hippo busch gardens

Travel Memories: USA Part 2 – Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay

Going on an African safari has long been a dream of mine. The closest I've come are my many visits to Busch Gardens in Florida, which no doubt inspired me. I grew up in Alabama and used to visit my grandparents often when I was a child. They lived less than two hours from the park so I spent quite a few days there growing up. I always loved all the animals - it's pretty much a combination of amusement park and zoo.

hippo busch gardens

kumba busch gardens

So on our 2009 trip to the United States I wanted to take John somewhere fun and Busch Gardens was the first place I thought of because they have some of the tallest, fastest roller coasters in the country. In between our time in New York and Chicago we flew all the way to Tampa for two days just to visit Busch Gardens. We even stayed at a hotel right across the street from the park, though we later learned that it isn't the safest area to be at night. I don't know much about that and we certainly didn't have any problems while we were there - we just wanted to be nice and close to the park.

lions busch gardens

iguana busch gardens

elephants busch gardens

Most of the photos we took were of the animals in the park. They have over 2,000 animals there and advertise their high standards of care for them with pride. I'm not always the biggest fan of zoos but I have a lot of confidence in Busch Gardens since visiting there as a kid. It was the first place I ever saw live pandas, koalas and tigers; being a huge animal lover this was paradise for me as a kid. I was happy to enjoy it all over again as an adult.

alligators busch gardens tampa

I've always liked how close you can get to the animals at Busch Gardens - even these guys.

rhino busch gardens

sheikra busch gardens

This was my favourite ride: SheiKra, which gives you the sensation of flying.

zebras busch gardens

The only hitches in this trip were rain and a mystery illness that gave me a high fever and a delirious feeling the first day. It was pouring rain and I was sick with chills but we persisted walking around until I couldn't take it any more. It's never fun to be sick when you're travelling and I was grateful to have John look after me the first night. I felt quite a bit better the following day and we managed to enjoy a few extra hours there.

tigers busch gardens

This tiger exhibit was awesome with so many different places to view them from every nook and cranny.

tiger busch gardens

tiger busch gardens

Another fun aspect of Busch Gardens is that one of our favourite travel treats, beer, is sold around the park. This isn't the case in every theme park and it's nice to relax and enjoy a cold one on a hot day walking around. Many years ago they used to do brewery tours and you could smell the hops in one section of the park but unfortunately they shut the brewery attraction years ago. If you're headed to Florida I highly recommend a visit to Busch Gardens.

What's your favourite theme park?

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8 years ago

I didn’t know Busch Gardens was so animal focused – as a West Coaster I don’t really know much about it and thought it was more about the rides. Love that first shot of the hippo peeking out at you!

8 years ago

I remember visiting an amusement park outside of Sydney and was pleasantly surprised to see kangaroos and koalas there, too. Fun combination, especially for the kids.

8 years ago
Reply to  Sophie

I agree – rides and animals make a great combo!

8 years ago

Zoos just make me sad, there’s no where near enough space for the animals. How was it in Busch Gardens?

8 years ago
Reply to  Ayngelina

I usually feel the same way but they do seem to have a lot more space at Busch Gardens. I’m not an animal expert, of course, but the park is really known for their care standards. They have a huge area modelled after the Serengeti Plain that is supposed to allow many of them to roam free. I definitely think it’s a stip up from your average zoo.

8 years ago

I’m not much of a theme park girl but since I went to school in Tampa, Busch Gardens does hold a special place in my heart. The roller coasters are great, and most of the animals out in the open seem like they live a better life than normal zoo animals!

8 years ago
Reply to  Kyle

I always felt that way too – they have a great reputation for animal care. I forgot you lived in Tampa! It’s really grown since I started going there as a kid.

8 years ago

I’ve never been to Busch Gardens, but I always heard good things. Looks like a lot of fun!

8 years ago
Reply to  Ali

I’m such a roller coaster fan – they have awesome one there. Always good for a laugh! =)

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