You cannot decide between animals and rollercoasters? Then, visit Busch Gardens, one of the biggest zoos in the USA. Zebras, giraffes and antelopes populate a vast savannah. Lions and tigers can be observed behind glass, and a jungle area lets you get close to African primates. In addition, Busch Gardens features 17 rides: from relaxing merry-go-rounds to the Iron Gwazi with top speeds of 75 mph. Thanks to this variety, there is something for everybody at Busch Gardens Tampa.
Busch Gardens Tampa in a Nutshell
The history of Busch Gardens dates back to the year 1959 and starts – rather untypically – with a brewery. In addition to their production facility, Anheuser Busch had the idea to open a 15-acre garden for visitors. Flamingos and birds of prey were the first animals, quickly followed by African species like rhinos, giraffes and chimpanzees in 1965. The first ride opened 8 years later, and in 2004, Busch Gardens´ “SheiKra” even held the title of Florida´s biggest rollercoaster.
While the park grew, its origins faded: The brewery closed as early as 1995. In 2009, ownership went to the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Division, and the last insignia of Anheuser-Busch disappeared later that year. Busch Gardens still sees a lot of expansions – like the Iron Gwazi. This mega coaster was scheduled to open in 2020. However, due to Covid, visitors had to wait until March 2022.
Location and Directions
Busch Gardens is located in North Tampa, 2 miles from the Interstate 275. Reaching the park by car from the city center can take 15 to 30 minutes – depending on the time of day. Please note that parking at Busch Gardens is not free. Instead, fees of 30 USD per vehicle apply if you do not own an annual pass.
Alternatively, you can take the Mears Shuttle Bus, which is free for Online ticket holders. The shuttle picks up guests at various locations in and around Orlando. Due to high popularity, you should make your reservation early, though.
Reaching the park with public transport is another alternative – albeit not the fastest one: Buses from central Tampa usually take 42 minutes or more.
The opening hours at Busch Gardens vary according to the season. Most of the time, the park opens at 10 am and closes from 5 to 9 pm, so it is a good idea to check the times on the official website. There, you can also see which attractions are temporarily closed due to repairs or renovations.
Tickets and Prices
On-site, the average price for a single Busch Gardens ticket is 115 USD. However, we advise you to buy tickets online. This way, you can save up to 50 % – for example, during the Busch Gardens Flash Sales. You will also see a calendar with prices on particular days: While weekends are the most expensive times, tickets are often sold for 30 USD less during the week.
In addition to single tickets, there are many upgrades, add-ons and packages:
- For 40 USD more, you can enjoy discounts on food and drinks with the All-Day Dining Pass.
- The Any Day Ticket allows you to visit the park at any time you want – for 132 USD. You will have 6 months to redeem this ticket.
- If you want to visit Busch Gardens more than once per year, you should buy the Fun Card for 132 USD.
- Annual Passes come in different varieties and cost between 159 and 417 USD.
- With the 40 USD fast pass “Quick Queue”, you can skip the lines at Busch Gardens´ rides.
- The Two, Three and Four Park Tickets allow you to combine Busch Gardens with other parks: namely, SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Adventure Island.
Coupons are another way to save money when visiting Busch Gardens. You can find them on websites like groupon, retailmenot and couponfollow.
Busch Gardens Tampa – Attractions
Busch Gardens features a wide variety of attractions – ranging from native and exotic animals to rides for every taste.
Busch Gardens Tampa features a whopping 12,000 animals. They belong to 200 different species and can be found in authentically designed areas:
Measuring 64 acres – or 48 football fields – Serengeti Plain takes up a majority of Busch Gardens. Here, iconic African species like giraffes, zebras, antelopes and ostriches live amongst tall monkey bread trees. There are rhinos, too – including “Winnifred”, a baby that already weighs 220 lbs. If you want to see these animals up-close, you should book a ride with the open Safari Bus. Giraffes in particular are everything but shy and like to stick their necks down to visitors. Alternatively, you can watch animals onboard the “Serengeti Express” train – albeit from a greater distance.
Edge of Africa
Edge of Africa is the second area that houses African animals – including lions. Only glass walls separate these majestic cats from visitors, so you will have a chance to admire them up-close. Hippos can be observed above and below the water; meerkats poke their heads from dugouts, and the laughter of hyenas echoes through the area. Crossing the fishing village “Egypt”, you will reach another predator: cheetahs that demonstrate their agility in a large enclosure.
Where grassland makes way for dense jungle, The Nairobi area houses two species of primates: Gorillas live in a family tribe and build “beds” from the vegetation that abounds in their enclosure. Not far from them, you can watch our relatives, the chimpanzees, while crocodiles populate an artificial lake. Admittedly, Busch Gardens´ penguins might seem a bit out of place here. However, this African penguin species feels right at home in the Sunshine State.
A colorful spectacle awaits you in the Bird Gardens, as they are home to parrots. To be more precise, you will see Lorikeets: Australian specimen that flutter about in a large enclosure and love sugary treats – perfect for visitors who want to feed them. Right next door, Florida´s flamingos present their purple plumage, and further south, you can watch kangaroos and wallabies.
Pantopia – formerly known as Timbuktu – is famous for its Arabic architecture. However, amidst authentic clay huts and markets, you will also find animals: Asian elephants roam a vast enclosure and often splash around in their pond. You want to learn more about these gentle giants? Then, the Elephant Insider Tour is perfect for you.
