Visiting Busch Gardens Tampa: 19 Tips for a Great Day

To have the best day ever, follow our 19 simple Busch Gardens Tampa tips!

A Busch Gardens Tampa ticket combines world-class thrill rides with up-close animal experiences into one wild theme park. You can soar through the air on exhilarating roller coasters, come face-to-face with majestic creatures, and immerse yourself in immersive live shows and entertainment. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-inducing fun or incredible animal experiences, it’s the ultimate destination for a day filled with non-stop laughter and joy.

And with an abundance of things to do and see at the park, it is in your best interest to plan ahead. Follow along as we share all the Busch Gardens tips for a seamless and memorable Busch Gardens experience.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Tickets

Don’t let long waiting lines dampen your spirits. Secure your discount Busch Gardens tickets from Tripster beforehand for a smooth entry into the park. By booking online, you’ll be ready to jump straight into thrills and entertainment the moment you arrive.

Want to take your adventures to the next level? Elevate the fun by bundling your park tickets with a range of must-see Tampa attractions.

What to Know Before You Go

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.

aerial view of guests riding Montu roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa, Florida, USA
photo credit: Busch Gardens® Tampa

Pack Light





As with most theme parks, Busch Gardens Tampa FL 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.

Related Post: My Wild Adventure at Busch Gardens Tampa

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): $15 per day
  • Large (10.5″ h x 16.5″ w x 18″ d):  $20 per day
  • Jumbo (13.5″ h x 22.5″ w x 18″ d): $25 per day

Additionally, certain rides offer one-time use, keypad-operated lockers for $3.00 for the first two hours and $1.00 for each additional hour, with a $20.00 per day maximum.

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.

Park hours vary per season and day of the week, so be sure to check the theme park hours of operation before you travel.

Dress Appropriately

One of the most important Busch Gardens Tampa tips is also the most logical one: wear sunscreen! And if you’re wondering what to wear to Busch Gardens, don’t forget to wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your face and eyes from the sun. Remember these when you’re planning what to bring to Busch Gardens.

Do you find yourself asking, “What can I bring into Busch Gardens Tampa?” 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 sunburn at the same time.

A family wearing tank tops posing for a photo behind a glass Busch Gardens Tampa sign and a lion shaped shrub behind them in Tampa, Florida, USA
photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay via Facebook

Park Near the Tram

To enter the theme park, guests must park their vehicles 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.

Decide the Theme of Your Day

Did you come to Busch Gardens Tampa to see the animals, ride the coasters, or experience it all? The best things to do at Busch Gardens Tampa depends on the things you’re most interested in doing! 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.

Grab a Map

Want more tips for Busch Gardens Tampa? Although some visitors find it bothersome to carry around a Busch Gardens Tampa 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!

close up of the scorpion roller coaster ride at Busch Gardens Tampa, Florida, USA
photo credit: Busch Gardens® Tampa

Consider Purchasing an All Day Dining Pass

So, what to know before going to Busch Gardens? Since outside food and beverages (with the exception of water bottles) are not permitted in the park, you’ll need a plan for meals.

Related Post: 12 of the Most Fun Things to Do in Tampa with Toddlers

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

Animal Experiences

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.

close up of alligator in grass at Busch Gardens Tampa in Tampa, Florida, USAVisit 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:

  • Cheetahs
  • Tigers
  • Gorillas
  • Elephants
  • Penguins
  • Sloths
  • Flamingos
  • 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.

For true animal lovers wishing to expand their zoological encounters, we have the best wildlife excursions to keep you busy. From dolphin greetings at All Day Dining Plan to giant tortoise feedings at the ZooTampa at Lowry Park, to a wetlands habitat in Florida’s Largest Aquarium -the activities are endless.

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.

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.

Close up photo of the top of the a roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, USA
photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
via Facebook

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.

Thrill Rides

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.

If animal thrill rides are what you’re after, then add Everest to your Florida itinerary, especially the intense backward rollercoaster at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Don’t forget to include Adventure Island for thrilling water adventures as well.

View looking up the Kumba roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa, Florida, USA
photo credit: Busch Gardens® Tampa via Facebook

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.

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Busch Gardens Tampa: Coupons, Discounts, and Deals

In addition, select a few “must-do” Busch Gardens Tampa Bay 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.

