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Aug 19, 2013
We are going to be going to Busch Gardens Tampa, Sea World, and one of the SEAS water parks. We are not doing Disney parks this trip. We will be staying on Hotel plaza blvd since we like downtown disney and also found a really good deal online. Unfortunately, we will be going on the Monday through Friday before Easter. I am sure it will be crowded. We are thinking 2 days at BGT, 2 Days at Sea World, and 1 day at a water park.

My kids are both under 50" tall. So we won't need to worry about doing any of the big/fast coasters. How early do the parking lots open for a 9:30 park opening? Are there any tips or suggestions for how to tour the park? What is not to be missed? Are there any tours that you would recommend? I saw a few of the tours allow for kids as young as 5. I can do the leg work and find out if your recommended tour will allow 5 year olds.

Busch Gardens Tampa's hours are 9:30-7:00 that whole week. Do they ever modify those times? I am surprised they close so early durring spring break.

I like getting souvenier drink cups at the parks. I saw Nicole's post about the Falcons Fury cup. Are their any other refillable drink cup options at the parks.

Finally, if you had a choice, would you choose Aquatica or Adventure Island. We are leaning towards Aquatica since our Hotel is in Orlando.

Feel free to post information about what not to miss at the other SEAS parks as well. We last visited these parks around '98. We really enjoyed the Atlantis ride and feeding the dolphins at Sea World. I suspect a lot has changed since then. Any information is appreciated.
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RE: Tips for first visit with young kids.

First off, the is no question you should go to Aquatica. Walkabout Waters is a simply amazing water play area. The entire park is brilliantly themed and there are two wave pools so you can choose the one that makes you and your kids feel the most comfortable.

SeaWorld is essentially designed for little kids in many ways. The Shamu area has tons of kiddie rides and even a pretty good coaster. I don't know if your kids like animals, but our daughter loved all of the animal exhibits, especially the dolphins and rays. You can pet and feed the rays; feed the dolphins; and throw fish to the sea lions. I honestly think the animal tours might be a bit boring for a little kid. I love them, and my daughter enjoys them now that she is a bit older, but they spend a lot of time on training and zoology. Antarctica is something you must do. I actually get the Quick Queues just for this attraction (QQs are usually cheap and unlimited at SWO). Wild Arctic has QQ too; we generally do the walk-through version, because the ride is actually worse that EiTA. Any of the shows are great for kids. I personally like Blue Horizons.

You must get your kids a Cup That Cares. SeaWorld has a penguin and BGT has a tiger. Basically it is a Mr. Potato Head cup, and it is refillable. That said, the pieces can fall off, so I have a little bag for mine.

For me the must not miss attraction at BGT is the kangaroo feeding. (I believe I have posted pics.) I recommend going there first, when the animals are still hungry and it isn't too hot. The giraffe feeding tour at BGT is probably a good choice for younger kids. You ride in the back of a truck around the savannah, looking at animals and then feed giraffes. They take pictures of each family group too. Jungala is a great section for kids. There are a ton of rides and experiences targeted at people much shorter than I. Of course they have Safari of Fun (previously Land of the Dragons). Their sky ride and train are both cool, because they have great views of the savannah. If your kids like animals I also recommend wandering through Edge of Africa. I haven't been to the kiddie shows, but Iceploration it pretty good, if you are interested in a performance. I also highly recommend at least seeing and shopping in Pantopia.

I defer to Viktor for parking lot opening times. We always get to the parks half an hour early and the lots are open. We have waited for rope drop, however.

Of course if you are Platinum members, you can sit in reserved seating at most of the shows and generally get discounts on food, merch, tours, etc.
RE: Tips for first visit with young kids.


The parking lots would open at 9:00 in the case of a 9:30 park opening. The toll booths always open 30 minutes prior to the scheduled park opening time.

My best advice on how to tour the park is to start by seeing the animal habitats & keeper talks first thing in the morning. With hungry animals looking for some breakfast, your chances of getting a good look at the animals is much better in the early morning hours. Not to say the afternoon is a bad time to visit, but the morning hours give you a better chance of seeing the animals out & about!

Some things not to miss include the Jungala area of the park, perfect for younger children. You'll be able to get up close & personal to Bengal Tigers, Orangutans. Flying Foxes, Asian Small Clawed Otters, and much more! Also, I highly recommend seeing the Iceploration Ice Show in the Morrocan Palace Theater. The show features world class skaters, live animals, larger than life puppets, and an amazing original soundtrack written exclusively for the show.

As for tours, I personally recommend the Jungala Insider Tour. As Nicole mentioned, you'll be able to get even closer to Bengal Tigers & Orangutans, and will even be able to tour the backstage areas of Jungala and see what goes on behind the scenes.

Park hours can be changed without notice, but I highly doubt they'll change the existing park hours.

As for souvenir drink cups, the park offers a plethora of options, including the Falcon's Fury cup Nicole mentioned.

In regards to what water park to choose, I would definitely pick Aquatica. There's much more to see & do, and the levels of animal interaction in that park should be very appealing to younger children.

I hope my insight helped plan your upcoming trip a little better! If you need advice on anything else, I'm always here to help! :)
RE: Tips for first visit with young kids.

Agree with everything Viktor and Nicole say above. For one of your BGT day, I highly recommend going to walk about way to see wallabys and kangaroos and get food to feed them. First thing in the morning they are hungry. Later in the day they lay around lazily and you cant pet, feed easily. Great for kids too. This is one of my favorite parts of the park.

I have a couple videos and pic of the feeding times i will add shortly

For Nicoles review of our visit to this area check out this link
RE: Tips for first visit with young kids.

Viktor - Three weeks ago BGT was still offering bottle feeding. I have never done it and the person in front of me bought the last bottle. They only offered a limited quantity.

Feeding schedule sign

Wallaby hopping at BGT





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RE: Tips for first visit with young kids.

The wallabys and kangaroos sound like something we will definitely do. The wife and I used to enjoy going to the petting zoo at BGW and the kids also enjoy conservation station at Animal Kingdom. This looks like something they would really like. I suspect the kids will want to go back a second day just because of the animals.
RE: Tips for first visit with young kids.

In an earlier post mentioning Busch Gardens, I saw somebody recommended for your family to see Iceploration. If you go, make sure you sit in the middle section in front of the handicapped seating. Bubbles and snow drop in that section, so your kids might enjoy that (my 5 year old always loves it).

Also, be sure and check out Opening Night Critters at the Pantopia Theatre. If you sit in the 7th or 8th row on either of the side sections a macaw flies towards those rows a few minutes into the show, and it literally flies inches over your head, so your kids might get a kick out of that, too.

Yes, the park will be busy the week you are going but thankfully only 2 counties in the Tampa Bay area will have no school for Spring Break when you are visiting, so a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday would be not as busy. Friday, will be a madhouse since every county has no school that day for Easter.
RE: Tips for first visit with young kids.

In addition, be sure to stick around after each of the shows to meet some of the cast members!

Some of the skaters come out after Iceploration, as well as some of the very cute Husky dogs featured in the show.

After Opening Night Critters ends, the cast brings out all sorts of animals for the guests to see including birds, dogs, and even a miniature horse!

It's a great time to take pictures and ask some questions! :)
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