August 2011: With seven major theme parks in Orlando, why would you travel two hours west to see Busch Gardens? One word: rides. The African theme is nice and the zoo animals interesting, but for breathtaking coasters and heart-stopping thrill rides, nothing beats Busch Gardens. It doesn’t have many special-effect ride extravaganzas, but it has some of those smaller, carnival-type rides that spin, drop, or turn upside down.
Animal exhibits and the rides that view them rate second compared to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but not by a lot. Disney has the blessing of space, while Busch Gardens is surrounded by suburbs and, while large, has more limited space. Shows also rate second to Disney productions but still entertain. As with all parks, good walking shoes are mandatory; and if you drive to Tampa in the morning, consider a nearby hotel room for the end
of the day. The drive isn’t bad when you’re excited, but grinding when all you want to do is sleep.