The bad news is that it’s difficult — probably impossible — to see all of Busch Gardens in a day. The good news is that most people will be happy to forego some of the attractions. The more sedate will happily pass up the roller coasters to spend time observing the great apes, while the speed demons will be far happier being flung about on Montu or challenging their fear limit on SheiKra than sitting still for a show in The Desert Grill.
In many respects, Busch Gardens is a "typical" theme park. Each area of the park is decorated and landscaped to reflect its particular "theme," which is also reflected in the decor of the shops and restaurants (although not necessarily in the merchandise and food being offered). The attendants wear appropriate uniforms and a variety of rides, exhibits, attractions, and "streetmosphere" compete for your attention. If you've been to any of the other big theme parks in Central Florida, it's unlikely you'll find anything radically different about Busch Gardens. Here, then, are some of the elements in the Busch Gardens mix:
The Zoo. Home to over 2,000 animals, representing hundreds of species (the numbers will probably have risen by the time you visit), Busch Gardens is one of the major zoological parks in the nation. It is also a highly enlightened zoo, embodying the latest thinking about how animals should be housed and displayed to the public. You will receive an understated but persistent message about the importance of conserving and protecting the planet's animal heritage. Like SeaWorld, Busch Gardens boasts a zoological staff that is friendly, visible, approachable, and more than happy to answer questions.
Meet The Keepers. One way in which the staff helps spread the conservation message is through regular Meet The Keepers shows built around feeding and caring for the animals. The presence of food means that the animals are usually at their most active during these shows; the attendants also attempt to coax their charges into appropriate poses for those with cameras. You can pick up a schedule of Meet The Keepers sessions when you enter the park.
Roller Coasters. Busch Gardens boasts one of the largest concentrations of roller coasters in the nation. They range from the relatively modest Scorpion to the truly awesome SheiKra. Even the smallest of these rides features elements, like loops, that are not to be found on just any roller coaster. You will be well advised to take advantage of the coin-operated lockers located near every roller coaster to store your loose gear. Anyone who is serious about their roller coasters will definitely want to put Busch Gardens on their must-see list for their Central Florida vacation.
Water Rides. Busch Gardens is also home to a group of water rides that are designed to get you very, very, very wet. They are great fun, but require some planning and strategizing. Unless, of course, you're a young boy, in which case you simply won't mind walking through the park sopping wet from the top of your head to the toes of your $100 sneakers. See Good Things to Know About ... Getting Wet, above.
Live Shows. There is a regular schedule of entertainment throughout the day in open-air amphitheaters and indoor, air-conditioned theaters. A few are animal-oriented, but most are pure variety entertainment shows that change periodically. Most shows don't gear up until 11:00 a.m. or noon. Thereafter, they run pretty regularly until closing time. A show schedule is available near the main entrance.
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