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Old 09-07-2012, 03:19 PM   #1
wilma-bride
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Fred and Wilma - 'The Keys' to 'The World' - Day 5

Thursday 16th August – Busch Gardens

Back in November, when I first booked this trip, both Gary and Daniel were adamant that we had to include Busch Gardens in our plans. It had been one of our favourite days from our previous trip in October and we were all keen to visit again. It made sense, from a logistical point of view, to make that visit during our stay in Bradenton. Unsurprisingly, I was first up and decided to shower while Gary and Daniel slept since it takes me the longest to get ready. Gary and Daniel were soon up. Gary was able to make himself a cup of tea so he was happy, and he and Daniel were soon tucking into a healthy breakfast of tea (Gary), chocolate milk (Daniel), cherry turnover (Gary) and croissant (Daniel).

I won’t subject you to the semi-naked photo of Gary drinking his tea so you can have this one of Daniel eating his brekkie instead. Don’t worry, he’s not sitting in a highchair but at a glass table with a yellow placemat

Breakfast of champions



We left on schedule, aiming to get to Tampa by 9.30. On the I-75 just north of Bradenton, we saw no less than 6 State Troopers who had all pulled people over. It is obviously a notorious area for speeding. We had a minor panic in Downtown Tampa, when we thought we had been directed (by the SatNav) onto a cashless toll road. It turned out the signs were for an express road, which we weren’t on, so the panic was for nothing. Interesting, though, as I had been under the impression that only Miami-Dade county had cashless tolls.

We also saw a roundabout, something which I didn’t think existed in Florida.

A roundabout (or is it a rotary)?



About five minutes from Busch Gardens, we got stuck in traffic, meaning we were late arriving. We paid the $14 parking fee and caught the tram to the park entrance, arriving just before 10. I wasn’t happy as the park had opened at 9.30 so we were already behind the curve. We immediately noticed that Busch Gardens was much busier than it ever had been before when we’d visited. We headed straight to Cheetah Hunt, which already had a 45-minute wait. Knowing this would likely be the shortest wait all day now, we joined the line. Unfortunately, after 20 minutes of waiting, there was an announcement that the ride was experiencing technical difficulties (the exact same thing had happened to us in October). We waited another 10 minutes but, when it was obvious that we weren’t going anywhere, we decided to cut and run as we were still a way back in the line. We decided to head to Montu. Back in October, Daniel had still been just shy of the 54-inch height requirement for many of the coasters at Busch Gardens. Now, 10 months later, he easily met the requirements and was very keen to ride them all. We all thoroughly enjoyed Montu and, although we were keen to ride again, time was ticking on.

We crossed the park, cutting through the covered area by Zagora Café. I hadn’t noticed that the floor was wet and I managed to sustain a Crocs-related injury (there is usually one on nearly every holiday). Somehow, I slipped and managed to bend my big toe back and badly graze the other toes and side of my foot. I still have no idea exactly how I managed it but it didn’t half hurt. Gary joked about how my Crocs are so old now, with such little grip, that they’re actually slicks!

After a short rest and a plaster (sorry, band-aid), I was fine to carry on. As we headed on over to Sheikra, we passed Gwazi and Gary suggested we ride. I didn’t want to as the last time I’d been on it (in 2009), it was so rickety and shaky that I came off aching all over. Gary and Daniel had ridden it back in October though and insisted it wasn’t that bad now. We agreed that we might come back later.

Sheikra, we discovered, was also experiencing technical difficulties. This was the one ride Daniel was keen to try so we bought a large diet coke and sat nearby, waiting to see if there was any sign of it being up and running soon. Although there were several cars going round the track empty, people were still being turned away at the entrance. We decided to head on round to Kumba, another first for Daniel. He absolutely loved this rollercoaster and rode twice more, although one ride was enough for me so I waited outside and tried (unsuccessfully) to take some pictures of Gary and Daniel on the ride. There was still no sign that Sheikra was up and running (couldn’t hear any screaming) so, as it was almost lunchtime, we wandered down to the Timbuktu area and bought a combo meal from Sahara Snacks. The combo consisted of a corn dog, chicken tenders and fries wand was plenty for the three of us to share. We also got a bottle of water and a diet coke. Gary and Daniel went to find a table in the shade, while I stayed in the line. Since there was no wait for the carousel, Daniel had to have a turn on that while they waited.

