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Old 01-17-2013, 11:13 AM   #1
parkhopping
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Busch Gardens Tampa tips

I found another thread on this topic, but it was from 2005 and I know a lot has changed since then. Anybody have some general info and tips on BG? I have been once before, but it was a couple of years ago and we really only spent 1/2 a day there. I just got a pass and am planning to go on MLK day...I know the holiday will increase the crowds, so I'm looking for some advice. Knowing so much about Disney, going to another theme park without all that knowledge worries me, LOL!

So, where's the best place to start in the mornings? General plan of attack for the coasters/thrill rides? Do crowds typically thin out in the evenings, even with an earlier closing time than most WDW parks? Dining suggestions (cheap/good)? All info is welcome and appreciated
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:37 PM   #2
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We were there in May 2012

My hubbie, daughters (8 and 5 at the time), and I were there in May. We absolutely loved it... in fact, we loved it so much, we went a second day.

If you're into coasters, there are tons of great ones. I'd ride Cheetah Hunt first since it's the newest. It had the longest line, although lines were minimal when we were there. I'd also recommend SheiKra if you like intense coasters.

We just loved seeing the animals. One "can't miss" thing to do is to go to the Tiger Exhibit. There's a "tunnel" you can go thru that pops you up so you're inside a glass booth inside the tiger exhibit. With any luck, they'll be laying close by, and if you've got someone with you, they can take a picture of you up close and personal to the tiger!

We also had to feed the kangaroos since we'd never done that before! We also spent some time in the Animal Care Center where they actually do medical procedures on the animals. We got to watch a turtle having a surgery when we were there.

We didn't do the All Day Dining since we heard it wasn't worth it, and that it limited you to certain places. We adults really enjoyed the Smokehouse (we had the brisket, chicken, and ribs combo).

There were also some good shows - Iceploration being one of them. If you have litle kids, my girls loved Critter Castaways, and they got to meet some of the cast after the show.

Enjoy your day!
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:13 PM   #3
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Busch Gardens is our favorite park for coasters and we always go twice in a trip. Last time I was there was June 2012 and Cheetah Hunt was brand new. We went first thing, when the park opened. The loading process was so abysmally slow I think we could have gone on Montu 3 times by the time we got on Cheetah Hunt, even though the line wasn't even that long. I would not waste more than one go on Cheetah Hunt, its fun but not THAT fun and definitely not better than SheiKra or Montu. So even though it was our first time on Cheetah Hunt we really felt like it wasted a lot of our "get there when the park opens" jump on lines.

We tried the all-day eating thing once and it is way too expensive, you will never eat enough to make it worth it. Most certainly you couldn't eat that much and go on the coasters!

If you love coasters and the biggest ones have huge lines Kumba will have shorter or no lines. It is really fun but at the back of the park and rougher than the other coasters except Gwazi of course.

If the whole park opens at once I would go on Cheetah Hunt once right at park opening and then not waste any more time on it, but that's just me. I could go on SheiKra all day. Last time we went though half the park opened an hour after official opening so SheiKra wasn't even running until 10:00.

I did notice, with where Cheetah Hunt is situated, that people tend to move on to Montu since its closest to Cheetah Hunt. So that means SheiKra is wide open for a while in the morning while people do CH/Montu, assuming they actually opened everything at once.

But that's just me and my coaster loving son, I am sure sure some people go for the animals and can give advice on that.
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:55 PM   #4
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The show schedules tend to drive our path. It's hard to fit them all in without walking back and forth across the park too much.

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Old 01-20-2013, 10:43 PM   #5
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What hotels are close to Busch Gardens? Is I am better off staying in Orlando, Fl. I planning on going back to Sea World. Also has anyone take the bus that pick up at Sea World for Busch Gardens and was it nice and how long did take get there on the bus. I will have a car for the trip that is not a problem.
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:02 PM   #6
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What hotels are close to Busch Gardens? Is I am better off staying in Orlando, Fl. I planning on going back to Sea World. Also has anyone take the bus that pick up at Sea World for Busch Gardens and was it nice and how long did take get there on the bus. I will have a car for the trip that is not a problem.
We always drive from Orlando and back in the same day. It is maybe an hour and 15 min. I would rather do that anyday then be stuck with a bus schedule but that's just us. I know some people don't mind the free shuttle but everybody has days where they just need to leave a park earlier than expected, or it rains, or somebody gets heat stroke or whatever.

Hotels: I have no idea! Orlando lodging is so inexpensive comparitively, we just use it as our hub for Busch, beaches, and obviously all the Orlando area parks. The area BG is in is called Temple Terrace and not exactly a resort area, more like a college/business/not too exciting area. I really feel that a day is largely wasted if switching lodging is involved, and I have tried to do this on several trips and it always screws up at least an afternoon. I just like to plant my family and stay put til its over, so we drive to BG and the beach.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:21 PM   #7
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I am also curious about lodging in Tampa. We are flying into Orlando due to seriously low flight prices but want to go to Busch Gardens. The hotels around BG did not have very good reviews and I was able to find cheaper hotels that were better rated by guests in Orlando.
So the drive isn't too bad? We haven't booked a room yet, still waiting to see if there is something better priced in a better area in Tampa.