Southeast Asian vibes await you at Jungala. Here, you will see Bengal tigers that are among the largest tiger species – reaching up to 10 feet. Unlike many other cats, tigers love to swim and can be observed above and under water. Another attraction are the Orangutans: As these apes only cover short distances on the ground, their enclosure features “o-lines” for climbing and swinging from branch to branch.
Busch Gardens Tampa is home to 17 rides – ranging from rollercoasters and wild water rides to freefall towers and play areas for children.
If you love to scream in excitement, the rollercoasters at Busch Gardens are perfect for you:
- Montu holds the record of North America´s biggest inverted coaster. Here, visitors dangle in the air for extra-thrills.
- Not far from its name giver´s enclosure, you will find Cheetah Hunt: the park´s longest thrill-ride with top speeds of 62 mph.
- An even faster ride awaits you at SheiKra: This rollercoaster reaches up to 70 mph and boasts an almost vertical plunge.
- Tigris imitates the power of a big cat – catapulting guests into the air with 60 mph.
- Extra-strong G-forces are guaranteed by the Scorpion with its 360-degree loop.
- Florida´s legendary steel coaster Kumba not only features rapid turns, but also 3 seconds of absolute weightlessness.
- The wagons at Cobra´s Curse change their spin depending on the weight of the passengers. This way, every ride will be different.
- Iron Gwazi is the pinnacle of excitement. Opened in 2022, this colossus boasts a height of 206 ft, near vertical drops and up to 76 mph.
Do you want to cool off on a hot day? No problem, as Busch Gardens features two wild water rides. Congo River Rapids simulates a boat ride on Africa´s untamed river – including chutes – while Stanley Falls Flume sends you down a waterfall. Afterwards, you can dry off by riding the park´s two freefall towers. In addition to the family-friendly Wild Surge, there is Falcon´s Fury: a monster that drops its passengers from a height of 335 feet. For a more relaxed experience, man the Skyride cable car to soar above Busch Gardens and watch animals in the distance.
Busch Gardens is not only suited for adrenaline junkies. The park also features many attractions for children – among them, a charming merry-go-round with carnival vibes, a water playground and the rather tame rollercoasters SandSerpant and Air Grover. If you really want to treat your little ones, take them to Sesame Street Safari of Fun: Here, children can let loose on a bouncy castle, walk over rope bridges and cuddle with their heroes from Sesame Street. Elmo, the Cookie Monster and Co. offer interactive shows where little visitors can join in on the dancing.
Busch Gardens Tampa – Shows and Events
No matter the season – thanks to a wide variety of shows and events, there is always something to see at Busch Gardens:
- The Food & Wine Festival in spring offers culinary treats and selected wines.
- Or do you prefer a tasty lager? Then, the Bierfest in summertime is perfect for you.
- On the Fourth of July, visitors can see one of Tampa´s biggest fireworks at Busch Gardens
- Trick or Treating and costume parades are organized on Halloween.
- During Kid´s Weekends, little guests can get close to their heroes from Sesame Street.
- Christmas Town amazes with festive lights, holiday treats and the figureskating show “Holiday on Ice”.
Busch Gardens Tampa – Restaurants and Shops
Animal encounters and thrilling rides make you hungry? Then, you have come to the right place! Busch Gardens Tampa is home to 10 restaurants, cafés and bars for every taste:
Guests who prefer American cuisine cannot go wrong with the burgers and chicken tenders at Zagora Café. Oasis Pizza serves Italian specialties, the Dragon Dog features gourmet hot dogs, and barbecue rips are a favorite dish at the Zambia Smokehouse. Afterwards, treat yourself to some ice-cream at Moroccan Delights – or have a drink at the Giraffe Bar while watching Busch Gardens´ long-necked animals.
Of course, there is no shortage of shops: At the Marrakesh Market, you will find oriental souvenirs. African wood carvings fill the shelves at Nature´s Kingdom, and several other stores offer merchandise with the Busch Gardens emblem. Alternatively, visit the Build-A-Bear Workshop and create your own stuffed animals.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to go to Busch Gardens?
The prices depend on the season and the particular day. On average, tickets sell for 115 USD at the park. If you buy them online, though, you can save up to 50 % with discounts like the Busch Gardens Flash Sales.
What can you do at Busch Gardens?
Covering an area of 336 acres, Busch Gardens is home to more than 200 animal species – including giraffes, lions, apes and colorful parrots. In addition, there are 17 rides for every age, as well as restaurants, shops and a Sesame Street-themed children’s area.
How much time do you need at Busch Gardens Tampa?
Busch Gardens Tampa ranks among the biggest theme parks in Florida, so simply walking through it will take at least 1.5 hours. Due to long queues at the rides, you should stay for a minimum of 4 hours – or 6 hours if you want to experience everything this park has to offer.
How far is Busch Gardens from Orlando?
Busch Gardens is located 83 miles from Orlando, so motorists should account for a 1.5 to 2.5-hour drive – depending on the time of day.
Should I get the Busch Gardens Fun Card?
With the Fun Card, you can visit Busch Gardens as often as you want within a year. However, unlike annual passes, Fun Cards do not come with free parking.
Can I bring water bottles into Busch Gardens Tamp
While food and drinks – with the exception of baby food – are not allowed at Busch Gardens, you can bring your own water bottle. If you have allergies or special dietary requirements, you should contact park security at the entrance.
Disney World Florida – Theme Parks and Attractions
Mickey Mouse, Cinderella’s Castle and colorful parades – these things come to mind when visitors think of Disney World. And they will not be disappointed. At Magic Kingdom, the oldest and most popular park, everything revolves around famous Disney movies and cartoons: from the heroes of Mouseton to Aladdin, Toy Story and Pirates of the Caribbean. A trip to the early years of the USA and Wild West adventures make the experience at Magic Kingdom complete.
