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#93173
March 22-23, 2017
For my 40th Birthday I was treated to a couple days in Tampa. During our two days we visited Lowry Park Zoo for the first time, The Florida Aquarium & Busch Gardens Tampa.

First stop: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

As stated above this was our first visit here. It's kind of odd considering we've been to Tampa quite a bit. It was pretty much a perfect day...weather wise. It was about 70 degrees when we arrived and the high that day was 79. There were several school groups there that day; most arriving shortly after we did. Even with all of them, the park didn't seem that crowded until later on. When we left at about 12:30 the parking lot was completely full.

My camera's battery seemed to be only partially charged even though my charger claimed it was full.. I only took a fraction of the pics I normally would have otherwise so I had to conserve what I had.
Here are some of the highlights:

Main Aviary:
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Asian Gardens:
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Primate World:
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Wallaroo Station:
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Safari Africa:
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Florida Wildlife:
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Unfortunately the Tasmanian Tiger Coaster was not operating while we were there. No whoring credit this trip for me...which was kind of a let down (it was my birthday after all). Also Expedition Africa (Safari Tram) had a 30 minute wait so we skipped it. We got the pay-for-a-day come back all year tickets so we'll be back soon.

After we left the park we went and checked-in at our hotel. Then we went to Firehouse Subs so I could get my free birthday sub. After lunch we headed over to The Florida Aquarium.

Next Stop: The Florida Aquarium

This was my second visit here. My first was around my birthday in 2013. I believe we made a wise decision in coming after lunch since it was not overly crowded as our previous visit. Since my camera battery was pretty much on life support I didn't take many pics here with it, but did get some decent ones with my phone to supplement.

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After leaving the aquarium we headed back to the hotel to rest and freshen up before dinner. For dinner we ate at Bahama Breeze off the W Courtney Campbell Causeway. It's one of our favorite chain places to eat at.

Day 2: Busch Gardens Tampa

Our final stop of the trip was at my favorite theme park. I've been a pass member for 10 years and never get tired of going. This time I was determined to get my Falcon's Fury credit and get the Cobra's Curse credit as well. Also on the agenda was seeing Opening Night Critters in the Pantopia Theater. We tried last year, but the park was slammed with guests and raining. This day was not very crowded at all and the fullest the parking lot got was right up to Tram Stop 2 (viewed from Montu about 3pm).

This visit I decided to actually not be a slave to carrying my camera and opted to phone pics only. I must say it made a difference in having to lug it all over the park (even though I made sure it properly charged the night before). The only downside was I would have liked to have gotten some pics of Cobra's Curse in operation and the Opening Night Critters show with it. My phone is ok (13MP), but not that great when needing zoom (4x...ugh). I still got some decent shots.

I was able to get my credit for Cobra's Curse. Since it was still technically new, I went to it first in case it had a longer line later in the day...or had technical difficulties. It only had a 10 minute wait...and was actually less than that both times I rode it that day. Credit # 81.
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I was pleasantly surprised at the intensity level. It wasn't mind-blowing, but it was much better than I thought it would be. This was my first spinning coaster and found that the more weight in the car, the better spin in that section. My first ride had less people & weight and did pretty good. However my 2nd ride later in the day was full with 4 adults and spun quite a bit more (I sat in the back row left seat each time). I really think this type of coaster would be great for Carowinds sometime in the future.

After Cobra's Curse I got a ride on Cheetah Hunt with a 3 train wait in the back row...not bad. Then I headed back to Montu with a 2 train wait in the back row. After that we ventured through the Edge Of Africa to see the animals on our way around the park. I was pleased that Jambo Junction was open again, however Curiosity Cavern is still closed in Nairobi.

Next up: Falcon's Fury

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This was by far the best drop tower I've ever ridden. That dropping face down was exhilarating. My partner took video on his phone. I'll try and add it later.
(Yes...that is a Fury 325 shirt I'm wearing.)

Next up we had lunch at Bengal Bistro in Jungala. He's a pescatarian (eats fish but no other animal flesh) so it's always hard to find options. They have a fish platter so that was our choice this time. This was our 3rd attempt at him getting it there and they had it. The previous attempts they were out of fish and he got a veggie burger...which he didn't much care for. He did love the fish and the portions.

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Next up we watched the 1pm showing of Opening Night Critters. This was in the Pantopia Theater, formerly the Timbuktu/4D Theater. This show took the place of Critter Castaways that was in the Bird Gardens before that theater was demolished. It was a cute show, but think the previous show was a bit better. I think I just liked the other stage better. I would have taken more pictures, but the lighting during the show wasn't optimal for taking them with my phone. The spotlights on the animals blurred the view so I didn't bother much.

After the show I went to ride Kumba...or so I thought. The line was over 30 minutes. That was a bit odd since the park was really not that busy and the other rides had pretty much a 10 minute or less wait. It may have had some technical difficulties earlier which caused the line to grow like that (confirmed on another site that it had). Anyways, I skipped it this time since I've been on it many times.

