Busch Gardens Tampa combines world-class thrill rides with up-close animal experiences into one wild theme-park. With an abundance of things to do and see at the park, it is in your best interest to plan ahead.
Planning Your Day
Your Busch Gardens trip begins far before you enter the park. These Busch Gardens Tampa tips will help you organize and prepare for a great day of fun.
1. Pack Light
As with most theme parks, Busch Gardens Tampa does not allow bags on most rides. While this policy is in place for the safety of guests and crew members, going back and forth between the rides and a locker is a nuisance. Instead, try to pack as lightly as possible. If you can fit everything in your pockets or a small bag, great! If not, be prepared to rent a locker.
Locker sizes and rates are as follows:
- Standard (7.5" h x 13" w x 18" d): $10 per day
- Large (10.5" h x 16.5" w x 18" d): $15 per day
- Jumbo (13.5" h x 22.5" w x 18" d): $20 per day
Additionally, certain rides offer one-time use, keypad operated lockers for $1.00 for the first two hours and $2.00 for each additional hour, with a $20.00 per day maximum.
2. Arrive Early
Between the animal encounters, the exhilarating roller coasters, and the jaw-dropping shows, it’s easy to spend an entire day at the park. And, you should! Arrive as early as possible to enjoy a full day at the park.
Park hours vary per season and day of the week, so be sure to check the theme park hours of operation before you travel.
3. Dress Appropriately
One of the most important Busch Gardens Tampa tips is also the most logical one: wear sunscreen! Also, wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your face and eyes from the sun.
Guests are also allowed to bring clear water bottles into the park. Do so and stay hydrated all day long! The last thing you want is fatigue and a sunburn at the same time.
4. Park Near the Tram
To enter the theme park, guests must park their vehicle and hop on a tram ride. This tram takes you straight to the ticket gate. For your convenience, try parking as close to the tram as possible. If you arrive early enough, this shouldn’t be an issue.
5. Decide the Theme of Your Day
Did you come to Busch Gardens Tampa to see the animals, ride the coasters, or experience it all? Deciding a “theme” for the day will influence the flow of your day and help prioritize which attractions you visit throughout your trip. Ideally, do your best to incorporate both aspects of the park into your day for a truly memorable experience.
6. Grab a Map
Although some visitors find it bothersome to carry around a theme park map, it’s a helpful tool! Having a park map ensures you get to your destination with ease. Plus, use the map to formulate a plan of action once you’ve chosen your path for the day!
7. Consider Purchasing an All Day Dining Pass
Since outside food and beverages (with the exception of water bottles) are not permitted in the park, you’ll need a plan for meals. Additionally, if you intend to stay at Busch Gardens all day, your food tab will add up fast. If you’re planning to spend a whole day at the park or are visiting with multiple people, the All Day Dining Plan is worth it.
This deal entitles you to 1 entrée platter, side or dessert, and soft drink or bottled water once per hour at any of the following locations:
- Zagora Café
- Serengeti Overlook Café
- Kenya Kanteen
- Sheikra Eats
- Bengal Bistro
- Dragon Fire Grill
- Zambia Smokehouse
Did you know Busch Gardens is home to more than 12,000 animals from 300 different species? If seeing the animals is your top priority, you’ll want to follow these Busch Gardens Tampa tips.
8. Visit the Animals First
If you’re not a roller coaster tycoon and cannot wait to see the animals, head to these areas of the park first. Certain species of animals tend to be more active in the morning when the temperatures are still relatively cool. At Busch Gardens, you can see and learn more about a multitude of animals including:
- And More
If you’re fascinated by animals, sign up for a tour prior to your visit. Some tours allow visitors to get up-close to the animals, too.
9. Check Out the Busch Gardens Animal Care Center
While this tour requires an extra reservation and fee, it is well worth the cost. The Busch Gardens Animal Care Center takes great pride in the exceptional animal health and rehabilitation work it provides for animals throughout the park. From a simple check-up to helping injured wild animals get back on their feet, this care center does it all. Throughout your tour, you’ll witness firsthand the high level of care these animals receive daily and how passionate the crew is about taking care of the animals at Busch Gardens.
If you sign up for this tour, check-in at the Serengeti Outpost in Nairobi no later than 15 minutes before your scheduled tour time.
10. Don’t Miss the Keeper Talks
Throughout the day, Busch Gardens animal keepers introduce a few select animals to visitors for educational keeper talks. During this time, the keepers will tell you all about the animal, its habitat, food, and more.
11. Ride the Serengeti Railway
If you don’t have much time left, but still want a glimpse at the animals, catch a ride on the Serengeti Railway. This calming railroad ride takes visitors around the Serengeti Plain and offers views of giraffes, zebras, lions, and more.