But this is not all. In total, Disney World features three additional theme parks, each with their unique design.
Take Epcot, for example – a futuristic city that showcases the innovations of tomorrow; or the Hollywood Studios: Here, you can immerse yourself in the golden era of films, visit a Star Wars set and watch brave stuntmen at work. A true marvel of diversity is the Animal Kingdom with its African savanna, tall Himalaya peaks and a true-to-life replica of the Avatar moon Pandora. Last but not least, there are two exciting water parks, an authentically designed boardwalk and the shopping complex Disney Springs.
As you can see, Disney World is much more than just one theme park. Each area offers enough activities for a whole day. Thus, it is important to choose wisely. In the following paragraphs, we will cover every park in detail and tell you which attractions are particularly suited for different audiences.
Magic Kingdom is the centerpiece of Disney World. For more than 50 years, this park has taken visitors on trips to enchanted lands, the Wild West, jungle adventures and the cities of tomorrow. Rollercoasters, merry-go-rounds, flight simulators and haunted houses are an
integral part of this world – as are famous Disney characters that walk the park and hold meet and greets with their fans. Of course, visitors can also expect to see colorful shows and parades.
The park consists of six areas that are all connected by a railroad. In total, there are more than 50 attractions for every audience – whether you visit the Magic Kingdom with children, teenagers or adults.
Main Street, USA
A true highlight awaits visitors as soon as they enter the Magic Kingdom. Thanks to sophisticated architecture and optical illusions, this replica of an American small town seems to be larger than it really is.
But Main Street, USA is more than just eye-candy. Like in a real town, you can go shopping, grab some food and even get a haircut. A Barbershop quartet plays catchy tunes, and the mayor can often be seen on his round.
Mickey Mouse and friends hold exciting parades, and in the afternoon, the flag is lowered in a grand ceremony at the Town Square. In short: There is always something to see and do on Main Street, USA, making it the perfect starting point for your Disney adventure.
Festival of Fantasy Parade
Every day at 3 pm straight, Main Street, USA is home to a remarkable spectacle: Then, Disney heroes and heroines like Cinderella, Rapunzel and the Beast parade this street on authentic wagons. Mickey Mouse, the “Frozen” princesses and a fiery dragon are also present, while a marching band provides the perfect background music.
For children in particular, this parade is a true highlight. If you want to have good view, you should book the Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package. This will not only get you a place in the front row, but also lunch at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant.
Main Street Vehicles
You do not feel like walking from Cinderella’s Castle to Town Square? Then, the Main Street Vehicles parade is perfect for you. This way, you can mount a beautifully decorated horse carriage to get to your destination. Or do you prefer a classic automobile? No problem. These cars also pass the Main Street and offer enough space for your whole family.
The Main Street Vehicles are one of the lesser-known attractions. Therefore, you rarely have to wait long before you can enter a car. The best time for a ride is in the early morning hours before the Main Street is over-crowded with visitors.
Meet Mickey Mouse
If you want to meet the world’s most famous mouse in person, you can do so at the Town Square Theater. Here, Mickey Mouse waits in his magician costume to enchant little fans, shake hands, goof around, sign autographs and of course, take pictures. The meet and greet takes place in a separate room, so children have their favorite Disney character all to themselves. Due to the popularity of this attraction, you should account for long waiting times.
Right next to Mickey Mouse, another Disney character is waiting for fans. The fairy Tinkerbell resides in an authentically designed replica of Pixie Hollow. After a relatively short waiting time, the little blabbermouth takes her time to chat with fans and take photos. The fairy tale surroundings full of pixie dust make this encounter even more worthwhile for little guests.
Walt Disney World Railroad
When it is time to leave Main Street, USA, you can take this iconic mode of transport. The Walt Disney World Railroad circles the Magic Kingdom every 20 minutes and offers a top view of its attractions. In addition, this locomotive fascinates visitors with its nostalgic flair – no wonder, as it has been in operation for nearly 100 years.
World Disney World Railroad offers a relaxing, slow-paced ride, making it perfect for visitors of every age. You can leave the train at the stations Frontierland and Fantasyland to continue your day of exploration.
How about a trip around the world? Adventureland offers exactly that. Here, you can fly with Aladdin’s magic carpet, go on a boat tour through the jungle and visit the authentic set of “Pirates of the Caribbean”.
As soon as you walk through the entrance, you will be greeted by tropical plants and the sound of drums. Afterwards, it is time to browse an Oriental market before visiting a Mexican church in the Colonial style. Captain Jack Sparrow, Aladdin and princess Jasmine take pictures with their fans, and if you are hungry, the Crystal Palace restaurant is your top choice.
The Colonial brick houses make it more than clear: At Liberty Square, everything revolves around the founding era of the USA. In the beginning, the architecture resembles New England, Boston and Philadelphia, before turning ever more “Western” the closer you get to Frontierland.
At every corner, visitors breathe American history – for example, when they visit the Liberty Bell, relax under the 150-year-old Liberty Tree, take a trip on the steam boat or watch a show featuring all US presidents. Even the flowers at Liberty Square bloom in the colors red, white and blue.
If you love being scared, the park’s Haunted Mansion is a must. This becomes clear as soon as you enter the queue and are greeted by ominous organ sounds. Once you have boarded your car, there is no turning back: The ride leads through the mansion’s dimly lit corridors. Coffins magically open, ghosts are dancing through the halls, and from afar, you can hear otherworldly screams. For the smallest of children, the Haunted House will probably be too scary. All others, however, can expect 10 minutes of spook-tastic entertainment.
