The Bird Gardens area of Busch Gardens Tampa has undergone quite a transformation over the last year or two. Paths have been moved, a new show added, the Hospitality House changed its primary function, Land of the Dragons was revamped and expanded into Sesame Street Safari of Fun, and most recently, a whole section of it was Australian-ized into Walkabout Way.
Not traditionally the most exciting area of BGT, but it's getting better.
The Garden Gate Cafe
They still serve beer...it's just no longer free.
But we were here for pizza.
(Protip: the pizza is slightly better at Crown Colony Pizza, which is also a nicer restaurant than this one, for the same price.)
The Garden Gate store sells garden stuff, much like the one at BGW.
Misty pretends to drive a remote control boat (since we would never actually waste money on such nonsense).
Note the entrance to the Bird Gardens Theater in the background, as that's where we're headed next.)
Yes, the Bird Gardens Theater, home to the new Critter Castaways show.
Ever seen Pets Ahoy at SeaWorld? While watching it, did you think, "this needs more humans, and they should sing"? You did? Awesome, then you'll love this!
This cat tried to get away, but was caught by its evil captor and sent scurrying back.
The lesser anteater seems content enough, despite being saddled with the designation "lesser."
While the humans are all backstage for a moment, the kangaroo stages a desperate plea to the audience.
Having failed to secure help from the audience, the animals at last turn to explosives.
A dark ending, but a fair one.
After the show, there's a meet and great with the animals. This human character is supposed to be annoying. Note to show producers: Characters who are supposed to be annoying are not actually funny, they are instead (shockingly enough) annoying. Thank you.
After the hell that was Critter Castaways, I wanted to get as far away as possible, so we headed to Australia.
Wow...this is how people in Australia live?? No wonder they produced Hitler!
This employee asked us if we were teachers. (I guess because we were both wearing shirts from Indiana parks and were taking pictures of this educational crap.) Misty responded, "No, we're just nerds."
This is pretty. Why would Hitler want to leave this?
There are two animal exhibits in Walkabout Way. Can you guess what animal this one features?
Please read this sign in its entirety. It is now my favorite sign ever. Kudos to BGT for having a sense of humor.
The kangaroo exhibit is nice enough, if a bit sparse, foliage-wise. I blame Australia really.
Not all the kangaroos survived the arduous journey. But hey, BGT paid for 'em, so here ya go.
I'm not sure if the building on the right used to be an eatery or not, or if it ever will be. But it sure looks like one.
The second animal exhibit is an aviary.
Let's review the use of quotation marks, shall we? Putting them around a single word indicates suspicion or irony. For example, if you say that you are "world" famous, you mean that no one outside of your immediate family has ever heard of you.
Which, as a citizen, I would forgive you for not quite understanding. However, I do expect a large corporate park--which employs proofreaders and other learned people--to at least have a rough grasp of this concept. And therefore I assume that BGT is purposely saying, "We know you stupid fudgers aren't actually going to stay on the walks, but we're putting this sign up anyway." Because that makes me feel better about it.
And now, baby ducks.
Leaving Walkabout Way (which needs a bit more, by the way--if not koalas, then at least some venomous snakes or something), we encounter this blast from the past.
It's a nice touch that it's still here.
Flamingos! And some kind of big white bird! Possible a goose!
Every zoo in the world has these things. And now, so does Busch Gardens Tampa.
Ducks and turtles. In case you were unaware of what these strange creatures are.
Did you know that the plural form of topiary is topiaries? Well, why doesn't my spell check?
Safari of Fun, like Land of the Dragons before it, is sort of an annex accessible only from inside the Bird Gardens area of the park.
"A is for Africa." That's the name of the show.
Air Grover welcomes you! (You dirty, dirty credit whore.)
The drop and first helix.
The second helix and brake run. (This photo also shows off the ride's somewhat-controversial desert theming.)
I can't believe I just gave a play-by-play description of a kiddie coaster.
Cookie Monster gets his own store.
As is only appropriate.
Sometimes my camera goes insane.
Equally odd, Breakfast with Elmo & Friends, rather than taking place in an actual restaurant, appears to happen in this tent--which then sits empty for the rest of the day.
Bert & Ernie's water play area. (I spent like 10 minutes trying to come up with a gay joke here, but then I gave up.)
Yes, they have one of those "only kids who really shouldn't be riding anything by themselves can ride it" flumes.
Really, except for Air Grover, there's not much here for adults.
Although, they look like they're having lots of fun.
Adults must be accompanied by a child.
I feel I should say, my complaints are purely selfish. BGT never intended or advertised this area as anything more than a kiddie land. I just think that's pointlessly limiting. Gimme Camp Jurassic or If I Ran The Zoo at IOA any day.
You can stand in the midway, though.
There is lots of stuff to do if you're a kid, though. Which I guess is the point.
This car ride is themed to The Count. Duh.
Three monkeys. Three, ah-ah-ah-ah!
Okay, so they're hiding in the bushes. Gay joke now?
Nicely themed snack shop and restrooms.
Safari of Fun's main gift shop.
Where you can buy plush and slushies.
"Wait, plush or slushies?"
They misspelled "baby."
This is cool, though. Instead of buying a physical video, it comes on a souvenir flash drive.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled Bird Gardens.
Now, the last time I checked, the Komodo Dragon was not considered a bird.
This guy's a bird, though.
The big aviary between Safari of Fun and Stanleyville.
Usually, employees hide when I start taking photos.
"I'm a parrot. You wanna fight??"
I don't think I'd ever actually been in this aviary before. It's pretty cool.
This shot kind of shows how the paths around the aviary head up (in order to cross a bridge over the train tracks).
A few more birds are kind of off in their own little ghetto area, as seen from the bridge.
From the other side of the bridge, you can see this full-sized anteater. (Or, as I like to call it, "greater anteater.")
Well, that's our Bird Gardens update. What did you think?
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