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Old 01-03-2008, 02:51 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Ooo-de-lally Tour September 2007: Day 3 (Do NOT be late back to the Motor Coach!)

Thursday 20th September: Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeei-Kra!!! (and the wonderful animal exhibits of Busch Gardens)

Up promptly at 7am as we had to be at SeaWorld to catch the Busch Gardens shuttle bus at 9.15. I was really looking forward to Busch but anticipated a pretty tiring day and was a bit apprehensive about the travel arrangements - I do tend to worry about stupid things! Got a muffin for the journey from 7/11, hopped on the 8am trolly and was at SeaWorld in plenty of time. I had not realised but there was actually an earlier pick up point closer to our hotel - we’ll know for next time…

Shuttle should have arrived at 9.15am but turned up more like 9.30am, I wasn’t complaining though as we were finally on our way. The bus number was 1037 - I can’t remember the drivers name but he had a real New York accent as was VERY concerned that no-one leave their belongings on the “motor coach”, and that we all remember to collect our return ticket at Busch and know which coach we came o, and BE ON TIME! He must have had problems in the past as he reminded everyone a good 17 times - I guess some tourists can be pretty stupid!

Anyhow, it was a pretty boring journey. They played Zorro which I have seen before, so I amused myself looking for different states’ number plates… as I said, it was pretty boring. We finally arrived at about 11.00am and M showed his mad skills that I love him for by spotting guest relations before everyone else and getting us to the front of what quickly turned into a very long queue. We had no problem getting the tickets using our Discovery Cove paperwork, and also picked up our return tickets for the shuttle bus. I have never been so organised! So, with big grins on our faces we walked back past the aforementioned loooong queue and studied our park map… there was no question what we were going to ride first. It had to be Sheikra.

All I can say about Sheikra is HOLY SH*T!!!
Actually that’s not true - I can say much more than that. Strangely the thing that was foremost in my mind as we boarded the beast was whether I had mad a mistake wearing my Crocs - would one come flying off halfway round? Would I have to hop everywhere for the rest of the day? Would I lose both and have no hope of making it back to motor coach 1037 by 6.00pm? Would the New Yorker bus driver hunt me down and kill me if I was late??!
(I really am going to have to do something about my irrational worrying!)
Naturally these fears were cast aside as I realised there were much bigger problems closer at hand - ie the MASSIVE lift hill and sheer drop that followed it. However, I can honestly say that I was only scared for a nano-second as we hung over the edge, but as we dropped this quickly turned to exhilaration and dare I say it… FUN!! Seriously - I may even have whooped as we sped through the water at the bottom and definitely laughed in the face of the second smaller drop. It was fantastic and my only regret is that we didn’t ride it twice - we did get a ride photo though. M was equally elated by it and on a high, we decided to top up the adrenaline levels on Kumba. I really liked Kumba and M did too - he thought it was more hardcore than me.

We often have completely differing views of the same coasters which is weird but makes for some interesting conversations as we try to describe why.
Anyway - having taken some cool photos of both Sheikra and Kumba we opted for the more sedate Rhino Rally. We stopped to see some of the animals on route and got a bit sidetracked by the elephants. We were on a schedule though, and with only 6 ½ hours in the park we had to ride the biggies before relaxing too much. I don’t really know what we expected from Rhino Rally but we were both left a little bit disappointed. We saw some cool animals and our “driver” made me laugh - it was good but it’s one of those rides that has been talked up so much to me that sadly, it was never going to meet expectations.

After Rhino Rally we headed for Montu which again we both thought was excellent - I have written down one word in my notebook - “twisty”. Goes without saying really, but pretty much sums up the ride!

After this we had to slow down about otherwise we were not going to hack the pace. It was time for some animal attractions (YAY!). Edge of Africa was first up and was lovely - giraffe, zebra ect all in a huge area of grassland. We didn’t have time for the safari or even the train but we saw lots just from the viewing areas.

