With Fall upon us, we’re in the thick of school, fall sports, high school band, not to mention that Christmas is just around the corner. I wanted to throw back my Thursday and remember our last adventure this summer before school started back- a family trip to Busch Gardens, Tampa.
What a great time we had! Other than my husband who visited when he was just a kid, it was a first time experience for the family. My oldest son Benjamin and I are roller coaster enthusiasts, and my third grader Josh is turning out to be one himself. The rest of the crew are all hit or miss, they like some big rides but not others. Busch Gardens worked out perfectly for the family because there is something for everyone.
We went on several big coasters in the single day we visited the park. The first was Cheetah Hunt. I got my teenager Arah, who says she’ll never ride a coaster that flips upside down, to ride this one. By accident really, because it does have one corkscrew that flips upside down. Oops.
She actually loved it though, and was proud of herself for going. Not that she did it again, just once was enough.
Joshua and Benjamin has no hesitations, and this was Joshua’s first and fastest coaster he’s ever been on too.
Ben and I also rode the big inverted coaster Montu twice. This was my favorite, I love the feel of flying you get while your legs hang.
We also jumped onto Kumba once, and this baby was fast! As you can see from the pic, your hair stands on end when you’re finished!
We didn’t get to ride one of the newest and biggest attractions of the park, Falcon’s Fury, because it was closed the day we were there. We saw it though, and it’s big and scary. It’s the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America, I’m not sure I could’ve talked myself or any of my family members into riding it if it had been open.
The other one I couldn’t bring myself to ride was SheiKra, the diving roller coaster. The drop is high and crazy, and looks like a thrill, but none of us were quite brave enough. It was a lot of fun to watch though.
As a family there were a few other rides we all rode together like Stanley Falls and the Congo River Rapids. Be prepared though because you get soaked on the rapids! We were all hiding our iPhones anywhere we thought they’d be safe. Luckily they all were.
The day we visited it was so hot outside that the cold water was a relief!
Throughout the day the younger and non-coaster family members rode the Skyride across the park, the smaller coaster Air Grover in Sesame Street Safari, and the bouncy Wild Surge in Jungala.
Walking through the park, there were some very beautiful shaded areas as well as the animal attractions.
We ate lunch at Bengal Bistro in the Jungala area where we had a great view of the costumed street performers when they came out to dance. The costumes were so elaborate and unique, I was definitely impressed.
During the hottest part of the end of our day, I feel like we found an oasis in the totally kid friendly area called Treetop Trails. Not only was this area beautiful and the perfect space for the kids to run and play, but it was shaded and cool. They had great fun on the climbing nets, bridges, and crawl tubes. For the big kids there is a multi-level maze. It’s all about three stories tall. I’d have to say that we could’ve spent hours here alone.
Busch Gardens™ is open 365 days a year. We plan on going back sometime this Fall when the weather is cooler.
To other first time families going, here’s my advice-
1. If you go during the intense heat of summer like we did, dress in cool clothes, stay hydrated, and know there is a lot of walking to do.
2. Study the map of the park before heading out because it’s a huge place and the signage is confusing in some areas.
3. Divide and conquer if you can. My husband isn’t a big coaster fanatic, so he took the kids who were too short or not interested in flipping, dropping, and screaming to parts of the park that suited them. I took the braver of the bunch and we waited in long lines for the thrill rides.
4. Be patient. Again, you have to walk a lot, and the lines will probably be long depending on the time of year you go. Don’t get frustrated, just go with it. It’s worth the wait.
5. If you’re only there for a day, don’t expect to be able to ride everything. There’s just too much to see and do. I think unless you rush through it all, it would be almost impossible to get it all done.
6. Take a lot of pictures. This is a wonderful place, make sure you capture the memories.
7. Have fun!