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I know you don't want to rent a car but I'd really consider renting one just for Saturday. There's a Hertz less than a 10 minute walk from the hotel. You can walk over in the morning, grab the car, drive it to Tampa and then either spend the night in Tampa with the 10:00 close (or near Tampa but anywhere on I-4 on the way back since that may be a little cheaper / nicer) and then hit Fun Spot Kissimme on the way back which you wanted to do anyway (it really is right on the way back) and save money on the Uber you were going to use to get to and from Fun Spot.

 

A one day car rental is like 30 bucks, it probably pays for itself just with the round trip Uber.

 

Busch Tampa is a great park, it's your birthday and it's not a place you get to often. Spend the full day. You can totally guilt trip Dawn into buying into the rental car idea since it's your birthday. It's also their Christmas Town event and while that's not really the reason for the visit it would be cool to see it at night.

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As far as hotels, I am a Wyndham rewards member so I was looking at this place.

Oh yeah, that's a great location. Mango's is pretty much across the street. There are an insane amount of great restaurants really in walking distance. Yard House, Shake Shack, all those are easily walkable. No question that's a great option.

 

Awesome!

 

^ Bill, its not convincing Dawn on anything. I'm definitely going to look into other potential options as far as getting back to Orlando so we could stay later @ BGT, but we'd both really like to do this trip w/o a car. If it turns out we'd *have* to leave the park by 7pm, so be it. I know that seems crazy to people who drive all the time, but there's something about the freedom of not having to worry about a car, or being in good enough shape to drive one. Its our only vacation we're really getting this year, and its certain we'll be drinking. You've met drunk Dawn. You've hung out with me. You know we like to party.

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If it turns out we'd *have* to leave the park by 7pm, so be it.

If you are at the park for opening, and have unlimited Quick Queue, you will get a *LOT* of riding in by 7pm, trust me.

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Funspot always runs deals on Black Friday, last year I bought two 1 park passes for 53 bucks including tax. I'm not sure about 2 park passes but I'm sure they will have a deal of some sort. I only bought a 1 park pass cause Mine blower wasn't open yet.

 

I also second the Busch Gardens Williamsburg platinum pass. I did the monthly plan and it comes out to like 38 bucks a month for 2 passes. You also don't have to go to Williamsburg first, I had emailed Busch Gardens Williamsburg and told them I was going to SeaWorld first and they activated them for me and I put the pass numbers right into the app and that scanned me into the park. Once we were inside I went to guest relations and they printed us out card copies of the passes.

 

It's also a great deal because you get 10% off everything in the parks, so if you're drinking and eating a lot you can end up saving quite a bit of money. Another huge advantage of the platinum passes is that it gives you reserved seating for all the animal shows, which is fantastic at SeaWorld. We would show up 10 mins before the show would start and get amazing dead center seats. It's an amazing perk that saves a ton of time.

 

We went at the end of March and quick queues weren't needed at either park since everything besides cheetah run was 1 train waits or less. You can always buy them day off at 1 of the kiosks if you need too. Also the platinum pass gives you 10% off quick queues as well. I really think you'll get your moneys worth out of the platinum pass if you get them. Even more so if you try to get to Williamsburg next year as well.

 

One more thing to add, we did some behind the scenes tours at SeaWorld as well, one was a deal as part of the platinum members perks and it was 2 tickets for a behind the scenes tours for 40 bucks total. We liked that so much that we ended up doing the penguin encounter as well which was amazing, especially cause we got lucky and were the only 2 on the tour. I believe we got 10% off the penguin encounter as well.

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I also second the Busch Gardens Williamsburg platinum pass.

I'm very much leaning toward doing this right now. Especially if its that easy to process online, etc.

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I'd also skip the safari at Busch Gardens, after looking into it when I was planning my trip I didn't think it was worth the additional money especially because like you great adventure is our home park which has a way better safari with no up charge. You can take the train ride or the sky ride for free and get a great view of the animals at Busch Gardens, the only thing you'll be missing out on is feeding the giraffes, which you can do at great adventure for 5 bucks anyway.

 

If you decide to do anything animal wise that's an up charge I'd do one of the tours at SeaWorld that would interest you.

 

The tour guides and experience were just awesome. We got to hang out with this guy for awhile.

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I will definitely consider that. Knowing us I feel like BGT we'll focus more on getting some riding done, with SWO being more laid back - hitting rides here and there and just enjoying the park and hitting exhibits and things. So I'll look into the tours. The missus would likely love that. She just told me she doesn't want to go to the stadium Shamu show since she saw it as a kid (not sure how you could really remember that but...) however she is all in for Dine With Shamu.

