Each year, America's theme parks get bigger and better and do whatever they can to keep up with each other. Tampa's Busch Gardens is no exception, making changes and additions each year to attract more and different visitors to this African-themed park.
Busch Gardens Africa has long appeared on the list of the 20 most-visited theme parks in the U.S. and its attendance for 2007 was reported to be approximately 4.4 million, up about one percent from the year before. While it didn't experience the same increase as its sister park in Williamsburg, Virg., it remains one of Tampa's top tourist attractions.
In 2008, Busch Gardens Africa introduced a few new attractions and some amenities to help make trips to the park more pleasant for its visitors.
- Jungala – The newest attraction at the popular Tampa Bay park is this 4-acre area that invites visitors to experience a jungle habitat and get up-close-and-personal with a number of exotic creatures. Animal adventures include Orangutan Outpost, treetop observation posts that allow visitors to view orangutans at play; Tiger Lodge, where guests hear about the plight of the tiger and the fight to save the animal; Tiger Trail, where visitors can play tug-of-war with a tiger and explore a subterranean cave and watch tigers swim and play; and Kulu Canopy, home to a number of unusual animals, like the white-cheeked gibbon, flying fox, and Malaysian crocodilian.
You'll also find a few new rides in Jungala as well. The Jungle Flyers let visitors soar through the skies on a multi-level zip line and the exhilarating, four-story Wild Surge shoots groups of guests out of the top of a waterfall and back down into a crater below. For something a little tamer, head to the kid-oriented Tree Top Trails, with its climbing nets, bridges, and crawl tubes for little ones and a multi-level maze for bigger kids. A water area lets the whole family cool off in the hot Tampa sun.
- The Serengeti Night Safari – This experience offers a great opportunity to see Busch Gardens' animals in a different light…literally. The Serengeti Night Safari begins with appetizers and Anheuser-Busch beer at the park's Safari Club and continues with an unforgettable nighttime experience, beginning with a stroll through the Edge of Africa attraction and concluding with a ride through The Plain and a chance to view the animals through night vision goggles. Your guide will entertain you with African folklore as you gather around a bonfire, and at the end of the evening, guests can partake of coffee, tea, and desserts back at The Safari Club. Tours are scheduled on selected nights and reservations are suggested.
- The Quick Queue Pass – This program is a little like Disney's Fast Pass but comes at an extra cost to visitors. Those who pay the additional fee (which varies according to the day of the week) can get priority boarding for the most popular rides in the park: Griffon, Alpengeist, Apollo's Chariot, Escape from Pompeii, Big Bad Wolf, Curse of DarKastle, Roman Rapids, Log Flume, Corkscrew Hill, and Kinetix. The park sells a limited number of Quick Queue passes per day and the pass can only be used on each ride one time. Passes are available at any ticket booth and are good for the day of purchase. Online purchase of Quick Queue is not available. The park reports that sales of Quick Queue have been busiest during the peak summer tourist season, when the lines are certainly the longest.
- The Garden Gate Shop – A very different sort of theme park shop, this store - located in the Bird Gardens section of the park – offers visitors a chance to purchase "a piece of Busch Gardens Africa's award-winning landscaping." Visitors who peruse this unique shop will find everything from ornate bird houses to beautiful orchids, all carefully packaged to survive the trip home. Passport members can receive a discount on their purchases when they show their membership card.
- Worlds of Busch Gardens Store – This store isn't at the park but is a new online shopping experience that will satisfy the wants of any Busch Gardens fan. It also allows guests to purchase those items that they really wanted to buy at the park but didn't want to carry home, especially breakable items.