Next stop was tiger viewing in Junglala on the way to Stanleyville. It was quite odd seeing Tanganyika Tidal Wave SBNO. I hope something comes of this area sooner than later. I get to SheiKra next with a 10 minute wait listed. It was actually less than 5 once I reached the station. I really picked a great day to come to the park. The last time was spring break last year on a Saturday...big mistake, but family joined us then and was the only day they could go.

From there we rounded out the park with Lory Landing, Bird Gardens and Walkabout Way.
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I didn't get any pics, but Gwazi is just sitting there alone and rotting...what's left of it. I did hear a few people wondering why it was closed and one person saying they really miss it. Well...I'm ready for what's to come. It's just a big eyesore sitting there not running.

Before leaving the park I went back and rode Cobra's Curse and Montu once more. Overall it was a pretty good day.
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#94471
JULY 5, 2017

We decided to make an impromptu visit back to Tampa for the day to go back to the Lowry Park Zoo and Busch Gardens Tampa again. I figured I'd just add my trip report to this existing one from March.

Lowry Park Zoo
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The main reason to go back to the zoo was so I could get my Tasmanian Tiger credit since it was closed the day we went in March. Plus we had a pay for a day, come back the rest of the year ticket so may as well take advantage of it. Fortunately the park was no where near as crowded. The last time we went there were multiple school groups and many there for spring break. There were some summer camp groups there but only a couple groups that we noticed.

Upon arrival at opening, the coaster wasn't open yet, so we went over to Safari Africa to ride EXPEDITION AFRICA. This safari tram ride circles around the Safari Africa section and you are able to see some animals that you can't see on the normal pathways. We didn't do this last time because the line was very long with all the groups there. We were the only 2 on the tram too. Kind of nice. I felt kind of bad the driver had to go through his whole spiel just for us, but it was informative.
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After the ride, we went though the rest of the section and enjoyed not being almost trampled by school kids while trying to view the animals.

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Since we only were stopping by to catch some things we missed last time, we heard the coaster running so went ahead and walked over so I could get my credit. Yes, it's a kiddie coaster and I have no shame. If I'm allowed to ride it, I'm going to ride it. I wouldn't go so far to seek out a child if required however...though it's been tempting at IOA for Pteranodon Flyers...lol
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Tasmanian Tiger is a Wisdom Rides Dragon Wagon that was originally at Wild Adventures. There was a summer camp group (about 12 total with chaperone) who were riding it with me. They normally let it cycle twice per ride. Since no one was waiting they all asked to go again. The chaperone looked my direction and asked if I wanted to and was like sure. I wouldn't have if it was just me, but stayed. After those 2 additional cycles there was still no one waiting, but I wanted off. So they asked again and the ride attendant let me off and they went about 4 more times. All I can say is....it was a credit...credit #83. It was pretty rough for a kiddie coaster, especially in downward helix (spiral). I doubt I'll ride it again unless I'm with my nieces or nephews.
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Tasmanian Tiger Credit #83

After my ride we decided it was time to move on and checked to see if the Koalas were on display this time. Fortunately they were. My only complaint with the display is that you're outside and they are inside behind glass. This makes it hard to get a great picture of them with the glare on the glass. I managed to get a couple. I love Koalas and hope Busch Gardens eventually gets some again in the future for their Australian themed section (Walkabout Way).
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By this point it was starting to get quite hot out and were ready to go have lunch. We walked though Primate World and then Asian Gardens briefly. This time they had a tiger on display. It wouldn't turn around though so I got it's backside...lol After that we decided to skip the rest since we can come back later in the year. We also skipped Dinos Alive again(which is in the park until Labor Day). It was just getting too hot and we were hungry. We went through the gift shop at the exit and I bought a park ornament to add to my collection.
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After we left the zoo, we stopped to have lunch near Busch Gardens before heading in.
#94472
JULY 5, 2017
Busch Gardens Tampa
After we had lunch (I had Wendy's & he had Taco Bell), we headed on to Busch Gardens. We arrived about 12:30. Besides the heat, we couldn't have picked a better day to head there. I could tell from the parking lot that it wasn't too busy. I'm sure the day before was as we saw the overflow lot in front of Adventure Island had been used and they were finishing cleaning up and removing cones. There was even a car still left there in the grass (which was still there when we left the park).

Since we've been here so many times (and one of our home parks), we just decided to go left since we usually go right towards Montu. The last 2 visits to the park were during the Food & Wine Festival (not for the festival, but it was set up for) and since the removal of the Bird Gardens theater. This was the first time we were able to see the area without all the topiaries and temporary food shacks set up. That area has quite a bit of potential with the space that opened up. I could definitely see some nice flats added there to bring life to that section once again. In my absent mindedness at the time I neglected to get any pics of what I just described.

