembark and grab a snack at one of the Kenyan Kanteen or the Caravan Crossing quick service food stands.

You can also go next door and book your Serengeti Safari excursion where you can pay extra to take a flatbed truck out on the Serengeti Plain and feed the animals and get a photo taken while doing so.

Busch Gardens Tampa 130

Busch Gardens Tampa 128

Next up is the Animal Care Center.

Busch Gardens Tampa 131

Here you can learn how food is being prepared and how medical examinations are conducted and, if you get there early enough, you might even see an exam or surgical procedure taking place there.

Busch Gardens Tampa 132Busch Gardens Tampa 133

On this day, a common Loon was brought in as it was found alive and unresponsive on the roadside in the Tampa area. they scoped the bird and did an x-ray and really couldn’t find anything wrong other than its eye was infected and no longer working. The next step was treating the infected eye, getting its weight up, and observing the birds behaviors.

You can pick up one of the many cards in the Animal Care Center and scan it at any of the stations from observation to diagnosis, to treatment to learn how they care for their animals.

Busch Gardens Tampa 138Busch Gardens Tampa 139Busch Gardens Tampa 140Busch Gardens Tampa 143Busch Gardens Tampa 146

Busch Gardens Tampa 135Busch Gardens Tampa 136Busch Gardens Tampa 144

Next up is an off-road ride called Rhino Rally.

Unfortunately, this ride is currently closed for a refurbishment and possibly a complete redesign of the trails.

BGA ! 003 (2)

This ride is very family friendly and can be ridden by just about anyone and you can see many animals including the White Rhino which is an endangered species.

Here’s my on ride video of this attraction.

Next up is the Elephant habitat. Here you can see one of the five or six elephants playing in the water. The other elephants appear to be in the back area.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 194

Now that we’ve seen everything in Nairobi, it time to go on our next adventure.

Pantopia

Busch Gardens Tampa 148

This area originally opened as Timbuktu in 1980 and was re-themed into the current area in 2014 and is basically a bazar, or village square . This area has several games, food stands, gift shops, rides, restrooms, a counter service indoor restaurant called the Pantopia Grille, a first aid station, shows, several kiddie rides, and two steel roller coasters.

One thing Busch Gardens does is they try to reuse things whenever possible and they did this here as well whether it’s used ride components or cookware that is being reused in decorative theming, tables, or other things.

125126127113

Here you can see some of the different food stands and how they’re decorated to represent what they’re serving.

124114Busch Gardens Tampa 171

Here’s the Pantopia Grill which used to be called Festhaus when it opened, it is an indoor sit-down quick service restaurant that also has a show stage. The restaurant is currently closed for a refurbishment and will be open soon.

108

The first ride we come to is the newest ride called Falcon’s Fury.

094

It is a drop tower that was built by Intamin and opened here on Sept 2, 2014. It is a Sky Jump model that is 335 feet tall with a drop of 310 feet at a speed of 60 mph.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 169

It is also the worlds first drop tower to rotate riders at the top so they’re facing down a they drop towards the ground.

095111112Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 191Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 192Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 173

This is easily the best drop tower I’ve ever ridden and would only recommend it for those that feel up to the challenge. I myself have ridden this many times and absolutely love it. Here’s my off ride video from my YouTube channel.

Falcon’s Fury took the place of the Sandstorm that was moved to their Sesame Street park just north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Up next is a classic steel roller coaster called the Scorpion.

2-1-14 113

This is a rare coaster as it is from the well-known Anton Schwarzkopf Company and is only one of three Silverarrow models that were ever built. It also is one of the few looping roller coasters that still uses individual ratcheting lap bars.

2-1-14 010

This coaster usually only has one train on the track with the other train with the other train in their warehouse being completely overhauled. You will only see both trains on the track, one being on the circuit and the other resting on the transfer track, when they’ve finished overhauling one train and are preparing to take the other one back to the warehouse.

1292-1-14 1152-1-14 116

Schwarzkopf coasters are well-known for having very circular loops instead of the more familiar Clothiod, or upside down teardrop, loop. I personally recommend riders chose the middle car in the train as you get a bit of a zero-g feeling at the top of the loop.

2-1-14 117This double helix has a suprising amount of positive g's in it. (2)

This coaster finishes strong with two downward spiraling helices that are quite intense.