If you’re more focused on riding the roller coasters during the day, the Serengeti Railway is the best way to include animals in your visit.
In addition to hands-on animal encounters, Busch Gardens is a roller coaster fanatic’s dream come true. With 15 exhilarating coasters and thrill rides, get ready to scream at the top of your lungs! If you’re planning to spend your day experiencing the attractions, these Busch Gardens Tampa tips are for you.
12. Start Your Day at the Big Rides
To maximize your time at the park, head to the biggest and baddest thrill rides first. The rides are scattered all over the park, so the old “head to the back of the park first” tip will only work for certain rides such as Kumba.
Instead, once you’ve entered the park, walk in a counterclockwise path. In doing so, you’ll run right into Cheetah Hunt, a triple launch coaster boasting 4,400 feet of steel track. As you continue along the path, you’ll find all of Busch Gardens’ top coasters and thrill rides.
In addition, select a few “must-do” rides before entering the park. If you’ve arrived as early as possible, you can head straight to those rides without a significant wait time. Or, if you plan your day just right, time the big rides around meal times. Typically, lunch and dinner time is when most park goers exit the queue lines in search of some grub.
13. Let the Kids Play
If you’re visiting with kids, you know they’ll become antsy at some point in the day. It’s inevitable. When the kids are ready to play, head over to the Sesame Street® Safari of Fun. With kid-friendly rides, splash and play areas, and shows just for them, it’s the perfect way for the little ones to enjoy the day. Plus, let your child experience their first thrill ride with Air Grover!
14. Use SkyRide to Your Advantage
When you need a break from the insane roller coasters, take a leisurely glide on SkyRide. This cable-car style ride offers panoramic views of the park. It’s an ideal way to wind down, see the landscape, and capture excellent photos of the animals.
The ride transports visitors between the Egypt and Congo sections of the park and takes approximately 10-minutes one-way. Visitors tend to use the ride as a way to skip walking between these two areas of the park.
15. Leverage the Child Swap Opportunities
If you’re visiting Busch Gardens with young kids who cannot go on the massive roller coasters, you don’t need to miss out on the fun. Just use the Child Swap card!
At the ride entrance, ask an attendant for a Child Swap card. This card will have a specific ride time on it. Return to the ride at that time and the first portion of your party will enter the quick queue line. During this time, the rest of your group will wait with the kids who cannot ride. Once the first party finishes the ride, pass the card to the rest of the riders for their turn.
16. Maximize Your Ride Time
Many theme park goers are under the impression that you must exit a park before the closing time. Not true! Visitors are allowed to enter ride queues until the park closes, meaning if you’re in line when closing time arrives, you can still ride that coaster. Get one last zoom on Sheikra or Montu in to cap off your day.
With these Busch Gardens Tampa tips in mind, you’ll get to experience some of the world’s best roller coasters and attractions!
Animal encounters and roller coasters aren’t the only fun offered at Busch Gardens! Be sure to take advantage of these extra experiences and tips.
17. Go to the Shows
From performances just for kids to epic productions, Busch Gardens Tampa offers exceptional entertainment for all. Although the shows pack a punch, it’s not the only reason why they made our list of Busch Gardens Tampa tips. Many of these shows are indoors, allowing you to escape from the hot Florida sun! When the sun becomes unbearable, head inside to see a show like “Turn It Up!”
18. Find Out What Festivals are Happening
To add even more entertainment to their already impressive lineup of fun, Busch Gardens presents themed festivals throughout the year. Before you make your trip to Busch Gardens, find out what festival is going on and take advantage of the seasonal fun and events.
19. Know if You Need an Extra Ticket
Some of the additional experiences and events at Busch Gardens require an extra ticket. For instance, the park’s annual Halloween festival, Howl-O-Scream, demands an additional admissions ticket to enter. Certain tours, animal experiences, and concerts available throughout the park also require extra tickets on top of your park admission.
20. Purchase a PhotoKey
If you want to capture your Busch Gardens Tampa memories forever and smartphone pictures aren’t cutting it, purchase a PhotoKey. This pass collects photos from rides, animal experiences, and more throughout the park and compiles them for you at the end of the day. Download the PhotoKey app to share your photos right away.
Bonus Busch Gardens Tampa Tips
I couldn’t end this blog post without sharing the most important tip of all: how to save on Busch Gardens tickets. Purchase your Busch Gardens tickets from Tripster and save $13 per person or more! Plus, if you bundle your theme park tickets with your choice of Tampa hotel, you’ll receive extra savings.
Now, go put our Busch Gardens Tampa tips to good use inside the park!