Tag Archives: busch gardens

Top 5 Animal Interactions

by Kelly Green, a.k.a. SeaWorld Mommy

Want to have a wild time in Central Florida? Get up close and personal with some of the natives (and transplants) who live here.

1) Discovery Cove, Orlando
There are so many unique interactions inside Discovery Cove by SeaWorld, we’re calling this a five within a five!

  • Snorkel with the fish & rays! Grab your best snorkeling set and dive into a reef-like oasis. For those who aren’t scuba-certified, it’s a chance to rub “elbows” with huge sting rays as they gracefully glide past you, swimming in and out of the schools of tropical fish. Little kids, too, can enjoy swimming in the Grand Reef, though squeals have been heard when a big, dark cartilaginous fish glides by. OK, adults have been known to jump a bit the first time, too!
  • Swim with a dolphin! There are only a handful of places where you can swim with dolphins, that don’t require a cruise ship first. Visitors can add on this experience which includes some interaction time, a “ride” where, to be precise, the dolphin swims, and you pretty much just hold on, and a kiss!
  • SeaVenture! Ever see those iconic underwater diving helmets? At SeaVenture they hoist those bad boys onto your head, and you descend the ladder for your walk-through underwater tour. Divers hand you a variety of cool creatures to examine (I held a sea urchin), and you “walk” up to the glass with sharks on the other side. Bring your underwater camera. Because of the angle, it looks like you’re right in there with them!
  • Bird Aviary! Speaking of photo ops, the birds perched atop a loved-ones arm (or head!), is a must-see/do. Three separate chambers are home to birds of every color and description. Tip: Go when you first arrive when you’re in your street clothes. The birds are ready for breakfast, and you’ll be able to take photos of the family before you’re all in matching dive suits. Spoonbill selfie, anyone?
  • River Otters! You can’t actually swim alongside the river otters (and if you take a close look at their sharp little claws as they speed through the water, you’ll realize this is a good thing!), but you can swim next to them with a glass wall between you that sure makes it LOOK like they’re right next to you!

Discovery Cove is SeaWorld’s boutique water park. Listed are the five within a five, but trust me… There are loads more!

2) Safari Wilderness, Lakeland
Since Safari Wilderness is right here in Central Florida you might not think it’s possible to have a little piece of Africa or Asia in our midst, but off the beaten I-4 path is a bumpy jeep ride where you’ll see zedonks, kudu, AND water buffalo that will eat right out of your hand! Note: Don’t freak out watching your small child’s hand so close to that enormous mouth! The tour lasts about 90 minutes, and if you’re so inclined, you can add on the lemur experience and take a stroll inside their habitat, too. You’ll also have the option of a camel ride! Seriously! Right here in Central Florida!

3) Wild Florida, Kenansville
Wild Florida hopes visitors see Florida the way it used to be 1,000 years ago… in its natural un-developed condition. Being “out in the middle of nowhere” sure makes that easy, yet surprisingly they’re only 45 minutes from Orlando’s theme park central. Guests can take an airboat ride to view Florida’s natural ecosystem , then explore the park where you’ll find a petting zoo (we saw a goat about 2-minutes old on our visit) as well as both Florida native and world-famous animal species. Some animals even wander around (like the peacock that seemed overly-interested in our afternoon ice cream).

Through the end of this summer you can add on an interaction with baby bobcats that will be the highlight of your visit, I guarantee! Duke and Duchess are two of the cutest kittens I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Just like their domesticated cousins they like to tousle with their friends, pounce on bystanders in their way, and pat their paws hesitantly into pools of water (then saunter RIGHT over you with their wet paws!). For $20 per person you can add on this experience, that’s not to be missed.

bobcat kittens

Other exciting animal encounters include visiting with the Two-Toed Sloths, Porcupines, or the Silver Fox. How often do you get to say you’ve pet a porcupine?!

Want more? Sign up for Keeper For A Day where you get to actively participate in preparing food for the animals, plus enjoy private interactions, or maybe the Half-Day Adventure Package that includes an airboat ride, tours, lunch, hands-on alligator demonstrations.

