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Busch Gardens Africa TR- 3/24/09

Busch Gardens Tampa: First trip to BGA.

From Jake Jones
Posted March 27, 2010 at 10:28 AM
I was a guest in Florida with another family, who are not the most enthusiastic about big coasters, but enjoy the animals and smaller rides. Therefore-I was surprised when they chose to visit BGA and came with a different mentality.

From all I have heard about the theming and the quality of the BG parks, I have to saw I was a bit dissapointed by BGA. I still had a very good time at BGA, especially since I was not planning on going to the park. There food seems a little more reasonably priced than other parks, and they have great customer service, so I do reccomend the park. From St. Louis, we have a great zoo, so I have to say I was not all that impressed by the animal exibits. Without seeing our zoo before, I am sure there exibis would have amazed me though. Therefore I can see how some really enjoy the park.

What the park needs is more flats that bridge the "excitement" difference between walking and looking at animals and riding coasters. Currently, I would say they have two attractions (not water oriented) that fit the bill: Rhino Rally and the skyride. The river rapids and the tidal wave were both very good, but especially in the winter, these rides are not of those which you could ride multiple times. I was really looking forward to the Pirates 4D, this would definetly seem like a show which could help bridge the gap-it was closed, which was a big disapointment.

Here is my ridelist:
Gwazi-Lion (2)- middle and back row
Shiekra (2)- second row right outside, front row third from right-husky seat
Kumba (1)-middle row
Montu (1)-middle row
Scorpion (1)- middle row
Wild Mouse (1)

In order to convince my friend to go on these rides, we were not sitting anywhere near the front row. He stood and watched on Shiekra.

Flats:
River Rapid, Flume, Tidal Wave (1 each)
Skyride (2)
Rhino Rally (1)
Bumper Cars (1)

To be continued...


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Jake Jones
Posted March 27, 2010 at 10:33 AM
The big attractions we missed were the Phoenix and the Train. It might seem like we didn't do too much in a day (11 30-6 30) but we did alot of walking around and trying to find others in our party, as well as getting to know the park (in some cases it is required to walk quite a distance to get to something just over the fence).

Theming: The only areas I was really impressed with theming were Montu, the Tidal Wave ride, and Timbuktu. The theming was noticable everywhere but these were the only places I would say it stood out. All the ride entrances (Montu, Shiekra, Kumba, Gwazi) were very well done though.

Ride Notes:

Shiekra:
For my second ride, I was alone, and a seat was open in the front row. I didn't realize it was the two seat-belt seat/seat for larger people. I am not so small, but I still had plenty of extra room between my thighs and the armsrests. On other rides and my first on Shiekra, the armbar had safely protected my pocket and kept it nice and closed. This time, since I was in the big seat, when we hung on the drop and inversion, I was very much leaning against the restraint. What do you know? My phone popped out. Good thing it was a crappy phone. The funny thing is I just got a phone call from them that they found my phone. And this means that not only did they find it, its working/they have a SIM card reader. I assume it must be working, which is incredible. It is a very hardy phone, and they called today just now, so I still hold the belief that I lost in on the ride-not in the que, as I would have noticed it drop. Good customer service at BGA

Short ride, but the front row is pretty incredible, as is the view from the top of the ride. It is so much fun to ride, watch and ride again that it gets a:9/10

Kumba:
Not sure how someone could say its better than Kraken. I like the straight/not curved drops better, and other than that, the coasters seem about the same. I liked the tunnel, but Kraken had better elements coming out/underground. 8/10

Montu:
Great ride, even though I didn't ride in the front row, it delivered. I was intense, long and used the terrain well. Bests Patriot and Batman both by a good margin. I couldn't tell if I blacked out for a second on this ride or if my eyes fluttered. 9/10

Scorpion:
The ride itself was smooth, fast, and fun. The cars looked uncomfortable for tall people, as there was little foot room. It was also just placed in a vacant spot, but what do you expect of such a small coaster. 7/10

Gwazi: I rode the one with the station farther from the ride entrance. Was it lion? I think it was. The other side was not open. The first time I rode it I was in the middle, and it was fine, bumpy as expected, but fun. The second time I was at the back, the ride ran faster, I got more air, but it was way too bumpy. I do not think this was just from the sitting in the back however since others on the ride looked sick afterwards, even if they were sitting in the front. It would have been alot more entertaining if it raced. 6/10

