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KaTonga African-themed musical at Busch Gardens in Tampa


Tampa, FL

Busch Gardens Theme Park

335-acre family adventure park of attractions based on exotic encounters with the African continent and world class thrill rides; the park decomposes nicely into 10 Africa themed areas and its newest ride, Jungala, lets you discover a colorful village nestled among towering trees, flowing waterways, a 35-foot waterfall and elaborate stone structures as you explore a 3-story playland of climbing nets, mazes and tunnels; SheiKra dive coaster sends riders through a 3-minute journey 200 feet up, then 90 degrees straight down with Floorless cars giving riders an unobstructed view of the 70 mph rush; Kumba delivers a blood-curdling initial 135-foot drop, then a 110 feet plunge into a diving loop for 3 seconds of weightlessness while spiraling 360 degrees, and tear through one of the world's largest vertical loops; Montu, the Southeast's largest inverted steel roller coaster does a 60-foot vertical loop at 60 miles per hour with plenty of G-force; Gwazi presents two wooden tracks intertwined into the Southeast’s largest and fastest double wooden rollercoaster, each with a distinct ride experience; Scorpion is either terrifying or the perfect tonic for adrenalin junkies with its 60-foot drop and 360-degree loop at incredible speeds; Jungle Flyers lets you choose from 3 flight patterns to soar 50 feet above Jungala’s village; Rhino Rally jeep tour transports you through the wilds of Africa, blending up-close animal encounters with an unpredictable safari competition; Cheetah Chase is the perfect ride for a child’s first coaster experience with curves, drops and corkscrews on a five-story “wild mouse” style coaster with a top speed of only 22 mph; Serengeti Plain 65-acre habitat features hundreds of exotic African animals among African grasses, trees, shrubs and replicated versions of natural rock formations, creek beds and mud banks -all seen from the Serengeti Express Railway, Skyride, Serengeti Safari and various walkways; Myombe Reserve is a lush forest where gorillas and chimpanzees can be viewed in a rainforest habitat amid waterfalls and mists; Edge of Africa habitat offers an intense walking safari where guests can experience hippopotamus, lions, lemurs, meerkats, crocodiles and lappet-faced vultures around an abandoned African fishing village; Lory Landing domed habitat showcases a variety of brilliantly colored birds including parrots, lorikeets, hornbills and pheasants in both free flight and observational environments; headlining several shows at the park, KaTonga: Musical Tales From the Jungle takes you on an African journey in a 35-minute Broadway-caliber musical of animal folklore where performers evoke traditional African stories coupled with masterful puppets, original music and spectacular African-inspired dance for mesmerizing entertainment; there's enough to see, do and dine for 2 days, easy

ADMISSION: website lists matrix of pricing options beginning at $60 for Adults who purchase online; for best savings during a family vacation, you can purchase a 6-theme park Orlando Flex Ticket Plus

DAYS & HOURS: 9a-7:30p March-October, some days are longer in the summer

ADDRESS: 3605 Bougainvillea Ave  MAP

PARKING: 5,000+ spaces at $12 per car; on popular (hot) days, consider taking Busch Gardens shuttle from a nearby resort hotel for $10 round trip per person, payable at the Busch Gardens Service Desk once you arrive

PHONE: 813-987-5082


Adventure Island
DESCRIPTION: Tampa’s only waterpark on 30 acres of water-drenched fun, blends a tropical Key West atmosphere with slides, corkscrews, waterfalls, a wave pool, lazy river, children’s water playground and other family attractions; Riptide, Florida’s first four-lane mat slide, is the newest high-speed thrill ride; Wahoo Run, an exhilarating river five-person raft ride; Splash Attack, the park’s most drenching attraction; Key West Rapids sends riders down six stories through a 700-foot twisting slide and into a splash pool; Gulf Scream fires riders down into a splash pool at speeds exceeding 25 mph; the Aruba Tuba and Calypso Coaster slides offer lots of twisting spirals and swirling waters;  body surf three-foot waves in Endless Surf wave pool; Paradise Lagoon offers 9,000 square-feet of water-soaked jumping platforms and cascading waterfalls to a hand-rope walk along the pool’s perimeter; the 1,700-foot tube trek Rambling Bayou glides riders through beautiful landscapes and weather effects;
small children will enjoy Fabian’s Funport offers children a kaleidoscopic wading pool, highlighted by bubbler springs, jumping water jets; more rides, Mango Joe’s Café, picnic areas, gift shops and a championship sand volleyball complex round out the adventure; located across the street from Busch Gardens