Moving on we encountered some young lions, hyena, and the best hippopotamus exhibit I have ever seen - this also involved many fish, turtles, lemurs and crocs (the reptiles, not the shoes, which btw had survived the coasters!) . I was blown away by the hippo exhibit and stayed for quite a while taking photos and videos. There were two parents and a youngster who was really active and fun to watch.

Having dragged ourselves away from the animals and with our stomachs grumbling for food we managed to fit in one more ride before lunch - the bone shaking machine that is Gwazi. I believe we rode Tiger - there wasn’t a choice as only one side was running. I am not a huge fan of woodies and true to form found the ride to be a jarring experience… Still, you have to try these things and maybe one day I will find a woody that doesn’t make me feel like someone is drilling into my head! M felt the same - we both just prefer steel coasters.

We opted for a nice quiet sit down in the Desert Grill for lunch and replenished our energy by sharing a huge ham and turkey sub, potato salad, diet soda and yummy cheesecake. Again we were fine sharing a lunch - I for one was full after my share, and M wasn’t complaining either. Having ridden all the must-do coasters in the morning we concentrated on the animal exhibits in the afternoon. First up was the Myombe Reserve with chimps and gorilla’s. I should say now that we were really impressed with the animals habitats at Busch Gardens - they seemed very well designed, beautifully landscaped but with the animals interests definitely taken into account (areas to escape the public’s gaze etc). There was a mother and baby gorilla who were just beautiful, and we caught some glimpses of the large male silverback through the foliage - he looked pretty impressive from a distance so goodness knows how imposing he is close up!

After this we headed back to Edge of Africa, filming the Elephants, Sheikra, and Montu on the way. Spent time watching, photographing, and filming, the giraffes, birds, lions, hyenas and meerkats before heading over to the shop to purchase a fridge magnet (we try to get a magnet from everywhere we go as a keepsake). I was loving the meerkats as I am an avid viewer of Meerkat Manor and find them absolutely fascinating (don’t talk to me about Flower - it’s too upsetting!). We caught part of the show Castaway Critters next (just missed the start) which was great. Just good honest fun that made us both chuckle and featured some very talented animals… I have tried explaining to our moggies that they could be the stars of such a show one day but I think they might be missing that X Factor. Or possibly it is the fact that one is clinically insane and the other is stooooopid that is holding them back!

I digress.

Next on the agenda we had the feathery folk at Eagle Canyon and the Bird Gardens / Aviary Walkthrough. I love birds of prey and have in the past flown some hawks so obviously I found Eagle Canyon very interesting, but at this point M was quite keen to get to the Living Dragons area and we were both tiring so we valiantly trooped on…
Living Dragons housed Komodo Dragons and a HUGE gator amongst other things. I’ve never been that close to either so spent quite a while just saying how big they were! Our last foray into the world of Busch Gardens was to be at Lory Landing where you can feed nectar to the Lorikeets. It cost $3 for a little cup of the sweet stuff and it didn’t take long till we were covered in brightly coloured little friends. We both loved this - it is often the simple things in life that are the most fun and these moments with the Lori’s definitely followed that rule! There were other birds such as parrots and hornbills in this area as well - it was a great ending to our first Busch Gardens experience. (I enjoyed it so much that I'm going to post a pic of myself which I don't normally do...brace yourselves!)

We headed back to the coach having picked up our ride photo from Sheikra and a drink for the journey - and it is a good job we did as no sooner than our bums hit the seats the heavens opened and an absolutely torrential downpour ensued. I could see happiness in the eyes of the driver as he realised anyone who dared to be cutting it fine would be utterly soaked. Turns out his earlier warnings about being on time and knowing where to go did go unheeded by quite a few people, and they paid they price that day - dripping onto the coach one by one. I hate to think what that journey home felt like in wet jeans!! We waited until 6.20pm for one party but then left them behind to find their own way home. I didn’t feel badly for them at all - they had held everyone else up and really, how difficult can it be to catch a coach?!

