Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Explained

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a African-themed
animal park and theme park located in Tampa, Florida, USA. The park is home to a wide variety of attractions,
ranging from free-roaming animals to daily shows, and even a large mix of thrilling roller
coasters and rides. It’s because of this, and the prime location
in the attraction hub of Florida, that the year-round theme park is home to approximately
4 million visitors each year. However, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay didn’t
start out the huge park it is today. In the beginning, the attraction opened to
the public on the 31st of March 1959 as an admission-free hospitality facility for the
adjacent Anheuser-Busch brewery. Here, visitors were able to watch a variety
of bird shows and animal acts, take a tour of the factory, and even relax in the beer
garden with free Anheuser Busch beer. In 1965 the attraction expanded with the introduction
of the Serengeti Plains, at the time the largest free-roaming habitat outside of Africa for
African wildlife. A larger version of the original plains, home
to zebras, giraffes, rhinoceros and more can still be experienced today. Shortly after, in 1966, the Busch company
constructed a small suspended monorail taking guests on a journey through the vast plains. Several years later, the pseudo-park continued
to expand with its second ride, the Serengeti Express Railroad. This railway allowed guests to take a perimeter
ride through the increasing number of themed sections of the Tampa Bay park. It then gained its first water ride in 1973
with the debut of the Stanley Falls Flume, while 1974 saw the construction of the now
iconic Skyride attraction. The Skyride can still be ridden today allowing
guests to observe both animals and rides on their journey across the park. Two years later in 1976, Busch Gardens Tampa
Bay debuted their first large scale attraction, Python, a steel inverting roller coaster manufactured
by Arrow Dynamics. It was at this point that the entire attraction
started to become the large scale theme park we know today. However, initially the park was named Busch
Gardens: The Dark Continent – referencing the African theme. It continued to cater to new audiences only
four years after the debut of Python with the introduction of the Schwarzkopf looping
coaster, Scorpion. The Dark Continent continued to expand rapidly
with the introduction of another water ride in 1982, the Congo River Rapids. However, after this, large scale additions
became less frequent. It wasn’t until 1993 when the park would
construct another roller coaster – Kumba. Kumba opened to the public as a record breaker,
becoming Florida’s tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster. The ride, constructed by swiss manufacturer
Bolliger and Mabillard, allows guests to experience 7 inversions, as well as a mixture of huge
drops and intense turns. Kumba has become an icon for the park and
is loved and enjoyed by many globally. Off the back of their success, Busch Gardens
were looking to install yet another large scale attraction. Three years later they debuted Montu, a second
Bolliger and Mabillard roller coaster, and at the time, the world’s tallest and fastest
of its kind. Themed to Egypt, Montu takes guests through
a mixture of inversions, diving into trenches below the ground. Similar to Kumba, Montu has also become an
icon of the park, with many praising it as their favourite inverted coaster worldwide. The park’s rapid large roller coaster investments
didn’t stop there. In 1999 Busch Gardens opened Gwazi to the
public, the park’s first wooden roller coaster. Built by Great Coasters International, Gwazi
featured two distinct tracks, allowing guests to race other riders of the attraction. Interestingly, the ride was built on the site
of the Brewery constructed back in 1959. After many years of operation the pair of
wooden roller coasters were closed to the public due to low ridership and increasing
maintenance costs. Unfortunately, Gwazi has remained standing
but not operating since 2015. However the attraction is set to be reborn
in 2020 as North America’s tallest, and both the world’s steepest and fastest hybrid roller
coaster, built by Rocky Mountain Construction. After a burst of large investments within
the 90s, the park focused on smaller less thrilling additions. This included Rhino Rally, a safari-themed
racing ride, and Cheetah Chase, named now Sand Serpent, a Mack Rides Wild Mouse relocated
from Tampa Bay’s sister park, Busch Gardens Williamsburg. At this point, the park was due a new thrilling
attraction. In 2005, they constructed their largest ride
yet, SheiKra, a Bolliger and Mabillard dive coaster. SheiKra takes guests up 61m, 200ft high, before
holding them over the edge of the drop for several seconds until they plummet vertically
towards the ground below. After this riders experience a range of twists,
turns and inversions; as well as a unique splashdown element spraying nearby guests. Interestingly for the 2006 season the name
of the park was changed for a brief period of time. During the 1990s Busch Gardens: The Dark Continent
became Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. However, in 2006, the park was renamed Busch
Gardens Africa for two years, before returning to the name we know and love today. 2010 saw the addition of another roller coaster,
this time for the family market. Air Grover, a Zierer force coaster, opened
to the public, allowing younger guests to experience high thrills. A single year later saw the debut of Cheetah Hunt, a triple launch coaster, constructed by Intamin. Utilising the old monorail station, the ride
allows guests to become a cheetah, navigating quick turns and transitions. At one point, visitors even cross over the
park’s skyride attraction! Tampa Bay constructed another large addition,
this time in the form of North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower, only four
years later. Falcon’s Fury opened to the public causing
riders to plummet through a height 94m/310ft all while facing the ground. The park shifted focus back to the family
market in 2016 to produce Cobra’s Curse, a Mack Rides Spinning coaster. With an Egyptian theme, the attraction takes
visitors on a chaotic journey, causing them to spin part way through the ride. Interestingly, Tampa Bay’s newest investment
will come in the form of Tigris, an upcoming Sky Rocket 2 roller coaster. The attraction will debut in 2019, launching
riders three times before subjecting them to a mixture of sheer drops and slow inversions. Despite their large collection of rides, the
park is also home to a wide variety of animals and shows. On top of seeing an extensive range of wildlife,
guests can watch various shows, including ice skating performances and an interactive
Sesame Street experience. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is also host to multiple
events throughout its all-year-round season, including arguably the most exciting, Howl-o-scream. During this halloween event, guests can enter
terrifying haunted houses, be spooked by roaming actors, and even ride the thrilling roller
coasters at night. 60 years after its initial founding, Busch
Gardens Tampa continues to be a highly regarded theme park, even on the global scale. The attraction demonstrates the ability to
combine thrills, themes and wildlife; creating a unique and often unmatched guest experience. It’s because of this that visitors come
back to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay year after. This video was made in conjunction
with Coaster Studios. Head over to his channel to watch
‘SeaWorld Orlando: Explained’, and consider subscribing to us both
for more future content.