Liberty Square Riverboat
This attraction will take you back to a time when steam paddlers crossed the American rivers and lakes. Granted, the Liberty Square Riverboat is transported by rails. Other than that, however, you can expect the perfect replica of a steam boat that can even huff like a real one. The 15-minute ride is perfect if you want to relax and take in the sight of Tom Sawyer Island. In addition, the boat passes Frontierland: Many attractions are only visible from the water, making the boat ride even more worthwhile.
Hall of Presidents
The Hall of Presidents is by far the most popular attraction at Liberty Square. Here, all 45 US presidents are represented by life-like animatronics. The show takes place in a theater with space for 700 visitors. Some presidents give a little speech, and in addition, you will learn a lot about American history – salted with a healthy dose of patriotism. The Hall of Presidents is mainly an attraction for grownups. Nonetheless, interested children and teenagers will also enjoy this 25 minute show.
Frontierland is situated west of Liberty Square – no wonder, as America was once settled in the same direction. Here, you will enter the Wild West with its wooden saloons, Cowboys, Indians and gold diggers. Two rollercoasters provide scream-tastic fun, Tom Sawyer Island is a perfect place to relax, and in addition to the Country Bears, cute Chipmunks entertain the guests. Think you have got what it takes to be a Western hero? Then, demonstrate your aim at the shooting gallery. Of course, you are also welcome to buy hats, sheriff’s stars and leather accessories at the parks’ shops.
Country Bear Jamboree
Since 1971, this attraction has amazed children and adults with 20 animatronic bears – each with their unique design and animations. Even before the show begins, hosts light up the mood with funny one-liners. Then, it is time for the bears to sing famous country songs and play their instruments.
Life-like gestures and facial expressions make this show a true highlight for little spectators – although children might not get every joke and word play. The Country Bear Jamboree lasts about 15 minutes, and waiting times are generally short.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
With its tall boulders, this attraction is easily visible from afar. When you come closer, you will see that it is a rollercoaster set in the era of gold diggers. On a huffing locomotive, passengers make their way through the mine of Tumblewood – a setting that amazes with its details: from waterfalls and fog to steep canyons and dark tunnels. Animatronic goats are grazing on the cliffs, and there is even an explosion in the depths of the mine.
Although this ride can get quite shaky, you do not have to worry about strong G forces or rollovers. Thus, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is suited for all visitors aged 3 and older.
Do you want to cool off? Then, the white-water ride Splash Mountain is perfect for you. This attraction will take you to the setting of the movie “Song of the South” – a Disney classic that combined cartoon animals and real actors. First, guests are elevated on rafts, and a relaxing ride through the canyon begins. Soon, however, you will take on speed as your raft comes splashing down a waterfall.
In a tunnel, you will witness scenes from the movie, before it is time for the final descent. Butterflies in your tummy are guaranteed – as are wet clothes. Therefore, this attraction is mainly suited for hot days. In addition, cheerful music and life-like puppets make Splash Mountain a true highlight for children.
Tom Sawyer Island
If you are looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the park, this island on the Rivers of America is perfect for you. Tom Sawyer Island features no rides or shows. Instead, visitors immerse themselves in the world of Mark Twain’s famous novel. Here, you can explore dark caves and mines, walk through lush vegetation, see a watermill in action and visit an old fort.
Every aspect has been created in painstaking details, so you will truly feel like a visitor to the 19 th century. Tom Sawyer Island can only be reached with special rafts, and you should take at least 20 minutes if you want to see everything this attraction has to offer.
Fantasyland is home to the most famous landmark of all Disney parks: Cinderella’s Castle. This magic attraction even graces the Disney logo and today harbors a restaurant. Around the castle, other attractions take you back to your childhood memories: among them, the enchanted world of „Beauty and the Beast“, Arielle’s cove and a circus where Goofy performs his tricks. Little visitors can enjoy themselves on a merry-go-round, cool off at the water playground or shake hands with famous Disney characters.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Dumbo the flying Elephant is one of the oldest attractions at Disney World. Since 1971, this merry-go-round has taken little guests on a journey to the big-eared darling. With its slow speed, carnival music and cute carriages, Dumbo is particularly suited for kindergarten and preschool children. In addition, the merry-go-round offers a nice view of other rides at Fantasyland. Because of its popularity, you should account for long waiting times – if you do not have a Fast Pass, that is.
This park is a true haven for Science-Fiction fans who want to take a trip to faraway galaxies and dimensions: The AstroOrbiter simulates real rocket rides, the rollercoaster Space Mountain rushes through dark tunnels, and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin lets you hunt aliens with your laser pistol. Little guests can take the wheel at the Tomorrowland Speedway, while characters like Buzz Lightyear are roaming the park – always happy to take photos with their fans.
This park can look back on a particularly interesting history: Originally, Walt Disney had designed Epcot as a real city where up to 20,000 people were supposed to live. The plan, however, turned out to be too ambitious. Thus, in the 1980s, Epcot was transformed into a theme park that showcases human innovations. The number of cartoon characters and rides is lower than in other areas, which makes Epcot especially suited for older children, teenagers and adults.
At Futureworld, everything revolves around technology and inventions. The most visible attraction is found in the center of the park: Spaceship Earth, a giant dome that now harbors an animatronic ride. On it, you will discover the history of human communication: from stone tablets to the age of computers. Yet Futureworld offers even more attractions: You can, for example, cross the Earth on a flight simulator, design your own car, and discover the underwater world of “Finding Nemo” at an aquarium.
