Register or Login to Hide This Ad for Free!
Oct 18, 2012
I and a group of six friends had the pleasure of attending the Jack Hanna breakfast and watching the two public shows at Busch Gardens today.  I'll review the various aspects of the interactions.  

Let's start with the bad and get it out of the way....the eggs were just horrible, obviously powdered and poorly mixed and just horrendous.  The bacon was incredibly greasy but not that papery thin variety, but nice, hefty slices.  In fact, greasy was the only problem and I could have blotted them and had them be somewhat more healthy (for bacon ha!) but horrors of horrors we had nice cloth napkins and it didn't feel appropriate.  I didn't try the french toast sticks but they were reportedly good.  I hate to say it because I thought I disliked tater tots and was too healthy to eat them (ok, I know I already said I ate bacon so the pretense is slim) but they were pretty delicious.  The muffin I ate was great.  The sausage and biscuit gravy were also reported as good by my friends.  The fruit, cantaloupe and honeydew, was slightly unripe but I ate quite a bit anyway.  Drinks available were soda, decaffeinated and regular coffee, water, milk and orange juice.  They were serving drinks in glasses and ran out about 3/4 of the way through the show which was sad because of the amount of salty, greasy bacon I consumed.  They replenished the food quickly and it was of a decent temperature.  We ate on china with real flatware which sounds much like your regular meal at home but was an upgrade for Festhaus dining.  

My friends and i decided that we'd see all the Hanna shows today if we could get seats, and we did.  We visit Busch a lot and only have one or two days a year to see Jack Hanna and more importantly the animals.  I don't remember which animals were in which shows but the two outside shows were decently identical while there were a couple of different animals in the Festhaus.

He brought an echidna, an Asian otter, an Asian palm civet, some kind of porcupine, a serval, a caracal, a sloth, a South African penguin, an armadillo, an anteater a toucan and a dog.  A handler walked out and about with each animal as Hanna talked about it and set it upon large wooden crates so everyone could view.  He had very interesting stories and facts about each animal.  Sloths evacuate once a week and otherwise remain in trees with disgusting looking, oozing blue-green algae covering their bodies.  Toucans beaks look hefty but the beak of a dead toucan is so light it can be blown off your hand with a gentle, directed breath.  Caracals are no longer alive in Egypt but are depicted on pyramids.  (This caracal was extremely spirited, and while small, looked as if it would injure its handler if it were only a bit stronger.) Servals have eyespots on the back of their ears which, while eating, trick predators into thinking they are looking at them.  Anyway, you get the idea; his delivery was so much better than my typing and he interspersed the wittily delivered facts with personal tales of wildlife sightings of the animals and firsthand knowledge of maimings the animals delivered while being handled or raised by personal friends.  He was very entertaining and educative to adults and children; I learned something new at each show.

I must say here that while being entertained by this main part of his delivery it also made me sad.  We had servals!  I used to visit them in the Wildlife Reserve, and I never noticed eyespots.  I wish I could go back and look more attentively.  When he talked about the porcupine he exhibited he mentioned the African porcupine.  We had one!  It was huge and alternated space with the servals and wallaroo and other animals.  He brought a sloth...we had one!  Ah, I hope these animals have found an inviting home.

Hanna Interaction:
In the Festhaus, (at the paid breakfast) Jack Hanna interacted with everyone in line.  Despite being told everyone could only have one photo his handler took multiple photos of everyone who asked with their own photographic device.  There were no photokey photographers at this or the other shows.  He had postcards which he made out to everyone personally.  At the non-paid shows he merely signed his name and photos, if any, had to be taken on the run by a member of your party or a kind stranger who could somehow sidle up in the front row of the Italian theater with a full crowd already in situ.  I say this not judgingly but as a fact.  He had many more people in the outdoor shows so he had to move everyone more quickly.  He indefatigably signed for everyone.

In all three speeches Hanna put in a huge plug for SeaWorld Parks.  He acknowledged the odious conditions of zoos (not SeaWorld specifically) in the 50's, 60's, etc.  He talked of how huge the habitats are today, specifically at the Columbus Zoo, at which he has a managerial position.  He spoke of the recent sea lion rescue in California during which SeaWorld Parks shut down their day-to-day sea lion operations and sent all of its experts out to California to aid in a rescue that saw 80% success in returning the rescued creatures to the wild.  He averred that 95% of all zoo animals are born in other zoos. He lauded the parks as rehabilitation facilities and ones that have helped to preserve endangered and threatened species, as well as provide animal education (with other zoos) to 176 million people a year.  

Was it worth it?:
If you're an animal enthusiast, definitely!  Two of the shows I saw were free with admission.  We got to the venues 45 minutes early and secured very good seats at both shows.  I wouldn't go much later than this, however, or you can expect to get obstructed seating or encounter SRO conditions.  Breakfast was $21 minus 10% passholder discount plus tax.  I felt it was worth it both for the food, which in its richness of calories and enough palatable choices (for me), was all I ate today, and the closer and more weather-shielded proximity to the animals.  If you are an aficionado of Jack Hanna, the meals are the way to go.  Leaving out the matter of food, which is different at lunch, the location of Castle O'Sullivan at lunch-time would be optimal for sight-lines and much smaller crowds than the Festhaus allows. Caveat: lunch is $31 prior to passholder discount and tax.

We arrived at the gates at 8:35 after being told the parking would open at 8:30 with trams beginning at 8:45.  By the time we parked it was 8:45 and we didn't get to the Festhaus until around 9.  The show started at 9:15.  They 'tram' you through the employee parking back way which is decently interesting for those that don't work there.  I don't know what the parking lines looked like earlier but it was bad when we arrived and fully one half of the show capacity made it to the Festhaus before we did.  It matters for a couple of reasons.  If you get there early, Jack Hanna is out early and will sign autographs and take pictures before his show.  And secondly, if it's important to you and you get that interaction over with early, at 10:00 when the park opens, you can head directly to whatever ride you want that's open and ride without a line and then the next ride without a get the picture.  The time you arrive for food is unimportant since they keep it replenished throughout the show.
Thanks for your review! I managed to miss every performance, so it was nice to read what happened during them!
  • Like
Reactions: Jesy
I am looking to attend the Jack Hanna show next weekend. After breakfast when you were waiting in line to meet Jack, did you get to see/interact with some animals? I remember going to a show with Jack in high school and you got to do exactly that. Not really sure it's worth it otherwise (not a big fan of BGW's food in the theatres) Thanks for your help!
I don't believe that we interacted with the animals at all. If you have no interest in having a guaranteed seat or the dining aspect of the event, and believe me, I understand, just go to one of the free shows. Teatro di San Marco hosts 11:30, 3:00 and 4:30 performances. I wouldn't sit in the front row because if Hanna arrives early he will start autographs/photos prior to the show and people will be standing on top of your toes and asking you to take their photos... (the nerve!)
  • Like
Reactions: MAZ
Consider Donating to Hide This Ad