Welcome to what was supposed to another of my hits and misses series, this time all about the amazing Busch Gardens Tampa.
I’ve had to change tact a bit though, because I honestly can’t say I was left feeling underwhelmed or disappointed by Busch. It’s the only park I’ve ever visited where I think I could say that, which is a pretty great achievement. I mean, I bet they’re well chuffed a random 33 year old from Bradford thinks they’re faultless, it’s high praise indeed.
So instead, I’ve decided to turn this into a mini review where I talk about our day in the park and list my top five rides, which were actually pretty difficult for me to narrow down, so let’s get cracking.
Our day at Busch Gardens Tampa
I was really excited when we woke up for our day at Busch Gardens. I think it’s fair to say the majority of rides at Disney and Universal are awesome, but not overly thrilling. There’s some great ones, don’t get me wrong, and some like The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Expedition Everest really pack a punch. But for the most part, it’s all about the family rides. These are wonderful of course, but sometimes you just need a coaster capable of making you shit your pants (hypothetically speaking) and Busch Gardens is the place for thrills in Orlando.
It took us about an hour to get from Universal Studios to Busch Gardens Tampa – the traffic was kind – and there are plenty of free shuttles you can hop on in the morning. We purposefully planned to go whilst we were staying at Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Hotel so all we had to do was reserve our seats using Mears Transportation and walk to the other side of City Walk.
The coach turned up bang on time and dropped us in the same location on the way back – easy as pie. We think Mears also do pickups from International Drive but there are also plenty of other sites online where you can reserve a seat, all you actually need is a valid Busch Gardens ticket.
The shuttle was as comfortable as a coach journey in Florida in the baking sun could be. They had a really random film on that no one seemed to have ever heard of but it was a pleasant enough journey and at least there was some entertainment.
We’d been to Seaworld Orlando a few days before this and getting into the park has been chaos. We’re not sure if it was bad operations on Seaworld’s part or just people being people – you know the types? The ones who have no idea what the concept of a queue is? Yeah those folks – and causing the mess but it took us ages to get through the door so we were a little concerned about what Busch would be like. I’m glad to say there was no issue here though and we were in the park quickly. We did queue to get Quick Queue although the wait was minimal. This was also really good value at only $14.99 per person to skip the queue on each of the big rides once.
We got all the big rides done in the day we spent here and I finally got to go on Falcons Fury. Charlotte hates drop towers so she skipped it but I love them. It didn’t have as much force as I was hoping for but I still really enjoyed it.
I also played this cool little app game where I followed clues around the park and scanned in at certain areas. It’s probably for kids but I managed to win a little cuddly toy for Charlotte – she chose a pig, she always chooses pigs – and it was a fun little extra that added to the day.
My Busch Gardens Tampa Hits – The Rides
The best coaster in the park and currently my number three coaster in the world. The slow pace once you reach the top of the lift hill just adds to the suspense and when it hangs you off the edge it feels like a lifetime – although it’s only four seconds according to the interweb. The drop is intense and it’s quite a long ride which is always great. The splashdown is a great effect too although we didn’t notice it at all whilst we were on the ride.
2. Cobra’s Curse
Our first glimpse of Cobra’s Curse was in a Theme Park Worldwide vlog back in 2016 and it immediately looked like a must-ride coaster. In person it’s even more impressive and it looks like it’ll be even cooler at night – hopefully I’ll get to experience that one day. It has an awesome queue, although we missed the projection because we had Quick Queue, and a unique lift hill (if you can even call it that) that was really exciting to experience. I love all of the three of the sections (Forwards – Backwards – Spinning), just a wonderful little ride.
This is like Nemesis’ older but better looking sister, it’s got superior curves and leaves me with butterflies! I was expecting an experience like Nemi but I was so wrong. The forces on this were fantastic and the disjointed feeling I felt after added to the experience. We loved it so much that we ran round to ride it again straight away. An awesome ride I can’t wait to get on again one day.
4. Cheetah Hunt
I seem to be on wave of comparing rides here so I might as well continue since launch coasters always get me thinking of how bad Rita is. Check out our Alton Towers trip report to read our full views on Rita, but seriously it needs knocking down so they can build a launch coaster that actually works. Anyway, Cheetah Hunt is great, the launches are a bit lackluster but the second one packs a good enough punch and has a bit of force – lovely.
5. Congo River Rapids
Everyone loves a good rapids ride and this is a great one. The real reason it makes my top five list is it was an incredibly hot day without much shade and it was a perfect way to cool down – we got drenched and had a good laugh. There was an annoying family in the boat with us though that had been a pain all the way through the queue, but hey, maybe they found us irritating too.
All in all we had a wonderful day at Busch Gardens Tampa. Yeah, the food wasn’t amazing and the place could do with a lick of paint here and there but it’s definitely somewhere I would go again. Sadly we can’t fit it into our trip this year but that just gives us another excuse to go!
Have you been to Busch Gardens Tampa? What are you favourite rides?