An Insider's guide to animal interactions and tours at Busch Gardens Tampa
Published: October 27, 2010 at 12:29 PM
Photo courtesy Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens offers several variations on a 30-to-45-minute Jeep tour of its Serengeti plain. You'll see African animals up close, and hand-feed giraffes. The Sunrise Safari includes a continental breakfast before setting out in the morning, and the Sunset Safari includes "adult" beverages after your evening expedition.
The Endangered Species Safari focuses on white and black rhinos, among the other endangered species on the tour, and the regular Serengti Safari is free on your birthday.
All of these take place during park hours and require theme park admission in addition to the tour charge. But the Serengeti Night Safari (which we wrote about last week, see previous link) takes place after hours, so no theme park ticket is needed.
Serengeti Safari: $33.95 (free on your birthday), age 5 and older.
Sunrise Safari: $39.95, age 5 and older.
Sunset Safari: $39.95, age 21 and older.
Endangered Species Safari: $39.95, age 5 and older.
Serengeti Night Safari: $60, age 21 and older.
Busch Gardens also offers two other 45-minute walking tours where you can meet animal keepers and see behind-the-scenes care facilities. The Jungala Insider($19.95, age 5 and older) takes you to see orangutans and tigers and the Elephant Insider ($19.95, age 10 and older) shows you, well, elephants.
Looking for a different type of up-close thrill? Try the Roller Coaster Insider tour ($19.95, age 14 and older), which takes you trackside for a tour of Montu before allowing you to skip the line for a front-row ride. Then you'll get front-of-the-line access on a second Busch Gardens roller coaster - for comparison. :-)
If you're willing (and able to pay) to try a longer, more in-depth experience with some of the park's animals, you can sign up for the Tiger and Orangutan Keeper Experience or Elephant Keeper Experience ($199.95 each, age 10 and older). You'll meet the trainers, tour the animal care facilities and help prepare the animals' food (and, uh, help clean up afterward) during these 90-minute experiences.
Want even more? Sign up to be Keeper for a Day ($249.95 - park admission included, age 13 and older). This 6-and-a-half-hour tour on the Serengenti Plain features mammals in the morning and the birds in the afternoon, allowing you the chance to work with the park's trainers. Lunch is provided in the Crown Colony restaurant, as well.
The Guided Adventure Tour ($94.95 adults, $94.95 ages 5-9) is a guided tour of the park, including front-of-line access at many attractions as well as lunch and a Serengeti Safari tour.
The Elite Adventure Tour ($199.95, ages 5 and older) allows you to help customize the tour with your private guide, unlike the Guided Adventure Tour, where the agenda's set and you might be with other folks who booked the tour. Here's it's just your group (minimum two people). Lunch at the Crown Colony and a Serengeti Safari experience are included.
For more details and restrictions, and to book any of these tours, visit Busch Gardens' website or call 1-888-800-5447.
We'd love to hear in the comments about your experiences on any of these tours.