 

So I'm still curious to know if Funspot will do two park tickets over multiple days. We definitely won't do both in the same day. Like I said, we'd hope to hit the Orlando Fun Spot on Friday or Saturday night (more likely Friday, or whatever day we wind up doing Seaworld), and then the Kissamee location maybe on Sunday for a bit. Will I wind up having to pay for both of us for both? Just keep an eye out for Black Friday deals? Is there a usual time of year Busch season passes have a sale?

 

Also, what's up with food at these parks? No recommendations? Bill is texting me stuff about the Smokehouse @ BGT and pretzel places @ both parks. I love BBQ and pretzels but what else?! I like to have options.

 

Also stoked about Xmas sh*t at both Busch parks. I hadn't even considered they'd be doing a holiday event, though it's no surprise. What do they do for their holiday events?

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Also, what's up with food at these parks? No recommendations? Bill is texting me stuff about the Smokehouse @ BGT and pretzel places @ both parks. I love BBQ and pretzels but what else?! I like to have options.

 

 

the restaurant at the top level across from Cheetah Hunt (overlooking the Serengetti) was a buffet (above the quick serve on level 2). .

 

worth EVERY penny for fantastic fried chicken, and wonderful deserts.

 

(they also have regular menu, if you don't want buffet. .but the buffet was worth it). Sit down restaurant in the air conditioning overlooking the animals and cobra's curse

 

https://buschgardens.com/tampa/dining/serengeti-overlook-restaurant/

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Edited by bert425
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She just told me she doesn't want to go to the stadium Shamu show since she saw it as a kid (not sure how you could really remember that but...) however she is all in for Dine With Shamu.

This is actually a good plan. The Shamu show really is not what it used to be (Thanks Blackfish assholes) and the Dine with Shamu is a much better and more entertaining option, IMO.

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Also, what's up with food at these parks? No recommendations? Bill is texting me stuff about the Smokehouse @ BGT and pretzel places @ both parks. I love BBQ and pretzels but what else?! I like to have options.

I have to be honest the food at both parks is "ok" and other than the pretzel places (which have both been hit or miss for me depending on if you get them fresh or sitting around) there isn't too much to recommend. At BGT I've had "decent" meals at the Crown Colony sit down restaurant. But nothing overly spectacular.

 

Sharks has a GREAT bar at SeaWorld and you can sit at the bar and have a beer while little fish swim under your hands as the bar is a fish tank. You don't need a reservation to sit at the bar, you can just go in. It's pretty cool.

 

Smokehouse is "ok" IMO and it's a good recommendation because it's good for "park food" but it's not like OMFG amazing but I'm also probably spoiled because we eat at Epcot and on Disney property quite a bit.

 

Disney Springs is another option if you're looking for a place to go walk around one of the nights. Splitsville has good drinks and apps. So does Raglin Road. The Boathouse bar right out on the water is also pretty kick ass. And Uber can get in and out of DS very very easily! You can probably combine a night at DS with Player One since they are not far from each other via Uber.

Edited by robbalvey
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and we REALLY liked this "no frills" seafood place, "Shells" that was really close to BGT (almost literally across the street).

 

fantastic 70's style food in a cheesy decor restaurant. we loved it.

 

https://www.google.com/search?q=seafood+restaurants+near+busch+gardens+tampa&oq=seafood+place+near+Busch+ga&gs_l=psy-ab.3.0.0i22i30k1l4.6457.7947.0.9160.7.7.0.0.0.0.175.959.0j6.6.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..1.6.954.cciVmghr26Q

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Thanks Robb, Bert and Larry!

 

Is the area around BGT really that terrible? In my recent research I keep coming across reviews saying the area around the park is awful. With our current plan we won't have to worry about it if we're bussing in/out of the park, but originally we had thought to stay right across the street from the park in one of the hotels along that "strip?" there. Its hard to really tell from street view (I'm a street view addict when planning these things) but I feel like all I see on Trip Advisor, hotel reviews, and in reports here - is how awful the area right around the park is. It's making me much happier in our decision to switch the plan and just stay in Orlando in the center of the action.

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If you're going to stay near BGT ONLY stay on Fowler Ave. NO WHERE ELSE!!!!

 

Is it like South Central LA or 90's Bronx? No. Would I want to stay there at night? No.

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She just told me she doesn't want to go to the stadium Shamu show since she saw it as a kid (not sure how you could really remember that but...) however she is all in for Dine With Shamu.

 

Welcome to Brit's sh*t list

 

lol In all seriousness Robb's right, Dine with Shamu is probably the better of the two experiences. Not only is it a more intimate setting where they do a better job of explaining their training techniques but it includes lunch and free beer. I should mention that the food is sub-par (except those dumb chicken nuggets) and the beer selection is too but when you look at the whole package I still highly recommend it. The event can pay for itself just in beer.

