Celebrate the Holidays at Christmas Town Busch Gardens Tampa (2022 Complete Guide)

Christmas time is here and is shining the brightest at Christmas Town Busch Gardens in Tampa – an event that offers a wide range of merry activities for everyone to experience together.

Best thing about it is that it’s INCLUDED in your theme admission!

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 Bay.

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens with Lush Trees and Gold Bulbs

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What is Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa?

Christmas Town is Busch Gardens way of showing you a unique way of celebrating the holidays in the wilds of the African-inspired theme park.

At this Tampa theme park, you’ll enjoy a holiday-themed sing-along train ride, heartwarming shows, fine dining, electrifying festive shopping, Santa’s workshop, and a chance to watch twinkling lights.

These are just a few things that makes Christmas Town Busch Gardens a must do holiday event for both the young and the old. 

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During the holiday season at Busch Garden’s you will be able to:

  • Discover Christmas Town® Village
  • Enjoy the Holiday Train
  • Listen to holiday tunes
  • Meet Rudolph and friends, including Sam the Snowman, at Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland
  • Shop for the perfect gifts in Santa’s shop
  • Taste special Christmas treats unique to this event only
  • Visit Santa’s House
  • Hangout with your favorite Sesame Street characters
  • Watch outstanding ice skaters
Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Entrance

What is the Busch Gardens Christmas Town Village?

The absolute best part about Christmas Town at Busch Gardens is the Village.

Oh, how I love this addition to the event!

Christmas Town® Village has some of the cutest cabins that are not only decked out in holiday designs, they also serve up delicious sweets and savory dishes inspired by the season.

Christmas Town Busch Gardens with wooden toy soldier
Christmas Town Busch Gardens

What’s New at Christmas Town

This year Busch Gardens is offering a Preview Weekend on November 6th and 7th where you can enjoy the holiday festivities early (if you’re a Christmas fanatic like me). Annual Pass Members also gets an exclusive time to watch the Christmas on Ice show this weekend for the 2 p.m. time slot.

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Tree in Jungala

Let’s Indulge in the Busch Gardens Christmas Town Food

Now we’re at my favorite part of the Christmas Town adventure…the food!

Busch Gardens can compete with many of the central Florida theme parks when it comes to holiday food. While you’re there, be sure to look for seasonal offerings throughout park and inside Christmas Town Village.

Chocolate Chip Cookies for Thanksgiving at Busch Gardens Tampa

This year, you can enjoy the holiday feast “food festival” and eat your way around Christmas Town. The best way for you to do this is to get the Christmas Town Food & Beverage Sampler Lanyard.

How much does the Busch Gardens Christmas Town Food Sampler Lanyard cost?

You can enjoy 8, 12 or Pass Member Exclusive 15-item Food & Beverage samples starting at $44.99 with your holiday sampler lanyard.

Now, let’s go through what you can expect to get this year for the holidays at Busch Gardens Tampa from each Christmas Town Station.

Busch Gardens Tampa Holiday Food Menu

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Holiday Food Chocolate Cake

COOKIES & COCOA

  • Fresh Baked Deep-Dish Cookies: Choice of M&M or Chocolate Chip
  • Specialty Hot Cocoa: Served in a Souvenir Cup, Choice of Peppermint or Gingerbread and Whipped Cream
  • MAKE IT JOLLY: Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlúa or Peppermint Schnapps
Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Holiday Food Chocolate Chip Cookie

JACK FROSTY COCKTAILS

  • Christmas Town Punch: Cranberry, Orange, Tito’s Vodka NEW!
  • Mistletoe Margarita: Lime Sour, Cranberry, Milagro Tequila NEW!
  • Apple Brandy Hot Toddy: Brandy, Cinnamon, Honey, Lemon NEW!
  • Holiday Mojito: Cranberry, Mint, Flor de Caña Rum

HOLIDAY BREWS

  • Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter: Yuengling Brewing Co | Tampa, FL | ABV 5.4%
  • Dunder & Blixem Winter Ale: Big Storm Brewing Co | Clearwater, FL | ABV 8.8%
  • Winter Cider: 3 Daughters Brewing | St. Petersburg, FL | ABV 5.5%
  • Day Swim Coffee Porter: Coppertail Brewing Co | Tampa, FL | ABV 6.1%
  • Dragons Milk Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout: New Holland Brewing Co | Holland, MI | ABV 11.0%
White creamy Eggnog drink.

DASHER’S DELI

  • Reimagined! Bison Burger: Cheesy Bison Burger, Bacon Onion Jam, Beer Cheese, Pretzel Bun
  • Totchos: Sweet Potato Tater Tots, Smoked Brisket, Bacon Onion Jam, Beer Cheese, Green Onions NEW!
  • Sea Salt Carmel & Brown Butter Bread Pudding: Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack Tennessee Cider Pipette NEW!

