Growing up, I felt lucky to have family living in Florida. It was a great opportunity for me to visit and explore the state. Though I have seen several parts of the state, I somehow never made it to Busch Gardens Tampa. So when Emilie and I had the opportunity to visit during their 60th anniversary celebration, I was super excited.
This trip was also special as we got to explore the park with my mom, uncle, and two nephews. With three kids in the group, including a toddler and preschooler, we decided that although Busch Gardens offers a number of thrill rides, roller coasters were not our top priority for the day. If you’re looking to enjoy the park with little ones, here are some great things to check out.
Having small children in tow, our first stop was the Sesame Street Safari of Fun. This colorful area of the park features buildings that look like they’ve come right from the show, with plenty for little ones to explore. Our favorites were the bounce house, sand pit, Cookie Monster Canopy Crawl, Elmo’s Treehouse course, and a hippo themed boat ride. There are also miniature swings, a safari carousel, and on warm days Bert and Ernie’s Watering Hole is a great place to cool off.
There are strict height requirements for a number of the rides in this area. Emmy had wanted to ride along with her cousins, but unfortunately was too tall. It didn’t get her down though and she still enjoyed watching her cousins’ excitement. For small kids, this is by far the best part of the park.
One attraction we were able to all do together in the Sesame Street area was the Air Grover ride. This coaster is sized for kids, but has no maximum height limit. And with Grover at the helm it’s approachable for small children. We all had fun on this ride and loved that it was an attraction made for the whole family to enjoy.
After allowing the littles to play for awhile we continued through the rest of the park. Another great option for all ages is the Serengeti Express. This train ride provides a break from all the walking and sun, while also getting a unique view of the park. My favorite part of the ride was encircling the Serengeti Plain portion, allowing a chance to see animals like giraffes, zebras, and wildebeests.
Our biggest thrill ride of the day was the Congo River Rapids. Emilie loves these type of water rides and this one did not disappoint. Some other kid friendly rides are the SkyRide, a cable car attraction that gives a birds eye view of the park, and the Stanley Falls Flume, a traditional log flume ride.
One opportunity that I wish I had been aware of when we went are the up-close animal encounters. We noticed while wandering through the park was how interspersed the rides are with the plant and animal life. It was like a beautiful zoo, garden, and theme park combined into one. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the park, but hadn’t known at the time that there are also interactive animal exhibits. At several spots throughout the park are opportunities to hand feed animals like flamingos, kangaroos, and lorikeets. This is something I definitely would have loved to check out. For older kids there are also animal encounters with sloths, rhinos, or cheetahs for an additional cost.
Overall we enjoyed our day at Busch Gardens. The park definitely has plenty of coaster options for thrill seeking visitors. For those with smaller children though, hopefully this provided some insight into the fun options available for them too.