Busch Gardens in Tampa has some amazing new developments coming your way this month. From two great new stage shows, to a visit from Jack Hanna, Busch Gardens is really showing off some fun new stuff!

Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation

Busch Gardens debuted their newest show, Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation on May 18 in the newly enclosed (and air-conditioned!) Stanleyville Theater. The show follows Alex the Lion, the Penguins, and King Julien & Mort as they try to help Gloria the Hippo get in the spirit of being on vacation. This high-energy show features a live band playing a mix of original and well-known pop and rock songs, along with several dancers to keep things shaking. MiceChat was invited to a media preview of the show a couple days before the official debut and it did not disappoint. The show is just plain fun for all ages. Definitely check out the show next time you’re at the park!

Jim Dean, the President of Busch Gardens

I had the opportunity to interview Jim Dean, the President of Busch Gardens, after the media preview of the Madagascar show and he was more than happy to answer some questions. Many of these questions are from your, our readers, as we asked on the MiceChat Facebook Group for the questions you’d like to hear answered:

MiceChat: Disney has done very well with their popular Run Disney program, which hosts races and marathons at the Disney resorts. Does Busch Gardens Tampa have any plans of possibly hosting a race/marathon in the future? The Busch Gardens Williamsburg park holds an 8k race during Christmastime.

Jim Dean: We actually have a race we currently do for our Team Members, but we have plans to eventually put on a race or marathon of some sort to raise money for our Conservation Fun. We don’t know yet if it’ll be a 5k, 8k, 12k or something more, but it will take place in Busch Gardens and the surrounding area.

MiceChat: With Universal’s Harry Potter expansion under construction and Disney finishing up their Fantasyland expansion with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, both opening in 2014, does Busch Gardens Tampa have any tricks up its sleeve to help keep the crowds “roaring” in?

Jim Dean: Well, over at SeaWorld, Antarctica is opening later this month and since SeaWorld is our sister park, we like to cross-promote each other. And, of course, here at Busch Gardens we have Madagascar Live!

MiceChat: Now that Madagascar Live! is in the Stanleyville Theater, what will happen with the Real Music Concert Series (which runs from mid January to early March)?

Jim Dean: The Real Music Concert Series will still be held here in Stanleyville Theater.

MiceChat: So, what’s going on with Rhino Rally? There have been rumors it may be closing soon or that a planned refresh/expansion is in the works.

Jim Dean: Rhino Rally is open every day. As you know, the ride used to be longer and had a great water element. However, when we built Cheetah Hunt, that element was removed. We are working on plans of a possible expansion of Rhino Rally in the future.

Mice Chat: Finally, what’s going on with the Timbuktu Theater? All the signage for the 4D movies have been removed. Can you tell us anything?

Jim Dean: We have something big planned, but unfortunately right now, I can’t tell you what those plans are. But keep watching!

Born To Rock

Magascar Live! isn’t the only new show at Busch Gardens. Over at the Desert Grill, Born To Rock performs several times a day. Born To Rock follows goofy Arvin, who, through a series of comical events, finds himself in the middle of a rock and roll musical production! The show features singers, a live guitar player, dancers and acrobatics set to a soundtrack of pop and rock songs throughout the decades. You’ll hear everything from “Born to be Wild” to “Party Rock Anthem” to “Let’s Go Crazy”.

Jack Hanna Visits Busch Gardens

Animal expert ,“Jungle” Jack Hanna, made his annual visit to Busch Gardens this past weekend and this year’s show was his biggest and best yet! The show took place in Gwazi Park (in the past, shows were held in Stanleyville Theater). Audiences were treated to a variety of critters ranging from a zebra, to fennec foxes, to a full grown cheetah, and even two camels, while Jack educated the crowd about each animal.

Around the Park

We’ll end today’s update with some photos around this great park. Next time you’re in Central Florida, remember that Busch Gardens is only an hour away from the Orlando theme parks and well worth the drive for a visit.

That’ll do it for this visit to Busch Gardens Tampa. We’ll be back soon and would love to hear from you in the comments below.


  • Thank you Amy! The Madagascar show looks fun and it was fantastic that Jim Dean was willing to sit down with you. Thank you for sharing and great photos!

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      Jim Dean is very personable. I actually met him briefly a couple years ago at the opening of Cheetah Hunt. Just happened to run into him as I was coming off the Skyride.

  • Eric Davis

    ooooh I can’t wait to find out what the big plans for the 4D theater is! Great job Amy!

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      I thought they might be renovating the Timbuktu Theater for the Real Music concerts and other shows that have normally been held in Stanleyville Theater, so I was surprised when Jim Dean told me Real Music will still be in Stanleyville. Not sure how they can effectively hide the Madagascar set though (or if they plan to).

  • dazyhill

    Great report! I would have loved to have seen Jack Hanna!

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      Jack Hanna is really awesome. I met him after a show when he was here a couple years ago and got his autograph. He even posed for a photo with my Duffy and autographed his safari vest! LOL!

  • almandot

    Is that the same show they’re opening in Sea World San Diego then?

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      Not sure if it will be exactly the same, but it should be similar. The San Diego show opens next month I think.

  • Rex Dopey24

    looks like a fun show thanks.