Is two days enough at BG? I think we will also have Adventure Island tix too, and we want to go to the beach (gulf side) so I have planned for three days to have fun.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:40 PM   #8
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Is two days enough at BG? I think we will also have Adventure Island tix too, and we want to go to the beach (gulf side) so I have planned for three days to have fun.
It makes no sense to stay in Orlando but drive to BG two days and to the beach one day. Much too much time driving not to mention the gas you'll be wasting. People who round trip it in one day are spending their vacation in Orlando and want to spend one day at BG.

Use a site like Kayak. Plenty of 3* properties. within 5 miles of BG. A couple of 4* properties within 10 miles.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:28 PM   #9
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I am also curious about lodging in Tampa. We are flying into Orlando due to seriously low flight prices but want to go to Busch Gardens. The hotels around BG did not have very good reviews and I was able to find cheaper hotels that were better rated by guests in Orlando.
So the drive isn't too bad? We haven't booked a room yet, still waiting to see if there is something better priced in a better area in Tampa.



Is two days enough at BG? I think we will also have Adventure Island tix too, and we want to go to the beach (gulf side) so I have planned for three days to have fun.
We tried to resolve this last year by spending 4 nights on Indian Rocks Beach in a condo. It was gorgeous, loved the beach, but the drive to Busch was still over an hour! So we had a good time and got our beach fix but driving through Tampa is not fun, trying to get to BG by 9 am. If you come in from the East from Orlando I think its actually the same drive time as coming in from the west (Indian Rocks Beach or Clearwater) and driving through rush hour Tampa. That is why we decided not to do it again, it just didn't help much and the lodging was way more expensive. Maybe there is cheaper lodging away from the beaches.

Plus the Atlantic beaches (Cocoa, Melbourne) are only an hour away from Orlando anyway.

Last edited by Ametista; 01-21-2013 at 10:30 PM. Reason: forgot something
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:47 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ametista View Post
We tried to resolve this last year by spending 4 nights on Indian Rocks Beach in a condo. It was gorgeous, loved the beach, but the drive to Busch was still over an hour! So we had a good time and got our beach fix but driving through Tampa is not fun, trying to get to BG by 9 am. If you come in from the East from Orlando I think its actually the same drive time as coming in from the west (Indian Rocks Beach or Clearwater) and driving through rush hour Tampa. That is why we decided not to do it again, it just didn't help much and the lodging was way more expensive. Maybe there is cheaper lodging away from the beaches.

Plus the Atlantic beaches (Cocoa, Melbourne) are only an hour away from Orlando anyway.
Good information. We also stayed at Indian Rocks Beach during the Christmas holidays and drove to Busch Gardens one day. It is just as easy to come from Orlando. We have done it many times. Just over and hour and less traffic overall.

It is a plus to stay in Orlando and not have to move. It is also nice to be able to break the week up. We have Busch Platinum passes, so might do Sea World one day, Busch Gardens the next, a day off to relax, then back to Sea World, then Busch Gardens. Since the two parks are completely different, it's nice to be able to rotate them. I wouldn't want to be in Busch Gardens two consecutive days.

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Old 01-22-2013, 08:58 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone for answering all my questions about BG. I think I am just stay in Orlando, Fl and drive to BG
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:42 AM   #12
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BG is not a resort area that is for sure. It is near USF, hospitals, and businesses, and lower-income residences/college housing in Tampa. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is the largest hotel near BG. I am not sure how that is with kids. It is near the fairgrounds. There is also a hotel right across from fairground entrance that is decent, but I forget the name. If you go in February you want to avoid the stuck in State Fair traffic for hours anyways.

If you want to stay near BG are not going to the beaches, look around these landmarks so you will have food options:

-Brandon Town Center (Brandon Mall)
-Wiregrass Ranch Mall (Wesley Chapel, FL) Outdoor mall
-International Plaza / Mall (better part of Tampa, FL) also closer to beaches, close to airport.
- Westshore Plaza (upscale mall not to far from International Plaza)
-Do not stay near University Mall (closest mall to BG but bad part of town)
-Plant City (famous for the strawberry festival)
- Channelside (near the port where the cruises leave from. This is the only real tourist area of Tampa). Ybor is a historical area but a bar district and questionable crowd at night.
- Carrollwood Mall (Carrollwood, FL)

- If you haven't noticed the trend, it's stay at least 15 minute drive from BG. There are some decent places to stay near BG but you would have to be careful when choosing and since you are not familiar with the area, just best to stay near a mall or better area.

OTHER THINGS TO DO
-Also near BG is MOSI (Science Museum) which kids love!
-The Florida Aquarium (Port of Tampa)
-Glazer Children's Museum
-Dali Museum
- Holocaust Museum
-Tampa Performing Arts Center
-Cracker County / State Fair / Festivals depending on time of year


-If you are spending time at the beach, check out the pirate boat tours. We went on one for a private party, young kids love it!