Aride at night, only enhances the experience. (2)

I love riding the Scorpion and it is quite smooth and very family friendly for those that choose to ride. The Scorpion opened on May 16, 1980, is 1,817 feet long, is just over 60 feet high, has a top speed of just over 40 mph with one inversion and a total ride time of one minute and thirty seconds. Here’s my off ride video from my YouTube Channel.

Next are some kiddie rides

122

I believe there are two or three kiddie rides here with the Bush Flyers being out front and possibly a small kiddie train behind and one more right next to it.

Then there’s one of the few remaining Looping Starships from Intamin, this one is called the Phoenix.

115

Here’s my off ride video I took when the ride had a different paint scheme.

Next up is a steel roller coaster from Mack Rides called the Sand Serpent.

116

This is a wild mouse type coaster which means it has many sudden, quick, and very flat turns and sudden drops.

117

This coaster originally opened as Izzy at its sister park, Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA in 1996. The name was changed to Wild Maus in 1997 and then the coaster was moved to Busch Gardens Tampa and renamed Cheetah Chase in 2004. The coaster kept that name until 2011 when it was changed to its current name so it wouldn’t be confused with the Cheetah Hunt coaster that opened at the same time.

Busch Gardens 049 (2)

Here’s my on ride video of the Sand Serpent.

Next is a carousel called the Sahara Go Round from the Chance Rides company.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 190

This carousel originally opened with the land in 1980 and was originally called the Caravan Carousel and is a menagerie carousel as it has many other animals other than jut horses. It is a very family friendly ride as just about anyone can ride it. Here’s my of ride video of the carousel.

The last thing in Pantopia is a new show that was moved from the former Bird Gardens Theater to the indoor Pantopia Theatre in 2014 which used to be the old Pirates 4-D theatre.

Busch Gardens Tampa 158

119Busch Gardens Tampa 156

This is just you’re typical animal show that is well done and set to a specific story that the animals have a big part in.

Busch Gardens Tampa 149

Busch Gardens Tampa 151Busch Gardens Tampa 152Busch Gardens Tampa 153Busch Gardens Tampa 154

Afterwards, the trainers bring some of the animals out for show and photo opps. This show is well worth your time and can be a welcome break from the heat as it is air-conditioned.

Busch Gardens Tampa 155

Here’s my full length video of the show.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 189

Well that does it for Pantopia so now we venture on to the next area.

Congo

Python 001 (2)

This area of the park opened in the late 1970’s and was much bigger then as it encompassed the area now known as Jungala which we will talk about later on. The sign above no-longer exists as it was removed to make way for Jungala. This area includes several rides, a gift shop, restrooms, a food stand, and the Congo Train Station.

The first ride we come to is the Ubanga Banga Bumper Cars where you can ride in your own cars, if you’re tall enough, and have fun bumping each other until the ride is done.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 188Busch Gardens Tampa 167

Next we come to the Serengeti Railway’s Congo station where you can board the train and head to the Stanleyville or Nairobi stations. After that is the Kumba, the area’s marquee attraction.

Kumba is Swahili for Roar. It opened in 1993 and was built by B&M (2)

Kumba 020 (2)

Kumba means roar in the Swahili language and boy does it ROAR!  This coaster was built by the Swiss firm B&M (Bollinger & Mabillard) and opened here on April 20, 1993 and has been running strong ever since.

2-1-14 130Here's the Dive loop, the worlds first when Kumba opened in 1993. (2)

Kumba is 143 feet tall, has seven inversions including two first of their kind elements like the Dive Loop (above right photo) and a zero-g roll (below) as well as the loop around the lift hill which is one of the hallmarks of a B&M coaster.

Kumba is also unique in that the station in the middle of the ride. In other words, the ride comes close to the station three times. (2)

After those first three inversions, the coaster dives into a Cobra Roll (two inversions) over the Congo River bridge, the comes back for a brief run over the coasters mid-course brake run. Then the coaster goes through the interlocking corkscrews which is another B&M hallmark.

Here's the Cobra Roll which wraps around the entry bridge the the Congo River Rapids. (2)

2-1-14 128coaster pics 007 (2)2-14-14 016

Then the coaster does a quick fly by of the station, dives into a tunnel, does an upward 360 degree flat-spin and then through the final brake run just before the station all while riding a coaster that’s 3,978 feet long at a top speed of about 60 mph in just under three minutes. I recommend riding in the last row in the middle left seat for the maximum amount of air time. Here’s my off ride video of the coaster and you’ll hear how it really does ROAR!

