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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pantopia Update

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

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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.

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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.

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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.