As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
When my parents decided that we should spend a week in the Orlando area and rent a home from Florida Dream Homes, my family and I decided that we would take this time (when were specifically staying OFF Disney property) to try some of “the other Orlando.” One of the things that we really wanted to do was to visit Sea World again (we had been there in 2005 when Gracie was only 4; so Ian had never been there). We decided that buying passes to Sea World would be a good family Christmas gift. When I was placing the order, I got the option to upgrade our tickets – for only $5 more, we could get a 2nd day at Busch Gardens. We have never been there; so we talked it over with the kids, and they all decided it sounded like a fun thing to do.
A Bit About Our Day
We arrived at the park with a plan based on the best way to ride all the thrill rides. Our first stop was Cheetah Run. It became apparent to Gracie, Ian, and me (who were sitting and waiting for Ashley and Brian) that it simply wasn’t going to work for us to stick together. The sign said the ride had a 5 minute wait; yet we sat for a good 1/2 hour. Gracie wasn’t interested in the thrill rides; so the thought of the 3 of us sitting and waiting while Ashley (and maybe Brian) rode them sounds more like torture than a fun day. When they finally got off, we told them that we decided it might be best to separate.
Gracie, Ian, and I headed through some of the animal exhibits, searching for some rides that might be more age appropriate. We stopped to see the lions and hyenas along the way. We also discovered some African Penguins (I never knew there was such a thing) which were interesting to watch and read about. Finally, we made our way to a train that circled the park (and apparently was the best way to see the savannah), so we hopped on board. It was a nice enough train ride but it was no comparison to Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Upon disembarking from the train, the kids did ride the Bumper Cars. Then we walked through the Tiger area and the monkey area. The Sky Ride (which is not one of my favorite things) had closed bottoms, so I agreed to get on it. From there, we were able to see some of the thrill rides that we knew Ashley and Brian were checking out.
When we got off of that, we were back near Cheetah Run. We headed back toward the entrance and decided to check out the Gorilla and Chimpanzee area. I love Gorillas and could watch them for hours, but the glass these were enclosed behind was really dirty/cloudy so it made it hard to take pictures of them.
When we finally got out of there, we found ourselves back in the area where we had boarded the train. It was time to meet up with Brian and Ashley and find some lunch. The kids decided to ride a mouse-like roller coaster on the way. I don’t recall the name of the place where we ate, but we split a few meals. I believe the girls had a meatball sub, Brian and I split a cold-cut sandwich, and Ian got some sort of kids wrap. The food was very good – we were impressed. We also purchased 2 refillable drink cups. It was a very hot day and we knew that, if we filled them each just 2 more times, we’d get our money’s worth.
After lunch, we wandered through a kids’ maze-like area. The kids all rode a unique zip-line type ride that Ian just loved. Then, we headed toward the Sesame Street area, not because it really appealed to us, but because it was an area of the park that we hadn’t yet seen. Here, I saw that you could meet Elmo. There’s a long back-story here, but Ashley has been holding a grudge against Elmo for a very long time. So, I insisted that she get in line to meet him!
We decided that we had really seen and done all that we wanted to, so we decided to head toward the entrance and see ICEploration before leaving the park for the day.
What We Liked
Ashley loved the thrill rides.
The food was good and the refillable mugs were a good value.
The ICEploration show was very neat. We all enjoy ice skating, so we thought this was neat. When we first saw the size of the stage, we weren’t sure what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised. It was a nice way to end our day.
The line to meet Elmo was very short (as in, we were the only people in it!) I’m not sure if this is typical for their character meet & greets, but it was nice to not have to wait in a very long line. (I wish we would have gone back to meet Big Bird!)
What We Didn’t Like
The entrance to the park was not well-marked. The address on the website took us a back way (via the GPS directions) and we almost went to a Renaissance Fare instead! There didn’t seem to be many signs directing visitors to the main entrance to the park.
We didn’t feel like there was enough to appeal to my younger, non-thrill-riding kids. The Sesame Street section was too young/kiddish for them and the thrill rides were too intense. There really wasn’t much middle ground.
The park is hard to navigate. Maybe we are spoiled by the Disney parks, but it seemed really hard to find your way from Point A to Point B. Or, we’d go into an animal area and end up at a totally different section of the park than where we had entered. This is very confusing.
Will We Visit Again?
I wouldn’t say “never again” but I don’t see us visiting again for a long time, mostly because when we go to the Orlando area, we’re usually going for Disney. I’m glad, though, that we took the day to visit this park and see what it has to offer.
If I remember correctly, the Busch Gardens in Williamsburg has more of a broad age-appeal. We’ll have to make plans to check it out soon and see.
I’d recommend it to those who love thrill rides as there are plenty of them there to keep you busy, and they’re worth going on more than once if you have the time!