Visiting Busch Gardens Tampa - An Insider's Guide

November 20, 2021

Do you hear that? It’s jungle calling, and it’s up to you to answer!

Take a journey to the great plains and deep jungles of Africa when you spend a day (or three) at Busch Gardens® Tampa. 

Ideal for any animal lover or intrepid adventurer, Busch Gardens® Tampa features over 300 acres of animal habitats, water rides, scream-inducing roller coasters, and safari-themed dining and shopping.

This world-class theme park is a must-visit destination for thrill-seekers and zoophilists, young and old. Smaller explorers will love discovering the Sesame Street® Safari of fun, while adrenaline junkies will flip over the exceedingly steep SheiKra® coaster.

Ready to answer the call of the jungle? Our Insider’s Guide to Busch Gardens® Tampa will teach you everything you need to know about this nature-filled theme park.

Downtown Tampa Florida

Florida, Tampa, city, City vibe, City and water, downtown Tampa, bridges, Clean city, buildings, Skyscraper, shore, Tampa bay,


Tampa is a city on the rise with beautiful beaches, fascinating history, and a vibrant downtown arts scene. But, if you’ve yet to visit Champa-bay (as locals lovingly refer to it), you are missing out.

Related Post: My Wild Adventure at Busch Gardens® Tampa

Delight your travel companions by taking in even more adventure and wildlife when you stop to experience nearby attractions such as:

Make the most of your Busch Gardens® Tampa trip and bundle your tickets with a Busch Gardens® Tampa Vacation Package

Whether you strive to stay close to the park and hit the Cheetah’s Hunt® first thing or take your time uncovering the hidden gems downtown, we have a medley of different options for Tampa Hotels.

Pro Tip: Did you know that Orlando is only an hour and a half drive from Tampa? 

If you are dying to combine your Busch Gardens® Tampa experience with some of the more popular Orlando theme parks, you can choose from several Orlando Hotels & Resorts and make the commute. 

people on cobra curse roller coaster in busch gardens tampa floridaAbout the Park

Busch Gardens® Tampa was created by the Anheuser-Busch company in 1959 as a free animal attraction to be featured alongside their brewery. Today, it is a Florida landmark attraction that leads the way in extreme thrill rides.

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

Another highlight of this African-themed park is its impressive wealth of biodiversity! Over 12,000 animals and 250 species call Busch Gardens® Tampa home. In fact, Busch Gardens is one of the largest zoos in North America.

Travel your way through the dark continent as you traverse the ten distinct regions of the park:

  • Egypt
  • Congo
  • Birds Garden
  • Jungala
  • Morocco
  • Nairobi
  • Pantopia
  • Cheetah Hunt Area
  • Sesame Street Safari of Fun
  • Stanleyville
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

When to Go

As one of Florida’s most popular attractions for locals and visitors alike, it can be hard to find a day where Busch Gardens® Tampa isn’t busy.

Your best bet for light crowds and lower wait times is to avoid weekends, holidays, and the summer. 

Additionally, we always suggest arriving at least 30-45 minutes before the park opens to maximize your park time and get a head start on any lengthy ride wait times.

Pro Tip: Insider experts swear that the best days to visit Busch Gardens® Tampa are Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Close up photo of a crocodile at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay via Facebook


Before diving into your day of animal interactions and spellbinding live Broadway-style shows, you’ll need to pre-purchase your tickets.

Related Post: Top Attractions in Tampa, Florida

Whether your travel plans, from a quick single-day visit to a three-day visit with all-day dining, we offer a diverse assortment of Busch Garden® Tampa ticket options.

Believe you and your animal-loving crew will be back again soon?

For those who just can’t get enough Busch Gardens Tampa fun, the Fun Card or Annual Pass are great options:

  • Fun Card - Buy a Fun Card for next year and receive unlimited admissions now through December 31, 2022
  • Annual Pass - Upgrade your single-day ticket to an Annual Pass hassle-free on the day of your visit
Ground shot looking up at the Tigris roller coaster with fireworks behind it at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay via Facebook


Screaming your lungs out on a classic steel roller coaster- timeless! Fumbling around with a paper map, not so much.

Related Post: 7 of the Top Things to Do in Tampa at Night

Thankfully, Busch Gardens® Tampa has gotten with the times and has an incredible app that makes navigating the park from your phone a breeze.

Download the official Busch Gardens Mobile App before your visit to:

  • Discover park amenities - including animal experiences
  • View upcoming showtimes
  • Locate the nearest bathroom
  • Manage all your in-park purchases and barcodes
  • Navigate using an interactive and easy to use map
  • Contactless purchase park upgrades like Quick Queue or All Day Dining
  • And more!
Close up photo of a baby elephant splashing water at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
via Facebook

Quick Queue

If the theme park gods are not smiling in your favor and facing heavy crowds and long wait times, it can be a good idea to invest in a Quick Queue Pass.

