Busch Gardens - worth it?Busch Gardens Tampa: How much different is Busch Gardens from Animal Kingdom?
From First TimerI'll be going to Tampa for the first time in July. I'm going to have 5 nights in Tampa and am not quite sure what to do there yet. I've done all the Disney Florida parks last year including the Animal Kingdom. Should I be allocating any time to Busch Gardens? It will just be me and my boyfriend travelling.
Posted February 5, 2010 at 8:42 PM
Any other suggestions on what to do in Tampa will be appreciated too.
Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.
From Tony DudaIf you like animals and coasters, Busch Gardens Tampa is 10 times better than Animal Kingdom. The live shows at AK are so much better than BGT which really has only one big show, Katonga. There are 4 big and 2 small coasters and 3 water rides at BGT which in total are much better than AK. BGT has a train ride, sky ride and the Rhino Rally ride for up close big animal viewing as well as 2 long walking tours.
Posted February 6, 2010 at 10:58 PM
So, in my opinion as someone who goes to both AK and BGT often, BGT is a far superior animal park. Disney does the entertainment shows much better but BGT has better excitement rides. They both have many activities for the low-excitement type of patron. Each park is basically a one day park if you go from opening to closing. Also, on July 3 and 4, BGT has concerts by Survivor (3rd) and The Guess Who (4th) followed by fireworks.
From Andy DarbyThey're completely different, just because they both have animals and a safari doesn't mean they're similar. BGT is more for the thrill seeker and AK more for families. Go to both
Posted February 7, 2010 at 12:09 PM
From Bob MillerWhen I was planning a trip to Tampa awhile back, I wanted to go swimming in the Gulf of Mexico with my daughter. If I remember correctly, there's a nice beach not to far south of Tampa. I don't remember the name of the beach, but it shouldn't be to hard to find out. Have fun on your trip.
Posted February 7, 2010 at 3:24 PM
From Anthony MurphyYeah, they actually both have strengths and weaknesses. BGT has many more exibits and rides than AK, but they have been there for awhile.
Posted February 7, 2010 at 3:26 PM
AK, however, does have two of the best "animal walks" I have ever been on plus three extremly good shows. Seriously, you can't say enough about the shows, one with animals, at AK. They are worth the price to go!
BGT, on the other hand, have the best roller coasters and variety in FL, period. If you are looking for quality roller coasters, BGT does it the best.
So I would say both, but it looks like BGT will be more convient. Also, AK only takes one day to really see so both would not be overkill.
To break it down (the pros)
BGT: Great Rides, Great Animals
From Todd HoutsI think you were asking if you should go to BGT at all, not if you should choose between BGT and AK (which you said you visited last year - and has had no new additions since that visit).
Posted February 9, 2010 at 9:21 AM
I always try to allocate time to go to BGT when I'm in Central Florida - even when it is a trip to Orlando. Unlike many of the Six Flags and Cedar Fair parks - it is beautiful, well shaded park full of flora, fauna, animals and coasters. I do like coasters (and Montu is probably my favorite inverted coaster) but I spend as much time enjoying the non-coasters including the animal exhibits as I do with coasters at BGT. I personally can't recommend BGT enough.
From Deborah DavisBGT also has a water park, "Adventure Island".
Posted February 9, 2010 at 9:21 AM
To swim in the Gulf of Mexico, you have to leave Tampa. I live in Pinellas (30 miles to the west), which has great beaches. I would suggest Ft. Desoto, which is at the south end of Pinellas. It has won several awards, including "America's Top Beach" two years in a row by TripAdvisor and has an old fort to explore and campgrounds. Currently, it's free to get in,(something that may be changed in the near future) but there are a few toll bridges along the way. It should cost around $1 per car.
At the other end of Pinellas is Clearwater Beach. There are no tolls to get there, but the parking is metered. Where Ft. Desoto is quite remote, Clearwater Beach gets very crowded and has lots of things to do at night, which makes it popular during spring break.
There are many beaches in between these two, but these are the most popular. You can pretty much drive anywhere along the coast between them and find beach access, but you will almost always have to pay a meter.
You'll also find beaches to the south of Tampa in Manatee county.
From First TimerThanks for all the tips. So sounds like BGT should be on my agenda then! I couldn't find any 4 hour guide for this park on the site. What are the miss-do's in BGT? I may actually go on July 3, hopefully the lineup won't be too bad?
Posted February 9, 2010 at 11:27 AM
From Brian AfdahlLast September My wife and i spent our honeymoon in Orlando. We hit Sea World the first day and loved it. We live in California and goto Sea World here all the time. Then the 2nd day we did disney and were planning on doing a 2nd day there. but since we saw AK and Epcot the one day we opted to go to BGT the 3rd day. So i do recommend going there. Must do's are the coasters and Rhino Rally. Also if you enjoy animals and up close do one of there photo tours where you can feed rhinos and giraffes.
Posted February 9, 2010 at 2:37 PM
From Pyra DongDefinitely visit BGT-- I've always thought of it as a more "complete" version of Animal Kingdom. There's a huge collection of zoo animals scattered everywhere in the park (although the majority falls in the east area.) Rather than give you the "must-sees" of BGT, the park is shaped like a circle so if you keep going in one direction, you're bound to run into everything. (But as for shows, I just recommend Katonga and Critter Castaways)
Posted February 9, 2010 at 1:24 PM
Since you're going in July, that means be prepared for RAIN and HEAT! BGT has relaxed a bit in their security check so you can bring in snacks so freeze bottled water (Don't let the food prices kill you). Don't try and "pack light"-- BRING A BAGPACK and pack umbrellas and extra clothes. The lockers are one-time use 50 cent lockers. Because of the lockers location, even if you go on every ride once, you'll probably use only 3.00 in locker rental. WORTH IT!!!
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for things to do around Tampa. I can be your e-mail tour guide!
From First TimerIt's official - BGT is on my Tampa's agenda! Thanks all.
Posted February 10, 2010 at 4:39 PM
This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.
Plan your theme park vacation with our readers' travel guides:
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Other Top International Parks
Readers' Top Themed Rides
Top Roller Coasters
Top Theme Park Shows
Features, News and Advice
2013 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun.
2012 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2011 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2010 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2009 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2008 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2007 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2006 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2005 Blog PostsDec.
2004-2005Staff column archive