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 177Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 179

This attraction can be a very wet attraction so I wouldn’t recommend it for those that don’t like getting wet. The Congo River Rapids is a River Raft water attraction that was built by Intamin and opened here on May 26, 1982. It is about a quarter-mile long and features rapids, water cannons, and waterfalls that can get everyone absolutely soaked.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 180

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 183Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 181Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 182Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 178

Here’s my off ride video of the Congo River Rapids.

That was the last ride in the area but there are two remote control games here where you can pilot boats or monster trucks through obstacle courses for an extra charge per game.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 175

Next up is a play area for the kids that are too old for the kiddie rides but not tall enough yet for the big coasters.

Jungala

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 137

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 139Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 138

As I said before, this area used to be part of the Congo and Jungala replaced the area that used to have the Python steel roller coaster and the Vivi outdoor restaurant. The Python was the first roller coaster in the southeastern US to invert riders and operated from July 1, 1976 to October 31, 2006.

Python 008 (2)

And here are the two corkscrews (2)Python was the first coaster in Florida to go upside down. (2)I've got to hand it to Busch Gardens. This is the most beautifully landscaped corkscrew coaster I've seen (2)The inversion was only just invented when this ride was built. At that time, the ride was very popular. (2)

The coaster was only 1,200 feet long, had two inversions (double corkscrew), was only 72 feet tall, had a top speed of about 40 mph, and a ride time of just over one minute long. That may seem tame by today’s standards but it was quite thrilling in its heyday and I will remember it as being the first roller large roller coaster I got to ride by myself. It should be noted that the Python was built by Arrow Dynamics and designed by the famous Ron Toomer. Fortunately, pieces of the Python are still in use today as the trains were shipped to the Busch Gardens park in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA to be used on the Loch Ness roller coaster and some of the steel tubing was reused in the Orangutan Habitat in Jungala. Here’s my tribute to the Python.

Now lets see what Jungala is like. There are several rides and animal exhibits in this area as well as restaurants, gift shops, and restrooms so lets start with the first thing that is on our left.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 163

2-1-14 109

The Tiger Trail takes you to two separate areas that are connected by tunnels and bridges so the tigers can go to different areas. Here you can see the Bengal Tigers swim and play if you get here early enough.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 166Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 164

There’s even a pop-up viewing area here which the Tigers love to lounge on.

2-1-14 1102-1-14 111

You can barely see the tunnel entrance in the photo below, just look for the paws of the white tiger.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 165

That tunnel will lead to another area that has multiple viewing locations.

089

There’s also an elevated viewing stand called the Tiger Lodge where you can watch them in the comfort of an air-conditioned room and where there are several interactive displays where you can learn all about the Tigers.

Now we’ll cross the walkway and see our next animal encounter called the Orangutan Outpost.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 141

From this air-conditioned elevated observation post, you can observe these beautiful species Asian species of the Extant Great Apes. You can also learn all about them through the interactive displays in this building as well.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 1402-1-14 125

You can also see the steel structures that used to be part of the Python roller coaster being used to support the high climbing platforms the Orangutans frequently use.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 156Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 142

Next up is some fun for the kiddies, and adults, alike.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 144Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 145

Inside this outdoor play area are several play structures for kids of all ages to have fun on and wear themselves out in.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 157Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 159Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 160

There’s even a water play area for the kids and toddlers.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 148Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 146

In this area are two rides that the adults can ride as well called the Wild Surge and the Jungle Flyers. The Wild Surge is a tower ride that goes up and down with a few big drops at the end.

BGA ! 007 (2) Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 158

You can see my off ride video of this attraction below.

The Jungle Flyers is a zip line type attraction where riders sit in seats and go out to a point, then return to the station.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 149

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 147

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 150Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 151Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 152Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 153Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 154

This area also has several exhibits including this Flying Fox habitat.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 161

There are other animal habitats that include viewing stations that only kids can get into.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 162

There is also a street show and character meet and greet in Jungala at certain times of the day. They’ll come out and do a small show and then stick around for a lengthy photo opp for the family and kids.

091

092

Now that the kids have worn themselves out, we’ll walk on over to the “wettest” part of the park.

