17 Busch Gardens Must Do’s You Have to Experience

Do you have a Busch Gardens must do’s list?

I do!

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.

The Phoenix Pantopia Busch Gardens orange and blue swing ride.
The Phoenix inside Pantopia at Busch Gardens


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:

  • Egypt
  • Congo
  • Birds Garden
  • Jungala
  • Morocco
  • Nairobi
  • Pantopia
  • Cheetah Hunt Area
  • Sesame Street Safari of Fun
  • Stanleyville
Falcons Fury Busch Gardens Tampa orange and blue drop tower

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.

The Phoenix Pantopia Busch Gardens orange and blue swing ride.
The Phoenix inside Pantopia at Busch Gardens

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.

Please Note: Reservations are required for all guests visiting Busch Gardens Tampa.

What to Know Before You Go

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.

Busch Gardens Rides with colorful roller coasters.
Busch Gardens Rides

What should I pack for Busch Gardens?

  • Comfy Shoes
  • Small Bag
  • Breathable Clothing
  • Sun Protection
  • Small Umbrella
  • Water
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Phone
  • Park Ticket

You can get the full Theme Park packing checklist here!

Top Busch Gardens Must Do’s

Now that you understand my love of the park, let’s look at some of my Busch Gardens must do’s!

You can listen to them here if you’re on the go!

1 – Grab a tasty treat at Sultan’s Sweets

The Sultan’s Sweets, is a bakery shop located in the front of Busch Gardens. It’s usually my first or last stop of the day.

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Holiday Food Chocolate Cake

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.

Myombe Reserve Busch Gardens Must Do's with statue gorilla.
Myombe Reserve at Busch’s Gardens

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

Busch Garden Cheetah Hunt green and yellow roller coaster
Busch Gardens 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!

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster

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 Busch Gardens newest attractions and well themed.

Read: All You Ever Need to Know About Cobra’s Curse at Busch Gardens

5 – Ride Montu

Busch Gardens Tampa Montu blue Egyptian roller coaster.
Busch Gardens Tampa 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.

Read: Ultimate Guide to Conquering Montu at Busch Gardens

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.

Busch Gardens Congo River Rapids
One Brave soul riding through icey cold waters on a January day.

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

Zambia Smokehouse Busch Gardens Must Do's
Zambia Smokehouse Busch Gardens

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.

Read: Sheikra- The Mother of Dive Roller Coasters

9 – Conquer Kumba!

Kumba is a classic and the best ride at Busch Gardens!

Kumba Busch Gardens
Kumba 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 favorite ride at Busch Gardens and it can still compete with many of the top roller coasters today.

Save up to 51% or more on Tampa Bay’s 5 best attractions at CityPASS.com - Shop Now!

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!

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Holiday Lion Sleeping
The Edge of Africa at Busch Gardens Tampa

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.

Scorpio Roller Coaster Busch Gardens Must Do's
Charging Station in Busch Gardens

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

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.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Serengeti Express Train

The train has stops in the Congo, Nairobi and Stanleyville stations.

15 – Grab a pretzel and beer

Have a delicious pretzel and beer at Twisted Tails Pretzels inside the colorful Pantopia area of the park.

Read: Groupon Busch Gardens: Money-Saving Travel Deals You Must Get

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.

Howl-O-Scream Busch Gardens Tampa, Florida
Howl-O-Scream Busch Gardens Tampa, Florida

It happens yearly during the fall.

Honorable Mention – Tigris : This if Florida’s tallest launch roller coaster with a height of 150-feet and a speed maxing out around 60 miles per hours. I haven’t experienced it yet, but I can’t wait!

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 a few Busch Gardens Tampa Tours:

Safari Tour at Busch Gardens Must Do's with Zebras
Safari Tour at Busch Gardens
Elephant Insider Tour

45-minute walking tour with specialized trainers.

Elite Adventure Tour

The ultimate VIP experience of Busch Gardens where you can customize your own 7-hour tour. 

Guided Adventure Tour

An in-depth tour of the whole Busch Gardens theme park, complete with front of the line access, lunch, 30-minute off-road wildlife safari, the opportunity to feed giraffes, and more. 

Heart of Africa Tour

75-minute guided tour where you will get up close and personal with wild animals of Africa.

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Keeper for a Day Tour

You will work with zoological staff caring for giraffes, antelope, birds and more! This hands-on experience last 6.5 hours. 

Penguin Insider Tour

Guided tour with specialized trainers. 

Serengeti Safari

Open-air touring vehicle that takes you through the Serengeti plain. 

Read: Celebrate the Holidays at Christmas Town Busch Gardens Tampa 

Final Thoughts on Your Must Do’s at Busch Gardens Tampa

Falcon's Fury Busch Gardens Feature colorful entrance

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!

Busch Garden's Must Do's with green Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster
Save on Pinterest for Later!

What are your Busch Garden’s must do’s ? Let me know in the comments section below!

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!


UP NEXT: 5 Fun Things to Do in Tampa with CityPASS

(Original date April 2018/Updated May 30, 2020)

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