-Visit Winter the Dolphin (from the movie) seewinter.com

Beaches:

If you are going to visit St. Pete beach or Clearwater, just stay at the beach. We like to go to John's Pass Boardwalk area which is Madeira beach. When we camp we stay at Fort DeSoto State Park.

Tradewinds Resort is popular but on the pricey side. Great choice for kids. They do movies in the pool, have giant inflatable slides, a water island play area in shallow area of the beach. They have hair braiding stands, face painting, and every other tourist thing you can think of.

Siesta Keys is popular and has a playground on the beach. I have never been inside.

There are tons of resorts to choose from.

Don Cesar is really upscale and featured on the Travel Channel (The "Pink Palace") but I wouldn't personally stay there. I worked here for a conference. It is beautiful.

My personal favorite place to stay in St. Pete is Postcard Inn. It's a older hotel, lower price than the resorts. It brings in a college crowd. But you have to be prepared for a travel lodge with a fresh coat of paint (which is what it is). It is two properties over from Tradewinds. Get a second floor or else you will hear everything going on above you. Hey, the price is good and the staff are nice, and it's on the beach! Then we walk down to Tradewinds to rent jet ski's. You can also pay to use the slides and water island as a non-resort guest.

Have fun!

Last edited by 4kids4karen; 01-23-2013 at 04:55 AM.
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:35 AM   #13
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To be clear, I wasn't suggesting staying near BG for an entire vacation. Only a night, as an alternative to driving back to Orlando if a family wants to spend two days at bg
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:54 PM   #14
IamErica
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4kids4karen View Post
BG is not a resort area that is for sure. It is near USF, hospitals, and businesses, and lower-income residences/college housing in Tampa. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is the largest hotel near BG. I am not sure how that is with kids. It is near the fairgrounds. There is also a hotel right across from fairground entrance that is decent, but I forget the name. If you go in February you want to avoid the stuck in State Fair traffic for hours anyways.

If you want to stay near BG are not going to the beaches, look around these landmarks so you will have food options:

-Brandon Town Center (Brandon Mall)
-Wiregrass Ranch Mall (Wesley Chapel, FL) Outdoor mall
-International Plaza / Mall (better part of Tampa, FL) also closer to beaches, close to airport.
- Westshore Plaza (upscale mall not to far from International Plaza)
-Do not stay near University Mall (closest mall to BG but bad part of town)
-Plant City (famous for the strawberry festival)
- Channelside (near the port where the cruises leave from. This is the only real tourist area of Tampa). Ybor is a historical area but a bar district and questionable crowd at night.
- Carrollwood Mall (Carrollwood, FL)

- If you haven't noticed the trend, it's stay at least 15 minute drive from BG. There are some decent places to stay near BG but you would have to be careful when choosing and since you are not familiar with the area, just best to stay near a mall or better area.

OTHER THINGS TO DO
-Also near BG is MOSI (Science Museum) which kids love!
-The Florida Aquarium (Port of Tampa)
-Glazer Children's Museum
-Dali Museum
- Holocaust Museum
-Tampa Performing Arts Center
-Cracker County / State Fair / Festivals depending on time of year


-If you are spending time at the beach, check out the pirate boat tours. We went on one for a private party, young kids love it!

-Visit Winter the Dolphin (from the movie) seewinter.com

Beaches:

If you are going to visit St. Pete beach or Clearwater, just stay at the beach. We like to go to John's Pass Boardwalk area which is Madeira beach. When we camp we stay at Fort DeSoto State Park.

Tradewinds Resort is popular but on the pricey side. Great choice for kids. They do movies in the pool, have giant inflatable slides, a water island play area in shallow area of the beach. They have hair braiding stands, face painting, and every other tourist thing you can think of.

Siesta Keys is popular and has a playground on the beach. I have never been inside.

There are tons of resorts to choose from.

Don Cesar is really upscale and featured on the Travel Channel (The "Pink Palace") but I wouldn't personally stay there. I worked here for a conference. It is beautiful.

My personal favorite place to stay in St. Pete is Postcard Inn. It's a older hotel, lower price than the resorts. It brings in a college crowd. But you have to be prepared for a travel lodge with a fresh coat of paint (which is what it is). It is two properties over from Tradewinds. Get a second floor or else you will hear everything going on above you. Hey, the price is good and the staff are nice, and it's on the beach! Then we walk down to Tradewinds to rent jet ski's. You can also pay to use the slides and water island as a non-resort guest.

Have fun!
not the OPO, but this is by far the most comprehensive advice so far.... Just the tyoe of stuff I want! We too are going to fly into Orlando (cheaper) but want to go to BG, so lodging is still up in the air. THis helps narrow the hotel search!. Thanks!
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:00 PM   #15
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We are in the Tampa area and I highly recomend not staying near Busch Gardens. 4kidsfor4karen had great info.
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