Busch Gardens with kids

If you want to do something fun in Florida with kids, you will quickly think of Disney World or Universal. Of course you shouldn’t skip those parks while visiting Florida, but a slightly quieter and less massive amusement park can also be a nice change. And that’s what you’ll find at Busch Gardens! Visiting Busch Gardens with kids is fun, education and excitement all in one. Inspired by African and Asian nature and culture, this theme park has 10 different themed areas, including several savannahs and a real jungle. Busch Gardens is considered by many to be one of the best zoos in America, but what can you do there?

Best travel time Busch Gardens with kids

When is the best time to visit Busch Gardens with kids? That answer is simple! The park is open 365 days a year and is designed and set up for huge crowds, so even at busy times you won’t have to wait for hours. Only during Spring Break or Memorial Day weekend is it best to avoid the park, as extreme crowds are expected.

The best time to visit Busch Gardens with kids is right after the park opens. Then you can enjoy the animals and attractions to the maximum before the real heat comes. The best travel time to visit the state of Florida (and thus Busch Gardens) is from December to mid-May. That’s when the least rain falls and then you won’t have to deal with any storms either.

Busch Gardens with kids

Transportation to Busch Gardens

The theme park is located in Tampa Bay and is easiest to reach by car. From Orlando it is about a ninety-minute drive, and from Tampa you can drive to Busch Gardens in half an hour. There, like many other major American attractions, you can easily park. You buy a parking ticket in advance online and starts at $30. After parking, you can walk or take the Busch Gardens shuttle toward the entrance.

If you don’t have a driver’s license yourself, but still want to visit Busch Gardens with kids from Orlando, you can also go by shuttle bus. Through Mears Destination Services, you reserve a seat and can be picked up at various locations in Orlando. This service is free with any Busch Gardens admission ticket, but keep in mind that you will be on the road for at least two and a half hours as the bus stops at two or three more locations.

You can rent a car in Florida through the rental agency Sunny Cars (for example, at Orlando, Miami or Fort Lauderdale airports). With Sunny Cars, most insurance and often the deductible are included in the rental price. For more information on renting a car in Florida, take a look here.

Children’s activities Busch Gardens

#1 Seregenti Express train

The most fun and special attraction of this park is the Serengeti Express train. This train travels through the Serengeti Plain habitat. This area is about 65 acres and home to much of Africa’s wildlife. On our first drive we saw giraffes, rhinos, zebras and antelopes, but because you drive through the habitat of these magnificent animals, every drive is a surprise.

Besides being fun and educational, the Seregenti Express train is a convenient means of transportation through Busch Gardens with kids. In fact, the train has multiple stations and stops throughout the park. Thereby, all these stations are easily passable for wheelchairs and strollers. This means you don’t have to do everything on foot and you can visit all the attractions crisscrossing each other.

When we boarded the train for the first ride, I was a little worried about the safety of my (sometimes) unpredictable daughter because you can get so close to the animals, but that turned out to be unfounded. The carriages are spacious and offer enough room for a family of four. The large windows provide enough visibility and at the same time give enough protection so that the small and enthusiastic visitors cannot just fall out. Last but not least; because you are visiting the animals in their natural habitat, they will never just come near the train.

Busch Gardens with kids

#2 Sky-Ride Cable Car

You’ll experience Busch Gardens through the eyes of a bird on the Sky Ride cable car. From this cable car you can see at a glance the beautiful scenery, the many different animals and, of course, the exciting roller coasters. The view from above also allows you to spot many spots of the park that you,from the Serengeti Express train, don’t always see.

Like the Serengeti Express train, the Sky Ride cable car is a convenient means of transportation through Busch Gardens with kids. In fact, you fly from the Stanleyville area to the Congo area and back again in no time. The ride is not super fast, but that’s what makes it extra impressive and ensures that every member of the family, young or old, enjoys the Sky Ride.

Children of all ages and heights are welcome in the cable car, but kids under 143 inches tall must be accompanied by an adult. The gondolas are comfortable for two adults or cozy cramped for a family with one or two kids. Of course, the gondolas are equipped with a sturdy (kid) lock, because here too, fortunately, safety first applies.

The Sky Ride cable car is basically open every day, but weather conditions must be right. Therefore, check on the day of your visit what the weather forecast is and whether the cable car will be open.

#3 Animal Ambassador Insider Tour

To make a visit to Busch Gardens with kids complete, you’ll want to participate in the Animal Ambassador Insider Tour. With this tour, you’ll take a look behind the scenes of the park, which is hugely educational for young and old alike.

During this tour, you will have the chance to experience some of the animals in the park up close. We participated in the Aldabra Tortoise Insider Tour. These extraordinary animals, native to the islands of the Seychelles, are among one of the largest turtles in the world. Depending on the day and availability, you can also visit the flamingos or the orangutans.

