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There’s so much more to Busch Gardens than just rides

July 10, 2017

The first time I went to Busch Gardens was March of 2002. My college roommate had tickets so we piled up into a car and drove out there for some fun in Tampa. It was the first trip my hubs (he was the boyfriend at that time) took together and it gave me a great window into how him and I can’t drive on long road trips together at all. Anywhoo…the kids and I went to Orlando for a conference and decided to hit the road and travel to Tampa for a day at Busch Gardens…..Here is how we spent the day. Stay tuned for the end on why Busch Gardens is more than just a theme park.

We went on a Thursday. We originally was going to go on a Friday but thought hmmmm it might be to packed so we need to go Thursday before the weekend hits. Good thing we did that because Busch Gardens was practically empty. The lines weren’t long at all and it wasn’t crowded in the park. Here are some quick tips for a day at the theme park

  • Pay for Valet. A lot of theme parks you gotta pay anyway might as well pay extra to be right there at the entrance. I know to some that might be bougie but I already have to walk…I’m not walking a mile to and from car also. When it’s time to go it’s time to go lol
  • Carry a backpack that can go on your back. It’s easier to manage and your arms are free plus it won’t be anything heavy on one arm
  • Put everything in that backpack including extra clothes because you just never know what may happen
  • Get the all you can drink cups buy 3 or more so it can be cheaper. That way you can fill up with drinks all day especially if you are going in the heat
  • Carry someone with you. Since my hubs passed I always get a friend or trusted family member to tag along because going to a theme park by yourself with two kids who don’t get along….not good
  • Put on walking shoes please….no flip flops… me you don’t want to know that type of pain
  • Have a budget for food or eat before you come…that’s what we did so we didn’t buy anything but drinks

When we arrived I didn’t realize that Busch Gardens was so colorful! My kids loved the tall people as they called it lol.

I don’t ride rides so I am always the bag lady at every theme park that I go to. I have no desire to have my heart jumping out of my chest so I prefer to just hold the bags and people watch. Just because you don’t ride rides doesn’t mean that there aren’t other things to do. Busch Gardens is part theme park part zoo and that is nice for those like me who don’t ride rides. Let me give you a little history on Busch Gardens.

Busch Gardens parks were initially developed as marketing vehicles for Anheuser-Busch and featured hospitality houses with samples of Anheuser-Busch products. They also included stables that housed many of the company’s Clydesdale horses, which have been associated with Anheuser-Busch since 1933. Eventually, rides and attractions were added to the parks and over time were developed into full theme parks while still promoting Anheuser-Busch. Busch Entertainment Corporation, now called SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, was created as a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch Companies to run the various parks in 1959

My son rode all of the rides that he could. My daughter rode a couple of them to. I liked that they had an area where you could sit down and let the kids run around. Let’s talk about that part of our trip shall we….

My son and daughter don’t like each other. I don’t know why they don’t but they just don’t. I told my son to keep an eye on his sister while my Aunt and I sat down to rest our feet. There was only one way out of this area so we sat near the entrance so I was okay letting them run wild. After about an hour of playing my son comes back down from the play area and sat down by us to get a swig of something to drink. Where is your sister I asked……

Dman: I don’t know lost her a while back

Me: Did I not tell you to keep up with her and to don’t come down here without her

Dman: Yeah….well she went in another direction so I just let her go

Me: You just don’t care that someone can snatch her up and take her

Dman: They would bring her right back….

Me: That’s not the issue here I told you to keep an eye on her

Meanwhile my Aunt was panicking because my daughter was nowhere in sight. I wasn’t worried because my daughter knows about the danger of strangers. I wanted my son to know the consequences of his actions and to go and find her. So I told him to go and find her and don’t come back without her he had 10 min. He got up and called for her right where we were sitting…well damn, I could have done that too…why didn’t I think of that. Boy, if you don’t get your butt up and go find her. He finally got up and went to look for her. My Aunt went with him and they all came back about 5 min later. I took his phone for the rest of the day at the park because if you don’t care about your sister you shouldn’t care about a phone. The two of them….anywhooo that was the only mishap that we had for the day. Overall it was a nice day riding rides, walking, and seeing the animals.