4) Busch Gardens, Tampa
Though giraffes have the same number of neck vertebrates as humans, their surprisingly large ones allow them to tower above guests on the Seringetti Safari at Busch Gardens, even over the guests riding on the open- air jeep-type vehicle. We recently took the tour and couldn’t get over how friendly they were. I have fed them before, so I DID remember how loooong their purple tongues are! Bring your appetite for adventure. The giraffes will bring their appetites for lettuce. Note: Have gobs of space on your camera to take pics, or just buy the ones their skilled photographers take. You’re going to want lots!

5) Gatorland
Want to hold the state’s iconic reptile? You know, without the threat of being nibbled on, I mean? Gatorland is home to over 1550 gators and crocodiles, and guests have the option of holding one or, as part of the “Adventure Hour” experience even feed them while standing a few scant feet from their enormous jaws. Beware: You might be surprised HOW close your child was to them when inspecting your photos later!

Want to combine gator holding with go cart/amusement fun? Visit FunSpot on International Drive, where Gatorland has opened a mini-version of their attraction right inside called Gator Spot (admission is just $6 per person). They showcase alligators up to 12 feet including the extremely rare leucistic (white) alligator. Critter holding ops are available. Last time I was there I had a snake around my neck and a gator in my arms while my son held both a baby gator and a lizard!

Would you like to interact with the gators from afar without leaving your hotel? That can be done, too. Gaylord Palms Resort features the “Best of Florida” exhibit, home to 15 juvenile alligators and 30 native species of turtles as part of a 10-year partnership with Gatorland. We’ve been there when the handlers were out so we got to hold a baby alligator before hoping off to Cypress Springs Water Park. Insider tip: All summer long (2015) Kids eat free at Villa de Flora, MOOR, Wreckers, Sora and Old Hickory.

 

Busch Gardens Deals Offers For 2015

Busch Gardens® Tampa is kicking off 2015 with great ways to save while you experience world-class rollercoasters , Broadway-style entertainment, up-close animal encounters and some of the biggest thrills found anywhere!

BuschGardensTampa

Any 2  Parks for $99

For a limited time, enjoy any two parks for any two days for $99! Choose between SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica®, Busch Gardens Tampa, and Adventure Island. ChooseSeaWorld Orlando and you’ll soar like a ray on Manta, visit Busch Gardens Tampa and dive face-down at 60mph on North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower Falcon’s Fury®, take the plunge down Ihu’s Breakaway Falls at Aquatica, or hurtle high on Colossal Curl™, Adventure Island’s newest family thrill slide.

There are no blackout dates, visits do not need to occur at the same park and visits must be redeemed by May 22, 2015. Visit buschgardens.com for more information.

Adventure Island Fun Card FREE, with a Busch Gardens Fun Card Purchase

For a limited time, guests can receive an Adventure Island® Fun Card FREE with the purchase of a Busch Gardens Fun Card, which lets guests pay for a day and visit both parks now through 2015. Enjoy the thrills of Busch Gardens through Dec. 31, 2015 and all the water-soaked fun of Adventure Island’s 2015 season, including the park’s newest family thrill slide, Colossal Curl™.

The two-park Fun Card includes admission to an incredible lineup of events including Busch Gardens Tampa’s Real Music Series™, the inaugural Food & Wine Festival, Summer Nights, Christmas Town™ and Adventure Island’s Island Nights. Price does not include tax and service fees. Visit buschgardens.com for more information.

FREE 2015 SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Preschool Pass

Busch Gardens is commemorating five years of family-friendly experiences with Sesame Street® Safari of Fun by bringing back a limited-time offer. With Preschool Pass, kids 5 and younger can enjoy all the excitement of Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld® Orlando for FREE from Jan. 5 through Dec. 31.

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Join everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends at Busch Gardens’ Sesame Street Safari of Fun for a family-friendly African adventure filled with kid-size rides and cool water fun. This is a limited-time offer and online registration is required. The Preschool Pass does not include daily parking, separate-ticketed events or other Pass Member discounts.

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Visit buschgardens.com for more information about these great deals and others. Or, be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by following the park’s blog at BuschGardensTampaBlog.com, or “Like” the Busch Gardens Facebook page and follow @buschgardens on Twitter and Instagram.

