Florida Guide > Other Parks
When many people visit Orlando a lot do not realise there is so many great places to visit up to an hour away. From Orlando you can get to either coast (East or West) in around an hour. Located just outside Tampa (around 1 hour) from Kissimmee is Bush Gardens.
Bush Gardens has been developed around an African theme, with each area named after a different part of Africa. Bush Gardens caters from the very young in the family to the rollercoaster mad older members. Bush Gardens is a rollercoaster nuts dream having some of the best rollercoasters in the whole of Florida. Bush Gardens also has a very good water park next door and boasts a huge zoo housing some of the Worlds rarest animals.
We have visited Bush Gardens many times in the past and it really does pay to arrive early. Often if you arrive first at the park gates (around 9am) you should be able to get in without any problems and avoid all the big queues. If you do arrive early the best thing to do is go to the far side of the park where the KUMBA rollercoaster is. As most people start to explore right near the main entrance most of the rides at the far side of the park are not as busy.
As for rides there is the SHEIKRA a 200ft vertical drop coaster. This coaster reaches speeds in excess of 70mph as it plunges all occupants 200ft down into a huge tunnel. The best part of the ride for most is the few seconds it holds you on the edge before dropping you. In all there are 2 main drops on this ride and some very sharp turns that pull lots of G force.
Other rides are the Montu and Kumba. Both well in the top 10 rides in Orlando, they offer a totally different experience from each other. While Kumba rides on top of the track, Montu hangs from below it. Montu was engineered by the same people that have built the duelling Dragons at Universal Islands of Adventure, so this ride is almost the same in style. Kumba reaches up to 60mph into some of the big turns and offers the riders a mush smoother and faster ride than Montu. Montu has a very large track and does look very imposing on arrival to the park (as it is located right next to the front gate! ).
If you are not into rollercoaster why not try the zoo with over 2500 animals. Bush also do a behind the scenes tour if you want to get even closer to some of them. Other main attractions include the Rhino Rally tour. This is supposed to be like a safari trip through Africa on the back of a jeep where you come up close and personal with the wildlife. Although a great idea we did feel that this ride was starting to show its age and needed refreshing. I know that Bush did have it closed for refurbishment last time we visited in Sep 08.
All in all Bush Gardens is one of the main attractions outside of Disney and Universal Orlando and well worth a look if you are looking to do other things outside of Disney. Why not stay over on the Gulf coast for 1 night and also visit some of the great beaches around 20 minutes from Tampa. If you are looking to do something else I would have no hesitation in recommending Bush to anyone.
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