My favorite part of the entire day though was the show that they put on in Pantopia

All of the animals performed! That was cute, funny, and entertaining for all the ages. The animals did tricks and stuff it was amazing. You will have to make sure you see that show when you go

Here are some more pointers from our day

  • Ride the train around the entire park…trust me it will be relaxing and you get to meet people
  • Everytime the kids and I go somewhere we always buy something that reminds us of the trip. It can be a shirt, a magnet for the fridge, or even a mug for your coffee
  • I had on shorts but make sure you have on comfortable clothing.
  • If you are on a budget, be sure to plan ahead and take advantage of the wide variety of rides and shows that are included with your park ticket
  • There may or may not be animals walking around roaming free….you will have to go to see which ones (hint: it’s not a dangerous one)

The park was cool with me making sure I was able to walk my son up to most of the rides. He is 11 and I want to make sure he is strapped into those things with my own eyes lol. All of the rides were cool to let me walk across the rides after I made sure he was secured. I stood in all the lines with him and made sure I was waiting for him at the end of each ride because his butt will try to sneak right back on. Overall we had a blast at Busch Gardens. The tickets aren’t cheap so my advice is to make sure you pick a day where you can spend the entire day at the park riding rides and seeing the animals. There is so much more to Busch gardens than rides! It’s like you are in an African Safari of some type with many cultures and animals. The colors out there are amazing and will make you have a great mood if you aren’t in a good one. To see the animals up close and to even go behind the scenes in the clinic…it was cool to see. They worked on a bird while we were there and we got to see them do so with live action. No need to visit a zoo when you go to Florida you might as well do rides and the zoo all in one place. Have you ever been to Busch Gardens? What area on the map above would you want to visit the most?

I was given complimentary tickets to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in exchange for this post. As always, all opinions are my own.


  • Reply
    Colleen Lanin
    July 10, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Excellent post! Until we went to Busch Gardens for ourselves, we had no idea that it had so much to offer. We were in that group that thought it was all about the rides, but there is SO MUCH to do there!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    this is so awesome! We went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg a few months ago and had a REALLY awesome time! The park was so much fun, so many cool rides and a generally fun time. The food was great too!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    LOL! Your son is a trip!! I busted out laughing at him saying that they’d “bring her right back”. I’m sorry for the loss of your husband! I have never been to Busch Gardens (I’m Canadian), but have always wanted to check it out. It looks so fun and amazing!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    This is great! You are right! It’s a big family entertainment center, not just rides.

  • Reply
    Melissa Velazquez
    July 10, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    I haven’t been in probably close to a decade and never with a child. Like you I don’t do rides and am perfectly content being the bag holder! Might have to consider a visit here with my little one.

  • Reply
    Anitra | The Mom On the Move
    July 10, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    The history on the park was helpful. I had always wondered the difference between Busch Gardens and SeaWorld. We’ve been to SeaWorld and loved it. Gotta add Busch Gardens to the list.

  • Reply
    Melissa Chapman
    July 10, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    I have never been to a Busch Gardens this review really makes me want to go. I love that it seems to be a unique kind of park that is not like the others.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    I have been meaning to make my way over to that side of the state. I’d love to see Busch Gardens.

  • Reply
    Vera Sweeney
    July 10, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    We love Busch Gardens, and I always tell everyone that there’s a TON more to do than just ride roller coasters. It’s got so much to offer.

  • Reply
    Meagan E Goepferich
    July 10, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    We love Busch Gardens Summer Nights! They always have so much there for the kids to enjoy.

  • Reply
    Pam Wattenbarger
    July 10, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    We haven’t been to Busch Gardens in ages, but I remember there being a lot to do there. You definitely need walking shoes though.

  • Reply
    Maureen @ Wisconsin Mommy
    July 10, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    I haven’t been to Busch Gardens since I was in high school. This reminded me how much fun it was! I need to take my family there soon.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    I think there is something for everyone at Busch Gardens. If you don’t like rides, there’s plenty of shows and vice versa! It’s a fun experience for the whole family.

  • Reply
    robin rue
    July 10, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    I was at the one in Tampa about a million years ago. I would LOVE to get back to one someday soon.

  • Reply
    Liz Mays
    July 10, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Oh yikes! I’m glad you found your daughter quickly and had a good time at the park! I really like visiting Busch Gardens and I still haven’t seen everything.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2017 at 6:08 am

    I’m glad you guys had a good time, minus your daughter getting lost. We don’t have anything like Busch Gardens here in Cali. It looks like a lot of fun.

  • Reply
    Jocelyn @ Hip Mama's Place
    July 11, 2017 at 11:12 am

    I’ve never been to Busch Gardens before! It looks so exciting and it’s perfect for families. I think it’s awesome that they have more to offer than just rides, I don’t do rides anymore and it would be nice to look forward to watching shows and all that instead.