The World Showcase
Do you want to take a trip across the world without ever leaving Florida? The World Showcase offers exactly that. At this permanent world’s fair, you will get to know 11 countries, each of which are presented in their own pavilion. Here, you can try culinary treats, shop for traditional souvenirs and watch shows to learn more about exotic cultures. Most members of the staff come from the respective countries, which adds to the realism. The same realism can be seen in the architecture: Whether you visit a German town, Chinese temples or an Aztec pyramid – all settings have been designed with astonishing levels of detail.
At the third Disney World theme park, everything revolves around movies – ranging from cartoon classics like Mickey Mouse, Snow White and the Lion King to Toy Story, Frozen and, of course, Star Wars. In the old days, films were even produced here, and visitors had the chance to look behind the scenes. Today, the Hollywood Studios are home to a variety of shows, parades, rides, restaurants and shops selling movie-themed souvenirs.
Just as Main Street, USA serves as the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, this boulevard is your starting point when entering the Hollywood Studios. Here, you will venture into the golden era of films and marvel at architecture reminiscent of the 1930s. Hollywood Boulevard features a faithful replica of Grauman´s Chinese Theater, and every evening, scenes from famous Disney movies are projected onto its front. At this time, you can also witness the First Order hold a spectacular Star Wars parade on the boulevard. Another attraction awaits inside Grauman´s Chinese Theater: “Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway” takes guests on a colorful journey to the heroes of Mouseton – a definite highlight for the young ones.
Around this idyllic lake in the heart of the park, you can experience Hollywood as it looked in the 1950s. Take a relaxing stroll under palm trees, or enjoy some ice-cream from the dinosaur “Gertie”. Alternatively, you can visit the ABC Studio and watch iconic scenes from the Star Wars movies. Located next to Echo Lake is a definite highlight for little princesses: At the show “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”, Elsa and Anna perform catchy tunes, while Snowman Olaf is holding meets and greets with his fans. Another popular attraction is the Indiana Jones stunt show where young movie lovers are encouraged to participate.
Do you want to venture into the faraway galaxy of Star Wars? Then, this area is must. Here, guests visit the planet Batu: home to smugglers, soldiers of fortune and rebels. High-rising towers, beeping consoles and a replica of the Millennium Falcon make the illusion perfect. And there is a lot to do: You can, for example, design your own light-saber, build a droid for your home or go on smuggling missions with the flight simulator. Another highlight is “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance”: a ride that catapults you in the middle of a battle between Empire and Rebels. Blaster fire, storm troopers and dogfights outside the window create a cinematic atmosphere like no other.
At Galaxy’s Edge, you can try famous dishes from the Star Wars universe: among them Yob Shrimps, Kaadu Rips and Oi-Oi Berries. Or how about the green Thala Milk that Luke Skywalker likes to drink? This specialty is also available at the area’s food stalls.
This area between Grand Avenue and the Chinese Theater is a hidden gem far away from the hustle and bustle of the boulevard. Here, you can meet two iconic cartoon heroes: Mickey and Minnie Mouse are more than happy to give autographs, goof around with their fans and take pictures. The area is most well-known for the “Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant”: At this drive-in-cinema, you can sit down in a car to enjoy your meal – while watching a movie, of course. Or do you want to see where the stars of the Hollywood Studios are having their lunch? No problem: The cafeteria “ABC Commissary” is open for visitors.
Welcome to the Muppet Show! This area has got them all: Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, Fozzy Bear and many other beloved characters. They all can be seen performing in a 3D show that lasts about 20 minutes. Apart from the Muppets, there are no other shows or attractions here. Grand Avenue is, however, a perfect place to grab something to eat: specifically, to dine at the Italian restaurant owned by Rizzo the Rat. If you want to buy Christmas souvenirs all year round, you should head for “It’s a Wonderful Shop”, and Muppet fans can buy stuffed animals and T-shirts at the “Stage 1 Company Store”.
Toy Story Land
“To infinity, and beyond!” Since 2008, this attraction has been taking guests to the world of Buzz Lightyear and Cowboy Woody. These heroes roam the area to take pictures with their fans, and thanks to huge blocks and dominoes, you might feel like a miniature-sized toy yourself.
The youngest of visitors will enjoy themselves on the merry-go-round “Alien Swirling Saucers” with its Toy Story-themed decoration. A more exciting option is the rollercoaster “Slinky Dog Dash”. Or do you want to test your aim at entertaining mini-games? Then, “Toy Story Mania” is perfect for you. The park also hosts a parade of green toy soldiers, while “Woody’s Lunchbox” offers a variety of delicious meals.
In the old days, Disney movies were drawn at the Animation Courtyard, and visitors could take a look behind the scenes. Today, this park has received a significant make-over. “Star Wars Launch Bay” will take you to faithfully reproduced settings where you can meet heroes of the franchise. In addition, a 10-minute movie sheds light on the production of Star Wars. Right next door, Arielle is hosting a music show, and “Disney Junior – Live on Stage” lets kids sing and dance with their favorite characters from the children’s program.
The Animation Courtyard is also home to a remarkable attraction that was created in memory of Disney World’s founder: At the museum “Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream”, you will learn more about the life and work of this genius.