ADMISSION: $40 General, $36 ages 3-9, Free for age 2 and under

DAYS & HOURS: Begining March 21 open daily 10a-5p, with longer summer hours

ADDRESS: 10001 North McKinley Drive  MAP

PARKING: car or camper $10, motorcycles Free

PHONE: 813-987-5600


Florida Aquarium
DESCRIPTION: Florida's only aquarium offering a dramatic, unique and educational look at the astonishing world of Florida's diverse water habitats; a massive aquarium with lots of exhibits to match the best of others nationwide; Wetlands follows a "drop" of water from its underground source to the open sea as a river otters would see it; lets you Bays and Beaches discover more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals both native to Florida and from around the world; Coral Reef lets you engage in interactive programs like Swim With The Fishes’ and ‘Dive With The Sharks’ and more; Ocean Commotion gives you a close encounter with some of the most amazing animals found in our oceans; and last but not least, Dive with the Sharks is a program for certified SCUBA divers get in the tank for a personal introduction to the animals!

ADMISSION: Adults $20, Age 60+ $17, Ages 11-3 $15, Age 2 and under enter FREE

DAYS & HOURS: daily 9:30a-5p

ADDRESS: 701 Channelside Drive  MAP

PARKING: paid parking next to the aquarium

PHONE: 813-273-4000



St. Pete Times Forum
DESCRIPTION: Built in 1996 to ADA standards with  and a capacity of 19,600 seats, 80 luxury suites, 22 concession stands and plenty of restrooms and elevators; it is home to the NHL Tampa Bay Lightening hockey team, as well as family events and concerts; for one month in 2008 St. Pete Times Forum ranked as the No. 1 venue in the United States for gross revenue; as with all major venues today, security measures are tight, so avoid bring large bags and sharp objects to the venue

BOX OFFICE: Mon-Fri and before weekend events

ADDRESS: 401 Channelside Drive  MAP

PARKING: paid parking next door

PHONE: 813-301-6763


Museum of Science and Industry
DESCRIPTION: Though the museum first opened in 1982, this 400,000+ square foot science center with Florida's only IMAX® Dome Theatre, extensive permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a planetarium, and public library opened in 1995; MOSI is the largest science center in the Southeastern United States where you can see the one-of-a-kind Diplodocus dinosaur exhibit; get blown away in the Gulf Coast Hurricane; cruise the galaxy in The Saunders Planetarium; stroll through BioWorks; Butterfly Gardens; explore the human body in "The Amazing You," the environment in "Our Florida," and space, flight, and beyond in "Our Place in the Universe" and more than 450 hands-on activities for all ages; recently added, Amazing You is a permanent, state-of-the-art exhibition on health, wellness and prevention that explores the human developmental milestones and teach visitors what it takes to remain healthy at each stage

ADMISSION: Pricing begins at Adults $26, Age 60+ $22, Ages 12-2 $20, Age 1 and under enter FREE; includes one Planetarium show and 1 IMAX film

DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 9a-5p, Sat-Sun 9a-6p

ADDRESS: 4801 East Fowler Ave  MAP

PARKING: Free on premises

PHONE: 813-987-6100


Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
DESCRIPTION: Tampa's first zoo was established in the late 1930s; as the collection grew, it moved to Lowry Park in 1957; in 1961 General Sumter L. Lowry, Jr. gave the zoo its most prominent animal, Sheena, an 18-month-old Asian elephant that provided the impetus for expanding the animal collection; capital improvement projects increased the size and quality of its habitats, with major milestones occuring in 1988, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002; today this award-winning 56-acre tropical zoo features more than 1,500 animals, many rare and endangered, in fabulous animal habitats that include Penguin Beach, Asian Gardens, Safari Africa & Ituri Forest, Free Flight Aviaries, Primate World, Florida Boardwalk, Birds of Prey, Florida Manatee & Aquatic Center, and Walleroo Station; wee ones will find the petting zoo, Discovery Center and Jungle Carousel quite appealing; popular daily programs include the "Birds of Prey" show and Reptile Encounter; the best example of this zoo's popularity is that its setting attendence recors each year

ADMISSION: Adults $19, age 60+ $18, ages 3-11 $14.50, age 2 and under enter FREE; wheelchairs and strollers available for rent