NICOLA’S WINTER DONUTS & BITES

  • Chicken & Donut: Buttermilk Crispy Chicken, Smoked Bacon Maple Glazed Donut, Mike’s Hot Honey Drizzle NEW!
  • Dulce de Leche Stuffed Donut Holes: Chocolate Sauce, Vanilla Whipped Cream, Candy Cane NEW!
Busch Gardens Christmas Town with Deep Dish Chocolate Chips and Hot Cocoa
Photo Credit: SeaWorld Entertainment

POLAR PAVILION

  • NEW! Busch Gardens Coaster Tree Pretzel
  • Fresh Baked Deep-Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Specialty Hot Cocoa Topped with Whipped Cream

FROSTY FARE

  • Bison Chili Mac & Cheese: Gemelli Pasta, Sam Adams Beer Cheese, Parmesan Crumbs NEW!
  • Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie: Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Vanilla Whipped Cream NEW!
  • Loaded Mashed Potatoes: Red Bliss Potatoes, Heritage Smoked Pulled Pork, Green Onions, Hook’s Cheddar, Sour Cream, Chipotle Drizzle (REIMAGINED!)

FROSTY FLOATS

  • Gingerbread Ice Cream Cone: Gingerbread Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce, Topped with Whipped Cream & Graham Cracker
  • Root Beer Float: Root Beer Ice Cream, Vanilla Coke, Graham Cracker, Whipped Cream
  • Fresh Baked Deep-Dish Sugar Cookie

GARLAND GATE CAFÉ

  • Impossible™ Nachos: Blue Corn Tortillas, Smashed Avocado, Smoked Chipotle Sour Cream, Cotija Cheese NEW!
  • Savory Corn Dogs: Topped with Bacon Onion Jam and Mustard Aioli NEW!
  • Apple Cider BBQ Chicken Slider: Apple Cider BBQ Pulled Chicken, served on a Garlic Butter Bun NEW!
  • Beverages: Kahlua Frozen Eggnog, Craft Brews, Frozen Cocktails


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BEIGNETS & COCOA

  • Chocolate Kahlua Beignets REIMAGINED!
  • Fresh Baked Deep-Dish Cookies: Choice of M&M or Chocolate Chip
  • Specialty Hot Cocoa: Served in a Souvenir Cup your choice of Peppermint or Gingerbread and Whipped Cream
  • MAKE IT JOLLY: Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlúa or Peppermint Schnapps

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Holiday Shows and Entertainment at Busch Gardens Christmas Town

As if the delicious sweet treats and savory dishes weren’t enough, you can relax in between the thrilling roller coasters by watching a holiday show.

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Holiday Show

One of my favorite things to do at Busch Gardens Tampa during the holiday season is to partake in the amazing Christmas entertainment. They offer something for everyone such as:

  1. NEW! HOLIDAY IN THE SKY FIREWORKS SHOW- Presented by Bad Boy Mowers: Here you’ll enjoy the twinkling holiday lights in the air that will dance to classic Christmas music. This over-the-top firework show will take place on every Saturday and select nights of the event in the Festival Field!
  2. CHRISTMAS ON ICE: This is one of the most majestic holiday experiences at Busch Gardens. It’s the longest running holiday show in the Moroccan Palace Theater and is an ice-skating Yuletide adventure you must do at Busch Gardens.
  3. NEW! STORYTIME WITH MRS. CLAUS: It’s not quite Christmastime without a story and song from Mrs. Claus. This is a classic Christmas treat that you don’t want to miss. It is located in the Coke Canopy near the Christmas Town Village.
  4. THREE KINGS JOURNEY: Believe it or not, Busch Gardens has some of the best singers in the theme park entertainment world. I’m excited to hear the charming voices bring the classic holiday tunes to life located in the Stanleyville Theater.
  5. ELMO’S CHRISTMAS WISH: This experience is definitely for the kids or the child in all of us who love the Sesame Street characters. You’ll get to hang out with Cookie Monster, Rosita, Grover, and Zoe as they help Elmo find his Christmas wish in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun area.
Christmas at Busch Gardens Sesame Street

Things to Do at Busch Gardens for Christmas

  1. NEW! SANTA’S NORTH POLE EXPERIENCE PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA®: Visit Santa Claus and his holly jolly elves inside Santa’s Workshop!
  2. RUDOLPH’S WINTER WONDERLAND: Explore Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland located in Pantopia to meet Santa’s most famous reindeer of all!
  3. HOLLY JOLLY EXPRESS: It’s time for you to jump aboard the Christmas train at Busch Gardens. This experience is sooooo much fun as you get to circle around the huge theme park listening to your favorite holiday songs while looking over the Serengeti.
  4. ROLLER COASTERS: Now, you can’t visit Busch Gardens during the holidays without riding one of their famous roller coasters or rides. It’s the absolute best way to do one my favorite theme parks for Christmastime.

