Busch Gardens Tampa
About an hour away, in Tampa, Busch Gardens Tampa is a theme park that very nicely balances two distinct personalities — world class zoo and world class thrill park. The theme, of course, is the various ecosystems of Africa, from sun-baked Timbuktu to steamy Congo. Here you will find some of the most imaginatively designed animal habitats in the country, along with a collection of roller coasters that will satisfy even the most demanding thrill seekers. There is also a varied menu of stage entertainment, ranging from the amiable to the astonishing. All of this spread out over 355 beautifully landscaped and themed acres.
Next door to Busch Gardens Tampa is another water park. It is perhaps the most “ordinary” park reviewed in this book, but that’s not to say it’s not a lot of fun. It doesn’t have the super theming or marine mammals of Aquatica, but it offers more thrills for the teen set (among whom it is highly popular). Unlike Aquatica, Adventure Island is open only in the warmer months. It is the logical choice if a water park experience is on your to-do list and you can’t make it to Aquatica.
Putting It All Together
In summary, then, the SeaWorld parks in Orlando — SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, and Aquatica — offer a wide variety of sea-themed experiences, ranging from spectacular shows to hands-on interactions, interspersed with imaginative thrill rides. The dining and shopping options more than hold their own when compared to Universal and Walt Disney World, although with fewer high-end options. Plus, just a short distance away are some of Orlando’s finest and poshest resort hotels, with fine restaurants of their own. Everything, in short, for the kind of all-in-one, upscale themed vacation experience that has long characterized visits to Disney and Universal.
And as a sort of bonus, the special fun offered by Busch Gardens Tampa, with its collection of amazing roller coasters and exotic animals, is just a short drive away.
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