Updated: May 21, 2015
Busch Gardens Africa - Tampa Bay Visitor GuideBusch Gardens has 2 main location, one in Virgina and one in Tampa, Florida. The park in Tampa is called Busch Gardens Africa (opened in 1959, which moved from a brewery to an animal park pretty quickly), and the focus is on, you guessed it, Africa! Kind of like Disney Animal Kingdom, it is part zoo, with almost 3000 animals, and part amusement park rides. The park itself is located just 8 miles northeast of Tampa, Florida (about an hour from Orlando if you are in the Disneyworld vicinity). They even offer shuttle service from Orlando for $10 per person, round trip. Parking is $10 at the park. How do I get to Busch Gardens in Florida? The park is located just off I-75 on I-275 at the Fowler exit -- follow the signs from there.
Busch Gardens Florida MapIf you want to see the full, large scale map of Busch Gardens Africa (like the hand-out brochure you get at the park), check it out here from BGTGuide.com (will open in a new window). It shows you where all the different lands and rides are located -- Stanleyville, Timbuktu, Morocco, Congo, etc. You'll find the new zipline ride, Jungle Flyers, in the Congo area. You can find an interactive park map here -- it lets you scroll around and zoom in and out to check out the various rides, attractions, and restaurants.
Best Rides at Busch Gardens Africa FloridaIf you plan a vacation to Busch Gardens in Florida, one of the highlights, if you are a roller coaster fan, is Gwazi, the biggest and fastest wooden roller coasted in the Southeast. It is actually two coasters - the Gwazi Lion and the Gwazi Tiger, which both offer different, intertwined rides (height restrictions -- 48 inches or above to ride). If you like plain, old-fashioned haul-a$$ coasters, this ones for you -- very fast, lots of turns, great ride. You'll also want to check out Sheikra (named after an African hawk, be prepared to soar and dive...), which premiered in 2005. This monster offers floorless cars that will you move you along at 70MPG and fly you 200 feet into the air, only to then plunge you down at an honest 90 degree angle -- talk about a big hill, this is simply a vertical drop! (54 inches tall to ride). I would have to say this is our favorite ride at the park -- awesome fun. For a water ride, consider Congo River Rapids (always a big line in the hot summer months..), where you float on a 12 person "raft" and basically, get wet. There are bumps, rapids, waterfalls, but the point is water, water, everywhere, splashes, wetness, you get the picture... Another good water ride at Busch Gardens Africa is Stanley Falls, a good old log ride that ends with a 40 foot drop. If you want a little more thrill, go for Tanganyika Tidal Wave with a 55 foot drop at the end (48 inches tall) -- be ready for big sloshing wave at the bottom that will likely soak most of you -- but hey, this is Florida, right? A little water never hurt anybody -- enjoy!! You'll find Stanleyville crowded in hot summer months because of the water rides there -- be prepared for long lines during peak hours of the day. Kumba is another awesome roller coaster -- 135 foot drop, diving loops, 3 seconds of weightlessness -- what more can a person ask for? (54 inches or taller). Zipping along at just 60MPH has never been so much fun. Another favorite is Montu, an inverted roller coaster with a 60 foot vertical drop, speeds over 60MPH, loops, and almost 4G's of G forces (54 inches) -- this is a great ride, another of our favorites.
Busch Garden Africa Tickets, Hours and Coupons:If you are a Florida resident, you can save some money when you visit Busch Gardens Africa and get special privileges. They are currently running a promo where you buy one ticket and you get unlimited visits for the rest of the year at no admission charge -- not a bad deal. Tickets cost $65 for adults and $55 for children (age 3-9). For non-Florida residents, you can get a 2 days for 1 price, and buy at the kids ticket price of $55 -- this allows you 2 days of park visit for the price of one. If you want to rent a stroller, it is $10 per day (yeah, we'd love to see these parks be more family friendly and offer free strollers for kids, but none of them do... :( ) What are Busch Garden Florida hours? Generally, the park is open from around 9AM to 7PM, depending on the time of year when you visit. In the summer (July-Aug) the park is open until 9 or 10PM. In the Fall it opens around 9 or 10 and closed by 5 or 6. You can visit the official website here if you want to see park hours for when you are planning your vacation to Busch Gardens Africa.
Busch Gardens Tampa New Attractions - JungalaOne of the newest attractions at Busch Gardens in Florida is Jungala (spring 2008). Built in the Congo area, Jungala is about, well, the jungle. You'll find animals, plants, rides, and play areas that bring you face to face with the world of the jungle. There is a huge 35 foot tall rock formation next to the village, but the most exciting feature is the zipline ride, called the Jungle Flyers, which carries you over the treetops. Also check out The Wild Surge for a wild skyward launch ride that hurls you above the nearby waterfall for a terrific view and exhilirating feeling (don't lose your lunch!). There is also a water area for kids to play and keep cool, and treetop observation platforms to check out the orangutans, along with underwater viewing windows to see what tigers look like when they swim (yes, tigers LIKE the water!).
Hotels near Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa, FloridaUnless you are making a day trip from Orlando to visit Busch Gardens, you probably want to find a hotel or motel nearby to stay for your visit. Since it is so close to Tampa, if you are in a hotel there you can easily shoot out to the park in 10 or 15 minutes from downtown Tampa. For hotels and motels near Busch Gardens, consider the list below.
- Best Western All Suites Hotel - 3001 University Center Drive, Phone # 813-971-8930. Located close to USF and Busch Gardens, room rates start just over $100. Website located HERE
- La Quinta Inn Tampa Near Busch Gardens - 3701 East Fowler Ave, Phone (813) 910-7500. Located right behind Busch Gardens -- rooms run $110-$130. Website located HERE