Busch Garden Tampa trip report – November 2013 (hands-on at the Animal Care Center, Falcon’s Fury construction & more)
Editor’s note: I want to let our readers know that, with the addition of Salina as a contributor to our blog, Orlando Informer is now committed to producing monthly trip reports for Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld Orlando, and Busch Gardens Tampa, as well as one Walt Disney World theme park (each month we rotate between the four). Thanks to Salina and Maureen for helping us accomplish this goal!
Now let’s see what’s new at Busch Gardens…
My family and I spent an animal-filled day at Busch Gardens Tampa on Sunday. While the crowds were lower and activity slower at the park, the animals were really active as they enjoyed the great Central Florida autumn weather. And seeing the Christmas decorations was a wonderful reminder that the holidays are almost here!
The highlight of the day was the Busch Gardens’ Animal Care Center. At this building guests can watch animal care workers prepare foods for all the animals in the park, and guests can also view any veterinary procedures being performed. My children were lucky enough to be asked to help make banana fish popsicles for the gorillas. The “banana fish” part of the popsicle turned out to be mashed up bananas frozen into fish-shaped ice cubes, then stuck onto a larger block of blue-colored ice that contained whole bananas.
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As my kids proceeded to “decorate” the larger block of ice with the fish shapes, the Animal Care workers explained that foods like this are designed to stimulate and entertain the animals at the zoo. They explained that, just like children, animals get bored, and anyone with kids knows that a child left bored for too long will find creative methods to relieve the boredom. Foods like this help the animals find constructive ways to alleviate their boredom while at the same time meeting their nutritional needs.
Just as we thought this activity would be the most memorable of the day, one of the keepers came from the back to announce that a wildlife emergency had just come in and the vets were on their way. We shuffled to the next room to see the Busch Garden vets in action. As we waited, the education staff brought out a large python (well, they called him small, but I still insist he was large!) for the children to touch — it was a fantastic way to keep the children entertained while waiting.
Finally the vet arrived, and we learned that a wild Osprey had been brought in by local law enforcement after hitting a power line. We got our first glimpse of the bird as the veterinary technician brought him in and put him under anesthesia so he could be checked out. We watched through the glass wall as the vet checked his wound and cleaned the large hole in his wing. Not only could we see everything going on through the glass wall, but there were cameras throughout the room to show more detailed images of the bird. They even displayed the x-ray for everyone to see!
After the procedure, the vet put on the microphone and explained to everyone that the bird had not broken any bones, but he would be kept under Busch Gardens care until the wound in his wing healed. The vet then fielded questions from the crowd that had gathered, patiently providing answers everything from the detailed “Were any primary feathers injured?”, to the simple, “How old is the bird?”. They then brought the bird up to the window for everyone to have a closer look — absolutely breathtaking to see their animal rescue program in action!
After such excitement, a relaxing lunch was in order. We chose the Desert Grill and weren’t disappointed: quite a variety of food, and the pricing was excellent — our group of 4 ate for less than $40. I highly recommend the corned beef sandwich; it had more delicious meat on there than at most delis!
In the spring of 2014, Busch Gardens will have a new attraction: Falcon’s Fury. This drop tower will take you up 335 feet, rotate so you’re facing downward, and then dive towards the ground like a falcon at 60 mph. While other members of my family can’t wait to ride it, I’m just excited to watch the structure go up. Once complete, Falcon’s Fury will be the tallest free-standing drop tower in North America, and the first one to have the seats rotate so you face the ground!
We stopped to check on the construction and discovered all the previously seen steel posts have been hammered into the ground now. With all the previous work now underground, the area looks almost empty except for a few construction vehicles. I know the steel tubes that will make up the main shaft have been delivered to Busch Gardens already, so I’m really hoping the tower starts going up soon.
After that, we stopped by to feed the birds at Lory Landing. With nothing between us and the birds, these little guys climbed all over everyone to get something to eat.
At our next stop we found some new flamingo statues had been installed around the flamingo enclosure next to Walkabout Way. These statues were placed all around the area and our personal favorite were the statues of the flying flamingos.
For us no visit to Busch Gardens is complete without a ride on Cheetah Hunt. This incredibly smooth coaster launches you three separate times as ride down an impressively long track (three-quarters of a mile!). The elaborate African theming on this ride is really detailed, almost making it a shame that the ride’s speed prevents you from being able to appreciate it all. Cheetah Hunt is definitely a favorite of our family, and the 30 minute line (the longest one we encountered during our day) was well worth the wait.
As we left the park, the advertisements for the upcoming Christmas Town events really got us excited about our next visit. We spent the car ride home wondering aloud just how amazing the park will look when all the holiday decorations are up.
Busch Gardens Tampa trip report – photo gallery
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