When entering this park, you will be transported back to the Hollywood of the 1940s – as can be seen by many theaters and cinema based on real-life counterparts. A bit less glamorous, but full of fresh products, is the Farmer’s Market. And of course, Sunset Boulevard offers more than relaxing walks and shopping:
Magical entertainment is guaranteed at the musical “Beauty and the Beast”, “Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster” combines the music of Aerosmith with exciting G-forces, and Disney heroes like Peter Pan, Aladdin and Snow White perform at the evening show “Fantasmic!”. Of course, there is also the ominous “Hollywood Tower Hotel” at the end of the boulevard. Even from the outside, this building looks spooky and menacing. To uncover the hotel’s secret, however, you have to enter the elevator. Without saying too much, expect to have butterflies in your stomach!
In Disney World’s newest addition, everything revolves around animals. Here, a whopping 250 species populate an area of 568 acres, making Animal Kingdom the largest theme park in the world.
Guests who “only” expect a zoo are in for a surprise, though: Animal Kingdom consists of 7 parks, each with their individual design: from the African savanna to the temples of Asia and research centers in the middle of the jungle. Long-extinct reptiles come to life at DinoLand, USA, and “Pandora” lets you venture outside our solar system. Of course, rollercoasters, flight simulators, playgrounds, and shows are an integral part of this world. In short:
Animal Kingdom provides enough activities for a full day of exploration.
The entrance to the Animal Kingdom is aptly named. Here, you will start your journey amidst lush, tropical surroundings, where streams and waterfalls babble along. The buildings are all eco-friendly and blend in perfectly with the environment. Caves and hanging bridges make the exploration even more fun, and of course, there are animals, too: Water birds cool off in the ponds, while the Oasis Exhibits are home to anteaters and wild boars.
To the north, the footpath rises, so you can enjoy beautiful views of the next area, Discovery Island. However, before it is time to go, why not dine at the Rainforest Café or enjoy a refreshing cocktail at the Safari bar?
This island is surrounded by the Discovery River and can only be reached via bridges. The architecture reminds guests of exotic places like Bali, Java, and the Caribbean – with one unifying element: Everywhere you go, you will see animals. The best example is the Tree of Life, a 144 feet-tall landmark of the park. The pictures of 300 animals were carved into its bark, and inside the tree, you can watch a 3D movie inspired by “A Bug’s Life”.
Of course, there are also real animals: among them, flamingos, vultures, cute otters, lemurs from Madagascar, crocodiles and kangaroos. At the flight show “Winged Encounters”, you will witness the acrobatics of colorful parrots, the Viva Gaia Street Band plays Caribbean rhythms, and in the evening, the Tree of Life comes to life in a spectacular light show. Four restaurants fulfill every culinary wish – whether you are looking for fast food or fine dining.
Pandora – the World of Avatar
In this area, everything revolves around the Science-Fiction world of Pandora. The moon from the movie Avatar has been painstakingly reconstructed, as can be seen by its alien plants, waterfalls, and giant tree houses. But this is only the beginning:
The attraction “Avatar – Flight of Passage” lets you operate a Banshee and fly over the moon’s 3D surface. Ranking among the most sophisticated Disney flight simulators ever, even the queue area is a sight to behold: Here, you will walk through a dimly lit cave before entering the research lab full of mind-blowing special effects. Afterwards, it is time to hop on your Banshee and start the flight: A giant 3D screen, moving seats, wind, water, and even odors create an experience for all senses. “Flight of Passage” is suited for guests over 3.6 feet.
If you are looking for a more relaxed ride, the second attraction “Na’vi River Journey” is perfect: Here, guests ride their boat on an underground river flowing through a rainforest – full of luminescent plants, ominous sounds and realistically animated aliens. The level of detail leaves nothing to be desired, and thanks to the slow pace, this ride is suited for passengers of every age.
The experience starts in Harambe – a typical African town full of Colonial architecture. Here, spectacular dance and drum performances are held on the market square, while the Tusker House restaurant serves specialties from the continent. First and foremost, Harambe is the starting point for safari adventures: whether you want to walk through the rainforest, ride the safari train or observe iconic animals from the comfort of your tour bus.
Festival of the Lion King: Musical Show
“The Lion King” ranks among the most beloved Disney classics of all time – no wonder, then, that visitors flock to this musical in droves. Here, 30 minutes of unforgettable atmosphere await you: Costumed actors dance across the stage, perform acrobatic feats and sing famous songs from the movie – including “Hakuna Matata”, of course. There is even an interactive element: In every seating area, guests are encouraged to imitate an animal. The loudest group is declared winner at the end.
“Festival of the Lion King” is an attraction for every age group – and also a popular one. Despite 1,500 seats at the Harambe Theater, you should account for long waiting times if you do not own a Fast Pass.
Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
This area is covered by a tropical jungle that you can explore at your own leisure. On the trail, you will see many iconic species of Africa: among them, okapis, black and white colobus monkeys, bee-eaters and mole rats. Playful meerkats peek out of their burrows, fish are swimming in an aquarium, and behind glass walls, you can see a fully grown hippo.
The gorillas are the main attractions of this area: More specifically, there are two gorilla families than can be observed from various points. The enclosures resemble their natural habitat and even feature a small waterfall for the gorillas to cool off.
In the eastern part of the park, you will come face to face with lions, giraffes, antelopes, hippos and many other animals. Like on a real safari, guests take an all-terrain bus that brings them to 34 African species. Of course, a tour guide is present, so you will learn many interesting things about the animals.
The safari leads through areas that are not only big, but also authentically designed – with landscapes ranging from grassland and hills to water holes and forests. The animals are free to roam their habitats: Curious giraffes, for example, love to come close to the passengers, lions can be seen relaxing in the sun, and elephants use every chance to cool off in the water. Some of the inhabitants are only active after dark and can be observed on a nighttime safari.
