Busch Gardens Tampa – Part 1

I never get tired of visiting the parks we have near out neighborhood like Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld, but every so often it’s fun to explore a new park we haven’t visited before.  Thankfully about an hour away in Tampa is Busch Gardens and gave me the opportunity to try something new.

Before I left on this visit I honestly thought that this would be similar to a Six Flags Theme Park which we had in New Jersey and various other locations around the country.  But after visiting I can say it’s so much more than that.  Sure it has some pretty advanced Roller Coasters and attractions, but they have shows, great food, and animals.  It’s almost like you combined a zoo and theme park together which is right up my alley.

Part of my SeaWorld annual pass granted me access to Busch Gardens as well so that was a nice perk I don’t think I realized when I had initially bought my pass.  You do have to park on one side of the street and then can either walk or take a tram over to the park.  Out front is the guest services buildings to help with your ticket purchases.  But to the left and right of this center walkway I encountered the first set of 4 (yes four) pressed penny machines.

The first two machines on the left side when facing the security area.

  

One thing I immediately noticed about these machines is the designs that were really unique.  The penny designs at this machine include an Alligator, Prairie Dog, Parrot, and Cheetah.

  

Just a couple steps to the right is the second machine.  The penny designs here were of the Sand Serpent logo, a Snake, a couple Apes, and a Toirtous.

If you spin around 180 degrees you find the second set of machines across the walkway.

  

The third machine has penny designs of a couple Elephants, Montu, Busch Gardens Logo, and Falcon’s Fury.

  

Finally the last machine out in this area has designs including Kangaroos, a Hippo, Peacock, and an African Dog.  Since these machines are located outside of the actual park you could access them without an admission ticket.  Although you would need to pay for parking or have someone drop you off while you used them.  Unfortunately, the rest of the machines are inside the park and would require paid admission.

After passing through security and scanning your park ticket you are transported into a Moroccan market.  The theming here was really great, and they also had performers walking around interacting with guests as they passed by.

As I mentioned at the beginning this is kind of like a zoo with a theme park mixed inside.  As we wandered through the Morocco area we came across a big area filled with some huge American Alligators.

We continued our tour through the park and came to the Cheetah area.  This was really interesting as they were doing a demonstration with the big cats and how they do specific exercises with them to encourage their natural hunting instincts.  It was amazing to see the Cheetahs get up to some pretty high running speeds.

Nearby is the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster which is pretty impressive.  A little too advanced for me, but I did sit on a bench and watch it for quite a while.

Inside the gift shop for the coaster was where I found the next penny machine.

  

The penny designs here are all themed around the Cheetah Hunt coaster.  I thought this was a really great set.

As we continued following the pathway we found ourselves in the Egypt section of the park.  This area was filled with a couple different coasters, Cobra’s Curse and Montu.

Across from the entrance to the Cobra’s Curse coaster was a quick service area called Serpent’s Snacks and was where the next penny machine was found.

  

The designs available at this machine were themed around the Cobra’s Curse coaster but did have one design for V.IS.E. (Viper Int’l Survey & Excavation) which is a fictional archeological group as part of the attractions back story.

Above is a picture of some of the track from Cobra’s Curse.  It’s another pretty amazing coaster with an elevator that brings the coaster cars up into the air and then attaches back to the track.  At one point the cars start to spin on the track and there are plenty of screams coming from the riders.

The next area we headed through was where more of the animal attractions started to appear.  Above is a picture of the Serengeti Plains that has quite a few different types of animals.

There is also a train that you can ride through that area for a closer look at the animals.

We were able to see quite a few different animals like Giraffes and Zebras.  They don’t get too close to the train, but it does give you a pretty close up view of them.

The train has a couple different stations around the park so it makes for an easy way to get around the large park.

We had decided to take the full tour around the park on the train so we had started and ended at the same point which was the Nairobi Station.  Just outside the station near the railroad crossing was a Mold-O-Rama machine that my kids love and we have quite a collection of them.  Right beside that was the next penny machine.

  

This machine had designs of the park Train, a Rhino, an Elephant, and a baby Gorilla for the Animal Care Center.

Not too far away was the Elephant section with quite a few of them.  By this time of day, it was well beyond lunchtime and we needed to find some food and rest for a bit.  We were about halfway through the park, but there was still plenty more to check out.  Stay tuned for Part 2 and the remaining penny machines.  Keep on Pressing!

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