Louis Visits Busch Gardens

By Charlene S. Mixa (Mimi to Louis)

A Toddler’s View of Busch Gardens

Louis drives a car!

Louis drives a car!

Again! Again! Ride Again! Pleaseee! Hi, I’m Louis and I’m only 22 months old. Today is my first visit to Busch Gardens in Tampa, FL. Hurray! We start at “Sesame Street Safari of Fun!” Daddy and I crawl and climb through the huge multi-story play tower. Awesome! We are high above everyone walking over bridges, into towers, through chains and climbing ropes. Now for my first “egg ride” it goes round and round in a small vertical circle. Daddy rides with me so he doesn’t worry. Then Papa, my grandfather, takes me for a flight. Hurray! The flying elephant goes up and down as it goes around. I can move a stick and make it go up high or down low. Fun! A carousel ride sitting on a ferocious looking lion is neat too. Daddy stands beside me to be sure I’m safe. Great the whole family rides the carousel as my Momma and baby sister, Lucy (only 2 months old), join us.

The Swing is FUN!

The Swing is FUN!

Gotta check it out! I love swings! There’s a swing ride. Oops, Momma’s concerned as I’ll have to ride by myself. The lady assures Momma that I’ll be fine. She’ll stop the ride if I don’t like it. Never fear! I knew I’d be okay on the swing ride. Again! Again! I get to ride the swing again and all by myself! Driving sounds fun. Now we are off to the car ride. Hurrah – no parents! Mom straps me in the car and I’m off. Okay, I like sitting in the middle so I can use both steering wheels – but remember I’m a tot. AGAIN! My favorite word today! So I take a couple of extra loops on the road course. I am a big boy! Cookie Monster! Oscar! Big Bird! Darn we missed the Sunny Day Theatre Show but I still get to meet my favorite characters. Okay, I’m not so brave to get pictures but just give a friendly wave.

Papa & Louis at the Elephant - Busch Gardens

Papa & Louis at the Elephant – Busch Gardens

Time to eat and my parents pick the Garden Gate Café, ‘cause I like pizza and pasta. What a neat buffet with lots of choices. After lunch I’m off for more adventures. Papa entertains me at a bronze elephant and some bronze tigers. Crawling and climbing on these is so much fun. Wow, there’s a colorful bird in the tree above me. Papa says it’s a parrot or Macaw.

Busch Gardens is big and has so many places to visit like Timbuktu, Egypt, Morocco, and Stanleyville, all with great attractions. Momma and Daddy check the map carefully for activities, rides and adventures. Roaming through the Myombe Reserve we learn about apes and gorillas. Looking carefully, we spot a huge gorilla and his buddies! There’s a lot of good information about these fascinating animals. For me, I just like to look and watch.

Elephants are interesting to watch.

Elephants are interesting to watch.

Arriving in Nairobi, I spot the turtles. Wow, they are HUGE! Sea Otters are funny creatures. They slide into the water and then run back around to slide in again, making a circle. Hee! Hee! I enjoy watching them. One comes right up to the glass to look at me. Ooh! The Curiosity Caverns have snakes, bats and really neat animals especially those that like the dark. At the Elephant Interaction Wall, I watch the elephants do funny tricks. Their favorite foods are apples and sweet potatoes. One elephant is giving himself a “sand bath,” think I’ll stick with water.

Giraffe's have long necks!

Giraffe’s have long necks!

Up, up and away! Now we are high above Busch Gardens in the Skyride. Wow, from up here I see so many animals and all the fascinating attractions. Rhinos! Rhinos! My favorite animal and I spot them from the air. Toot! Toot! Hopping on the train, we are off to the Seregenti Plain. Long necked giraffes greet us. Lots of exciting animals are easy to see “close up and personal”. Hurrah! The rhinos come up to the train. Wow! Ostriches are big birds. There is a huge egg that one laid, too. We see lots of different animals in the Serengeti Plain.

Daddy & me on the Carousel with Mommy & Lucy

Daddy & me on the Carousel with Mommy & Lucy

On the Edge of Africa are huge ponds with hippopotamus swimming lazily. Sleek, spotted cheetahs are stalking about in the Cheetah Run. Goodness, there is so much to “see and do” at Busch Gardens. There are fun things for adults too. Mommy, Daddy and Papa take some spins on amazing and fantastic rides of Montu and Zumba. Up, down, over and around they go. Just watching makes me dizzy. It’s getting late so before the park closes, we are off to “Sesame Street Safari of Fun.” Hurrah! More fun rides for me!

So sad, it’s time for us to leave. Good-by Rhinos! Good-by Busch Gardens animals! Good-by Oscar and Big Bird! Thank you for a fun day! I loved it!

Things we learned:

  • We went on a Friday after New Year’s and it was great- small crowds and minimal lines
  • Check the weather when planning your trip. Initially we planned to go earlier in the week. A cold front came through so we changed our visit and ended up with a perfect Florida day of 70 degree temperatures in January.
  • There is special parking for strollers close to the entrance gate.       We didn’t do this and had to walk from the parking lot as the tram can’t take strollers.
  • Pay attention to rides for both age and height restrictions.       There are several rides and attractions I look forward to doing on my next visit when I am taller and older.
  • Keep your map handy as this is a large park and it can be confusing to get around
  • Check the schedule when you arrive to the decide shows you want to see. Visiting with me as a toddler kept my parents and grandparents from seeing the shows which provide some great entertainment
  • There are awesome water rides that I was too young to do.       Maybe next time. Of course, we’ll be sure to bring dry clothes and take advantage of the lockers to store them. My grandparents say to get all the “wet rides” done early then change into dry clothes to do the rest of the park
  • Check out the Busch Gardens Fun Pass that lets visitors return again and again throughout the year. It’s a great deal.
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About Charlene Mixa

Seeing new places, learning about cultures and seeing the sights has always been my dream. Growing up I was blessed with parents that enjoyed traveling and thought nothing of taking a family of seven on excursions. My career in Human Resources and later as a consultant for an international Human Resource firm offered some travel, but I knew as my husband and I approached retirement, my goal was to do more traveling and broader trips. The nine years since retirement has been filled with fantastic adventures from short local one day trips to several week excursions. Living in Florida, it is especially enjoyable to be away in the summer to cooler climates. Multi-week driving trips across the good ol' USA, settling in for a month in the mountains to explore the local area, or a combination of both fill much of our summer season. Our travels are predominantly self-orchestrated, bringing the fun and challenge of getting everything to click. It's all about doing and sharing! Experiencing a travel adventure is exciting. Reliving a special travel moment with a friend or family is exhilarating. I feel my heart race and pulse quicken, as I sharing that special moment. Thank you for joining in my travel adventures and allowing me to hear your stories.