The Kilimanjaro Safari takes about 20 minutes and is suited for guests of every age. Pregnant women and people with back pain, however, might be a bit overwhelmed by the bumpy ride. In this case, the Wildlife Express Train is a safer option.
Wildlife Express Train
Just like a real Colonial town, Harambe also features a train station. From here, you can start your relaxing trip on the Wildlife Express Train that takes 10 minutes to reach Rafiki’s Planet Watch. This is a perfect way to experience the park’s hidden secrets, as the tracks do not lead through the main areas. Instead, you will pass the enclosures of lions, elephants, rhinos, gazelles and other species – and learn how the animals are taken care off at the park. If you are lucky, you might even see animal attendants at work. The return trip from Rafiki’s Planet Watch passes through the tropical jungles of Asia before reaching Harambe’s train station. Thanks to its slow pace, this railroad is suited for passengers of all ages.
Rafiki´s Planet Watch
Would you like to take a look behind the scenes of the Animal Kingdom? Then, Rafiki’s Planet Watch is perfect for you. This lesser-known attraction resembles a research station in the jungle and can only be reached by the Wildlife Express Train. Consequently, it is rarely overcrowded by people.
Located at the center is the Conservation Station, where everything revolves around animal protection and medical care. The information is presented with many multimedia elements, making it perfectly suited for children. Speaking of children: Right next door, little guests can pet sheep and goats. The “Habit Habit” trail is home to cute tamarin monkeys, and of course, there are also traces of true Disney magic: At the “Animation Experience”, animators will show you how photos of animals are transformed into cartoon versions for movies.
Africa is not the only continent that has been painstakingly recreated at the Animal Kingdom. This becomes apparent when you enter the kingdom of Anandapur at the foot of the Himalaya. Tall-rising pagodas, wood carvings, colorful banners and tropical trees create the perfect ambience for your Asian-themed adventure.
Gibbons populate an old temple, but can also be seen climbing on ropes above your head. At the flight show “Up!“, you can admire the feats of parrots and birds of prey, and the characters from the Jungle Book invite little guests to a meet and greet at the Upcountry Landing pier.
This is not all, however: In „Asia“, you can start your hiking adventure through the rainforest, ride a rollercoaster to the peak of Mount Everest, or enjoy a boat ride on the Chakranadi River. In the evening, you should head back to the shores of the Discovery River to see a spectacular show with boats, atmospheric lights and music.
Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
Asia is home to one of the most popular rollercoasters at Disney World. Your mission becomes clear as soon as you enter the beautifully designed queue area: climb the peak of Mount Everest and look for the mysterious Yeti. The journey begins at the foot of the mountain and takes you higher and higher. Before long, you will get a glimpse of the snow- covered peak. But what is this? Somebody has sabotaged the tracks. Now, the rollercoaster plunges you backwards through absolute darkness.
Without spoiling too much: You are not alone, as the giant Yeti is already waiting for you. If you love to scream, Expedition Everest is the perfect ride for you: Strong G-forces and speeds of up to 50 mph provide an exciting experience like no other. For small children and passengers with health problems, however, the ride might not be suited. In addition, you should account for long waiting times if you do not own a Fast Pass.
Kali River Rapids
A large portion of Asia is taken up by the Chakranadi River. And what better way to explore this river then by boat? As you can expect from Disney, even the waiting area with its tropical trees and overgrown ruins is a true eye-catcher. Afterwards, it is time to man one of the boats that can accommodate up to 12 people.
The beginning is relatively harmless as you ride along the densely wooded shores. Soon, however, the river picks up speed. Fountains of water appear, rapids are shaking the boat, and at the end, you will come plunging down a waterfall. If you want to cool off on hot days, Kali River Rapids is the right attraction for you. Be advised, however, that you will get wet. Therefore, it is best to store your electronic devices in a locker. The ride is suited for guests above 3.18 feet.
Maharajah Jungle Trek
Do you want to explore the Asian rain forest and see many iconic animals of this continent? Then, you should head for the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Here, you can observe Komodo Dragons, the primeval giants of Indonesia. Afterwards, the trek will take you to bats, monkeys, deer, and the park’s main attraction: tigers. These kings of the jungle reside in temple ruins that provide ample space for the cats to roam around.
Animals are not the only highlight of the Maharajah Jungle Trek, though. The whole area has been designed in painstaking details and reminds visitors of an ancient temple city – complete with mural paintings and carvings reminiscent of Angkor Wat. You can explore the trail in your own pace, and of course, the Cast Members are always happy to tell you more about the animals.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you cannot only see contemporary animals. This becomes obvious when you enter DinoLand, USA. Here, everything revolves around the prehistoric giants – no wonder, with so many bones being excavated by the Dino Institute. The biggest exhibit is displayed outside, though: Here, you can marvel at the true-to-scale replica of a Tyrannosaurus skeleton. At the Boneyeard, little paleontologists have the chance to go fossil hunting, and of course, DinoLand also features rides: “Dinosaur” will take you back to a land before time, guests above 4 feet can enjoy themselves on the rollercoaster “Primeval Whirl”, and “TriceraTop Spin” features cute dinosaurs for children to ride.
Hungry visitors should head for the RestaurantoSaurus that serves American classics like burgers and hot dogs. If you are looking for souvenirs, you have also come to the right place: The five shops at DinoLand sell everything from T-shirts to stuffed dinosaurs.
Have you always wanted to travel back to the time of dinosaurs? Then, this mix between dark ride and motion simulator is perfect for you. The ride starts at a research lab inspired by movies like “Jurassic Park”. Soon, however, you will find yourself in a prehistoric world. Here, passengers come face to face with dinosaurs that look absolutely life-like – no surprise, as Disney has created them with the help of real paleontologists.