Christmas Town Now Included With Park Admission at Busch Gardens

christmas town busch gardens smTampa Bay’s Biggest Christmas Celebration is Now Included with any Pass, Fun Card or Daily Admission.

“Since 2012, Busch Gardens has offered the ultimate Christmastime experience for families, and we’re excited to continue that tradition again in this year,” said Park President Jim Dean. “And with all of this Christmas fun included with any annual pass, Fun Card or daily admission, all guests receive an even greater value during their visit. We’ve created a season-long celebration unlike any other event our guests have ever seen – the kind of Christmas fun only Busch Gardens can provide.”

Highlights include special entertainment, live music, festive treats, holiday shopping and over a million twinkling lights and santa sacks around every turn. million lights christmas town

Christmas Town is open 23 select dates from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31. Guests can experience all of the Christmas celebrations throughout the day, and park closing times will range from 8pm to 9pm throughout the event. Visit ChristmasTown.com for dates, times and event details.

 

 

Adventure Island Announces New Sunset Party; Island Nights

image001Now that the intense heat of summer has returned to the area it’s time to head to the water whenever possible.  While the springs and beaches are the go to spots a new one is emerging in Tampa. Adventure Island, Busch Gardens Tampa’s water park, will become the place to be every Thursday, Friday and Saturday June 12 through August 9.  Each of the evenings the part begins at 5pm running through park close at 9pm.

The party will feature the typical street performers, stilt walkers and live music of a theme park party but add in steel drums, a food truck and some amazing sand sculptures (which personally I long for the day that they come back to SeaWorld Orlando!).  Then top it all off with a Glow-in-the-Dark Grand Finale every night.

If you’re a Florida resident Adventure Island along with their sister parks Busch Gardens and SeaWorld Orlando has plenty of different discounted seasonal pass offers, including the Adventure Island Weekday Pass that gets Floridians into the park every weekday through the 2014 season for only $47. For more fun and adventure indoors, you can book at Escape Room Dallas. It’s good for family who want to have special bonding.

The summer party includes numerous aspects including;

Island Nights Food Truck — Relaxing on the beach isn’t complete without a tropical beverage in hand! Cool off with tropical delights at the new Island Nights Food Truck, located near Fabian’s Fun Port. While you’re there, be sure to indulge in tacos, quesadillas, nachos, salad bowls and more!

Kid’s Zone at Mango Joe’s Beach — The Kid’s Zone DJ revs up the dance floor with popular hits every night at Mango Joe’s Beach. This brand new kid’s zone bursts with excitement as Island Nights Party Starters amp up the energy when the sun sets in preparation for a fun-filled night.

Glow-in-the-Dark Grand Finale — Join the entire Island Nights cast on the main beach at 8:30 p.m. for a grand finale celebration, featuring high-energy music and LED-lit entertainment, including stilt walkers and performance artists. This finale includes audience participation, so be prepared to join in on the fun!

 Sand Sculptures Every Week — Sand sculpture artists return with 25 tons of sand as they create newly-themed masterpieces every week for Island Nights. Sculptors will begin a new theme each Thursday evening and unveil the sculpture by Saturday.

Busch Gardens Welcomes Baby Giraffes

Busch Gardens® Tampa welcomed two baby reticulated giraffes last month. Within an hour of birth, the calves were standing and within two hours were nursing.

Cupid, a 15 year-old giraffe, welcomed her seventh calf on June 11.  The male calf weighed 188 pounds and was more than 6 feet tall.  Tesa, an 18-year-old giraffe, welcomed her sixth calf onJune 19; a female weighing 145 pounds and standing 5 feet 8 inches tall.

Giraffes are the tallest mammal on Earth, with males standing close to 18 feet tall and females close to 16 feet tall.  The gestation period for a giraffe is between 14-15 months, and the female gives birth while standing.

The reticulate giraffe is one of nine subspecies of giraffe and are easy to distinguish because of their distinct “net-like” pattern, brown-orange spots and thick white lines.  They are found in southern Somalia, Ethiopia and down into northeastern Kenya.

