Busch Gardens – What to know before you go

How Many Days?

For many people, Busch Gardens is a one-day park. Others will be frustrated at how much they miss in a single day.

If you are specifically interested in thrill rides, you can easily do Busch Gardens in one day with a good plan, even on a busy day.

For families visiting in the summer months, it is more enjoyable to plan two days, even if you aren’t interested in seeing everything the park has to offer. Be there when the park opens, tour in the cool of the morning, then leave when it gets too hot. Come back the following day with the same game plan to catch anything you missed the first day and re-do favorites.

The average park-goer probably wants to experience most of the rides, many of the major exhibits, and some of the shows. You may be able to do it in a whirlwind single weekday during the summer (longer park hours), but realistically, touring the park and seeing the “best of the best” will take two days.

For people who want to see and do it all, plan on two full days during the cooler season, and three days during the summer to allow for afternoon breaks.

The most important rule for getting the most from any theme park visit is to arrive early. During peak season, this means arriving up to an hour before park opening. It’s always better to arrive too early and wait comfortably in the front of the line, than to arrive a little later and have to wait behind a wall of slow moving people who fumble with their wallet to pay for parking, or can’t figure out the ticket system.

Where To Stay?

The area surrounding Busch Gardens is not your typical tourist hotel hotspot. Public bus stops, liquor stores, and pawn shops are interspersed with a few moderately priced hotels and older low-budget motels. If staying within walking distance of the park is absolutely necessary, your best bet is the Quality Inn Busch Gardens which is about a block from the entrance, has been recently renovated, and is in a relatively secure area.

If a bit of a drive isn’t a problem, the best way to guarantee a secure location with easy freeway access is to search for hotels near Tampa International Airport. These hotels will typically offer better amenities and cost less than their more “resort specific” counterparts, the location offers plenty of nearby dining options, and you won’t feel nervous walking to your car after dark. The downside is that most of the other residents at these hotels are business travelers, so families with small children may feel somewhat out of place. Driving from the Tampa International area to and from Busch Gardens takes less than 30 minutes via I-275 in typical rush-hour traffic.

For adults who enjoy night life, and would like to experience evenings with some added flair, look into Ybor City, an historic section of Tampa that has revitalized itself with dining and entertainment establishments, and which is located only 20 minutes from Busch Gardens.

If you will be driving from Orlando to visit Busch Gardens, allow at least 90 minutes for the drive, or plan two hours and stop for breakfast if you’re early.

Admission Tickets

All ticket prices are current as of January 2015 and are shown include tax.

Options for admission tickets can be daunting, we’ve attempted to narrow it down to the most popular and best value ticket packages that are readily available year-round and nation-wide. If more than one vendor is listed for a ticket, the least expensive is listed first. Whatever option you choose, you will save time and money by purchasing your tickets in advance online.

Unless you are working with a really good limited-time offer or potential shipping delays, tickets should be one of the final things you purchase for your vacation, since there’s no penalty for waiting and prices rarely change without notice.

AAA is only the least expensive option in some cases if you already have a AAA membership.

Tickets can be purchased through these links:

Busch Gardens: http://www.seaworldparks.com/buschgardens-tampa

Undercover Tourist: http://www.undercovertourist.com

AAA Travel: http://www.aaa.com

1 Day Tickets:

Weekday
● AAA Online $62.03
● Undercover Tourist $69.55
● Busch Gardens Online $74.54

Single Day (Weekend or Week-day)
● AAA Online $75.19
● Undercover Tourist $85.60

2 Day Tickets: 1 Day + 1 Day Free

● Busch Gardens $90.59 (Must obtain voucher for second day during first visit.)

14 Day Orlando Flex Ticket Plus

● Undercover Tourist A$352.25 C$332.22
● Busch Gardens Online A$394.33 C$373.02

This ticket allows unlimited admissions to all these parks for up to 14 days: Aquatica / Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure / SeaWorld / Wet ‘n Wild / Busch Gardens Tampa / Universal CityWalk.

Parking fee required only once each day, regardless of the number parks visited (show parking receipt from first park visited that day). Complimentary daily roundtrip transportation from Orlando to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay available for ticket holders on the Busch Gardens Shuttle Express.

365 Day Tickets – Annual Pass

● Busch Gardens Online $181.91 – Non-Resident (Ages 3-64) prices listed, discounts available for Florida residents and guests over 65.

Add-Ons

All Day Dining with 1 Day Ticket

● Busch Gardens Online A106.64 C$101.29

Also available as a separate add-on to any admission ticket. See Dining Chapter for details

Other Discounts

Be sure to check online at Busch Gardens, Undercover Tourist, also Costco and AAA if you already are a member for limited-time offers and other discounts. There may also be Florida-Resident discounts available through Busch or local chain stores.

Some corporations offer special Theme Park discounts to their employees. Check with your companies’ human resources department for information.

Active Duty Military: All Sea World parks participate in the Waves of Honor program which permits any U.S. active duty military, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman to one complimentary admission per year for military personnel and as many as three direct dependents. Sign up for the program and see details at http://wavesofhonor.com/

Extremely Discounted tickets offered by some websites or through private parties are not recommended, as there is no way to know if you’ve purchased a new, unused ticket until you arrive at the gate, and no way to get a refund if you’ve been scammed.

Quick Queue

Quick Queue is a “front of the line” card which gives you access to the park’s major rides with little or no wait. Price varies depending on the season. Because pricing is the same online as in the park, we do not recommend purchasing this option in advance, rather wait until you arrive to see if the park is busy enough to justify the additional cost.

Quick Queue is valid for: SheiKra, Montu, Kumba, Stanley Falls, Gwazi, Tidal Wave, Rhino Rally, Congo River Ride and Cheetah Hunt

There are two versions of the card:

Quick Queue ($20 and up): Single front of the line admission for one person to each of the rides listed.

Quick Queue Unlimited ($35 and up): Unlimited front of the line admission for one person to all of the rides listed.

Check availability and pricing for your trip at http://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-tampa/book-online/extras/allextraspage/

Transportation

Shuttle: Although included with many ticket purchases, we do not recommend utilizing the Mears Orlando to Busch Gardens shuttle as it may not arrive at the park until after 11am. Schedule transportation online at https://secure.mearstransportation.com/MearsExpress/BuschGardens.asp?pos=2

Parking Costs: $15 for regular lot, $22 for preferred parking (closer to the park entrance). The regular lot is serviced by a very efficient tram service. Season Passholders get free parking.

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