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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay logo
|Slogan||Born for Busch Gardens|
|Location||Tampa, Florida, U.S.|
|Operated by||SeaWorld Entertainment|
|Opened||March 31, 1959|
|Visitors per annum||3,961,000 (2017)|
335 acres (136 ha)
|Total||20+ (as of 2017)|
Busch Gardens Tampa (formerly known as Busch Gardens Africa and Busch Gardens: The Dark Continent) is a 335-acre (136 ha) African-themed animal theme park located in the city of Tampa, Florida. Busch Gardens Tampa is owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and is their 2nd largest park in terms of attendance behind SeaWorld Orlando. The park officially features 8 roller coasters and 2 water rides amongst other rides and animal attractions. Its newest roller coaster, Cobra's Curse, was opened in June 2016.
Alongside sister waterpark Adventure Island (30-acre (12 ha)), Busch Gardens is the anchor of Tampa's 365-acre (148 ha) amusement multiplex. Currently Busch Gardens competes with other such parks in Florida and charges comparable fees. Busch Gardens is currently accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). In 2015, the park hosted 4.2 million people, placing 11th as the most-visited theme parks in the United States.
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Busch Gardens Tampa opened on March 31, 1959 as an admission-free hospitality facility for Tampa Anheuser-Busch; in addition to various beer tastings, they had a bird garden and the Stairway to the Stars, which was an escalator that took guests to the roof of the brewery.
Busch Gardens continued to grow and, in 1965, opened the 29-acre (12 ha) Serengeti Plains, which allowed the African wildlife to roam freely. It continued to focus on its tropical landscape, exotic animals, and amusements to draw visitors. Busch Gardens began charging admission as the entertainment became more complex, with extra fees for the thrill rides, such as the roller coasters for which Busch Gardens is now known.
The park's main entrance. Treats can be purchased at the Sultan's Sweets and the Zagora Cafe. The Moroccan Palace is located here, as well as the outdoor Marrakesh Theater. Gwazi was the major ride in this area.
Former "Land of the Dragons" children's section of the park. Land of the Dragons, which itself replaced the Dwarf Village in 1995, was replaced by Sesame Street Safari of Fun on March 27, 2010. It contains all the attractions from Land of the Dragons which are now re-themed. It also contains four new attractions.
This section of the park is home to the park's water rides and SheiKra, which was the first and only Dive Coaster in the United States until the addition of Griffon at the sister park Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The section opened up in 1973 with the addition of the Stanley Falls Flume. The African Queen Boat Ride opened in 1977 as Busch's version of Disney's Jungle Cruise. The African Queen featured live animals, including alligators, crocodiles, rhinoceroses and spider monkeys. A colorful South American macaw rode on each boat as a first mate. There was also a cast member, dressed in African warrior regalia, who surprised each boat as it passed through a riverside village. The warrior was featured in television ads for the park in the early 1980s. In 1989, the African Queen Boat Ride was transformed into Tanganyika Tidal Wave with the addition of a 55-foot (17 m) drop that generates a giant splash. The section remained unchanged from then until 2005, when SheiKra opened, and the surrounding area was renovated.
This section, themed to the jungles of Congo, contains two of the park's most popular rides, Kumba and Congo River Rapids. In November 2006, Congo underwent major renovation, including the removal of the park's classic Python roller coaster.
Opened on April 5, 2008, Jungala is a 4-acre (16,000 m2) family attraction featuring up-close animal encounters, rope bridges to explore three stories of jungle life, and a water-play area for children. Also located in this area are two family attractions: Jungle Flyers, a zip line that offers three different flight patterns above the treetops of the new area, and Wild Surge, a shot tower that launches guests above a waterfall. Another attraction is Tiger Trail, which is a walkthrough with tigers where there is also a glass turret where you can look out right in the middle of the tiger enclosure. During the Kareebu Jungala atmosphere show, stiltwalkers perform with puppets and interact with guests in the heart of Jungala.
A section originally themed after the malls and bazaars of Africa that opened up in May 1980 as Timbuktu. The Phoenix was built in 1984 and remains a popular ride to this day. The section was renovated in 2003. Important elements added during this facelift included the Timbuktu Theater, which replaced the park's Dolphin Theater with an indoor 4-D movie theater. The dolphins had retired to other locations. In 2004, Das Festhaus was transformed into the Desert Grill, and the park's family-friendly Sand Serpent wild mouse roller coaster opened, replacing the Crazy Camel flat ride. In September 2014, Falcon's Fury, a 335-foot drop tower, opened. This section of the park was re-themed to Pantopia alongside the opening of Falcon's Fury.
Alligators and crocodiles can be observed here up close. In Curiosity Cavern, guests can view mammal and reptile exhibits. Visitors to Nairobi can meet the Animal Ambassadors who travel the country and make educational appearances at Jambo Junction. The area also contains Myombe Reserve, a tropical rainforest that is home to Western lowland gorillas and common chimpanzees. In 2012 the Animal Care Center opened, allowing guests to observe actual veterinary procedures, as well as meet the stars of Wildlife Docs, Busch Gardens' Saturday morning television show. The main train station at Busch Gardens is located at Nairobi. Another popular attraction here is the Asian elephant exhibit.