Cheetah Chase: 5/10

Rhino Rally:
Though it is somewhat hard to find, this is a great ride and the only animal interaction attraction I was thouroughly impressed by. If you try to block out the guides jokes (I assume every guide tells lame jokes), you will have missed half the fun. The fact that they at one point came up with a corny joke for every 10 feet of the ride is impressive. The water adventure is really something too. Again, the animals did not seem so cool since we were like 100 feet from the path at all times, but the adventure itself was great. I think this was better than the safari ride at AK even if the animal interaction was not as good. 8/10

The tidal wave was good, but if they incorporated a full storyline, it could be very good. The flume was mediocre. The rapids were very good though, one of the top ones I have ever been on. The skyride was also enjoyable. There were way too many bumper cars for the size of the attraction, so that was only ok. They also went slow, which I understand because of the little kids and so many cars, but they were very easy to manuever was was good.

Jungala- we saw the tigers but did not go into the Jungle Flyers, Wild Surge and Treetop Trails Area. I probably watched the tigers for 5 minutes, waiting for them to move. It was neat how they were so close to the viewer though.

Edge of Africa- walked through it, it was identicle to the zoo.

Myombe Reserve- didnt go through, just saw the alligators near the entrance.

Jambo Junction/rest of Nairobi- didn't walk through.

Bird Gardens- went through, interesting how the birds would just jump to someones finger. Only really "interactive" thing I experienced.

Curiousity Caverns- didnt go through

Like I said, it really felt like the Saint Louis Zoo, and with lines so tempting and short at a park I had never been to, my friend and I mostly skimmed the animal sections.

And the STL zoo is generally considered a top 10 zoo in USA, but I am not just refering to the STL Zoo when I compare BGA to a zoo-it is just from experience at DC zoo, Memphis zoo, Animal Kingdom... I just didnt feel it particulary stood out.

However, zoos don't have alot of the interactive stuff BGA advertises that they offer. Next time, I think I will plan my animal stops around when the keepers are present or they offer certain activities. The interactive activities would seperate BGA from any zoo, so my experience is based on my scope- and may be a little skewed.

That being said, it was still a good park, I guess I was just expecting more based on how people rave about BGE.

From Michael Smith
Posted March 26, 2010 at 7:20 PM
Thanks for the review. I've been so many times, it's nice to see things from the eyes of a first timer.

I'm not sure how they could make the animal exhibits much better. Did you go to Jungala and see the tiger exhibit?
What about the 2 animal trails? If so, then you must have some zoo. :-) If you only saw what is on the main walkways though, you missed a whole lot.

The theming, I agree is not the best. It is not even in the same league as the park in Virginia. In Tampa, they have kind of patched together a theme over the years through different additions and subtractions, and it shows. When they changed the theme of the whole park to Africa, it seems like they just dumped khaki and brown paint on everything. I wish they would remodel the whole park with a better theme in mind from the start.(like DCA is doing) Even with the patched together theme though, it still looks better than the majority of theme parks out there.

From Tony Duda
Posted March 26, 2010 at 7:46 PM
Good snap shot review from a first timer. I am also wondering if you went on either of the 2 animal encounter trails, Curiosity Caverns (reptiles), the train through the savanna or Jungala. These are the big "zoo" features and if you missed them, you missed 80% of the animals. Tampa also has Lowry Park Zoo for the traditionalist. Pirates 4D has closed and a new Sesame Street 4D movie is starting, maybe tomorrow when Sesame Street Safari of Fun opens.

From James Rao
Posted March 26, 2010 at 8:32 PM
Nice report, Jake. Thanks for sharing.

From Jake Jones
Posted March 27, 2010 at 10:35 AM
Jungala- we saw the tigers but did not go into the Jungle Flyers, Wild Surge and Treetop Trails Area. I probably watched the tigers for 5 minutes, waiting for them to move. It was neat how they were so close to the viewer though.

Edge of Africa- walked through it, it was identicle to the zoo.

Myombe Reserve- didnt go through, just saw the alligators near the entrance.

Jambo Junction/rest of Nairobi- didn't walk through.

Bird Gardens- went through, interesting how the birds would just jump to someones finger. Only really "interactive" thing I experienced.

Curiousity Caverns- didnt go through

Like I said, it really felt like the Saint Louis Zoo, and with lines so tempting and short at a park I had never been to, my friend and I mostly skimmed the animal sections.

And the STL zoo is generally considered a top 10 zoo in USA, but I am not just refering to the STL Zoo when I compare BGA to a zoo-it is just from experience at DC zoo, Memphis zoo, Animal Kingdom... I just didnt feel it particulary stood out.