The baby giraffes are now on the Serengeti Plain® at Busch Gardens. The best view is from the Serengeti train or the Edge of Africa area of the park.  For a closer look, guests can reserve a Serengeti Safari, which is an open-truck tour offering guests a unique look at the 65-acre Serengeti Plain® habitat where they will encounter African wildlife and even hand-feed giraffes with the help of an expert guide.

Busch Gardens is owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™, one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a worldwide leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for one of the largest animal collections on the North American continent and has helped lead advances in the care of species in zoological facilities and in the conservation of wild populations.

Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Premiere!

BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA CELEBRATES WITH A WEEKEND OF UNIQUE EXPERIENCES!

Busch Gardens® Tampa’s newest live stage show “Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation” premieres on May 18 in Stanleyville Theater.  Guests will party along the characters from DreamWorks Animation’s hit Madagascar franchise, including Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo and King Julien on a vacation adventure at Busch Gardens Tampa.

 To celebrate the arrival of the laugh-out-loud, high-energy family show, the Tampa park will host a premiere party weekend on May 18 and 19, complete with on-the-hour dance parties and meet and greets, in addition to the show’s premiere.

“We are thrilled to partner with DreamWorks Animation to bring the hugely popular Madagascar characters to Busch Gardens,” said park President Jim Dean. “Both Busch Gardens and DreamWorks share a core the mission to provide quality entertainment to audiences. This show is certain to have families engaged and amused and will round out the triple play of amazing shows, thrilling rides and unique animal encounters that our park delivers.”

The lively stage show encourages families to sing, clap and dance along to original songs and party favorites on a 20-minute musical adventure. Singers, dancers and a live band join the rollicking Madagascar characters as they amp up the party to full throttle. And as part of each show, guests can meet the characters following the performance in Stanleyville Theater, which has been renovated and is now an enclosed and air-conditioned theater.

PARKWIDE PREMIERE PARTY: The energy and excitement will extend beyond Stanleyville Theater during opening weekend. Guests can join dancers and DJs throughout the park – in Stanleyville, Gwazi and Cheetah Hunt plazas – for a chance dance every hour on May 18 and 19. There also will be unique opportunities to encounter animals all weekend long, offering guests yet another way to enjoy the variety and excitement that Busch Gardens offers. Saturday night only, Gwazi field will remain open thirty minutes after park closing for more character meet and greets from 8 to 8:30 p.m. and a special fireworks presentation at 8:30 p.m.

Plus, internationally known animal expert Jack Hanna will share animal facts and his travel tales during shows at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each day of the premier weekend in Gwazi Park. “Jungle Jack” Hanna will follow each show with autograph signings and audience meet and greets.

Hanna is a best known as the as the star of the Emmy® Award-winning television series “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” in which he invites audiences to join him on his expeditions around the globe. During his travels, Hanna shares with millions of viewers his insights into the protection and conservation of some of our planet’s most precious and endangered species. His hands-on approach has won him widespread acclaim as conservationist, author, television personality and lifelong adventurer.

Madagascar ©2013, Dream Works Animation, LLC

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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Welcomes Baby White Rhinoceros

The Adventure Park Announces Seventh Calf Since 2004

The female rhino was born 26-acre white rhino habitat on Busch Gardens’ Serengeti Plain on Tuesday, October 23, 2012!

The baby is the second calf born to mother Kisiri and the seventh calf born to father Tambo. Busch Gardens has celebrated a total of seventh white rhino births since October 2004. The new baby weighed an estimated 140 pounds at the time of the birth. The newborn – who has yet to be named – will gain approximately four pounds each day until it reaches an adult weight of approximately 3,500 to 4,000 pounds.

Busch Gardens participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) to ensure genetic diversification among threatened and endangered animals in zoological facilities. The birth brings the total white and black rhino population at the adventure park to eight.

Kisiri, Tambo and another female white rhino were airlifted fromKrugerNational ParkinSouth Africa in 2001 through the efforts of the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of rhinos. Fewer than 15,000 white rhinos remain in the wild, and approximately 200 live in zoological facilities across North America.

Since its inception in 2003, The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has granted $7 million USD to more than 500 projects in the U.S. and around the world, including $194,000 USD grants to rhino conservation projects. The Fund was created by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable foundation dedicated to supporting environmental and wildlife conservation initiatives.