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!

people on a large swing ride with green grass and trees under them and blue sky above with downtown Tampa in the backgroundLeverage 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.

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!

Close up of a white tiger with its mouth open and it has large blue eyes with rocks behind it and it is laying on bright green grass at Busch Gardens Tampa in Tampa, Florida, USA
photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay via Facebook

Extra Fun

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.

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!”

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. We personally love the wine festival!

Close up photo of a crocodile at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, USA
photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay via Facebook

Know if You Need an Extra Ticket

While many events like Busch Gardens Christmas Town Tampa are included in your admission, 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 if you aren’t a pass member.

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.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Restaurants

A day at the park can be exhilarating, but it’s also likely to work up quite an appetite. Luckily, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers a wide selection of dining options! Satisfy your hunger and recharge with a delightful experience at one of the many fantastic restaurants nearby. From diverse cuisines to mouthwatering flavors, you’ll find the perfect eats to refuel and make your day even better.

Dragon Fire Grill & Pub

Indulge in tasty flavors and a good atmosphere at this market-style eatery.

Oasis Pizza

Level up your fun at the Serengeti Overlook by treating yourself to a culinary experience that perfectly complements the breathtaking view.

Dragon Dog

Dive into a world of comfort and flavors with Dragon Dog’s delectable hot dogs and sausages.

Four people sitting at a table eating under a rollercoaster at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, USA
photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay via Facebook

Pantopia Drinks and Snacks

Enjoy a feast of theme park classics, such as the iconic foot-long hot dogs, perfectly seasoned chicken tenders, and more.

Moroccan Delights

Beat the heat and satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to this delightful ice cream parlor.

Twisted Tails Pretzels

Satisfy your snack cravings when you drop by Twisted Tails Pretzels which offers irresistible pretzels, bites, and cold beer.


Get your fill of Chick-fil-A® favorites right in the heart of Jungala.

Zagora Café

Enjoy a culinary extravaganza where you can feast on an assortment of offerings, including savory burgers, tender chicken tenders, and heavenly desserts.

 Hotels Near Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Unwind and rejuvenate in any of these cozy and luxurious hotels, thoughtfully designed to provide you with the perfect retreat after an exciting day at the park.

Hyatt Place Tampa Busch Gardens

Located just minutes away from the park, you’ll have easy access to all the excitement while enjoying a peaceful stay here.

Home2 Suites By Hilton Tampa USF

Indulge in pure relaxation and unwind your tired feet after an exciting day at the park by booking your stay at Home2 Suites By Hilton Tampa USF.

Close up photo of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street posing with a young boy at Busch Gardens Tampa in Tampa, Florida, USA
photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay via Facebook

Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa USF Near Busch Gardens

Soothe your senses with the ultimate post-adventure relaxation at this exceptional hotel.

Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa North

Stay at Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa North if you want to be close to the action and discover even more hidden gems in the area.

Hilton Garden Inn Tampa North

From spacious and luxurious rooms to a fitness center and on-site restaurant, you’ll have everything you need for a relaxing and hassle-free stay at Hilton Garden Inn.

Guests on the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, USABusch Gardens Tampa Bay Reviews

Looking for more compelling reasons to make your way to Busch Gardens? Let the glowing reviews from delighted visitors who have personally experienced the park firsthand be your guide.

Bonus Busch Gardens Tampa Tips

Busch Gardens Williamsburg stands out as the ultimate park destination, offering unparalleled enjoyment for you and your family. From adrenaline-pumping roller coasters that defy gravity to up-close encounters with fascinating wildlife, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is the place where incredible adventures come to life.

And we couldn’t end this without sharing the most important tip of all: how to save on Busch Gardens tickets. Purchase your Busch Gardens tickets from Tripster and save! 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!

Have Any Busch Garden Tampa Tips to Add?

Let us know in the comments below!

Avatar photo

Written by Anne Joyce Raymundo

Anne is a Filipino writer who formerly managed and created marketing strategies and materials for numerous websites and eCommerce platforms. Now, her voice...

Have something to add? Post it here:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you a Tripster?

Create an account to get access to exclusive pricing and rewards.

Tagged in this post

Tampa Insider Guides