Stanleyville

I say this is the “wettest” area of the park as Stanleyville has two of the parks water rides, one of the will get you absolutely soaked. This area of the park opened in 1973 with the Stanley Falls (log) Flume and African Queen Boat rides. Unfortunately, the African Queen Boat ride is no longer in operation and was replaced by the Tanganyika Tidal Wave. In addition to there being two water rides, there is one steel roller coaster, an indoor/outdoor counter service restaurant, a gift shop, restrooms, an indoor show, and two transportation ride stations.

The first ride we come to is the Stanleyville Skyride Station. You can get an aerial view of the park from this ride while going from Stanleyville to Egypt on the other side. Unfortunately, you must disembark and wait in line to get back on if you want to return to Stanleyville.

088

Next up is the Stanley Falls Flume.

BGA ! 036 (2)

2-1-14 011

086

This is your typical log flume ride from Arrow Dynamics that has two drops with the last one being the highest at 43 feet. You do get wet, but not soaked and the wetness basically is like someone using their hands to splash water on you from a pool. This is also a ride that everyone can ride and is nice on those hot summer days and they do take a photo of you at the bottom of the hill.

Here’s my on ride video I took a number of years ago.

The next one is a water ride that will get you completely soaked called the Tanganyika Tidal Wave.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 107

This ride opened in 1989 and is an Extended Spillwater model of the Shoot the Chute ride from Intamin that has a 55 foot drop at the end. This ride also uses some of the waterways that were used in the old African Queen Boat ride including the African Village. Here’s an on ride video from FloridaValentine’s YouTube channel.

As you can see, the riders a pretty much soaked but that doesn’t end there. You can also get soaked on the bridge after you exit the ride if you’re not paying attention.

9-8-13 0519-8-13 053

There’s nothing quite like getting hit with a wall of water after you get off the ride. Here’s my off ride view of the splashdown.

You can get mostly dry quickly if you want but you’ll have to pay to use one of these full body dryers like this one near the exit.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 109

Next we’ll walk across the way for an indoor show in the Stanleyville Theatre.

Busch Gardens Tampa 163

This show is no longer being shown but it was an entertaining show to say the least. It was installed in this theater that was an outdoor covered theatre that was used for seasonal shows and special events. The Madagascar Live! Operation Vacation show featured Alex The Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julian the Ringtailed Lemur and his loyal subject, the Penguins, and a live band. Unfortunately Marty the Zebra and Melman the Giraffe aren’t in this show. Different characters from the show would come out for photo opportunities just before the show begins.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 111Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 113

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 115Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 117Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 118Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 122Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 124Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 129Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 130Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 131Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 132Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 134Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 136

After cooling off while watching the show, we’ll head around the corner to our next ride called SheiKra.

The others are G-4 in Taiwan and Oblivion in Alton Towers near Manchester, UK. (2)Sheikra (2)

SheiKra was the first Dive coaster built in the US and the worlds first roller coaster to have a true ninety degree first drop. It originally opened here on May 21, 2005 with a floor and was converted to a floorless coaster on June 16, 2007 and seats eight riders per row with three rows per train. How do you get on to a floorless train? Well, the train comes into the station and floors lift hydraulically from the side, then riders enter and exit the ride vehicles. Once the riders are secure, the floors fall away and the train departs the station.

Floorless Sheikra 005 (2)Floorless Sheikra 006 (2)Floorless Sheikra 008 (2)

The coaster itself is 200 feet tall, has one inversion, a track length of about 3,188 feet and a ride time of about two minutes and twenty seconds and was built by B&M.

Sheikra Media Daze 5-20-05 018 (2)

After ascending the lift, riders are treated to a panoramic view of the Tampa area, on clear days, you can even see St Petersburg across the bay. Riders then are slowed and engaged by a drop brake which hangs riders at the very top of the drop looking down 200 feet at the ground between 1-5 seconds.

Floorless Sheikra 004 (2)2-1-14 121

SW&BGT 046SW&BGT 047

2-1-14 123

Riders are then dropped where they’ll reach speeds up to 70 mph at the bottom and then they’ll go right up into the Immelmann inversion and then swing around into the mid-course brake run.

2-1-14 119Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 110

Once they’re in the brake run, they’re slowed to a slow roll and then they drop into a second near vertical drop right into a tunnel. Then the train exits the tunnel and executes a high banked turn over the Zambia Smokehouse and into the water brakes. At this point, riders DO NOT get wet but everyone near the south end of the splashdown pool gets soaked.