Journey home was again pretty dull - watched the second half of Zorro and studied our pictures until we arrived back at SeaWorld. Predictably the I-Ride was rammed so we jumped in a cab back to the hotel - this cost $20 including tip and was money well spent in my view. We were both dead on our feet by this time but managed to summon the energy to freshen up and walk the 30 or so metres to Denny’s for 2x Western Burgers, 1 side of onion rings, a tasty slice of Key Lime Pie, and most importantly 4x Budweisers. This cost about $50 including tip, and went down an absolute treat!

Over dinner we chatted about the day and agreed that Busch Gardens absolutely rocked - definitely our kind of place
When we revisit in 2010 we will probably allow two days at Busch, bearing in mind how much we didn't get to do on this visit and the fact that Jungala should be up and running by then. Highlights of the day were Sheikra, the hippo exhibit, and Lory Landing. The only bad thing I have to say about Busch Gardens is there is too much to fit in a day and it’s pretty spread out. All that walking really took it’s toll on our feet. Obviously the journey there and back also added to the tiredness but it was well worth it and we’d had another fabulous day!!

I have attempted a little video montage of the animal attractions:

Fell into bed having again set the alarm… this time we would be waking up to Universal Studios and the Blue Man Group. Could this holiday get any better I asked myself? Read on to find out the answer…
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Old 01-03-2008, 03:39 PM   #2

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Another brillant day with lovely photos.
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Old 01-03-2008, 05:31 PM   #3
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Some lovely photos

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Old 01-03-2008, 06:08 PM   #4
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Great report. Loved the video!!!!
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Old 01-04-2008, 02:59 AM   #5
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Your trippie is fantastic, busch gardens looks way to scary for me
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:39 AM   #6
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I'm really enjoying your trip report - sounds like a lovely day, albeit a tad tiring.

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Old 01-04-2008, 08:05 AM   #7
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Yet another great report Fi - lovely pictures and nice to see a picture of you at last

We really enjoyed Busch on our first trip and I wish we had more time in April so we could go back again - DH really, really wants to ride Sheikra
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Old 01-04-2008, 09:20 AM   #8

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Great day,we love Busch Gardens
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Old 01-04-2008, 11:36 AM   #9
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Another great report. We were disappointed with Rhino Rally too, definitely overhyped. We really enjoyed the gorilla area. Lovely to see a pic of you And finishing up with Dennys, perfect, love that place

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Old 01-04-2008, 12:44 PM   #10
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Aww, thanks again everyone. I'm really enjoying writing it so I'm glad someone is enjoying reading it. I know a lot of the detail will be old hat for most of you but it might help first-timers like we were. Everyone elses trip reports really helped me plan so I'd like to return the favour

Tammy - It was really tiring, we were pretty energetic but there were still parts of the park that we didn't even see. I'd love to go back and do the safari, ride the train, and do all the other shows/rides we didn't get to on this trip. Problem is I'd also like to re-experience everything that we did as well! (apart from maybe Gwazi) There will also be the new area Jungala to take into account. It is an absolute behemoth of a park - and we loved it!!

Wilma-Bride - Is there no way you could make time for Busch?? you're hubby MUST ride Sheikra (although it's a good excuse to go back again I suppose!). Tell him that it is amazing and I'm sure he won't be disappoiinted when he does get around to it

Arieljasmine - I'm glad you've said that. Rhino Rally had been so hyped to us that I was starting to wonder if I had missed something?! It was good, but not that good
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Old 01-04-2008, 04:40 PM   #11
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Great pics and a great trippie
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Old 01-04-2008, 05:08 PM   #12

I am sooo proud, happy, relieved and impressed - it's a great day...
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I don't know if it's been said already but...
...Golly, what a day...

I am loving these reports - we've never made it to Wet n Wild OR Busch Gardens (I know, amateurs!!!) so loving living vicariously through your trip reports!!!
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Old 01-05-2008, 10:18 AM   #13
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Sounds like a great day even though it also sounded very tiring, lovely to put a face to the writer
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Old 01-05-2008, 02:36 PM   #14
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great report so far i have laughed out loud several times causing my dh to think i have definatley lost it!!!! if we manage a 2nd trip for 2008 to the beach in Oct i hope to go at least twice!

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Old 01-07-2008, 03:06 PM   #15
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Another great day

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