Busch Gardens – an often forgotten theme park option.
In general more intense rides here than what is offered in Orlando.
Shorter queues. Cheaper tickets. Close to Clearwater Beach.
Be sure to book your tickets at Official Ticket Center if you are heading towards Tampa.

Busch Gardens

When we talk to locals in Florida, or with US tourists who are often in Florida, Busch Gardens in Tampa always is mentioned as an alternative to the theme parks in Orlando.

Big enough for a few days of fun and usually fewer queues to the rides than at the more famous parks an hour drive further east. In addition, the attractions are better, according to visitors who like fast speed roller coasters.

The location is 20 minutes north of Tampa city center (30 minutes from the airport) and close to Clearwater Beach.

Over four million visit the park each year, placing it high on top lists for most visited parks in both the United States and the rest of the world.

Busch Gardens started with free beer

Busch Gardens started in 1959 when the Busch brewery opened a beer garden with free beer. In conjunction with giving away beer, a small, but rather spectacular bird show (a typical Florida attraction) was offered.

Since its modest start Busch Gardens has continued to grow. It eventually became a colossal zoo with Africa as the theme, which is a profile the park still, but today it is more described as the roller coaster lover’s paradise.

Busch Gardens attractions

The areas have African names. The exotic animals can be found on the Serengeti savannah since the visitor has first passed Egypt and Morocco, which is located at the entrance and where there are both shopping and restaurants.

The original bird show is left in one corner of the park and north of there are the section with the high speed attractions:


– with mostly water attractions including SheiKra which has a breathtaking 90-degree fall.


with two of the park’s most popular roller coaster.

Jungala area – an area with family attractions which has replaced Python, Florida’s first up-side-down roller coaster.


– with lots of rides of different kinds.

The Nairobi

– a section which offers a boat trip and close contact with alligators and crocodiles. Plus, you go through a rainforest where there are both gorillas and chimpanzees.


READ MORE: Orlando activities outside the most famous parks

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All content on this page and other parts of FloridaUSAguide is based on information from the Scandinavian online publication Florida.nu, established in Clearwater Beach, Florida, 2006.