 

If you get the Platinum Pass you get a discount on it. I'm not sure if you can get that discount online (you might be able to in the online portal but I've never been able to find it) but they have a booth set up right inside the front gate where you can get the discount. Does anyone know if this ever sells out in advance? If not then just book it once you get there and show them your passes. Remember to show that pass whenever you buy anything at either park (merchandise / tours / food and drink... whatever).

 

So I'm still curious to know if Funspot will do two park tickets over multiple days.

Strangely you can't buy this ticket online but they'll sell them at the park. I don't remember the price but the Black Friday deal might make it cheaper to just buy a one day pass to each park individually. You can also just buy individual ride tickets but considering you'll want to ride both coasters at both parks you might as well go this route. Try out the Go Kart tracks in Kissimee. They're really solid. Both parks also have S&S Screaming Swings that are included on the wristband and I know that's music to your ears. Fun Spot Orlando has the best Paratrooper in the entire god damn world but given your disdain for spinning rides I doubt you'll care.

 

this 24/7 Wawa a hundred feet away is really selling me on it.

Unlike the ones in your wack-ass state I believe this Wawa also features a walk-in beer cooler. So there's that

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Just 2,000 feet from the front gate. https://www.melshotdogs.com/

...and in the ghetto!

 

Weaka$$ ghetto! There aren't even any buildings in that side of Busch Blvd between the park and Mel's. Worst part was I did the walk in 95 degree weather, but I wouldn't make the walk at night. Technically it's only about 1,000 feet from the edge of BGT parking.

 

I made the mistake of staying at a cheap name hotel on Busch Blvd 10-15 years ago, never again.

Edited by larrygator
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I was just making note that is not the best part of town. While I'm sure the food may be good, I know that side of the tracks does not have the best clientele. Just putting that out there as full disclosure.

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If you're staying at that Wyndham, definitely consider the area around Orlando Eye for your chill drinking nights. Tin Roof is a great live music spot that draws a more fun crowd than your typical O Town tourist bar. Yardhouse also has a great happy hour after 10. Be weary of Sugar Factory--lots of money for little alcohol. Also, while I haven't been in the aquarium or wax museum, the Eye is a fun thing to check out at night while fireworks are going off around the area...especially if you find a deal on tickets.

 

ETA: If you find yourself at Player 1, do yourself a favor and hit up Sea Dog Brewery in the same complex. After 10 every night all of their signature beers are half off...you can drink three generous glasses of freshly brewed beer AND leave a generous tip for around $10. Great spot.

 

ETA Again: my receipt for my last trip to SeaDog was still in my wallet...$14.56 for three solid beers and a 50% tip.

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ETA: If you find yourself at Player 1, do yourself a favor and hit up Sea Dog Brewery in the same complex. After 10 every night all of their signature beers are half off...you can drink three generous glasses of freshly brewed beer AND leave a generous tip for around $10. Great spot.

 

ETA Again: my receipt for my last trip to SeaDog was still in my wallet...$14.56 for three solid beers and a 50% tip.

I also second this advice, however I find myself spending more time at Player One since I'm a retrogaming nerd, but SeaDog is a wonderful place and right next door!

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I've looked up both and they both look like awesome spots we could totally get into. Definitely putting these in the "things to do" mental file. Definitely looking forward to a spin on The Eye as well. Changing this up and deciding to stay in Orlando has gotten us both much more excited for this trip! We sat and talked last night about the whole thing and the missus (who is the "how are we gonna do all this in that amount of time??", "how many parks!?!?" type) is today sending me links to spots in the area/places she might want to check as well. December can't come quick enough!

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So I'm still curious to know if Funspot will do two park tickets over multiple days.

Strangely you can't buy this ticket online but they'll sell them at the park. I don't remember the price but the Black Friday deal might make it cheaper to just buy a one day pass to each park individually. You can also just buy individual ride tickets but considering you'll want to ride both coasters at both parks you might as well go this route. Try out the Go Kart tracks in Kissimee. They're really solid. Both parks also have S&S Screaming Swings that are included on the wristband and I know that's music to your ears. Fun Spot Orlando has the best Paratrooper in the entire god damn world but given your disdain for spinning rides I doubt you'll care.

 

When I did the 2-park, 1-day ticket back in March, I believe it was around $60 (if that helps at all). You could also just ask them on social media. I will also echo every positive thing Bill said about the Fun Spots as they offer damn fine Kool-Aid. So don't skimp on Fun Spot time. Oh, and don't the Fun Spot parks have a refillable souvenir beer bottle?

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