Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Covering over three hundred acres, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Tampa, Florida is one of the largest zoos in North America. More than a zoo, however, the attraction features shows, shopping, roller coasters, and interactive experiences, in addition to the abundant animals. Busch Gardens Tampa is also engaged in widespread animal conservation efforts, establishing itself as a world-class animal care facility.

Originally the hospitality center for the American Brewer Anheuser Busch, the garden opened in 1959 and expanded rapidly. By the mid-1960s, the park had grown beyond the beer gardens with the opening of the 29 acre Serengeti Plain exhibit. The park continued expanding in the 1970s, opening its first roller coaster in 1976. Growth continued into the 90s, taking over the former brewery site in 1995. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is now an expansive theme park and zoo, with more than 12,000 animals, representing 250 species, 30 of which are endangered. The Park’s animal care efforts have been featured on the TV shows The Wildlife Docs, which is filmed at the Park’s Animal Care Center, one of the largest, most respected zoological facilities in North America. The Center, which cares for all of the Park’s creatures, is open to visitors.

»Exhibits

Exhibits

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s exhibits feature all manner of animal, both big and small. The park recommends visiting most animal enclosures early in the day or at dusk, when many animals are out and most active. Amazing animals from Australia to Africa can be seen at every turn.

Bird Gardens and Lory Landing

With some 500 birds from around the world, this tropical oasis immerses visitors in wildlife. 250 flamingos are featured in this exhibit, providing amble photo opportunities in a mass of pink feathers. This exhibit also includes feeding opportunities, enabling even more interaction with the birds. The Lory Landing exhibit is also nearby. This immersive experience allows visitors to become part of the exhibit by purchasing fruit nectar and watching as the brightly-colored lorikeets flock to their hands to feed.

Cheetah Run

Showcasing the speed and agility of the world’s fastest animal, Cheetah Run is a must see for visitors. The unique set up of the enclosure provides guests with an eye-level point of view with these fast cats. Animal educators are available at the exhibit and can provide information on the animals, as well as specific times of the day when the cats will be racing and running. For those seeking a bit more thrill, the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster can also be found nearby.

Curiosity Cavern

Featuring various kinds of nocturnal animals, Curiosity Cavern showcases reclusive creatures. These include fruit bats, bushbabies, mongoose lemurs, pixie frogs, gila monsters and more, including the only milk snake in the park. This is the ideal place for visitors to find out what goes bump in the night. Located in the Nairobi area of the Park, Curiosity Cavern is near the enclosure for warm water penguins and the Park’s elephants.

Edge of Africa

With some of Busch Garden’s most recognizable animals, Edge of Africa is an exhibit with much to offer. Animals here include lions, hyenas, lemurs, meerkats, crocodiles, hippopotami, and the ever-menacing lappet-faced vultures. This exhibit features both keeper talks and opportunities for visitors to see the animals up close. It is recommended to view this particular exhibit in the morning or at dusk, as these are the times when the animals are most active.

Jambo Junction

Nearby to the Edge of Africa, guests can visit Jambo Junction. Visitors at this exhibit to get up close with the Park’s animal ambassadors, and perhaps even feed some of them. Featuring sloths, lemurs, opossums, Caribbean flamingos and more, this exhibit provides an interactive experience with some of the Park’s most interesting animals.

Jungala

There is much to see and experience in the Jungala area of the park, from exotic animals to rollercoasters to abundant shopping. Animals in this exhibit include orangutans, Bengal tigers and more. Guests can book the Tiger Insider Tour, a 30 minute walking tour during which participants observe keeper training methods and learn about the Park’s involvement in tiger conservation. Jungala also features some exciting adventures, including zip lines, a rope and bridge maze, and the Wild Surge Ride.

Myombe Reserve

Showcasing chimpanzees and gorillas, Myombe Reserve gives visitors the opportunity to get up close with the Park’s primates. Keeper talks are available throughout the day, to provide guests with more information on the apes, their care and habits. Situated in the Morocco area of the park, there is plentiful shopping and dining nearby.

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»Serengeti Plain & More

Serengeti Plain & More

The Serengeti Plain exhibit practically transports guests to East Africa, providing a variety of different ways to see and interact with the animals. The exhibit features birds, zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, antelopes, rhinoceroses, and more. Guests can also purchase the Serengeti Safari, an open air vehicle tour to see the animals up close, including the chance to feed a giraffe. If visitors prefer a bit more distance between themselves and the animals, the Skyride delivers a bird’s eye view of the 65 acre exhibit. Alternatively, the Serengeti Railway provides another way for visitors to view the animals, get around the exhibit and is wheel chair accessible. For those seeking a really different experience, the Serengeti Night Safari lets guests to spend two hours outside with the animals under the stars.

