We’re back with a new update from Busch Gardens Tampa! There’s plenty of news and photos to share today, including the news that the popular Critter Castaways show is closing. Plus, we’ve got Falcon’s Fury construction photos, information on the upcoming Passholder Appreciation days, Bands Brew and BBQ, and the Real Music Concert Series.




Passholder Appreciation Month

January is Passholder Appreciation Month at Busch Gardens Tampa and the park is rewarding passholders with a couple of promotions.

First, just for the month of January, passholders can being a friend for FREE! Registration is required (you can register here. Only one free admission per passholder is allowed. Also note that the passholder must be present when redeeming the free admission. The free admission can be used anytime through January 31, 2014.




The other promotion the park is offering to passholders in January is a 30% discount on food and merchandise. This is TRIPLE the savings over the 10% pass discount normally offered. No pre-registration is required –  simply show your pass like normal when making purchases.





It’s really great to see Busch Gardens rewarding passholders for their loyalty with special promotions like this. Last year they did little perks throughout the year such as free popcorn, free coffee and even free beer!

Falcon’s Fury Construction Progress

Falcon’s Fury is now the tallest structure at the park, topping over 300 feet. The imposing tower can be seen now from all over the park. The ride, which will put a new twist on the drop tower genre by tilting riders at a 90-degree angle (toward the ground) before dropping them back to earth at speeds reaching 60 miles per hour, is on track to open Spring 2014.







Pantopia Update

The conversion of Timbuktu to Pantopia has started. Painting has begun over at the façade of the Timbuktu Theater.




Ride Closure Schedule

The following rides and attractions are on the park’s refurbishment schedule. The first three listed are due to Falcon’s Fury/Pantopia construction.

Busch Flyers: Closed until April 19, 2014
Desert Runners: Closed until April 20, 2014
Kiddie Train: Closed until April 21, 2014
Count’s Rally: Closed January 6 – 10
Carousel: January 13 – 31
Tidal Wave: January 13 – 14
Elmo’s Safari-Go-Round: February 3 – 7
Congo River Rapids: February 3 – 21

Critter Castaways Closing

The park recently announced that the Critter Castaways show is closing in its current location by the Bird Gardens on February 16 due to Pantopia construction. We’re not sure how this works out because the Bird Gardens Theater is nowhere near where Pantopia will be (the current Timbuktu section of the park).

For those who haven’t seen the show, Critter Castaways is about how animals and humans work together in harmony to create an island paradise while shipwrecked. The show features several dogs and cats that have been rescued from local shelters, among a many other animals.











Rumors suggest the show could possibly move to the Timbuktu Theater (which has been sitting empty for several months now and has reportedly been going under major renovations from a 4D movie theater to a venue for live performances). Once we learn more, we’ll be sure to let you know, dear readers!

Sad Baby Gorilla News

Back in the fall, the park announced that one of its female western lowland gorillas, Pele, was expecting. Sadly the park reported on January 6 that the baby gorilla was stillborn due to unknown causes. From a statement released by the park:

Zoo veterinarians and staff are still investigating the situation. The mother, Pele, is still under close observation by the veterinary and animal care teams at Busch Gardens. The cause of death hasn’t been determined, but during labor Pele was doing everything she should have been doing and progressing nicely. There were no signs of complications, until the baby was stillborn. The animal care team was monitoring the situation the entire time.

Although western lowland gorillas are the more common than their relatives the mountain gorilla, they are still endangered. Because of poaching and disease, the gorilla’s numbers have declined by more than 60% over the last 20 to 25 years, however an exact number of gorillas in the wild remain unknown by scientists.

Real Music Concert Series

The Real Music Concert Series is back! This popular concert series highlights some of the biggest names in music from yesteryear. This year’s lineup is:

Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone:  January 14-17
Chubby Checker:  January 21-24
The Glenn Miller Orchestra with The Four Freshmen:  January 28-31
Bay City Rollers starring Les McKeown:  February 4-7
Paul Revere and the Raiders:  February 11-14
The Osmonds:  February 18-21
Frankie Avalon:  February 25-28
Lee Greenwood:  March 4-7

The concerts will once again be held in the Stanleyville Theater (which was renovated last year to be enclosed and air-conditioned). The shows are free with park admission, but you must have a “ticket” for the shows you wish to attend. These free “tickets” will be available at the park entrance and by Stanleyville Theater. Showtimes are 11:30am, 1:00pm and 3:30pm.


Please note that the Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation show (which resides in Stanleyville Theater) will not run on the days of the concerts.


Bands, Brew & BBQ

The popular Bands, Brew & BBQ event is back to rock Busch Gardens for another year. This year the event will run Saturdays and Sundays February 8 to March 9. Sample over 100 craft beers, savor tasty BBQ and enjoy live music by some of the biggest names in rock and classic rock. At the time of this writing, two bands have been announced for the concert lineup:

February 15: The Beach Boys
February 22: Pat Benetar & Neil Giraldo

EDIT: Busch Gardens has announced that both The Beach Boys and Pet Benetar have cancelled their performances. No further information has been given at this time. This sadly appears to be more backlash from the film “Blackfish” as Busch Gardens is operated by Sea World Parks & Entertainment.

The concerts are included with park admission, but reserved VIP seats will be available for an additional cost. The concerts will once again be held in Gwazi Park (behind the Gwazi roller coaster).

For more information on Bands, Brew & BBQ, please visit http://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-tampa/Events/Bands-Brew-and-BBQ.