Your mission: rescue a specific dinosaur species before a giant comet wipes out all life. On this ride through the darkness, many dangers await, and your car will be thoroughly shaken. Small children might be a bit overwhelmed by this experience. All others, however, can expect 4 minutes of thrilling fun.
Fossil Fun Games
This attraction for younger children creates the perfect carnival atmosphere. In total, there are 6 different mini-games where guests can test their skills: among them, basketball, water pistols and Dinosaur-themed Whac-A-Mole. Of course, you can also win prizes. The more people participate in a game, the higher the chances of hitting the jackpot. Thus, the Fossil Fun Games are particularly suited for families and groups. Note, however, that this attraction is not included in the regular park entrance. Instead, you have to buy separate vouchers for each game.
Finding Nemo – the Musical
Situated between DinoLand and Asia is an attraction that amazes guests of every age. “Finding Nemo” will take you to the colorful underwater world of the movie. In telling the story of clownfish Nemo and his friends, Disney has spared no expenses. Everything at this show creates the perfect ocean atmosphere: from the life-like movement of the puppets to the background animations and actors that seem to glide through the water. Of course, “Finding Nemo” also features songs, many of which were exclusively composed for this musical.
The show’s venue, “Theater in the Wild”, can seat a whopping 1,500 guests. Nonetheless, you should account for long waiting times, as “Finding Nemo” is one of the most popular shows in the whole of Disney World.
Since 1989, this Disney Park has provided the perfect opportunity to cool off. Here, you will not only find a wide selection of slides, but also one of the biggest surf pools in the world with waves of up to 6 feet.
Of course, there is a back-story, too: The park is situated in a lagoon that has been ravaged by a tropical storm – as can be seen by the stranded fishing boat on top of Mount Mayday. This mountain at the center of the park is much more than mere decoration, though. Instead, it serves as the starting point for exciting slides: The “Humunga Kowabunga”, for example, will plunge you down a whopping 213 feet through absolute darkness. Other slides allow groups of 4 people to master the rapids on inflatable rafts, while the “Crush ’n’ Gusher” will accelerate your boat with powerful water jets.
Do you need a break from all this excitement? Then, just dip your toes in the soft sand, relax on a sun chair or float on the lazy river. Hungry guests can dine at two restaurants, and there is also a playground for little tadpoles to splash around.
Disney’s second water park was opened in 1995. Instead of palm trees and white sand, however, you will find a slightly different setting. According to the lore, Blizzard Beach was originally planned as a ski resort. When the weather normalized after the blizzard, though, the area was transformed into a water park. Nonetheless, artificial snow still covers the landscape, and you can ride a cable car to the top of Mount Gushmore.
There, the “Summit Plummit” starts: a water slide with an almost vertical drop and mind- blowing 60 mph. Equally thrilling are the “Runoff Rapids” that lead through a dark tunnel. Alternatively, you can board an inflatable raft with your family and ride down the meandering curves of “Teamboat Springs”. For visitors who want to relax, the 0.6-mile long lazy river is perfect. Authentically designed ski lodges harbor restaurants for every taste, and refreshing cocktails await you at the Polar Pub beach bar.
Shopping, dining, entertainment – if these things are on your mind, Disney Springs is THE place to go. A whopping 50 restaurants fulfill every culinary wish, whether you are looking for Latin, Italian, Asian or American cuisine. All who have been to a Disney restaurant before know that the ambience is as important as the food: Enzos' Hideaway resembles a prohibition- themed speakeasy, at the Paddlefish, you can dine aboard an elegant steam boat, and the Rainforest Café pleases the eye with lush, tropical surroundings.
Thus replenished, it is time for some entertainment – and the choices are manifold: You can, for example, watch movies at a cinema, enjoy Virtual Reality adventures, go bowling, play basketball, take a boat trip on the Buena Vista lake, and even fly over the park on a hot-air balloon. For little guests, there is a merry-go-round and a miniature railroad.
Of course, shopping is also part of the experience at Disney Springs. More than 100 stores offer souvenirs of every variety: from Disney-themed household wares to stuffed animals, toys and beautiful paintings. In addition, there are shops that you would not naturally expect at a Disney Park: among them, a store for left-handers, a shaving shop and a store selling Hawaiian jewelry.
Disney Springs is open every day from 10 am to midnight. In order to get there, you can take Disney’s transport system, and thanks to a huge parking lot, arriving by car is no problem, either. Most visitors come here in the evening. During the day, however, you will hardly ever see big crowds.
This hotel and entertainment complex will take you to Atlantic City – a glamorous setting that you might know from TV shows like “Boardwalk Empire”. Granted, there are no casinos here. Apart from that, however, this coastal city has been authentically recreated.
Disney’s Boardwalk is not only suited for guests of the adjacent Boardwalk Inn hotel. An even bigger reason to come here are the restaurants: At Bon Voyage Breakfast, children can dine with their favorite Disney heroes, the Big River Grille serves home-brewed bear, and the Flying Fish is known for their excellent steaks and seafood. In addition, the boardwalk’s restaurants also offer Italian specialties, sandwiches, salads and ice-cream.
We recommend a visit in the evening, when the lights are beautifully reflected in the water. It is also at this time that the bars come to life: Take the AbracadaBar, for example, where everything revolves around illusions, and even cocktails are served with magic tricks. At the ESPN Club, you can watch your favorite team on the flat-screen, and fans of piano sounds should head for the Jellyrolls bar.