First up was Cobra’s Curse which is described as a spin coaster which brought back memories of a waltzer, at a fair, circa 1988. It wasn’t a good experience for me, or the other people sat with me. So, I was apprehensive to say the least. The ride starts off by taking you up 70 feet in a vertical lift at which point you are face to face with an 80 foot cobra and just behind it sat vast swathes of the park’s Serengeti Plain at which we oohed at giraffes in the distance shortly before speeding along at 40mph… at one point backward, with a bit of snake-like twisting and turning. Then the spinning began which was actually really good. We span, backwards, forwards and then freely. We ALL loved Cobra’s Curse so much that we went back on it another four times. Each time we had a different spinning experience depending where we sat and who was on the ride as its dependent on your, and other, passengers’ weight. It’s a definite family-friendly ride and The 10 Year Old’s favourite rollercoaster.
At Jambo Junction The 10 Year Old discovered that if a flamingo chest bumps you it’s trying to make friends. I’m not sure what the consequent preening and nibbling, by the flamingo, of The 10 Year Old’s neck meant, but it was super friendly. We blame his shorts which were somewhat flamingo coloured. We spent a bit of time feeding the flamingos in all their majestic long legged glory before meeting Harry the sloth. This was a particularly lovely experience for me because I had met Harry seven years ago during a previous trip. It was nice to see him, give him a head scratch and see that he was still enjoying a long and healthy life. This animal interaction is a highlight of Busch Gardens.
Cheetah Hunt was the 12 Year Old’s favourite rollercoaster at Busch Gardens. The coaster mimics the speed and agility of a cheetah and we were all amazed by how smooth the movement was, especially when the coaster accelerated, as though in hot pursuit of its prey.
We visited the Animal Care Centre where the children were invited to prepare breakfast for Berko the Ground Cus Cus. He was very cute and had a penchant for corn. The Animal Care Centre is where animals are cared for, from nutrition to treatments, x-rays and surgeries. The children loved finding out about the care that animals get at Busch Gardens and felt very privileged to be involved in the feeding of Berko.
The heat of Tampa in August was in the high 90s so a ride on the Congo River Rapids was definitely a welcome relief. Spinning through waterfalls and river rapids was good fun and for some reason myself and The Husband seemed to get drenched whereas the children got a mere sprinkling. Still we were dry again within half an hour!
Falcon’s Fury was my Busch Gardens nemesis, a 335 foot high drop tower. Having watched a YouTube video prior to our visit I was absolutely terrified, but very determined. In the queue I was pensive but wanting to prove to the children that I wasn’t a scaredy cat. When I sat in the seat and we began moving upwards I decided to shut my eyes and just pretend it was a bad dream. The Husband, on the other hand, was cackling with glee and telling me “Open your eyes, you can see the sea from up here!” As I prised open my eyes to mutter something, possibly sweary, the seats pivoted forwards by 90 degrees, making us face the ground. We sat there for all of three seconds before plunging at 60mph towards the ground. I have never experienced such terror before and won’t again, while The Husband returned two further times, to ride, I watched from the comfort of the ground.
Our Serengeti Safari open truck tour was magical. We saw zebras, rhinos (including a baby rhino), eland, ostriches and giraffes. Feeding giraffes, such beautiful and placid animals, in close proximity is something we will never forget. The tour lasted approximately 45 minutes and our guide was able to answer all our questions about the animals. The 10 Year Old was fascinated, in particular, in the fact that giraffes can pick their own noses with their tongues.
SkeiKra was our final dive coaster of the day, and much like Falcon’s Fury had a 90 degree drop, however as it was a coaster I was happier about it. SkeiKra had been looming large all day, we’d occasionally see it from another ride or animal experience and I’d pretend it wasn’t actually there. But when you are strapped in and dangling over the 90 degree drop there is no denying that it’s real. I think because this was day three and I had by now conquered many coaster fears I took it in my stride and loved every minute of it. Sitting at the front of the coaster, something I wouldn’t normally do, seemed nothing compared to Falcon’s Fury and away we went, with my dulcet screams ringing out.
We were lucky enough to be invited to feed the lions, at Edge of Africa. The children and The Husband hand rolled meatballs and threw them into the enclosure and the waiting mouths of lion Kembe and his lionesses. A once in a lifetime experience for all three but especially The Husband who absolutely adores lions, he’s still talking about it weeks later. Bucket List ticked right there!
For us Busch Gardens was the perfect mixture of amazing animal interactions and great rides. In one day we had so many experiences that it’s hard to pick for us to pick just one or two highlights each.
Feeding giraffes and being so close to them, the twists and turns of Cobra’s Curse, the height, sheer presence and enormity of Falcon’s Fury, befriending flamingos, the acceleration of Cheetah Hunt, feeding the lions and getting to meet Harry the sloth for a second time.
- The Serengeti Safari open-truck tour is a park extra, make sure to book before you go and take sunscreen and a hat as there is no shelter from the sun.
- Wear comfortable shoes, there is a lot of walking and like the other parks there is plenty to see and do between the bigger rides.
- For kids who aren’t up for the big rollercoasters Cobra’s Curse and Cheetah Hunt are the perfect family-friendly introduction to rollercoasters.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.