  1. No other theme park rivals BGT with the combination of thrill rides and animals at one park. Great adventure doesn’t count since seeing the animals is a separate admission and the animals are not included in the main park!

  2. Nice one Harry , this park is a must do for any coaster fans ! It’s definitely the best concentration of top notch coasters in Florida . Because of the 90 minute journey to get there some people are put off so it rarely sees crowds as busy as the Orlando parks which is always a plus 👌🏼. The new woody opening in 2020 looks something very special . Having been on Gwazi a few times I think it closed because of rising chiropractor bills 😱😱🤕🤕🤣🤣. It was a great coaster but it made the Blackpool woodies seem smooth 😬

  3. Angelenos May be surprised to learn there used to be a Busch Gardens in L.A. — in the Valley, in Van Nuys, next to the Van Nuys Airport.

  4. My home park! Absolutely love this place. My first coaster was python, . My favorite is still Kumba, best ride in the park imo. Until the gwazi remake anyways.

  5. When I went this summer I was very disappointed the operations where very bad and at one point cobras curse said it was 5 minutes but we waited an hour and a half

  6. I've worked at this park, and it's also my home park. Cheetah Hunt is a complete must-ride, and Kumba is always awesome.

    It's a good trip, recommended.

  7. Will you ever do a explained video for my home park, Walibi Holland? I’ve been going there since I was 8 and rode my first roller coaster (Robin Hood) there. I would like you to tell the history of the park for your fans to enjoy. Thanks!

  8. Letting our secret out! Haha better than Disney and Uni any day! Montu and Kumba are just amazing. Missing my Gwazi tho. RMC going to make her live again!

  9. That was amazing Harry!!! I am so glad you finally did a BGT Explained video on my homepark! Good Job and great Editing and speaking!!!

  10. How is RMC Gwazi North America’s tallest but, not the tallest in other countries? Does this mean that in 2020, there will be another RMC that’s taller but not faster in a different country?