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

There are three different Quick Queue Pass options up for grabs depending on your specific park goals and desires:

  • Quick Queue - This allows you to skip the lines 1x per ride at selected rides & roller coasters 
  • Unlimited - This allows you unlimited skips per ride at selected rides & roller coasters
  • Junior - This will enable you to skip the lines 1x per ride at selected kid-friendly rides & roller coasters
Two giraffes leaning over a family as they walk by at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay via Facebook

Park Add Ons

Want a unique Busch Gardens® Tampa experience? Tailor your trip to your specific tastes with incredible park add ons.

Serengeti Safari® Tour

Budding biologists will flip for the opportunity to get up close and personal with their favorite wild animals on the Serengeti Safari® Tour. This 30-minute off-road safari escapade will transport you to the wild African plains and leave you with unforgettable memories of hand-feeding giraffes.

The Keeper for a Day Tour

Care to step into a Zookeeper’s shoes for a day? The Keeper for a Day Tour will give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how the Busch Gardens Tampa team cares for their bevy of endangered and exotic creatures. 

All Day Dining Deal

More about the simple pleasures of a good meal and an iced cold beverage? The evergreen All Day Dining Deal is one of Busch Gardens® Tampa’s most popular add ons. 

This delicious deal is perfect for those who dream about eating their way through the park and allows for: one entrée platter, one side or dessert, and one soft drink or bottled water once per hour at selected dining establishments. 

Close up photo a mother ape and her baby at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay via Facebook

Can’t Miss

Consistently ranked as one of the top amusement parks in the U.S., there honestly isn’t much to miss at Busch Gardens® Tampa. From animal interactions to electrifying live performances at the Moroccan Palace Theater, it’s next to impossible to pick our favorite attractions. 

However, for those shorter visits where time is an issue we can never skip:

  • Cheetah Hunt® (ride)
  • Montu® (ride)
  • Congo River Rapids® (water ride)
  • Skyride (aerial tram)
  • Kumba® (ride)
  • Serengeti Express (train ride)
  • Walkabout Way - say hello to your favorite furry friends from down under
  • Serengeti Plain® - observe the majestic animals of the African plains
  • A live ice skating show at the Moroccan Theater (show)
  • Scorpion® (ride)
  • Sheikra® (ride)
  • Phoenix® (ride)
Close up photo of a little girl touching the glass at the hippo enclosure and the hippo is looking at her at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, USA

photo credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
via Facebook

What’s New

Variety is the spice of life, and Busch Gardens® Tampa loves to keep its guests guessing (and coming back for more) with their continuous park additions and innovations. 


The latest and greatest roller coaster coming to Busch Gardens® Tampa, Iron Gwazi, is scheduled to open in March of 2022 and promises to deliver some serious speed and height. 

Hold on for your life as this wood and steel hybrid coaster will reach speeds of up to 76 mph and dizzying heights of more than 200 ft!

Related Post: Check Out our Busch Gardens Tampa Events Page

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

Food & Drink

Although you can bring your own refillable water into the park, Busch Gardens® Tampa prohibits entering with outside food or snacks.

Related Post: 10 Totally Free Things to Do in Tampa

Never fear, the park is packed with tasty options, from lighter than air funnel cakes to mouth-watering southern BBQ. 

Our Busch Gardens® Tampa culinary highlights are as follows:

  • Delicious pizza with a stunning view - Oasis Pizza 
  • Best brisket sampler - Zambia Smokehouse
  • Ice-cold craft beer - Giraffe Bar (new)

Can’t Forget

Florida weather can be fickle, but that’s no excuse to show up unprepared for a day of Busch Gardens® Tampa fun!

Ready yourself for a day of rides, discovery, and yes, lots of walking, with our list of essential theme park items:

  • Portable phone charger
  • Water bottle
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Poncho, raincoat, or jacket (weather dependent)
  • Bandaids
  • Stroller (if required)

With stunning natural scenery, exotic animals from Oz, and high octane coasters that will leave you begging for mercy, there isn’t much that Busch Gardens® Tampa doesn't cover.

Little ones will go gaga for letting loose with Bert and Ernie, while adults can enjoy a cocktail or two while gazing out at the majestic Serengeti.

Busch Gardens® Tampa serves up a winning combination of a dynamic theme park, an African safari, and an educational zoo adventure. 

Are you ready to go where the ‘fun comes naturally’? Start planning your ultimate Busch Gardens Tampa vacation now!

isis with mural in background

Written By Isis Maya

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central America and her love o ...

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