I did take some pics here and there in between riding, but no where near as many as I have in the past. Here are some from the Bird Gardens & Walkabout Way:
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I was so tempted to ask the Dippin' Dots folks if anything was coming to that empty spot where the theater was...and what's happening with Gwazi & Tanganyika Tidal Wave. I decided not to, since I may have come off as a crazed enthusiast or something.
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Lory Landing seems to have gotten some sprucing up since we were at the park in March. All kinds of new paint & signage. We also noticed some touch-ups going through Jungala as well later on. You could still smell the paint.
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My first ride at the park this day was SkeiKra. The wait time said 10 minutes which was close. I had 2 train wait. Since it was so short, I decided to ride again. Once this ride was through and we got back to the final block brakes, I heard the "Temporary Ride Closure" message being played. There were 2 trains in front of me in the station and one behind us that was approaching the station. So we sat there for several minutes in the sun. I had a hand towel (sweat rag) in my cargo shorts I pulled out to put on my head. After a few more minutes I noticed some commotion with one of the passengers on the back row right of the train in front of me and a ride attendant. I then heard the ride operator in the booth make an announcement that all loose articles must be put in a locker or in one of the cubbies on the exit side or risk removal from the ride and possibly the park.

So we then knew who it was that guy they were talking about. The operator then said over the speaker to please remove the hat he was sitting on and give to the attendant. He didn't want to do that. I assume he had been doing that at other rides and got away with it which is why he was being difficult. He acted as if he's not giving it to anyone and said he would take it himself. It was like he didn't want the attendant to touch his hat (he was white, attendant was black). So they had to release his seat so he could place his hat in the cubby and come back. Talk about an unnecessary turn of events. It all lasted about 15 minutes.

Next we headed towards Jungala. I noticed Tanganyika Tidal Wave was still standing with no noticeable work being done as of yet. At least it's on the edge of the park and more hidden than the big eyesore that is Gwazi. My favorite animals to view are Tigers, but since it was in the mid 90s, most of them were not out. The one that was out was sleeping in the shade. They also appear to be doing some refurbishment to the tiger enclosure. I noticed several cones in the section closest to the skyride. It definitely could use some landscape maintenance and new glass. They even had one windows blocked off with a new guardrail fence which looked permanent. It was only about waist high so you could see just fine. I say if it helps keep kids hands from getting all over it to increase visibility so be it.

My next ride was Kumba, which I really like even though I don't rate it as high as many others. There was no wait in the station. I don't know if it was just a bad day, the heat, dehydration or a combination, but it was the worst ride I've ever had on it. I usually sit in the last row right (which was the case)and have great rides. My head just banged all about after the MCBR through the corkscrews (and yes I know how to avoid it, but still happened). It has a much needed scheduled maintenance from August 7-Sept. 1st so hopefully it will be back to normal afterwards.

We then headed into Pantopia so I could ride Falcon's Fury. There was about a 15 minute wait when I got in line. This ride just makes other drop towers I've been on tame. I would love to see more of these get built at other parks eventually. Of course then the uniqueness would be gone. The line was at about 30 minutes after I got off so I only rode it the one time.

Next we headed through Nairobi and viewed the Elephants, giant Tortoises and Jambo Junction. Then we went through the Myombe Reserve for the Gorillas and Chimpanzees.
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Next it was time to see about riding Cheetah Hunt. Earlier in the day I saw on one of the signs by SkeiKra that the wait time was 60 minutes, so I wasn't expecting much. However the sign at the ride said 20 so I got in line. It was more like 15 and I rode in the back row of the second train in the station. I prefer it since you get a launch from a stopped position vs. the first train which is already moving when it gets to the launch. Superb ride as always. It's still my 2nd favorite in the park. The line got much longer after my ride, so I didn't ride again.
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We then headed to Cobra's Curse. It had a 30 minute wait posted so I skipped it in favor of riding Montu (my fav in the park). Still great as always, but my body was starting to wear down from being out in that heat. I know I drank a minimum of 4 bottles of water while there (2 I brought in and refilled at a water fountain), but it may still not have been enough. I did get some pics of Cobra's Curse on the way. It is quite photogenic and I love how they incorporated the walkways through it so you can see it.
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We then decided to head through Edge Of Africa to see the animals and then take the Skyride across the park.
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Cheetah Hunt:
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SheiKra:
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Gwazi:
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Montu & Cobra's Curse:
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Sand Serpent:
This view will be quite different next year if they actually enclose it.
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Falcon's Fury:
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Kumba:
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Stanley Falls:
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After the Skyride we went and got on the Serengeti Express at the Stanleyville Station. We planned on just riding it all the way around, but they announced that this train was going out of service after the Nairobi station and that we could catch the next one when it arrives there. So we just rode it to Nairobi. We were able to see some animals from the train like Zebra, Ostrich and a Black Rhino. We decided not to wait for the next train since we were pretty much ready to go (and it was only about 6:30). For pass members they were offering a Buy one, get one entree 50% off after 5PM (during July), but decided to just leave and eat somewhere on the way home.
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Cobra's Curse from the train:
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Overall we had a nice day. This day trip however reminded us why we usually only go in the late fall-early spring. Besides the heat, the rain actually held off until after we left. We saw storm clouds approaching as we got in the car to leave. Perfect timing.
#94713
Thanks for the review and also all the animal pictures! I don't really have plans to visit Florida anytime soon, but BG Tampa is on the list.
If possible, during trips I like to try to hit up a park and the local zoo or aquarium.. So your reviews remind me a lot of our trips. :)

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