  11. This has to be one of the top 15 parks in the world, definitely number 1 on my bucket list
    They have a really nice collection of rides, a great theme and theming plus the safari

  12. Awesome Harry! I'm boosting your signal over here in Georgia. I visited BGT a couple of weeks ago and I did a Be Brave Challenge on Falcon's Fury. I am so glad I did! Thank you for the video. It was very informative😊

  13. Awesome video about the history of this terrific park. Though I’ve never visited the park is truly one one of a kind with a world class coaster collection, a world class zoo, and great theming. I can’t wait to visit one day.

  14. BGT is my home park. I've been a Passholder for probably 20 years. It's my favorite park in Florida hands down. I can't wait for the RMC Gwazi next year.

  15. Hands-down the best park in Florida, and one of the best in the country. If RMC Gwazi is even a top 5 RMC, there's a case to be made that it could have the best top 3 in the country.

  16. Really enjoyed this video! Busch Gardens Tampa is my favourite theme park so far. First visited it in 1992 – back in the days when you got a free glass of Beer! The animal collection is top notch and the park has s nice ambiance. The rides are excellent, esp. Montu, Sheikra and Kumba. Cant wait to go next year for the two new coasters but might need 3 days now!

  17. I love Busch Gardens Tampa! I went there last summer for the third time, where I got five new credits and met up with two of my fellow coaster enthusiasts! I'm so excited for RMC Gwazi! Can't wait to go back!

  18. Definitely a place I've wanted to visit for a while, hopefully I'm able to before too long.
    I thought you knew how to properly pronounce B&M though; like what the heck, man? I thought you were better than that..

  19. I probably won’t get the chance to ride it anytime soon but I can’t wait to see the new Gwazi. Also if you haven’t already could you do Carowinds or Canada’s Wonderland explained?

  20. By happenstance I am going today! Grew up near BG And went to USF (the next block over). I remember the old brewery (my dad made us going on the tour as kids)

  21. Its sometimes surreal growing up with this park my whole life seeing how highly regarded it is lol. Like the idea people come from far to experience it and i live 10 mins away makes me feel spoiled XD

  22. I want to see Arrow Dynamics: Explained, These explained videos are really enjoyable and give you an idea of what the specific manufacturer does with their rides

  23. “Utilizing the old monorail station, the ride allows guests to become a cheetah”
    Me: As a person who rode this, I can confirm the effect is temporary

    (Please edit the captions to say “… allows guests to (temporary) become a cheetah”)

  24. BGW is my hometown park and while your video was overall correct, multiple of your scenes from howl-o-scream were from BGW. Just thought I'd throw that out there. no hate 🙂

  25. I absolutely LOVE this park… Thankfully, it's conveniently close to where I reside. One of the things I especially love about Busch Gardens is it's variety of different intensity coasters. There's not really a big jump in the intensity of coasters–in other words, there's always kid's coasters, mild coasters, medium coasters, big coasters, and intense coasters. It's not like you have to ride a kid's coaster, and then your next step up is a gigantic, intense coaster–there's in-betweens. Thanks so much for making this video, I love your stuff man! PS: I have actually rode Tigris and I think it's an awesome addition to the park–being quick speed-wise and time-wise, it kind of promotes guests to try and "conquer" (as the queue states) the ride, encouraging guests who have not rode taller or more intense coasters to ride it since it doesn't last long anyways (almost exactly 60s, practically half of which is taken up just getting started).

  26. I was probably about 6 when the monorail opened. I was in heaven. Mom would also let me sip a taste of her beer. I personally hate Busch beers, but AT THE BREWERY, it can't be beat. Especially in the summer heat. I guess the brewery went away decades ago now. I was back in 2012 and rode Sheikra, lost my hat!

  27. while i am late i do have to say, even though this is one of my home parks, i learned so much! I didnt know that the log flume was so old and historic from the park! Thank you!

  28. Went here a few times in the '90s with my family on trips to visit grandparents. Only from watching this do I remember the excitement of the "new" inverted coaster, the Montu! I was too chicken to ride it then of course, but now I really want to go back and ride them all.

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