Edge of Africa is the smallest section of the park. It features a restaurant, the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster, and the Skyride station.
Bedouin tents, authentic handicrafts and art create an Egyptian marketplace feel. The primary attraction of the Egypt-themed area is Montu, an inverted steel coaster. Tut's Tomb, a former audio guided walk-through tomb excavation closed in Winter 2013, and the interior was gutted to make way for the queue for Cobra's Curse. The former Golden Scarab Gift Shop was converted into a gift shop at the exit of the attraction.
A state-of-the-art facility that allows visitors to view animal care being conducted from treatments to x-rays.
A free flight aviary that shows over 500 tropical birds from around the globe including parrots, flamingos, and others. The original section of the park opened in 1959. The area for the most part remains mostly gardens and animal exhibits. A staple attraction that once stood in this section was the brewery. However, the brewery closed in 1995 and Gwazi now sits where the brewery was located. In 2014, the Bird Gardens theater was demolished, and the former show (Critter Castaways) is now housed in the Pantopia Theater under the new name "Opening Night Critters".
Opened in 1997, Edge of Africa is a walk-through attraction where guests can observe African animals. Among the exhibits are a Nile crocodile named Sobek, meerkats, two prides of lions, a pack of spotted hyenas, two hippos named Moyo and Kita, vultures, and a troop of lemurs.
The three newest members of the lion pride include a male named Kembe and two females named Shaba and Shtuko. They arrived at the park as cubs in 2013 from a zoo in Africa. Another pride of lions at the park include a male named Simon and two females named Rose and Iris. Iris and Rose are unable to have cubs as they have been spayed.
The hippos Moyo and Kita are never exhibited together, being father and daughter, and being unaware of this and would try to mate with each other. Therefore, both are rotated into the exhibit and holding area day by day to avoid accidental inbreeding.
In 1965, the park opened its Serengeti Plain animal habitat, the first of its kind to offer animals in a free-roaming environment. Over the years, the habitat has expanded from 29 acres (12 ha) to its current size of 65 acres (26 ha). It is home to the Grévy's zebra, reticulated giraffe, addax, white rhinoceros, eland, impala, ostrich, and marabou stork. Also, in a secluded area of this region is a solitary female black rhinoceros named Jodi.
The following is a list of roller coasters at Busch Gardens Tampa that have placed on Amusement Today's award or nomination list, along with their highest ranking and year awarded or nominated. Busch Gardens Tampa has also been nominated for best landscaping in 1998 and 2007.
(Previously called Bud & BBQ and Bands, Brew & BBQ) For the months of March & April, Busch Gardens hosts a series of concerts in Gwazi Field, mostly from classic rock and country music acts. Sometimes the event includes alternative rock, pop, hip hop and R&B acts as well as comedians. Also, there are special culinary offerings that include a variety of ethnic food and wine samplings from various local vendors along the walkway from the Gwazi Roller Coaster to the gate in Gwazi Field.
The documentary film Blackfish and a subsequent online petition led to several popular musical groups cancelling performances at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens "Bands, Brew & BBQ" event in 2014. This caused the removal of the event in Tampa, which was replaced by the annual Food and Wine Festival, resembling the one currently at Epcot in Walt Disney World Orlando.
In the summer months, the park stays open later and includes concerts by performers like David Cassidy and Starship with Mickey Thomas. The park's Independence Day festivities add fireworks to the entertainment lineup.
In 2010, Busch Gardens added a new night time show called Kinetix, the first special effect-heavy show put on in Gwazi Field. Also, they added many new special effects (i.e. Strobe, Lighting, Fog) to their existing rides just for the Summer Nights season.
Every September and October since 2000, Busch Gardens is transformed into Howl-O-Scream. This event contains haunted houses, scare zones, and shows. Howl-O-Scream is one of the top rated Halloween events in the United States. Howl-O-Scream has featured some attractions of the park turned into "horrified" attractions at night. This includes Serengeti Safari Tours, which was turned into Evening Serengeti Safari Tours, and Curiosity Caverns, which was turned into Dark Cavern, both in 2000. In 2012, Howl-O-Scream celebrated 13 unlucky years.
From November to December, theaters throughout the park are transformed into Christmas-themed shows in celebration of the holiday season for an event called Christmas Town. The whole park is decorated with Christmas lights and theming. Among the more popular attractions is Snow World, in which guests can play in real snow and ride down ice slides. This event was first introduced in 2012.
During New Year's Eve, Busch Gardens celebrates the new year by hosting live music throughout the park, thrill rides opened through the night, and fireworks located at the Gwazi Field. Including a park wide countdown to the new year.
Mtani has since left her first home at Busch Gardens and traded it in for a new home. She now lives with one of our staff members and is thriving in the lap of luxury where every dog belongs - on the couch.