An odd combination



The food was pretty good. None of us had ever tried a corndog before and, although it wasn’t what I had expected, it was very tasty. All of the food was freshly cooked and hot, which was a change from the last time we’d eaten here.

We also noticed the bumper cars, which none of us remembered being there last time we came. I wonder if they’re new?

Love the name!



After lunch, we decided to see if Sheikra was finally running. We took a walk down, via Jungala, where we saw the beautiful white tigers.

That’s not a real tiger Daniel



Here, puss puss





Sheikra was running and showing a 30-minute wait (although, in reality, it was nearer 45). This was the first time we’d ever had to wait to ride Sheikra and it wasn’t a pleasant wait either. It was really hot, the majority of the queuing area was outside and there were several people around us who either didn’t understand about personal space or were unfamiliar with a little thing called deodorant. Finally, we were on the ride, though, and Daniel absolutely loved it. There was a young lad at the front who was having absolute hysterics, screaming the whole way through the ride. It was funny but, at the same time, slightly ruined the experience for everyone else. We would have loved to ride again but, with the wait still showing 30 minutes, and given how hot it was, we decided to move on. In the nearby shop, we bought a bottle of Sprite as we fancied a change from Diet Coke and water. While I was waiting to pay, a man stormed up to the cashier, ranting about how the locker had ‘stolen’ all his money. The woman behind the counter tried to placate him and calm him down, then asked him again what the problem was. He said he had put 2 quarters in the locker as instructed but it wouldn’t lock. Apparently, he had then put another 50 cents in, then another and claimed he had lost $3. The woman looked at him straight in the eye and said “I’ll refund your money but could I suggest you try a different locker, sir?”

When we left the shop, we could see huge black clouds rolling in and it looked as though we might be in for some rain. We caught the train from the station in Stanleyville and made our way down to Cheetah Hunt but the wait was 75 minutes and, just as we got there, we overheard another couple being told that there was lightning in the area and all the rides would be closing until it had passed.

Choo choo



Cheetah Hunt





Armed with that knowledge, an executive decision was made – we needed ice cream.

Kids’ sundae with hot fudge and sprinkles



We each had one and (oh, the irony) shared a large diet coke. Total came to $16.01. I didn’t have a penny so the cashier kindly let me off (just the penny, not the sixteen dollars).

After our ice-cream break, we felt suitably refreshed and walked through the Myombe Reserve to see the gorillas. One of the gorillas was leaning back against a rock and another was sitting close by but almost deliberately not looking at the other one, almost as if they’d had a row.

Spot the difference



Spot the difference 2



Spot the odd one out



Pretty waterfall



I’m not talking to you until you apologise



We took a few photos, then decided to see if the rides had reopened. Cheetah Hunt still had a long wait (60 minutes) but Montu was a walk-on. We rode once and were going to ride again but, unfortunately, the ride had closed again due to the threat of lightning.

Continued in the next post...

Last edited by wilma-bride; 09-07-2012 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 09-07-2012, 03:23 PM   #2
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Not really sure of what else to do, we walked through Edge of Africa.

‘Ello John, gotta new motor!



Mummy and babies



Yawn!



Looks like rain



The heat and humidity were really oppressive and a lot of the animals were asleep.







We bought a lemonade slush and sat for a while to see if the storm would pass and the rides would open up again. Daniel played on the nearby (fake) hippos.

Ouch



Hello, is anybody there?



After a while, we started to feel the odd spot of rain and decided that we may as well call it a day. It was 4.30 and I had no real desire to get caught in the rain. It soon became apparent that nearly everybody else in the park had the same idea. There was a massive line for the tram back to the car park – well, more of a mob actually since nobody was really queuing and everyone was just rushing onto the tram when it pulled up. Meanwhile, it was looking more and more like rain with every passing second. Finally, we got to the front of the mob and managed to jump onto a tram. We disembarked at our stop and ran (OK, walked fast) to the car. Just as we got in, the heavens opened. It was like somebody had pulled the plug out of a huge bath right above us.

We needed gas (again) so stopped at a Murco and put $50 in. I took a picture of a nearby shop sign as it really amused me.

Simple things amuse simple minds



Back in Bradenton, we decided to stop at Chili’s for an early dinner.

Chili’s



Great names for crayon colours



Daniel and I shared cheese sticks for an appetiser - no shocks there.