Floorless Sheikra 001 (2)Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 101Floorless Sheikra 015 (2)2-1-14 118Floorless Sheikra 011 (2)

Then the train banks to the right and does a 270 degree turn into the station brakes. There are actually only six or seven of these Dive coasters in the world and two of those are in the US so this is pretty unique for the area. Here’s my off ride video of this coaster.

Here are some nice time-lapse nighttime shots I took a few years ago.

Busch Gardens 028 (2)Busch Gardens 025 (2)Busch Gardens 024 (2)

Next there’s the Stanleyville train station where you can board the Serengeti Railway for the Nairobi area or the Congo area.

Next is the Zambia Smokehouse, one of the best restaurants in the park in my opinion. The entire restaurant is located under the turn around part for SheiKra.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 101Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 102

The entrance is really a great photo spot for those that have a good eye and a quick finger for their camera.

Floorless Sheikra 009 (2)

The restaurant itself is a counter service restaurant that serves delicious B-B-Q ribs, sandwiches, salads, deserts, and wraps with different side items like fruit, fries, macaroni & cheese, and others. You can choose to eat outdoors in a well shaded spot next to the splashdown pool without getting wet or you can eat indoors if it’s just too hot outside.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 105Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 106

After having your fill of food, why not head over the bridge to the Lory Landing and feed lots of Lorikeets fore and extra charge? Or you can simply walk in to the aviary and see all the different and exotic birds that call that area home if you don’t want to feed them.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 075

2-1-14 132 2-1-14 133 2-1-14 134 2-1-14 135 2-1-14 136 2-1-14 137 2-1-14 141 Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 076 Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 078 Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 079 Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 080 Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 081 Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 082

Now we’ll travel on to out next area and let our kids have some fun.

Sesame Street Safari of Fun

 This area has gone through a number of transformations from when originally opened as the Dwarf Village sometime in the 60’s. The Dwarf Village was transformed into the Land of Dragons in 1995 and finally into the Sesame Street Safari of Fun in 2010. Here’s my walk-through video of what the Land of Dragons looked like.

The former Land of Dragons was rethemed and expanded with the addition of a character meet and greet breakfast, a junior coaster, and a photo opp place. There are several rides, a large multilevel play structure, water play areas, a show, gift shop, restrooms, and a food stand.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 054

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 069Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 067Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 058Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 066Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 068Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 070Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 072Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 074Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 073

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 071

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 063

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 062

Here’s the Character Meet and Greet Breakfast location and the photo opp location.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 064Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 059Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 060

There is one show in the Sunny Day Theatre called “A is for Africa” where you can see and sing along with your favorite Sesame Street characters.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 056Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 055

There are a few animal habitats outside of the entrance like this Red Knobbed Hornbill birds.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 084

There is a junior coaster from Zierer called Air Grover which opened on March 27, 2010. It is a Force 190 model that is family friendly and is relatively tame.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 061

Here’s my off ride view from my YouTube channel.

We’ll now head into the oldest area of the park after the kiddies have worn themselves out in the previous two areas.

Bird Gardens

This is the original section of the park when it opened in 1959 and it also contained the Hospitality House where you could take a class in brewing and sample the many alcoholic beverages that Anheuser Busch provided when they owned the park. Since then, it has been transformed into an all you can eat buffet that requires a reservation.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 097

this area also hosted the bird gardens show until 2014 when the show was moved indoors to the Pantopia area. There also used to be a dedication plaque where the military monument currently stands.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 050Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 051

This area has also largely been gardens ever since it opened back in 1959 which I think is nice. as you’ll get to see a flock of Flamingos and other exotic birds here including a rare white Peacock.

2-1-14 012Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 052Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 0402-1-14 1432-1-14 139

2-1-14 138

You can also see several floral arrangements and topiaries here as well.

2-1-14 1442-1-14 145BGA ! 008BGA ! 012 (2)Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 029

There are also two exhibits here as well which are the Walkabout way that has many small Wallabies and Emus that can be fed for an extra fee and a walk in aviary called Kookaburra’s Nest.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 042Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 045Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 046Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 049Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 047

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 0282-1-14 013Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 030Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 031Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 032Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 037Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 036Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 035Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 033Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 034

Well that does it for tis review and I hope you enjoyed it and discovered a few things you might not have known about this park.

Busch Gardens and Fun Spot America 174

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s