My ‘African’ adventure

By Danielle Marsh |

One of my favorite moments this summer has to be when my dad and I went to Busch Gardens. I know, you’re probably thinking, “How could she have possibly enjoyed a theme park with her father?” But seriously, it was amazing. There was so much that Busch Gardens had to offer to two very different people. The theme through out the park is consistent in its effort to bring a taste of Africa to Florida.

If you aren’t into roller coasters, like me, you will not be bored. There are so many other things the park has to offer that doesn’t require you to feel like your stomach is about to come out of your mouth.

My favorite part of the park was Edge of Africa. It’s kind of a forlorn area of the park because there are no rides or roller coasters to bring attention to its self. However, the wildlife there was what fascinated me. I’ve never seen a hippo before, much less one that swims so gracefully in the water. I know they are territorial creatures but this particular hippo made me think of Henrietta Hippo from the Wiggles. Then we went deeper into the habitat and saw hyenas, which was crazy because they were right next to the glass. Part of me expected them to bust into song about being prepared.

My second favorite area of Busch Gardens had to be their newest addition, Jungala. There they had Bengal tigers, orangutans, and tons of other jungle animals in a free roaming area. At the four-acre attraction, they had trained a Bengal tiger to play tug of war with guests. Unfortunately I was too old to explore their Tree Top Trails, which is a water park with climbing nets and craw tubes for younger children. It also offers kids the opportunity to ride zip line 50-feet over the village. However, the advertisement shows a guy in his younger 20s having a blast on the zip line. When my dad and I got there we were shocked to find out you had to be 13 or younger to ride. Bummer.

As I said earlier, I’m not much of a roller coaster person, but Busch Gardens is hailed for their fast-paced, high-speed, gravity defying coasters; you will not be disappointed. If you are feeling brave, you might enjoy one of their six roller coasters. SheKra, a floorless roller coaster, offers riders an unobstructed view of their 90-degree drop from 200 feet. Enjoy.

One of the coolest rides we went on was Rhino Rally. It was well worth the hour wait. You get ride in a huge jeep-like van through a wild habitat that allows you to view the animals up close without a barrier in between. Oddly enough we didn’t see any rhinos, but the ride did offer a surprise at the end.

Growing up in Florida I have been to Busch Gardens many times, but it had been about 10 years since my last visit and much has changed since then. But one place hasn’t changed at all: Land of the Dragons, or Dragon Land as my grandmother and I called it. Many hours were spent here since it was just me and my grandmother when we went, and we never really ventured outside Dragon Land. This enchanted forest is a water park for younger children to enjoy a three-story-tall tree house and various slides. It was good to be able to reminisce in a part of my childhood and have the opportunity to share that with my father.

Bird Gardens. Sounds thrilling doesn’t it? Even this simply named area of the park has interesting things to do. You can buy this bird juice in a cup and walk into an aviary and the birds will fly onto you and start drinking out of the cup. Funny story. My dad and I were walking by a bird cage that had a macaw in it. Of course, my father, being the man he is, tried to get the macaw to talk to him by making kissing noises. Out of nowhere the large bird lunged at him while making a loud screeching noise. Needless to say, that was the last we saw of Bird Gardens.

By the end of the day we were exhausted from our time warp into Africa. The park gave us plenty of thrills and memories to last a lifetime. No one was available for comment about the buyout of Anheuser Busch and if it will affect the park in any way. Time will tell.

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