I recently had the opportunity to check out this year’s Christmas Town event at Busch Gardens Tampa. Now in its 3rd year, the park includes this special holiday offering with daytime admission this year. Christmas Town is being offered every night now through December 31.

We also have some news regarding one of the major rides in the park for you today as well as a new addition to the critters that inhabit the park.

Let’s take a look around at the several themed lighted areas of Christmas Town:

Enchanted Flamingo Valley

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Poinsettia Parkway

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Christmas Town Village & Jingle Bell Junction

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Ooey Gooey S'Mores for sale in Christmas Town Village. A little different take on the classic treat but just as delicious!
Ooey Gooey S’Mores for sale in Christmas Town Village. A little different take on the classic treat but just as delicious!

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The Christmas Town Snowmen were out greeting guests.
The Christmas Town Snowmen were out greeting guests.

Holiday Hills

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Celestial Crossings

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Sesame Street A Very Furry Christmas

 

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Ice Wonderway

 

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The popular Living Angel statue is back entertaining guests. Just don't blink!
The popular Living Angel statue is back entertaining guests. Just don’t blink!

 

Celebration Village

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North Pole

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Three Kings Oasis

 

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Miracle Way

 

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Penguin Point

 

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Mistletoe Memories

 

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Madagascar Live! Operation: Christmas Vacation is always a fun show for families to enjoy.
Madagascar Live! Operation: Christmas Vacation is always a fun show for families to enjoy.

 

Christmastime Terrace

 

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Jungle Jubilee

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With over a million lights, the park sparkles from corner to corner. The only thing missing this year is the popular snow play area, but with so much else to see and do, I honestly didn’t miss it much.

 Goodbye Gwazi

It’s been long rumored that the Gwazi wooden roller coaster’s days are numbered. The coaster opened in 1999 and is the largest and fastest wooden coaster in the Southeastern United States. In 2010, the entire ride was re-tracked and in 2011, the original Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) trains were replaced with Millennium Flyer trains from Great Coasters International (GCI). Sadly, due to budget cuts, the Tiger side of the dueling coaster was closed in 2012 but the Lion side continued to operate.

Busch Gardens has confirm that Gwazi will be closing forever in early 2015, though an official closing date has yet to be announced by the park. The coaster will apparently sit unused until a new ride is designed and green-lighted by the park within the next few years. Once the park announces the official closing date of Gwazi, we’ll be sure to share that information with you. If you’re a fan of this wooden coaster, be sure to get your final ride(s) in ASAP!

Baby Gorilla Birth

A male endangered western lowland gorilla was born at Busch Gardens Tampa on Tuesday, December 16 at 11:35 am. The baby is healthy and is currently being cared for by first-time mother Pele, with the Busch Gardens animal care team watching closely.

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Look at that adorable face!

This is the second successful gorilla birth at Busch Gardens and brings to six the number of gorillas in the park’s Myombe Reserve habitat, a 3-acre rainforest environment that opened in 1992. Bolingo, the suspected sire, was the park’s first gorilla birth in 2005. The mother, Pele, came to Busch Gardens in February 2010 from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. The baby gorilla, along with the rest of the gorilla troupe, can be seen on the Myombe Reserve habitat in the coming days.

Have you visited Christmas Town yet this year or are you planning to? How do you feel about the news regarding Gwazi? Let us know below in the comments below.

MERRY CHRISTMAS ONE AND ALL. Enjoy your holiday and thank you so much for reading. I look forward to joining you again in 2015 and beyond.

  • Thank you so much for the photos and update Amy. Merry Christmas to you!

    Can’t say that I’m sorry to see Gwazi go. Painful coaster. But, perhaps it’s going to get the same steal track overlay that Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Colossus is getting (turning a racing coaster into a longer single loop with awesome new elements made possible by a steal track.

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      I have to agree with you, Dusty. When Gwazi got new track and the Millennium Flyer trains, the coaster was pretty good again for awhile. Not it’s at the point again where I can’t ride unless I want a 3 day migraine. We’ll see what happens with this one. Giving it the Rocky Mountain Construction treatment would be an improvement, but I’d like to just see the whole thing be demolished and a quality dark ride put in its place. This park NEEDS a dark ride!

  • Buffett Fan

    I’m a fan of Woodies, but I am pretty sure that my son sustained a concussion from Riding Gwazi. Had to be great when it opened (and could possibly be great as a hybrid (steel track on wooden frame). Otherwise, glad to see it go!