Last Friday we received 2 tickets to attend Saturday’s Glory at the Gardens event at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. This was such an unexpected blessing for us and I want to thank @MyBuschGardens for the tickets.
Jordan, my 14yo son accompanied me to the park for the day. I have recently attended a few media events at Busch Gardens but I have not been to the park as a regular guest in several years. My kids, on the other hand, have had annual passes on and off over the years and have visited the park many times with their friends and grandparents, so, Jordan was my tour guide. We arrived at the parking lot at 10:51 am, fought our way onto the tram at 11:10 am and got in line at Guest services at 11:15 am. The line was very long and uncovered. Those of us waiting in line discussed how the ticket booths, with quick moving lines were all covered and the long slow moving line for guest services was uncovered and in full sun. Oh well, 26 minutes later we were in the park!
We knew it was going to be a hot, sunny day, 93 degrees to be exact so Jordan and I each drank 1/2 liter of water before arriving at the park and we carried 2 more liters into the park with us. We had also applied an SPF 30 sunscreen at home and planned on reapplying mid day. You have to be prepared to survive the Florida heat and sun.
When we entered the park Jordan suggested we head to the Moroccan Palace Theatre to the the noon performance of “Katonga”. He said this was the best show in the park so we headed to the theatre. Jordan was right “Katonga” is not to be missed. The costumes were beautiful, the scenery was creative and the dancing was amazing. Unfortunately the soundtrack was rather loud and it drowned out a lot of the singing and speaking so some of the storytelling was lost in the noise. Overall the show was very well done and even with the sound issue, it is a must-see.
We knew we didn’t have much time to tour the park because we wanted to get our seats for the concerts by 3pm so we headed to the Sky Ride to take us to the back of the park so Jordan could ride his beloved bumper cars. Due to the fact that the train ride was closed for rehab, LOTS of people were waiting to board the Sky Ride. We had about a 25 minute wait to board and then we soared over the park in our gondola. Jordan didn’t have to wait long for his turn on the bumper cars and then we discussed maybe getting up our nerve to ride Scorpion for the first time. We headed towards the coaster when we realized that this looping coaster doesn’t have the shoulder harness restraints just a lap bar! We both chickened out and headed over to watch people get squirted with water while they rode Congo River Rapids. Next we meandered our way through the park looking at various plants and animals along the way until we ended up at the Garden Gate Cafe.
This quaint little eatery had a nice menu of pizzas, salads and sandwiches. When we arrived the restaurant was rather full so I sent Jordan to scout out a table while I got in line. This eatery was not designed to handle the crowd that was there at the time, the single serving line is short and there was only one cashier so it took 32 minutes to get our food. I had the club sandwich and Jordan had a pepperoni pizza and both were very good. After our late lunch in the air conditioned restaurant we headed back out into the heat of the day. We stopped and reapplied our subscreen before heading to Gwazi Park to find our concert seats.
We ended up sitting in the far right section of seats, near the middle about 1/3 of the way back, they were very good seats. Gwazi Park is a big open space with no trees and no shade and we were sitting on metal seats that were very hot! People were trying everything they could to create shade with hats, umbrellas, blankets and even wearing park maps on their heads. At 4:00pm Jonny Diaz took the stage and he was great! Jonny is a newer artist and I was only familiar with 1 of his songs but I really enjoyed his concert and look forward to hearing more from him! Next there was a 15 minute intermission and I sent Jordan to get me a frozen lemonade. Unfortunately he came back empty handed as the machines were having a lot of trouble keeping up with the demand on this very hot day.
Next up was Brandon Heath, I love Brandon’s music so I was really looking forward to this. Unfortunately about half way through Brandon’s set I started feeling ill and left the concert to seek some shelter, the sun was just too much for me, I had officially wilted. I texted Jordan and he informed me he too was miserable from the heat and sun so he met me and we headed to Sesame Street Safari of Fun. Jordan rode Air Grover while I sat in the shade. Because Sesame Street Safari of Fun is located right next door to Gwazi Park we could still hear the rest of Brandon’s concert…while enjoying the shade. We stayed there through the first part of Matthew West‘s set and then we decided we better head out or we might not stay awake for the ride home we were both just spent.
We both really did have a good time, in spite of the heat and the sun. I am also proud to report that the sunscreen worked and neither of us got burned. If you are going to Glory at the Gardens over the next 2 weekends, be prepared! Wear a hat, bring lots of water, wear sunscreen, bring an umbrella. Be careful and don’t overheat yourself but have fun!