However, zoos don't have alot of the interactive stuff BGA advertises that they offer. Next time, I think I will plan my animal stops around when the keepers are present or they offer certain activities. The interactive activities would seperate BGA from any zoo, so my experience is based on my scope- and may be a little skewed.

From Russell Meyer
Posted March 27, 2010 at 2:19 PM
Don't render a final verdict on Gwazi just yet. They're in the process of installing Millennium Flyer trains, which is why one of the sides was shut down. With the retracking that was done last year and the new trains this year, Gwazi should once again be amongst the top 10 wooden roller coasters in the world.

From Eugene Koh
Posted March 27, 2010 at 3:03 PM
Roar at Six Flags America has no Millennium Flyers yet. But if it has. It would be better than El Toro.

From Jake Jones
Posted March 28, 2010 at 12:05 PM
^"Roar at Six Flags America has no Millennium Flyers yet. But if it has. It would be better than El Toro."

Your joking?

From Jesse Saywell
Posted March 28, 2010 at 5:47 PM
I must say I loved the park, and am very impressed with the African animal piece of it. It certainly beats the Animal Kingdom if you ask me. You can't really compare it to a Zoo... because it's not. If you take the Serengetia Safari tour, you get to feed giraffes and the likes, and that is an incredible experience. I agree that the scenery does not come close to that of my personal favorite, the Williamsburg Busch Gardens. They really could use to update several of the themed countries (especially Timbuktu... which looks like a sand castle... not African-fitting if you ask me). On the other hand, there is a certain aspect of this park that you cannot get at Busch Gardens Europe... and it was very refreshing to me. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

From Jake Jones
Posted March 28, 2010 at 6:16 PM
^"You can't really compare it to a Zoo... because it's not. If you take the Serengetia Safari tour, you get to feed giraffes and the likes, and that is an incredible experience."

Sure, if you want to pay an extra 40 dollars in addition to that 70 to get into the park. I already payed to get into the park, why should I need to pay more for an experience? Some Zoos (STL) are free, and the rest are nowhere near the 110 dollar cost. Therefore, of course its not a zoo, you pay 110 dollars for a guide to recite the informational signs at the zoo-mixed with a few corny jokes. I kid, sort of.

James- what do you think of upcharge attractions? This may not be as bad as go-carts, but the highlight of the park should not be hidden under a 40 dollar extra charge, if it is the highlight as you^ mentioned.

From James Rao
Posted March 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM
I cannot stand most upcharge attractions and think they should be removed from all parks. Generally these attractions take up valuable space, are notoriously slow-loaders, and cheapen the overall appearance of the park, making it seem more like a carnival than a bona fide theme park. If parks must keep them, they should add a ticket option at the gate so they can be included in the customer’s general admission.

However, the tours you all are discussing are upcharge attractions of a different sort. While I personally don't (can't) fork out the extra cash, I do think they are more in line with the kind of added benefit options that necessitate an extra charge.

One more note: while admission to get into the St Louis Zoo is free, you need the $10 Safari Pass to fully experience everything the place has to offer...

From Jake Jones
Posted March 28, 2010 at 9:26 PM
I was exageratting in comparing the safari ride to a go-cart ride-but on the same note, I don't feel you should need to pay an extra fee in order to clearly distinguish BGA from a zoo. And for an extra fee similar to BGA, the STL Zoo offers backstage tours where you can feed the giraffes in their habitat.

I am fine with someone saying they loved the Safari Ride-but saying it was a great experience which distinguished the park? To me, its sort-of seperate from the park. Most tourists don't pay 70 to get into the park and say, "I wonder if I pay another 40, maybe I can have a great experience."

From Pyra Dong
Posted March 30, 2010 at 6:50 PM
I agree, while I don't like the extra charge BGA places to go on its Safari Tour-- I think this one is a bit necessary because of the extra food being given personally to the animals (on the other hand, lettuce doesn't cost that much right??? For real, I'll gladly give my ceasar salad to those giraffes)

I went on the Safari Tour (for freeeeeee bwahahaha) and (cough cough) you can feed the giraffes for $2 at the nearby Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa (admission is around $20 cough cough)

From Pyra Dong
Posted March 30, 2010 at 6:52 PM
Yeeeaaaaa-- I want BGA to have more theming too!!!!! Since I'm an old fart now (grand ol' age of 24) and all I wanna do is take pictures-- I wish BGA had more theme stuff for me to flash my grin next to and snap a pic!

(sigh) but think of how much moolah they'd have to fork over now to do that. more money that could be spent on other stuff

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