Day 15 – Get Back to Nature With Alexandria at Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens – 5/5 Stars
Busch Gardens is part-theme park, part-natural wonder. A 335-care African-themed resort that combines high-octane rides with award-winning safaris which took my travels to new heights – even before I boarded North America’s tallest rollercoaster! In fact, Iron Gwazi is the world’s fastest hybrid coaster too and sent my face flapping at 76 miles per hour. But first, let’s rewind to the start…
In the morning, mum and I met our VIP tour guide for the day, Haley, who swiftly arranged a private meet-and-greet with two of the largest tortoises in the world: Bubba and Big Jim. This insider tour is available for 20-minutes, and while helping to feed these two Aldabra’s we learnt all about them. For example, did you know they can weigh up to 250kg? No wonder Bubba and Big Jim can move no more than 0.3mph!
Next, we ventured on the Serengeti Safari, riding an open-air, off-road touring vehicle across the 65-acre plain with an expert guide. This 30-minute experience gave us close encounters with exotic zebras, ostriches, rhinos and several antelope species. But best of all, we got to hand-feed giraffes. And you can too, as long as you’re aged over 5!
Afterwards, we visited the Animal Care Center, to observe the first-hand treatment performed by Busch Gardens vets. Today, we witnessed the team carry out a check-up on a rescued 3-week old fox. The Center is also home to the Emmy-nominated TV Series, The Wildlife Docs, but park guests can see the zoological professionals at work any time between 10am-5pm daily.
With our hearts full of love for wildlife, it was time to get them racing even more aboard the many breathtaking rides of Busch Gardens. First up, was Falcon’s Fury. Reaching heights of 335-feet, it’s the tallest free-standing drop tower in North America, offering blissful views beyond the park all the way to downtown Tampa before it plunged us face-first like a falcon at 60mph. In total, Falcon’s Fury takes just 5 seconds to free-fall back to Earth, but for extended thrills, look no further than the Congo River Rapids. I Know Floridians love being on the water, but think less fishing and more like being the fish, as you're sent twirling down racing waterfalls and caves that left me drenched. For the best of both skyline view and epic twists, you can’t beat the Tigris. Moving backwards and forwards through daring turns like a wildcat, we were catapulted into 360-degree loops that felt like the world was spinning around us.
To steady our senses, for lunch we had the Zambia Smokehouse, a fast-casual barbecue restaurant where we got stuck into tasty ribs in the outdoor seating area. But we couldn’t keep all the food to ourselves, and soon bounced over to Walkabout Way to hand feed the kangaroos some slightly less tasty grass. Then testing our bellies, we buckled in for the revamped Iron Gwazi. Originally built in 1999, this iconic attraction has gone from a modest wooden ride to not only North America’s tallest coaster but the fastest hybrid coaster in the world: rip-roaring through the skies at 76 miles per hour and in my opinion, lives up to its hype.
To break up our schedule, we watched “the hottest show on ice”, an ice-skating celebration at the Moroccan Palace Theater. Here, smash hits soundtracked ariel acrobats with electrifying moments that put us on the edge of our seats in awe. This award-winning show takes place from Thursdays to Mondays, and is not only family-friendly but wheelchair-accessible.
To end the day, we continued our quest for the craziest rollercoasters, taking on Cheetah Hunt, Cobras Curse, Montu and more, but ultimately, Busch Gardens is what you make it. With over 60,000 animals on-site and endless nature-themed attractions, whether you have a five-star day like me or not comes down to one thing - are you wild at heart?
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Today’s Top Tips
✅ Do the Serengeti Safari if you get the chance - 100% worth it
✅ Stop and take the time to meet all the animals
✅ As the park is so large, I recommend planning the order of your day beforehand
Today’s Memorable Moments
✅ Meeting Bubba and Big Jim, the Aldabra Tortoises
✅ Hand-feeding the giraffes
✅ Riding the new Iron Gwazi