I was so excited to be selected as a Busch Gardens, Tampa ambassador! My family and I LOVE to travel and I've been told we rarely stay home on the weekends, so of course we jumped at the chance for this review. We live an easy two hour drive from Tampa, but we decided to stay in a hotel the night before so that we could arrive at Busch Gardens at opening so we had all day to visit. Busch Gardens is open 10-6.
We had a toddler, six and seven year old and two adults with us! Having a toddler with us limited some of the rides that we could go on, and next time we are going to ask someone to keep him so we can explore the park more. As it was, we still had an excellent time. We loved all of the animals and ALL the children loved the Stanley Falls and we had to go on that ride more than once! I admit, not only did the kids love this ride, I did as well! Children two and up can go on the ride with an adult, so our toddler took turns sitting on our lap through the ride. My husband took the two older children on Tanganyika Tidal Wave. They both LOVED it, and said it was a leisurely ride until the end where there is the drop that drenches you!! My son loved standing at the bridge afterwards and getting so wet that his shoes were soaking afterwards! Good thing he is seven and just goes with the flow! I thought it was a VERY smart idea that they offer these dryers that dry your whole body after the ride for only $5. We did not use this, because it was rather hot outside, and being wet kept them cooler. My seven year old and I decided to go on the Cheetah Hunt. We had our heart set on the Gwazi, but when we arrived it was closed for a little while for routine maintenance. Both of these rides were available to him because he is above 48 inches tall. Our friend, who is six, could have joined us too but she opted out of this "scary ride." The Cheetah Hunt was a VERY fast roller coaster that took our breath away. There are lots of twists and turns, and it even turns you upside down once. While it does not seem to last very long, it is quite an adventure!! The Serengeti Railway was relaxing to us, and was a great way to cool off, relax, and to get to different parts of the park. You get to tour animals in a natural type habitat, with someone telling you about different things and features. There are stops in Nairobi, Congo and Stanleyville and you get to see large free-roaming herds of African animals, including giraffe, zebra, antelope, ostrich. We also got to watch the alligators be fed. The older kids LOVED this! I am personally terrified of alligators so it was not my favorite part of the day but the kids were delighted with watching them chomp the raw chicken!
Busch Gardens does not allow outside food, with the exception of bottled water, so we stopped at Zambia Smokehouse. The food was quite honestly delicious, though a bit pricey. It was no more expensive than any other park meal though, but it did taste better! The kids each got a chicken nuggets, my hubby got a pulled beef brisket and I got the pulled beef brisket on a flatbread. Yummy!! We also had to stop for Dippin' Dots later, because it is a favorite of mine!
We had intended to make it to Madagascar Live, but a ride went over and we ran out of time. Instead we saw Opening Night Critters, which I am honestly happy we decided on instead! It was so much fun!! The kids laughed and laughed at the antics of the silly animals (many of whom were rescued from shelters all across America.) We even got to meet the animals and actors after the show! Watch this short video and you will see just how funny it was!
What impressed my husband and I most were the lack of lines! We visited in October, which we realize is "off season" but it was a Saturday and the lines were minimal! The longest we had to wait was on Cheetah Hunt, and that was during the middle of the day and it is an awesomely fun roller coaster. The wait there was 30 minutes. Other rides were only 10-15 minutes at a time!!
We plan on heading back to Busch Gardens, Tampa for what sounds like the beautiful Christmas Town! Next time, we do plan on getting souvenir cup because it is free refills throughout the day! I think we will really save money in the long run on that! We just had a blast and look forward to heading back soon!