Gooey cheese – again!



I then had to have Chili’s chicken crispers. They are just so delicious, the chicken is juicy and so tasty and the coating is light and crispy, almost like a tempura batter.

Drool



Daniel didn’t want a full meal so decided to have the Texas cheese fries. I tried to persuade him to order the half portion but, again, he insisted he was hungry enough for the full.

A mountain of cheesy, bacony fries



Gary had the ribs with shiner Bock BBQ sauce.

You gonna eat that – or climb it?



He said they were very tasty. No need to tell you that I didn’t get a taste although he did let Daniel have some.

The food was great but, in traditional fashion, Daniel only managed just over half of his. He still had room for dessert though (I suspect he has a separate dessert stomach like Theresa). He and I shared the molten chocolate cake (not that I got much of a look-in) and Gary ordered the paradise pie. The check came to $74 inc tip.

Paradise…on a plate



Mmmm, cake



I’m so glad we decided to share this dessert Mum



Back at the villa, I did some more laundry – no ironing though, I’m on vacation after all. Daniel was in bed by 10. Gary and I lasted till about 11.30, our latest night since we’d arrived.
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Old 09-07-2012, 03:59 PM   #3
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ooooohhhh ..... gorgeous grub in Chilis !!
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Old 09-07-2012, 04:12 PM   #4
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I'm pretty sure we've only been to Busch Gardens once - in 1996 - and I wasn't a fan. I'm terrified of heights and my brother kept shaking the cable car and hanging right out of it; Matt gets motion sickness and felt ill all day after riding Montu (?); and I cried my eyes out on the big water flume ride. I'm sure it's moved on immeasurably in the ensuing years, but I'm not sure we'll ever venture back. It sounds as though you managed to enjoy yourselves despite all the long waits.

Our girls always loved corndogs back in the day. They were staples of our Orlando trips, along with Twinkies. Yuk to both, I say!

Seems as though Photobucket is playing up again as there are quite a few of your photos I can't see at the moment.
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Old 09-07-2012, 04:20 PM   #5
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All the pictures are up ok now.
What's with the boring T'shirt?
You where very lucky to get back to the car before the heavens opened.
The food looks lush again and its a good thing to have a desserts stomach.
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Old 09-07-2012, 04:24 PM   #6
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Glad to see another day up Joh.

Gosh Daniel's so brave going on all those roller coasters - wouldn't catch me doing that

Like Deb we have only been to Busch Gardens once - way back in 1990 when I was pregnant so I had a good excuse not to ride anything too scary.

Such a shame that you encountered such long lines and the threat of lightning on this visit but looks like you made the most of it.

The Chili's food pics remind me of just how huge the american portions are - glad to see you got your cheesy sticks.

Can't wait for the next one


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Old 09-07-2012, 05:43 PM   #7
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So what's in a corndog then?

You got some fab photos today.

I'm suddenly starving, I wonder why.

We've only been to Busch once as well on our first trip in 2006, Mike loved all the big coasters.
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:37 PM   #8
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Chilli's looks great.

The bumper cars were there last October. It was so quiet DH had to come on so me and DD had someone to bump into - no one else on the ride.
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:45 AM   #9
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I love Chilli's chicken. Not been to Chilli's for a few yrs might need to add it to our to do list for October.
Really enjoying reading your trippie.
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Old 09-08-2012, 07:06 PM   #10
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Enjoying the TR, sounds fab!

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Old 09-09-2012, 04:50 AM   #11
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Joh, your reports are turning into 'Food Porn' am loving it. I would absolutely love to go back to Busch Gardens as it's about 15 years since I last went and your words just made me long even more.
Carry on the good work!

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Old 09-09-2012, 05:35 AM   #12
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at the G Spot! I have a very simple mind :rotfl2 Your food pics are making me really hungry - I have to try a corndog next trip!! Never been to Chilis but those chicken crispers sound delish!
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:34 AM   #13
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Excellent update Joh, we have never ventured to Busch but it is on my to do list. I am so glad you found the g-spot lol
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:01 AM   #14
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So THAT's where it is!

Great report and piccies Joh! I love Busch Gardens!

Thanks for taking the time to write these!

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Old 09-10-2012, 05:30 PM   #15
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Another busy day Joh

The food in Chillis looks lovely

Really looking forward to reading more
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