Big thanks to Busch Gardens Tampa for providing my family with free admission to the park! This post may contain affiliate links.
I’m a firm believer that you’re never too old for Sesame Street.
Case in point: When Busch Gardens invited us to attend one of their Sesame Street Safari of Fun Kids’ Weekend, my 12 year old was the most excited one of all!
Sesame Street Safari of Fun
Sesame Street Safari of Fun is a permanent attraction at Busch Gardens, Tampa. It has lots of rides that are suitable for preschoolers, plus a couple for the big kids too! Even Vic enjoyed Air Grover, a kid-friendly roller coaster that won’t make your stomach turn.
Amelia prefers milder rides, and she had lots to choose from. Luckily, she’s petite and had no trouble with height restrictions on any of the rides. Most of the Sesame Street rides have a 54″ height limit (exception: some rides allowed/required an adult to accompany a child under 36″). At almost 60″, Sophia had to sit most of them out – but that was okay because it gave her and Vic a chance to explore some other parts of Busch Gardens.
Sesame Street Safari of Fun also has a splash pad (don’t forget your bathing suit!), and sandbox, and a treehouse that’s big enough for both kids and grown ups to explore. Plus there are shows, story times, and lots of photo ops with your favorite Sesame Street characters.
Sesame Street Safari of Fun Kids’ Weekends
This month, Busch Gardens is hosting special Kids’ Weekends at Sesame Street Safari of Fun. In addition to all the regular Sesame Street fun, there are hands-on activities, up-close animal encounters, character parades, and dance parties. Little ones will enjoy the daily scavenger hunts and the flower maze, and the whole family can try out the interactive paint-by-number mural.
They’ve also debuted a brand new show! Let’s Play Together features Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, and other Sesame Street friends as they sing, dance, and explore the value of friendship. The characters learn (and share) a wonderful message – that being different is a big part of being friends. You can catch the show at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. each weekend at the Sunny Day Theater throughout the year.
May 19 & 20: Cookie Monster Weekend: You don’t want to miss the third and final Kids’ Weekend, featuring everyone’s favorite non-scary monster. Search for cookies among the flowers with Cookie Monster and friends! Plus enjoy milk and cookies, arts and crafts, and more during this special weekend.
Lunch with Elmo & Friends
Even if you can’t make it for the Sesame Street Safari of Fun Kids’ Weekend, you can have Lunch with Elmo & Friends, a character dining experience. This is a limited-time event, but it will continue for the time being. Enjoy a buffet lunch, then take photos and give big hugs to your favorite Sesame Street friends!
Space is limited, and advanced online reservations are encouraged. Lunch with Elmo & Friends is not included in your park admission but is comparable to character meals at other theme parks. Adults (ages 10 & up) are $19.99 each, kids (ages 3-9) are $14.99 each, and kids under age 3 are free.
We didn’t do this, but I wish we had! It looked really fun. The meal was served in an outdoor pavilion, and there were loads of characters with the guests. The lines for photos didn’t look long at all.
Free Admission for Kids 5 and Under
If you’ve got little kids, you’ll love this! From now until the end of 2018, Florida kids age 5 and younger can enjoy FREE admission to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and SeaWorld Orlando! Florida residents can register their child online for a Preschool Card. Then redeem the card by visiting a ticket window and presenting all of 3 these: 1) your registration confirmation, 2) your child’s birth certificate or travel passport, 3) your Florida resident ID.
IMPORTANT: You must register your children online by May 20, 2018 in order to be eligible for this offer. You cannot register at the park.
Making the Most of Your Time at Busch Gardens Tampa
I’ve written a couple of posts with some helpful tips & suggestions for visiting Busch Gardens. You can find them here: Busch Gardens Tampa – My Family’s 5 Must-See Attractions! and Our Visit to Busch Gardens + 5 Tips for Visiting Theme Parks with Kids.
In addition, here are a few things that I want to add/reiterate from our most recent trip:
1. Pack ponchos. Florida weather is unpredictable, and rain showers are likely to pop up at just about any time. Take my advice: throw some ponchos in your bag. You can buy them in multi-packs or individually for under $2 at Walmart. Busch Gardens has them for sale, but you’re going to spend way more money than if you prepare ahead of time. Same goes for umbrellas. Consider bringing a lightweight travel umbrella with you too.
2. Bring your own water and snacks. You’re allowed to bring your own water bottles into the park (as long as they aren’t glass). You can also bring in snacks (granola bars, fruits & veggies, etc.). Busch Gardens does have a stricter food and drink policy than some other Florida theme parks. According to their FAQs, “hard and soft coolers, glass containers, food such as sandwiches, meals, etc., and flavored drinks” aren’t permitted. But I will tell you that even after a thorough bag search, we were allowed to bring in a soft cooler containing energy drinks.
3. Leave and come back at lunchtime. Nothing against Busch Gardens or their food – this is just our standard theme park routine. We’re picky eaters, and theme park meals in general disappoint, especially for the price. The great thing about Busch Gardens is that it’s relatively easy to get out to the parking lot. And once you leave the parking lot, there are several fast food options nearby. We ate at a KFC across the street – for just over $20, we each got to pick our own meal. It’s hard to beat that. (Check out Busch Gardens in the background!)
4. Catch the shows. Let’s Play Together in Sesame Street Safari of Fun is perfect for the preschool crowd. It’s an outdoor theater and seating is pretty limited, so get there a little early to get a seat up front. Opening Night Critters, on the other hand, is lots of fun for the whole family. The stars of this show are rescued animals – they’re so talented and funny. After the show, you’re able to go down to the stage and meet some of the stars (animal and human). Also, you won’t want to miss Turn It Up, an awesome show on ice! It wasn’t showing the day we visited, but we saw it a few years ago and loved it.
5. Annual Passes are a great deal for Florida residents. If you live in the area and plan to visit Busch Gardens more than once in a year, you should definitely look into the Annual Pass and Fun Card options. Busch Gardens doesn’t have the crazy crowds and ridiculously long lines that you’re likely to find in other Florida theme parks. The longest we had to wait for a ride was 30 minutes, and the lines for character photo ops were very short.