There’s always something to do at Busch Gardens and right now there’s a flurry of activity happening at this often overlooked little park in Tampa. Sheikra is set to reopen today, February 16th after a major refurbishment. The Real Music Concert Series rolls along with the Bands Brew and BBQ events too.  There are rumors swirling about Gwazi, and there is some photo testing going on at the sky ride. There is plenty of news along with photos from the park.

SheikRa Set to Reopen February 16

SheikRa, the park’s famous “diving” coaster, is scheduled to reopen February 16 after a long repainting project and general maintenance. She’s all bright and pretty again!

Fun Fact: Over 15,000 square feet of track was repainted during this project!

While SheikRa has been closed, a group of performers dressed as construction workers entertain guests several times a day in front of the coaster’s entrance. This is a nice little touch to add some life to this corner of the park during maintenance.

Real Music Concert Series Continues

Busch Gardens longest running concert series rolls on through March 2. Shows are Wednesdays through Saturdays, with incredible live music spanning the 1930s-1970s and includes swing, blues, pop, jazz, disco and rock ‘n roll – a genre for everyone.

Last week, 60s rockers Paul Revere and the Raiders entertained crowds. They were a lot of fun. They’ll be performing at Epcot April 12-14 as part of the Flower & Garden Festival’s “Flower Power Concert Series”, so be sure to check them out if you can!

Remaining artists for the Real Music Concert Series are:

February 16:  Sha Na Na
February 20-23:  Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis
February 27-March 2:  Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone

Show times are 11:30am, 1:00pm and 3:30pm at the Stanleyville Theater. The concerts are free with park admission, however, reservation tickets are required to guarantee a seat, and are available at the front park’s gate until 11:00am each show date. The complimentary reservation tickets are also available near Stanleyville Theater prior to each show.

Bands, Brew & BBQ Kicks Off

Busch Gardens kicked off another year of their extremely popular Bands, Brew & BBQ last weekend. Guests can sample nearly 100 craft beers, savor barbecue and enjoy live music by some of the biggest names in rock and classic rock.

This past weekend, John Kay & Steppenwolf rocked the Gardens. The remaining band schedule is:

February 17: Barenaked Ladies
February 24: The Doobie Brothers
March 3: Goo Goo Dolls

Concerts are held in Gwazi Park and start at 5:00pm, with Gwazi Park opening at 3:00pm to guests. The concerts are free with park admission, but if you want a good seat, VIP seating is available for an additional charge.

Gwazi Rumors

Rumors have been flying about the park’s dueling wooden coaster, Gwazi, which opened in 1999. We have learned that the Tiger side trains have been de-commissioned and only the Lion side is running. The Tiger side wait time clock at the entrance to the ride has also been removed.  This is odd, as many have felt Tiger was the smoother/better of the two sides, with Lion being rougher (and both sides received a complete re-tracking and brand new GCI Millennium Flyer trains just 2 years ago).

One of the rumors circulating is saying that Gwazi is going to get a complete overhaul and become a hybrid coaster. Another rumor says the massive coaster is going to be demolished and a new ride will be constructed on its site. We’ll keep you informed as we learn more. However, if anyone has any information, a friendly email is always appreciated.

Skyride Photos

Over at the Skyride, which has reopened from general maintenance since our last visit, is testing on-ride photos. A temporary stand is located near the Stanleyville side of the ride. If this test proves to be popular, it’s likely a more permanent photo purchasing location will be built.

Timbuktu Theater

The Timbuktu Theater has been closed for awhile now and all signage showcasing the Sesame Street and Pirates (starring the late Leslie Nielsen) 4D movies that have played here have been removed. Rumors are going around saying the theatre is getting a complete overhaul and a new show will be announced for this location in the future. We’ll keep you updated once we know more.

Madagascar Live!

Busch Gardens announced on Tuesday a new show, “Madagascar Live!”, an original live musical, is coming to the Stanleyville Theater.

According to a press release from the park, the 20-minute musical show will follow the antics of Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien, Mort and the Penguins during a vacation adventure. The show will feature rock/pop music performed by a live band and include both classic and original songs. The characters also will conduct meet and greets with park guests.

With this new show comes an exciting change to Stanleyville Theater. Busch Gardens’ landmark theater will be refurbished, and will become enclosed and air-conditioned for the comfort of guests.

“Madagascar Live!” opens on May 18 and will play daily through 2013.

Around the Park

We’ll end today with some photos around the park!

The Jungala creatures were out terrorizing… umm… performing for guests.

And that’s what’s new and what’s news from Busch Gardens Tampa. Are you ready for a visit?