  • Reply
    Kelly Hutchinson
    July 11, 2017 at 11:35 am

    When we visit a theme park, I want to do more than just ride the rides. I love to do some shopping and see some shows as well.

  • Reply
    Toni | Boulder Locavore
    July 11, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    These are really awesome tips! Sounds like you enjoyed your trip, except a missing kid! Glad you found her safe!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I’ve never been, but after reading your post I definitely want to visit now. Our sons are close to age it’s tripped out how their attitudes change once they hit preteens. Lol

  • Reply
    July 11, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    I haven’t been there since I was a kid! Next time I visit my mom I’ll have to make plans to go there. I’m one of the few that feels like Disney is overrated and I love me some Universal and this looks right up my alley too! Loved all the great tips too!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    How fun! I remember seeing commercials long ago but we don’t have one nearby. Looks cool though.

  • Reply
    Travel Blogger
    July 11, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Sounds like a great trip! I haven’t been to Busch Gardens, but it sounds like there is lots to do. I am glad you found your daughter! My siblings and I fought like that when we were kids too.

  • Reply
    Mary Edwards
    July 11, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    We love Busch Gardens. We live about 2hrs from the Tampa location and go whenever possible. Our fave are the rides, so I’m glad to see this list of other things to do!

  • Reply
    K. Elizabeth
    July 11, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    Never been to Busch Gardens, but happy to hear there’s a lot more to do there than just rides. My family loves going to theme parks, but they hate getting on rides. LOL! I think my little guy would love the train ride and my daughter would love checking out all of the animals and the shows.

  • Reply
    Shannon Gurnee
    July 11, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    I’ve only been to Busch Gardens once, but would love to go again someday. Sounds like you had an amazing time.

  • Reply
    Annemarie LeBlanc
    July 11, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Thanks for the virtual trip. Haven’t been there but Busch Gardens looks like a great family destination this summer. I read the part about your son. It made me remember when my kids were little. My youngest son wandered off in the toy section of the mall. I asked my daughter, where is he? then my daughter asked her other brother, where is he? OMG. It is a good thing that my youngest son held on to the skirt of a sales clerk and said, “I’m lost.” Whew. He said his sister wanted to look at dolls and she was taking a long time so he went to a different aisle to look at the toy cars. From then on, I never went to the mall without my kids wearing a harness vest.
    Other than snacks and extra clothes, it is important that we talk to our kids about proper behavior when going to a theme park, and what to do if they wander off and get lost.

  • Reply
    Bren Pace | Designs by Virtual Bren
    July 11, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Hey Kita! Thanks for sharing your trip with us! I haven’t been to Busch Gardens in oodles of years, but I do have fond memories of it. I’m glad you took the kids out for a bit of fun and some R&R for yourself. )

  • Reply
    Jay Colby
    July 12, 2017 at 1:12 am

    Great tips. I’ve never been to Busch Gardens before but it sounds like an great time!

  • Reply
    AnnMarie John
    July 12, 2017 at 1:41 am

    It sounds amazing! We’ve only been there once and I think it would be nice to go back again. I love the fact that there’s plenty of things in store for families.

  • Reply
    Nicole Williams
    July 12, 2017 at 5:45 am

    I’ve never been to Busch Gardens, but need to put it on my bucket list.

  • Reply
    My Teen Guide
    July 12, 2017 at 7:56 am

    If we went to Busch Gardens, I’d take your advice to ride the train around the park. It would be so relaxing! Love your tips too. I totally agree with valet parking. I would save my energy for those long walks inside the park than walking to and from the parking lot.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2017 at 12:56 am

    I grew up in Newport News VA, so we have the Busch Gardens in Williamsburg right next door almost. I’ve never been to the one in Tampa though!

  • Reply
    Felecia Monique
    July 14, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    I haven’t been to Busch gardens in years. This would be a nice family trip next year.

  • Reply
    Jennifer tyree
    July 15, 2017 at 8:28 am

    I grew up in Ohio, by an now in Arizona. I have never been to Busch gardens. One day I’ll make it there (a long trip from Arizona) but it’ll be worth it. I honestly had no idea it had animals, too. So we’ll have to make a trip of it one year.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    I love themed parks! I would have not been able to keep my cool regarding your daughter. This seems like a nice trip. Thank you for sharing.

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