One of the parks that sometimes gets left off the list when people visit Orlando is Busch Gardens. We went along with Attraction Tickets Direct and found that there’s so much worth visiting! So here’s our Busch Gardens review and thoughts on the park and why you won’t want to miss it during your next trip…
When you buy your 3 for 2 SeaWorld Parks Tickets through Attraction Tickets Direct you’ll find that you get 2 full weeks access to Busch Gardens. I often feel like Busch Gardens is the park that get’s less focus because it’s about an hours drive out of central Orlando. However as our tickets meant we had access there was no way we were going to give it a miss and we headed there half-way through our trip for a day of fun.
As the park itself is located in Tampa, you’ll need to use the free shuttle that takes you there. There’s several meeting points and the closest to us was SeaWorld so we pre-booked our slot on the coach a few days in advance and on the day arrived early to head over to the park. However if you prefer to drive, your tickets with ATD will also include free parking which is a great bonus and saves you some cash, so there’s a travel option for those who hire a car and those who don’t.
Busch Gardens is the park with the BIG roller coasters – right? That’s how everyone thinks of it, and it couldn’t be more accurate. During our trip there we noticed that the rides were massive, thrill-seeking and HUGE. Perfect for those who love an adrenaline rush when they visit an amusement park! I will also mention that the queues here were shorter than any other park we went to – perhaps because it’s slightly out of the centre of Orlando? Whatever the reason, we loved that the lines for each ride was minimal as it meant we could go on our favourites multiple times without any issues. However we did also register at Guest Services for the Rider Accessibility Program which is designed for guests with special needs. As Josh’s autism means he can struggle in crowded lines, programs like this give the perfect alternative. The program operates by allowing you to visit a ride and be given a return time by the staff. This return time is usually the same as the normal queue so effectively you’re still waiting your turn, just not in the line. Which was a great option for us. Although we registered to use the RAP, we didn’t need to as the lines and queue times were so minimal!
Busch Gardens as a park is themed on African wild animals and the outdoors. So it’s very safari led and you can get a really distinct theme running throughout everything from the merchandise in the shops to the rides. We noticed how the decor was on-point with what you’d expect to find in African towns and even the names of the rides were themed too. One must-do if you’re visiting is the Serengeti Safari which is a 30 minute safari taking you to see all the animals up close. You’ll see lots of animals in their habitats and you’ll get to hand feed the giraffes so make sure you book that as an essential add-on to your day tickets!
It was the animal side of things at Busch Gardens that we enjoyed the most – there was wildlife everywhere which the children absolutely loved. And this overriding ability to combine fun rides with creating a learning environment for guests is something we feel the SeaWorld Parks do better than anywhere else. We saw lots of birds throughout our time at the park and Hayden took a shine to the flamingos – he couldn’t figure out why the stood on one leg!
Considering that Busch Gardens is the park for the thrill-seekers, we actually spent the majority of our time in the family friendly area of Sesame Street! Busch Gardens has a whole Sesame Street full of fun things for children and little ones to enjoy and it’s all exactly as you image. We went right before Halloween and they were running their Halloween weekend which meant the children could trick or treat around the park and it was such a lovely extra. So many children had dressed up in costumes and for us it gave us a lovely insight into American Halloween!
The rides at Sesame Street are predominantly geared to the under 5’s I’d say but that doesn’t mean older children can’t have fun there too. Josh enjoyed going on the rides as much as Hayden did. And they particularly enjoyed the car and plane themed rides and then of course they headed straight to Elmo’s Tree House Trek which they spent a LOT of time exploring. A HUGE tree house with lots to walk around, explore and have fun in, the boys enjoyed the way it made them feel like they were in a real tree house. And when the rain decided to fall (and fall, it did!) it gave great shelter as well!
During our day at Busch Gardens we had the All-Day Dining Deal which we found really useful. It includes unlimited drinks including bottled water, which is essential in the Florida heat, as well as main meals. (You can have a main meal every hour if you want with these tickets!)We took full advantage of keeping hydrated and enjoyed some delicious pizza in the Garden Gate Cafe. We were able to sit outside and watch all the animals and birds around the lake while we refuelled.
Our time at Busch Gardens was cut short due to the weather but if rain does spoil your day you can return at any time within 1 year – which was a pretty good option for us and we’ll be going back next time and making more of it. We’d never seen rain like we did that day! However it didn’t dampen our spirits or change our opinion of the park.
If you’re in Orlando and you’re looking for a theme park for the whole family then Busch Gardens shouldn’t be missed. It’s without a doubt the one with the scariest rides (in a good way!) but it’s dedicated Sesame Street area means it’s perfect for even the smallest members of your family. There really is something for everyone. And booking your tickets through Attraction Tickets Direct means that you can take advantage of the free parking and getting your tickets in advance meaning there’s no queuing on the day and you can just head straight for the turnstiles. Perfect when you want to get on the rides as soon as possible!
**This Busch Gardens Review is a sponsored post in collaboration with Attraction Tickets Direct but as ever all opinions are entirely my own. Please refer to my Disclaimer page for more details.