Christmas Shopping at Busch Gardens Tampa

Now that you know what you can expect from all of the entertainment, food and other holiday adventures, let’s go through a few places that you can pick up your Florida yuletide souvenirs to gift someone this Christmas.

Xcursions, is one of Busch Gardens holiday shops located outside Christmas Town. It features ornaments, nutcrackers, one-of-a-kind clothing, holiday trinkets that you can personalize for yourself or for someone else this holiday season.

You can also do more Christmas shopping at the other shows located in the park such as:

  • Marrakesh Market
  • Emporium
  • Painted Camel

Busch Gardens Christmas Town Dates and Times

The Christmastime event runs through select dates from November 13, 2022 to January 2, 2023.

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster

What Time Does Christmas Town Open?

Christmas Town will be open on most days with the park hours from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. From time-to-time it will close at 8 p.m. on select weekdays.

Hipster Power Tip: Although Christmas Town technically opens with the park, many of the activities do not start until the afternoon time. You can view the full schedule here.

Is Busch Gardens Open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Welcome to Holiday Hills Sign

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

  • Christmas Eve hours: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  • Day of Christmas hours: 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

11 Tips to Make the Most of Your Visit to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens

Christmas at Busch Gardens has never been so exciting with both world-class rides and amazing activities for you to enjoy this holiday season. Let’s go through a few tips to help you get the most out of your time at this event.

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

1. Pack Light

Many of the thrill rides at Busch Gardens requires you to leave your bag in a locker or with someone in your party.

If you’re going to Christmas Town with family or friends, then you won’t have to worry about the various locker fees throughout the park that can range from $2 to $20 per day.

Christmas Town Decoration in Tampa with Christmas Tree near Montu roller coaster

I recommend packing light for your trip to Busch Gardens and only bringing your necessary items that can fit in a small bag such as:

Although I love my solo trips, it does suck to have to keep finding a locker near the roller coasters to store your things.

Plus, going back and forth between the rides and your locker can take away the fun and excitement of your day.

2. Get to Christmas Town Before it Opens

Although the festivities for Christmas Town don’t start until later in the afternoon, I still think it’s good to get to Busch Gardens earlier than the start of the event.

Christmas Town Decoration in Tampa Life Wildlife Tree

This will give you time to enjoy the thrilling rides and unforgettable shows. Once the holiday happenings start, you’ll be able to focus primarily on them without worry about missing out on an attraction.

Christmas Town Decoration in Tampa Life Size Toy Solider near Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster

The time you’ll spend having fun at Busch Gardens Tampa will go by fast, so allow yourself enough room to enjoy the park by arriving early.

Just remember that the park schedule of operation varies each day, so be sure to check the Christmas Town dates before you head out.

3. Dress Appropriately for the Weather

During the months of Christmas Town, Florida weather can be hit or miss. However, it will not be as torturous as the summer months here in the sunshine state.

Christmas Town Decoration in Tampa Wild Life Christmas Tree

You’ll definitely enjoy some of the best weather that the state has to offer, plus being so close to the Gulf of Mexico allows you to enjoy the wonderful breeze.

I do recommend that you check the weather before you leave. Even if it’s warmer when you arrive, always have a backup sweater with you in case it gets cooler in the evening.

Falcon's Fury Busch Gardens Feature colorful entrance

Also, don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a hat and some sunglasses to help block the rays of the sun.

4. Stay Hydrated

It’s important to stay hydrated at Busch Gardens Tampa especially if it’s a warmer day.

Busch Gardens Complete Guide

You can avoid heat related illnesses such as, a heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash by having proper hydration.

Remember to have a reusable water bottle on hand to refill it with water throughout the day at Busch Gardens.

5. Go During the Weekdays

To avoid the frustration that a crowed day at a theme park can bring, I suggest trying to avoid the park as Christmas Day approaches.

Busch Garden Cheetah Hunt
Busch Gardens Cheetah Hunt

Is Busch Gardens Busy on Christmas Day?

Holiday peaks, crowd sizes, weather, and a few other factors have a lot to do with your Busch Gardens experience, including how long you’ll be waiting in line for your favorite rides.

Although Busch Gardens is not as crowded as the Disney parks, this is the time that locals flood the park to enjoy the holiday festivities and to ride the world-class attractions after their own Christmas celebrations at home.

Because of this, expect higher crowds on both Christmas Day and the week following the holiday.

6. Find Busch Gardens Discounted Tickets and Special Deals

Websites such as CityPASS and Groupon are the perfect places to start in order to find the latest Busch Gardens discount tickets!

Christmastown at Busch Gardens with Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster and Tall Christmas Tree
Christmas at Busch Gardens

Tampa Bay CityPASS allows you to visit multiple attractions in Tampa for one low cost such as:

  • Busch Gardens® Tampa
  • The Florida Aquarium
  • Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
  • Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Chihuly Collection presented by the Morean Arts Center OR Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) 

7. Pass on Preferred Parking

Try to get to Busch Gardens early and park near the tram station in the regular parking section.

If you pay for an upgrade to preferred parking, then there is a possibility that you may get placed in the back of that lot and will have to walk quite a distance to the front gates.

8. Have Christmas Dinner Outside of Peak Times

Consider having your holiday meal before lunchtime or right before the dinner rush.

Colorful Pantopia Busch Gardens with red roller coaster Scorpion in background.
Pantopia Area of Busch Gardens Tampa

This will allow you to take your time while dining and enjoy the celebrations with your loved ones over a delicious feast.

9. Celebrate Christmas at Busch Gardens the Week Before

If you can come a week or two before Christmas Day, you’ll be able to do many of the things listed in this guide without the hassle of the crowds.

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Egypt Decor

It doesn’t matter what day you celebrate as long as you understand why you’re celebrating.

10. Do Some Holiday Shopping

You can find some unique holiday décor in the stores located in Busch Gardens, but Marrakesh Market offers the best!

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Holiday Merchandise

Located towards the entrance of the park is Marrakesh Market that has been decorated to look like Santa’s Christmas Workshop. The store is one of my absolute favorite places to stop at while visiting Christmas Town.

It’s known to be decked out from brim-to-brim in Yuletide decoration and wild surprises.

Christmas Santa at Busch Gardens

While you’re in the shopping mood, be sure to stop by Christmas Town Village for some beauty and local artisan crafts and gifts to buy.

11. Look for Festive Photo Ops

As if the picturesque gardens, roller coasters and topiaries aren’t’ enough, during the Christmas season you’ll have the opportunity to take many festive photos.

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Holiday Show

Around the park look for unique background and holiday specific décor such as majestic Christmas Trees, giant toy soldiers, and holiday findings inspired by animal prints throughout Busch Gardens.

Remember that you can use your PhotoKey to get all your pictures stored that day while at the park.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

What is PhotoKey at Busch Gardens?

It’s a subscription-based photo app that Busch Gardens uses to store your photos taken by their Team Members digitally with your own PhotoKey card that will be stored to your account.

During Christmas Town you can use the PhotoKey option at the following meet-and-greet locations:

  • Santa Claus (Santa’s House)
  • Rudolph (Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland)
  • Bumble and Snow Globe

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What to Know Before You Visit Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa

Trip planning can be hectic, so here are some answers to the most popular questions before your holiday vacation at Busch Gardens.

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens with Lush Trees and Gold, Red, and .Purple Bulbs

What Time Does Christmas Town Open at Busch Gardens?

As mentioned earlier, Christmas Town hours at Busch Gardens starts around noon and ends at park closing which varies from day-to-day.

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

These are the normal Busch Gardens Tampa Hours:

Busch Gardens usually opens at 10:00 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m. However, during the peak season the park may be open until 10 p.m.

Remember when planning your trip, always check the park’s website or mobile app for the current hours and wait times.

RECOMMENDED: Cobra’s Curse at Busch Gardens: The Roller Coaster You CAN’T MISS!

Are Rides Open During Christmas Town Busch Gardens?

Many rides at the park are open for visitors during the event unless under some type of maintenance. It is, however, important to note that water rides may be closed due to cold weather.

Busch Gardens for itinerary planning guide
Plan out your day at Busch Gardens

How much is Christmas Town?

It is FREE! Christmas Town is included with park admission. So, all you need to do is show up and enjoy the festivities.

You will have to pay for merchandise and any food, but you can participate in some the holiday activities at Busch Gardens at no additional cost to you.

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What’s the Address for Busch Gardens Tampa?

The address for Busch Gardens is 10165 N McKinley Drive Tampa, FL 33612.

How do I 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

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Final Thoughts

Overall, Christmas Town at Busch Gardens is one of the top holiday events to experience in Florida. No matter how you choose to spend your day there, you will have an incredible day.

Just be sure to plan out your day and start early so that you can see and do it all!

Christmas Town Decoration in Tampa Life Wildlife Tree
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Have you ever been to Christmas Town? Let us know in the comments section below.

If you enjoyed this article, then you’ll love these:

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

NikkyJ

(Original Article Date: December 9, 2017/Updated November 4, 2021)

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