Walkabout Way

For those after an adventure down under, Walkabout Way provides just that. Guests can get to know some of Australia’s best loved creatures, from magpies and black swans to kangaroos and walaroos. This exhibit also offers opportunities to visit animal ambassadors and purchase food to feed the animals. Visitors may also be able to see zookeepers feeding the joeys! (baby kangaroos)

Adventures and Tours

For those animal-lovers wanting an even greater interaction at the park, there are several tours and programs available to heighten the experience. On the Keeper for a Day experience, visitors feed and care for animals at the Park. The Penguins Insider and The Elephant Insider experiences each enable guests to interact with animals and learn about the training and care of these creatures. The Heart of Africa Tour takes visitors behind the scenes with zookeepers to learn about and interact with lions, cheetahs and hippos. If a little more than animal interaction is what visitors seek, The Guided Adventure Tour is a five our tour with an expert guide through the Park, and includes the Serengeti Safari and front-of-the-line advantage for most rides. For the ultimate experience, The Elite Adventure Tour is even more complete. A seven hour tour with an expert guide, The Elite Adventure includes breakfast, lunch, a personal guide, animal encounters, the Serengeti Safari and front-of-the-line advantage on all rides. Zoological enthusiasts can also partake in a one night sleep over at the park for a truly immersive and unique experience.

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»Rides

Rides

With 13 rides, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is as much for the thrill-seeker as the animal-lover. Some of the highlights of this bakers’ dozen of thrills, include Falcon’s Fury, the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America. For those who crave the fast life, the Sheikra rollercoaster reaches speeds of 70 miles per hours and includes a 90 degree drop.

The Kumba rollercoaster includes a 360 degree spiral through one of the world’s largest vertical loops. There are also three water rides, including the Congo River Rapids, where adventurers get a taste of white water and waterfalls. Thrill seekers will also want to be sure to catch a ride on Montu, one of the longest and tallest inverted rollercoasters in the world.

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»Shows and Other Attractions

Shows and Other Attractions

In addition to the myriad exhibits and rides, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay also provides visitors with live entertainment and stage shows. Treasures of the Mirage at the Dragon Fire Grill is a party complete with belly dancers and cultural music. The Kareeba Jungala shows includes colorful characters in whimsical costumes. The Opening Night Critters show features animals both domestic and exotic. This show can be seen at the Pantopia Theater, and includes a meet and greet with human and animal stars after the performance. Iceploration is Tampa’s biggest ice show, featuring 21 live animals. This engaging experience takes the audience from the Great Barrier Reef to the Antarctic and Amazon and features original music. For those wanting an even more musical experience, the Motor City Groove features singers, dancers and musicians bringing the Detroit Sound to life in the Stanleyville Theater. Lastly, guests with a penchant for puppets will enjoy Elmo Rocks at Sesame Street Safari, featuring meet and greets with Elmo, Zoe and Cookie Monster.

Other attractions at the park include Tree Top Trails, where adventurers climb nets, cross bridges and work through a multi-level maze in the land of Jungala. For those seeking a bit of exploration and discovery, visit the re-creation of King Tut’s Tomb in the Egypt area of the park. This interactive adventure includes a digging discovery area for children. Visitors can also work their way through Pantopia, an extensive, jewel-themed land featuring food, shopping, rides and entertainment.

Camps and Education

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay also features a variety of educational experiences and day camps for students and animal enthusiasts of all grades. Day camps include counselor training and are available to grades from k-12. Resident camps allow participants to stay at lodging in the park, and are available to those from fifth grade through to college. This program includes opportunities for educators, interns and those in veterinary career training programs. Group camps are available to grades 4-12 and include zoo apprentice, zoo journey and animal adventures programs. School trips are also available, as well as grad night hosting opportunities.

Conservation

Not only does the Park offer an abundance of adventures, rides, activities and exhibits, but it also gives back to the animal community. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, part of the Seaworld Parks Entertainment Group, is considered a world leader in conservation, having saved more than 25,000 animals in the past 50 years. The three acre Myombe Reserve exhibit at the Park, was created to house some of the world’s most endangered species. The park is engaged in specific conservation efforts for cheetahs, lions, Asian elephants, Bornean orangutans, and black rhinoceroses.

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»Plan Your Trip

Plan Your Trip

For the best experience, guests are encouraged to visit the Park’s website prior to planning their trip. Tours and experiences can be booked online in advance. The website also provides schedules, special event information, as well as an accessibility guide. Most attractions are open year-round, but there are occasionally closures. The Park Website has information on any such upcoming closures, as well as special events. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is located eight miles northeast of downtown Tampa and just 30 minutes from Tampa International Airport. It is available from most major freeways and a shuttle is available from several Orlando area locations.

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10165 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612, website, Phone: 888-800-5447

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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Florida


  • Exhibits, Photo Credit: Courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
  • Serengeti Plain & More, Photo Credit: Courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
  • Rides, Photo Credit: Courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
  • Shows and Other Attractions, Photo Credit: Courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
  • Plan Your Trip, Photo Credit: Courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
  • Cover Photo Credit: Courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay