Do you have a Busch Gardens must do’s list?
Busch Gardens is a must do theme park in Florida. This amazing park is over 335 acres with more than 2000 animals onsite.
Busch Gardens has a special place in my heart because it was where I rode my first roller coaster, the Python, in 1994.
I remember being terrified, but courageous enough to experience this roller coaster.
Busch Gardens was also the first theme park I was allowed to do without direct adult supervision.
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What to Expect at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens was opened in Tampa, Florida on March 31, 1959 by the Anheuser-Busch company as a free animal attraction alongside a brewery. It is divided into African-themed regions:
- Edge of Africa
- Bird Gardens
- Cheetah Hunt Area
- Sesame Street Safari of Fun
- Serengeti Plain
Ready to plan your theme park trip? Watch the best vacation planning tips on YouTube. Get started here!
How to Navigate to Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is about 70 miles from the Walt Disney World Resort (an hour and 25 minute drive).
There is a Busch Gardens shuttle service that offers round-trip transportation to the park.
The round-trip fare is free with park ticket purchase and departs Orlando daily with a maximum of three stops to Busch Gardens.
Reservations are highly recommended and can be reserved by calling 1-800-221-1339 or visit Mears Destination Services online.
How to Get to Busch Gardens Tampa from Disney World
- Travel WEST on I-4 to I-75 (About 58 Miles)
- Merge onto I-75 NORTH via EXIT 9 toward Ocala (stay on I-75 for about 3.74 miles)
- Take EXIT 265 toward Temple Terrace (this exit is also the exit for the University of South Florida)
- You will merge onto E Fowler Ave/FL-582 W via EXIT 265 and stay on here for about 4.65 miles
- Turn left onto N McKinley Dr/County Hwy-585A (stay on here for about 1 mile)
- Make a U-turn onto N McKinley Dr/County Hwy-585A
- Arrive and park at Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens Tampa Address
The address for Busch Gardens is 10165 N McKinley Drive Tampa, FL 33612.
Busch Gardens Tampa Hours
Busch Gardens usually opens at 10:00 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m.; however, during the peak summer days the park may be open until midnight.
Remember when planning your trip, always check the park’s website or mobile app for the current hours and wait times.
What to Know Before You Go to Busch Gardens Tampa
If you are wearing loose-fitting shoes, you should leave them at the loading platform. Any other loose articles can be placed inside any locker located throughout the park.
What should I pack for Busch Gardens?
- Comfy Shoes
- Small Bag
- Breathable Clothing
- Sun Protection
- Downloaded Map
- Small Umbrella
- Hand Sanitizer
- Theme Park Ticket
Top 21 Busch Gardens Tampa Must Do’s
Now that you understand my love of the park, let’s look at some of my favorite Busch Gardens rides, food, and attractions that you must do!
1. Grab a tasty treat at Moroccan Delights
The Moroccan Delights, is a bakery shop located in the front of Busch Gardens. It’s usually my first or last stop of the day.
Here you can grab a slice of cake, cinnamon rolls, muffins, a piece of fruit, or other freshly baked pastries.
2. Relax in Myombe Reserve
The Myombe Reserve is a relaxing, secluded area in Busch Gardens. Here you can rejuvenate yourself during your solo trip.
You will trek through the majestic jungle for an up-close look of the Gorilla habitat.
This area of the park is also a great spot to sit, read, or unwind. It has multiple benches throughout with shaded covering.
3. Ride Cheetah Hunt
Located in the Cheetah Hunt Area, this triple launch coaster will have you flying with cheetah like speed. It’s also the park’s longest ride (4400 feet).
If you need a morning pick-me-up, then make Cheetah Hunt your first roller coaster of the day!
Get started on Your Tampa Bay Travel Plans here!
4. Experience the Cobra’s Curse
This Egyptian-inspired spin coaster, features a vertical lift that takes you through the dark legend of the King Snake.
This is one of the best rides at Busch Gardens and it’s also well themed.
5. Ride Montu
The Egyptian god named high speed roller coaster has seven inversions and is one of my absolute must-do attractions at Busch Gardens.
It’s now considered a Busch Gardens classic and a must-do for any trip to the park.
6. Hop on the Skyride
The Skyride is located in the Cheetah Hunt Area and Stanleyville. It gives you an opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of Busch Gardens in the classic cable car.
7. Conquer Congo River Rapids
Try riding the Congo River Rapids solo.
If you go to Busch Gardens on a slow day, usually in January, then you’ll most likely be able to ride Congo River Rapids alone!
On one visit I met a solo theme park traveler riding it alone on a 37° F morning in Florida (that’s freezing for Floridians)! He was very brave.
8. Ride SheiKra and have lunch at Zambia Smokehouse
You will smell the savory aroma of smoked meat as you get off SheiKra. This is one of my favorite theme park spots to eat.
My favorite aspect of Zambia Smokehouse is the outdoor covered patio with a picture-perfect view of Sheikra.
The meat, which ranges from barbecue chicken and ribs to smoked salmon, are all prepared on a wood fire each day.
My favorite is the beef brisket.
9. Conquer Kumba!
Kumba is a classic and the best ride at Busch Gardens!
This ride will push you through a 135-foot drop through one of the world’s largest vertical loops with 3 seconds of absolute weightlessness.
Kumba is my absolute FAVORITE ride at Busch Gardens and it can still compete with many of the top roller coasters today.
10. Take Lots of Pics
Busch Gardens is the perfect photo destination for the best social media worthy pics. Busch Gardens has year-round topiaries and beautiful garden displays.
Not to mention the thrilling coaster photo-ops!
The best way to turn this hobby into a full-time passion is to get an annual pass or Fun Card. You’ll learn new ways of the discovering the park through the lens of your camera.
It’s also extremely therapeutic!
11. Explore the Edge of Africa
The Edge of Africa is the perfect way to discover the beautiful wildlife of Africa.
This walking tour will bring you up close to the animals of this great continent such as hippos, cheetahs and lions.
Hipster Challenge: Do a scavenger hunt and search for relics, various plant life, and animals!
12. Feed the Birds!
I love feeding the birds in the Lory Landing section.
For a small fee you can purchase a cup of sweet nectar. If you don’t want to feed the birds, you can skip paying for the nectar and just walk through the exhibit.
The birds will be uninhibited as they soar all around you.
Hipster Power Tip: Use the free charging stations located next to Scorpion roller coaster and Falcon’s Fury. Here you can plug any device into the electrical and USB outlets.
13. Conquer Falcon’s Fury
Pivot 90 degrees in midair to a face-down dive in the tallest (335 feet) freestanding drop tower in America.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, then you’ll love this ride!
14. Hop on the Serengeti Express Train
Explore the Serengeti through the train at Busch Gardens. Travel around the park and watch exotic animals roaming about.
The train has stops in the Congo, Nairobi and Stanleyville stations.
Hipster Power Tip: Don’t forget to ride the NEW Serengeti Flyer attraction at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay!
15. Grab a Pretzel and Beer
Have a delicious pretzel and beer at Twisted Tails Pretzels inside the colorful Pantopia area of the park.
16. Visit Howl-O-Scream
Busch Garden’s theme park transforms into a terrifying, bone-chilling event where you’ll scream your way through the park. Howl-O-Scream is the best event held at the park.
It happens yearly during the fall.
17. Do a Special Tour
If you did not know, Busch Gardens offers a variety of special behind-the-scenes tours.
They are a great way to discover how Busch Gardens cares for the animals on property and how staff are also able to maintain the thrills.
Here are my favorite Busch Gardens Tampa Tours:
- Private Rhino Safari Tour: Get an up-close, private safari to check out these majestic creatures with specialized trainers.
- Keeper for a Day Tour: You will work with zoological staff caring for giraffes, antelope, birds and more! This hands-on experience is one of the best things to do at Busch Gardens.
- Penguin Insider Tour: Guided tour of understanding the African penguins with specialized trainers.
- Serengeti Safari: Open-air touring vehicle that takes you through the Serengeti plain.
18. Visit Busch Gardens During Christmas
Busch Gardens is one of the world’s most stunning park that dresses the evening with more than 10 million lights.
Plus, Christmas treats, Santa’s house, Rudolph and more can be found in this annual Winter Wonderland experience right in the heart of Tampa.
It’s a must do at Busch Gardens Tampa that you don’t want to miss!
19. Conquer Iron Gwazi
This is North America’s TALLEST AND WORLD’S FASTEST & STEEPEST HYBRID COASTER!
Iron Gwazi is one of the BEST roller coasters in Florida and will have you topping off at speeds up to 76 miles per hour!
20. Eat at Chick-fil-A
Who would have ever thought we’d see the day when Chick-fil-A would make its debut inside of a Florida theme park!
I used to be so jealous of amusement parks like Cedar Point who have had this delicious franchise inside of their parks for years.
It’s one of the newest additions to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and I’m so happy to have it inside one of my favorite theme parks!
Recommended: The Solo Theme Park Traveler’s Guide
21. Face the Tigris
When it opened, Tigris was dubbed as Florida’s tallest launch roller coaster with a height of 150-feet and a speed maxing out around 60 miles per hours.
It may not look intimidating, but this ride built on pure thrills!
My Final Thoughts on Your Must Do’s at Busch Gardens Tampa
As you can see Busch Gardens is a very unique theme park. I love it because it keeps the traditions of the old Florida amusement park feel with the technology of today.
If you are thinking about taking a trip to Tampa, then take advantage of the CityPass which allows you to do the most popular attractions in the area for one cost!
What are your Busch Garden’s must do’s? Let me know in the comments section below!
Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!
(Original date April 2018/Updated May 30, 2023)