The tour is provided by experienced and especially passionate animal caretakers, who are happy to share their knowledge. They talk about the animals’ daily routines, feeding times, training sessions and care. One of the highlights of the Animal Ambassador Insider Tour for us was preparing and feeding the turtles.

Under the strict guidance of the guides, you may admire the animals up close and feed the prepared food. In taking photos and videos, they are, rightly, very strict. No flashes, no minute-long photo sessions and no unnecessary time spent around the animals. With this tour, according to our guide, the park aims to raise visitors’ awareness and share knowledge and stories about the animals.

Busch Gardens with kids

#4 The best roller coasters in Florida

At least, that’s what the park itself claims. Whether they are the best, I do not know, but that all those roller coasters offer a nice change, after the educational shows and the beautiful animals, is certain. There are roller coasters for young and old, which is why Busch Gardens is so much fun with kids.

True speed demons will immediately choose the Serengeti Flyer. This is the tallest and fastest roller coaster of its kind in the world. The Iron Gwazi also belongs in the same list. From about 63 meters, you plunge down at an angle of more than 90 degrees. And as if that were not enough, this roller coaster has a top speed of more than 120 kilometers per hour. With a maximum speed of 110 kilometers per hour, the SheiKra may go a little slower, but the loopings and unpredictable turns make even this roller coaster quite exciting.

The Cheetah Hunt, Cobra’s Curse and the Congo River Rapids are labeled “family friendly” by the park. These attractions go a little slower and are therefore suitable for families with kids 107 centimeters or taller.

As with the rest of the park, visitor safety is paramount, so when there is too much wind or a threat of bad weather, they immediately shut down the roller coasters and rides. Sometimes this is for an entire day, but during our visit it was often only for half an hour or an hour. So keep a close eye on the website and digital signs to see if and when your favorite attraction is running.

#5 Sesame Street Safari of Fun

For the youngest members of the family, the Sesame Street Safari of Fun is where you will meet the friends from Sesame Street. For example, there is Elmo’s Treehouse Trek, where you are invited by Elmo to climb into his treehouse.

The youngest speedsters can take a lap in the Air Grover. This roller coaster has a minimum length of only 96 centimeters, making it perfect for the kids who are just too small for the other roller coasters. Other fun attractions for kids under 100 centimeters are Rosita’s Djembe Fly Away and Big Bird’s Whirly Birdie.

After visiting the animals, the Splash & Play is a perfect place to let off steam and cool off. In Bert and Ernie’s wild water adventure, little ones can run and play among the bubbles, geysers, jets and tipping buckets. Be sure to bring a good sunblock and preferably a UV50+ swimsuit, because with Florida’s maximum sun strength of 12, kids will burn, in no time and without you even realizing it.

In addition to all the rides and water activities, there are several shows to visit at Sesame Street Safari of Fun. In Welcome to our street, Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster and other friends, welcome the kids, with lots of music and fun, to Sesame Street. Bert and Ernie also read stories aloud. This is in English, of course, but that didn’t matter to our three-year-old daughter’s experience.

Busch Gardens with kids

Family-friendly restaurant Busch Gardens

You can eat and drink at Busch Gardens with kids just fine, but don’t expect elaborate menus. The restaurants in the park have different themes, which makes it fun for variety.

At Zambia Smokehouse, near the SheiKra, eat delicious barbecue ribs and other barbecue dishes. At Oasis Pizza, you order freshly baked pizza and can also order a fresh and healthy salad. The Zagora Café offers the classic menu of burgers, chicken nuggets and fries.

Get a delicious ice cream or other sweet snack at Moroccan Delights. Are you more into savory snacks? Then buy a variety of pretzels from Twisted Tails Pretzels. You can also have a cold beer or large glass of soda here. You will also find the necessary chains in Busch Gardens.

At Coaster Coffee Company they sell Starbucks coffee and at Chick-fil-A in Jungala you buy the chain’s familiar dishes. It may be needless to mention, but all of these restaurants are totally geared towards kids, which gives you the peace of mind to have a nice meal yourself while the kids play and run in places set up for that purpose.

If you want to eat and drink all day at Busch Gardens, you can opt for the All-Day Dining Deal. With this add-on to the regular admission ticket, you can get a full meal every hour and a half or, of course, choose just a drink or ice cream. Adults pay $49.99 and kids between the ages of three and nine pay $24.99.

Busch Gardens with kids

Family-friendly hotel Busch Gardens

You can stay in the Busch Gardens area with kids just fine. You have several family-friendly hotels you can book. We list below in each price range a well-reviewed hotel by families with kids.

Budget hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Tampa East – Ybor City, an IHG Hotel

Mid-range hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Tampa East Brandon

Luxury hotel: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa

Do the above 3 options not include suitable accommodation for you? Then check out the entire list of family-friendly accommodations in Busch Gardens.

About the author: along with her daughter and partner, Lesley is always looking for new adventures. Thanks to their love of the Spanish language and culture, they are most often found in Spain, Central and South America.

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