DAYS & HOURS: daily 9:30a-5p

ADDRESS: 1101 West Sligh Avenue  MAP

PHONE: 813-935-8552


Raymond James Stadium
DESCRIPTION: Home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, University of South Florida Bulls football and the New Year’s Day Outback Bowl, has also hosted Super Bowls, as well as concerts and special events; the stadium is best known for a replica pirate ship permanently harbored in Buccaneer Cove -- it comes to life after the Buccaneers score a field goal or touchdown with loud cannons that fire seven times to signal a touchdown and three to announce a field goal; it was also become the first professional team in any sport to show HDTV images to its fans -- the scorebaord is 24 feet high by 92 feet wide; football players also love the field surface, which some claim is easier on their legs; 65,700 Seats, 12,332 Club Seats and 195 Luxury Suites; Individual/Walk Up Tours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 2p, no reservations required and cost $5 or less

BOX OFFFICE: Monday-Friday year round and Saturdays and Sundays during Fall football season

ADDRESS: 4201 North Dale Mabry Highway  MAP

PARKING: $25 per vehicle during Buccaneer games; 10,000 spaces

PHONE: Ticket Office 813-879-2827


St. Petersburg, FL

Pier Aquarium

DESCRIPTION: A marine education center with a 2,000 square foot aquarium that lets you explore diverse marine environments such as has these habitat aquariums: Atlantic Ocean Aquarium, a three-tank 483-gallon grouping for Yellow Headed Jawfish, Atlantic Ocean animals and Moray Eel; Invertebrates Aquarium, a 448-gallon tank for corals and animals without spines and colorful fish; Pacific Ocean Aquarium, a 443-gallon tank for inhabitants from the exotic Pacific and Indian ocean; Pacific Coral Reef Aquarium, a 382-gallon tank for fish and other creatures made popular in Finding Nemo; also offers fun, informative, "hands-on" programs for kids

ADMISSION: Adults $5; age 6 and under enter FREE; $2.50 for everyone on Sundays

DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Sat 10a-8p; Noon-6p Sun

ADDRESS: 800 2nd Avenue N.E at the Pier  MAP

PARKING: Two paid parking lots (Pelican and Dolphin) on The Pier; Valet parking available

PHONE: 727-821-6164


Great Explorations Children’s Museum
DESCRIPTION: A hands-on children's museum with equal parts fun and education; exhibits include Forever Family Art Gallery featuring personalized “portrait” blankets of children from the Tampa Bay, I Can Construct in afascinating life- sized tree house, Publix Super Markets is a child-sized market where kids can learn to make healthy choices and become responsible consumers, Engine Company 15: The Fire House, The Veterinary Office, Puppets on Parade and more

ADMISSION: $9 ages 3-55; $8 for age 56+, age 11 months and under enter FREE

DAYS & HOURS: Tue-Sat 10a-4:30p

ADDRESS: 1925 Fourth Street North  MAP

PARKING: on premises

PHONE: 727-821-8992


Tropicana Field

DESCRIPTION: Build in 1990, its home to MLB Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball team; the world's only professional sports facility that features live cownose rays, located just behind the right center field wall are 30 rays that fans can touch and feed throughout the game in a 10,000 gallon tank; 45,000 seats

BOX OFFFICE: Monday-Friday year round and Saturdays and Sundays during baseball season

ADDRESS: One Tropicana Drive  MAP

PARKING: main lots net to the stadium $15 per car, remote lots $10 per car

PHONE: 888-326-7297



Clearwater, FL

Clearwater Marine Aquarium
DESCRIPTION: A small aquarium dedicated to public education, marine research, rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick and injured marine animals; CMA is involved with a number of marine science research initiatives, environmental conservation, including Marine Life Adventures which are special on-water excursions that enable visitors to gain a deeper appreciation for the area's marine environment; get your photo taken with a dolphins poolside for an etra fee

ADMISSION: Adults $11, ages 3-12 $7.50, age 60+ $9; age 2 and under enter FREE
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Thu 9a-5p, Fri-Sat 9a-7p, Sun 10a-5p

ADDRESS: 249 Windward Passage  MAP

PHONE: 727-441-1790



Captain Memo Pirate Ship

DESCRIPTION: A great family cruise on Disney-esque pirate ship with scruffy old pirate entertainment and lots of music; the Pirate's Ransom ship was custom built to U.S. Coast Guard requirements in 1993 and is well maintained; the ship equipped with life saving jackets, life rafts, and ship-to-shore radio, plus clean restrooms and a professional sound system with a large variety of CDs; the 70 foot vessel carries 125 passengers; yes, there really is a Captain Memo on this vessel and he has a history to share, "Ahoy, Mateys"

ADMISSION: Adults $33-36, ages 13-17 & 65+ $28, ages 3-12 $23, baby pirates enter FREE
DAYS & HOURS: daily 10a, 2p, 4:30p, 6p, 7p

ADDRESS: Clearwater Marina, Clearwater  MAP

PHONE: 727-446-2587


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