This post is in partnership with Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and CityPass. All stories and experiences shared are my own.
When we talk about family vacation travels to Florida, I am flooded with memories of years past. I am often taken back many years, 16 or 17 years to when I was youth myself living in Florida with my family. So many of the things I now am wanting to take my own family to experience are things I did with my family growing up years ago.
This trip to Florida was rather quickly planned. Our itinerary was laid out with little give because there was so much to pack in such a short amount of time. We were very blessed to have our stay in Clearwater planned and hosted. When the topic of Busch Gardens came up, I knew without a doubt I wanted to take the family. Back when I was a later teenager, we had season passes and would often drive over. My mother loved roller-coasters and riding Montu was such a thrill. We loved just how laid back the park was and the fact that it is so unique. I have so many great memories.
My family is still quite young, but one thing I am certain, they love amusement parks. We have been to a few, Disney many times and Silver Dollar City, but Busch Gardens would even be a first for my husband who grew up in Florida.
We arrived around the time the park opened and from the parking took a short tram ride to the entrance. The park is very beautiful and while you are indeed visiting a theme park, you are stepping into a setting of an African Savannah, the Jungle or the Serengeti. Think of visiting an amazing zoo, one of the largest in North America that has bits of theme park sparkle throughout.
We started the morning with a quick jolt into a shop to purchase a few hats left behind and found a phenomenal sale! As we passed by the giant crocodiles the children thought it was pretty amazing that turtles felt safe enough riding their backs across the shallow pond. Our first official stop was with the boys riding Cheetah Run right out of the gate. We had watched all the roller coaster videos on YouTube and Austin was beyond excited! It was quite a rush!
While the boys waited in line, we quickly jumped into a restaurant to grab a snack. We had the unlimited dining and that allows you to eat an entrée, side, dessert and drink every hour. We certainly did not use it that frequently but did find with the heat, we popped in for drinks and snacks when we passed a location by. I was impressed that they offered many fresh seasonal fruits and veggies as a snack option.
We next wandered through as many animals as we could on our way to Sesame Street Safari of Fun aka Elmo Place. We saw hippos and hyenas, lions and fish, apes and gorillas. We had a great time watching a baby and mama gorilla nurse and interact. She held out her baby almost to show it off. It was so adorable to see the natural love shown.
After a delicious bbq lunch while watching SheiKira take flight, we headed into Lory Landing. You pay for the nectar to feed the birds and are given a 5×7 photograph of you feeding the birds. I had purchased two for my family that had already walked in and didn’t expect to be so promptly greeted as I walked into the aviary. It was quite thrilling! The children loved watching and feeding the birds, daddy almost just as much. It was worth every single penny, all 700.
Sesame Street Safari of Fun is a mini theme park of its own for your little ones. We went mid-week during the off-season so we almost had the place to ourselves. The children were race car drivers, rode a mini flume ride, took many spins on the carousal, rode what they termed as the mini ferris wheel, rode the swings, an elephant ride and the Air Grover roller coaster.
The children rode the rides for a couple of hours and then we sat down for a show with Elmo and his friends in the Sunny Day Theater. You can’t help but smile ear to ear when you see the expressions of pure delight on the faces of the little ones.
Feeding the kangaroos and wallabies in Walkabout Way was the final item on our to-do list. We were kindly told that they were not eating well, so it was suggested we just visit and pet them. We did just that and were able to pet several that were so very gentle. You need to be at least five years old to enter, so they provide food to feed the ducks and birds to the younger ones.
There really was so much more to see and experience but since it was the off-season, the park closed at 5pm. We could have spent another full day or two at Busch Gardens but I am ever so thankful I was able to experience the park with my family.
Busch Gardens is more than a theme park, it is an amazing zoo focused on conservation. They focus their conservation support in four key areas: The rescue of ill, orphaned and injured animals; Supporting research; Funding and direct action in conservation; and Inspiring animal encounters. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has granted more than $13 million to over 1,000 projects in 60 countries and on all seven continents around the world. To find out more, visit SeaWorldCares.com.