And that’s what’s going on at Busch Gardens Tampa. There may be some refurbishments going on, but passholder discounts and concerts more than make up for it. If you have the opportunity, now’s a great time to visit the park.

  • Thank you Amy. It’s always nice to see parks offer discounts and special perks to passholders. What a great way to entice people to the park in the off season.

    That’s a pretty good line up of guests for their concerts as well.

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      Yeah I agree. The park was pretty busy when I was there on Sunday, but the majority of the crowds were due to Brazilian tour groups as it’s that time of the year when they invade all the Florida theme parks. The coasters all had almost summer-season wait times.

  • Freddie Freelance

    Damn, I wish they had those promotions across all their parks! I would be eating in the park if they did, as opposed to catching a Happy Hour special up the street before stopping in.

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      Sea World Orlando is also offering the “Bring A Friend Free” and 30% passholder discount this month. I looked and Busch Gardens Williamsburg is not offering this promotion.

  • Country Bear

    Thanks for the great report and wonderful pictures Amy.

    I’m hoping in future articles you will delve into the details of the Bands, Brew & BBQ and what that experience is like. I have never visited at that time of year it but it does sound like a fun experience. I would love to hear some of the details of the food and drink and what makes this event feel different than normal park operation.

    Thanks again.

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      I’m hoping to do Bands, Brew and BBQ maybe on Feb 15 (depends on a few things). You have to pay extra to try the BBQ and the various beers. Wristbands for the beers (they have like 100 different craft brews) are $30 per person (passholders can get them 2 for $50 – that’s $25 each). That’s kind of spendy.

      The BBQ will be from Smokey Bones, Outback Steakhouse, Kojack’s House of Ribs (a local BBQ place) as well as the park’s own BBQ. It’ll probably be the normal fare they serve in the restaurants. I do like Smokey Bones a lot so I’m sure their offerings will be good.

      This is the list of beers they’ll have:

      Magic Hat Brewing Co.
      #9 | Pistil | Encore

      Victory Brewing Co.
      Hop Devil | Headwaters | Swing | Dirt Wolf

      Southern Tier Brewing Co.
      2XIPA | Compass | 2XSteam | Live

      Blue Point Brewing Co.
      Toasted Lager | Hoptical Illusion | Mosaic Session IPA* | Spring Fling

      Kona Brewing Co.
      Longboard | Firerock | Big Wave | Koko Brown

      Redhook Brewing Co.
      Longhammer IPA | Pumpkin Porter | Audible Ale

      Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.
      Hefeweizen | Upheaval IPA* | Alchemy Ale | Hopside Down IPL

      Lager | Pale Ale

      Goose Island Beer Co.
      312 Urban Wheat | Honkers Ale | IPA | Ten Hills

      Green Flash Brewing Co.
      West Coast IPA | Palate Wrecker | Green Bullet | Saison Diego | Treasure Chest

      SweetWater Brewing
      420 | IPA | Blue | Whiplash*

      Capital Brewing
      Supper Club | Hop Cream | Wisconsin Amber | Mutiny IPA*

      Steven’s Point Brewing Co.
      Pale Ale | Belgian White | 2012 Black Ale | Ciderboys First Press

      Aviator Brewing Co.
      HotRod Red | Hog Wild IPA | Devil’s Tramping Ground | Mad Beach*

      St. Arnold Brewing Co.
      Elissa IPA | Lawnmower | Winter Stout* | Spring Bock*

      Florida Ave Brewing Co.
      Florida Ave Ale | Florida Ave IPA | Florida Ave Blueberry | Olde Ale 813* | Florida Ave Betchy Brown

      Tampa Bay Brewing Co.
      Old Elephant Foot IPA | Midnight Crossing Black IPA | One Night Stand

      Big Storm Brewing Co.
      Wave Maker Amber | Palmbender Pale Ale* | Arcus IPA*

      Bold City Brewing
      Dukes Cold Nose Brown Ale | Pumpkin Ale | 1901 Red Ale*

      Pensacola Bay Brewing Co.
      Lighthouse Porter | Banyon Brown | Raspberry Berliner Weisse | Lil Napolean IPA*

      3 Daughters Brewing
      Summer Oatmeal Stout | Beach Blonde Ale | Brown Pelican Dunkelweizen

      Vermont Cider
      Woodchuck Amber | Woodchuck Pumpkin | Woodchuck Pear | Woodchuck Pink | Magners | Hornsby

      Stella Artois | Stella Cidre | Hoegaarden | Leffe | Becks Sapphire | Becks Oktoberfest | Bass | Boddingtons

      Budweiser | Budweiser Black Crown | Bud Light Platinum | Bud Light Lime A Rita | Bud Light Cran-Brrr-ita

      Shock Top
      Shock Top | Shock Top Pumpkin | Shock Top Apple Honey Crisp | Shock Top Raspberry | Shock Top Chocolate

      Michelob Brewing Co.
      Rolling Rock | Landshark | Amberbock | Michelob Ultra Pomegrante

      Crown Imports
      Corona Light | Modelo Especial | Negra Modelo | Pacifico | Somersby

      US Beverage
      Estrella Damm | Estrella Damm Daura

      North American Beers
      Labatt Blue | Labatt Blue Light | Polar | Medalla Light | Cayman Jack

      European Beers
      Tennants | Krombacher | Krombacher Dark | Staropramen

      I’m disappointed Cigar City Brewing isn’t on that list as they are my favorite. Hopefully more beers will be added soon. I do know that Florida Ave makes some good beers and I like Goose Island’s Honkers Ale a lot.

  • Eeee-va

    Love the photos! Critter Castaways sounds really cute, too.