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Oct 18, 2012
My family of five went to Busch Tampa for the first time.  Thanks so much to Bill and Nicole for information on the park; it helped to direct us to the animal experiences which were the highlight of our trip.  I was astounded at the detailed architecture at the park.  It was just amazing to see of the money that Busch once had to construct such lovely buildings.

Dining:  Four of our five members purchased the unlimited dining at $32.99 per person.  That allowed an entree, a side and a drink through line every time you visited.  The park was not crowded at all on Memorial Day and we started at breakfast at Zagora Cafe.  The breakfast was equivalent to BGW except for the cherry turnover which my husband had.  It was all fine.  

Lunch was at Zambia Smokehouse where everyone had brisket.  This compared very favorably to BGW.  Lately the brisket has been paper-thin in Williamsburg but it is still thick, hearty and delicious in Tampa.  They were missing the tasty barbecue sauce that BGW has and had the plastic condiment containers of sauce instead but I would sacrifice the sauce for four times as much brisket any day.

Dinner was had at Pantopia Grill and Crown Colony Cafe.  They had a combination of pizza, hamburger, chicken fingers, dessert pies, etc.  They all ate until they were satiated but nothing except the Zambia Smokehouse fare was at all exceptional.  When questioned they all said they enjoyed the unlimited dining but wouldn't do it again.

I had the bacon pretzel at Twisted Tails and shared it with everyone.  Compared to the bacon pretzel at the passholder night it was equivalent in size but with a far thicker piece of bacon.  Delicious!

Crown Colony had a beer sampler for $10, a couple of dollars cheaper than BGW and I enjoyed.  When I went back to purchase a single beer they informed me they were B1G1 so I got a couple and shared.  I wish I had asked if it was Happy Hour or why they had the special but it is worth asking if you are there.


Gwazi:  I have heard nothing but negative things about the ride experience so we skipped.

Sheikra:  Enjoyed it a lot as I do Griffon; this is an almost-clone.

Cheetah-Run:  Did not run the whole day; we were disappointed.

SandSerpent:  We enjoyed riding it again after all this time but it is quite rough on its stops at the end, as always.

Kumba:  This was a really fun ride; we thought it was the best ride we had all day.

Montu:  This is a lot like Alpengeist which I love so I really enjoyed it.

Stanley Falls:  This log flume is significantly longer than that at BGW and we all liked it.

Skyride:  The ride goes over the savannah and you can see the animals but it's not as great as it sounds.  The animal views are decently distant and later experience showed that you can see most wildlife better on the trails and at the trainer-talks.

The middle of our day was devoted to animal experiences.  The trails at BGT are lush and filled with informative signage but to get an even better animal visit go to the trainer talks.

Cheetah Run:  The trainers set up a long course with an object that the cheetah chases.  It's so interesting to see how fast the cheetah can run and how happy it is to capture the seems much like my cat when I play with a 'teaser'.  The trainers give a talk on the cheetahs.  They are very solitary...both male and female.  The males have a mating call to attract the female and don't form family groups so they are not picky who they elicit from their mating call.

Jambo Junction:  This is the home of the 'animal ambassadors' of BGT.  These animals are trained to interact with people.  We were lucky to visit during a time when they opened the building to visitors.  Their sloth is past its life expectancy and has been retired from being an ambassador but still loves to be held.  They pamper it by holding it and cutting the ends off the green beans it eats which it would normally just spit out.  Many other animals (about 50)  are present in this building and you can get close and pet them and ask questions during the visitation periods.

Apes:  Tampa has two family groups of apes.  One is a male and two females.  We saw the other group of the male and one female.  You have to keep groups separated because males will fight.  The group we saw has an old male (50+) and an old-ish (35) female but they still mate.  The zoo the female was at previously had enough of these apes so they gave her a birth control implant.  It should wear off soon and they hope they will have babies imminently.

Tigers:  Tigers are only found in Asia so I'm not sure what they are doing here but they were so majestic.  The trainer had her hands full with a man who kept asking questions a'la "Who would win in a fight of tiger vs. lion."  and "Do tigers and lions like to mate?"  She was very patient in answering that they live on different continents so fighting doesn't come up, and that they would make a liger but responsible zoos don't do that or inbreed tigers to make white ones.  We wanted to ask her some questions about them but she left after his queries.

We had such a good time at the animal talks and asked a ton of questions which were knowledgeably answered. I can only imagine how wonderful the animal experiences you can get for additional money might be.  It is something we will definitely do on a future trip.  Our trip was somewhat cut short by a storm at this point.  We didn't get to see the kangaroos and some other animals because of lightening, and some because time didn't permit.


Iceploration:  I had to look back to see that it was Pretzel Kaiser who wondered "whether BGW’s recent flare for the flamboyant is less Scott and more corporate SEAS direction"  and this show made me wonder that as well.  It was housed in an absolutely glamorous building with lovely mosaics and fountains (some of which were non-functional).  The show itself was ?  Was this performed on ice because they built an ice rink?  The skaters were talented but the actors were perfunctory.  And I read that PK thought the one dance was done by sleeping bags; we thought it was ice blocks but in either case...WTH?  I got the narrative of the show but was underwhelmed.  You can tell a lot of money was thrown at this show but it just seems so disjointed and poorly designed.

Burn the Floor: Untapped:  This show was performed in Pantopia in a building set up like the Festhaus.  It was a combination of tap and flamenco.   The narrative was akin to MIU (i.e. not much) and I thought it was a mess, however the crowd was very approving so I am in the minority.  They had a tap-off a'la Celtic Fyre which the crowd loved.

We wanted to see Soundsational but it was canceled due to weather.


I will go back to BGT next time we visit Florida.  We will not do the dining plan but will remember to bring our BGW refillable cup and eat at Zambia Smokehouse and Twisted Tails.  Also, some other non-dining plan food stands seemed interesting.

But mostly, we will be sure to visit all the animal experiences, chiefly the animal care center, but also all the many other trainer talks which conflicted with the ones we already did.  

For those who haven't visited BGT yet, be prepared to be astounded by a park so full of animal encounters, lovely architecture and great rides.
Thanks for sharing such a detailed report!

The Buy One Get One on the beer was actually because of your All Day Dining wristband. They are currently running a promotion that all snacks and beverages at the concession stands are BOGO with your all day dining. They've also run a 30% off snacks and drinks promotion in the past.

I'll have to swing by the gorilla habitat again - the five they have were always mixed together as one large social group, but it's possible with Bolingo (the younger male) that this has changed as he continues to grow up.

Glad you enjoyed your trip overall!
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