Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Falcons Fury Currently Testing & Nearing Completion!

As of this past Saturday, Busch Gardens' engineers along with engineers from Intamin have been hard at work rigorously testing Falcons Fury for its upcoming opening. Engineers have been testing all aspects of the ride including the accent, seat rotation, decent, and braking of the ride vehicle. The majority of issues that were reported at the beginning of the month have been resolved and all that's left are a few more finishing touches & an official opening date that will be released by park officials.

There have been reports of actual people riding the attraction, but it's most likely park engineers riding for testing purposes. The park recently released a short POV video of Falcons Fury that gives viewers the experience of riding the attraction. You can check out the video in the area below.

Later on, we took a peek inside the ride area and noticed the queue has been fully installed as well as the main signage for the ride itself. Workers were hard at work paving walkways around the perimeter of the ride as well as paving some areas further in. The ride will exit through the Twisted Tails Pretzel Bakery as there isn't a direct gift shop linked to the ride. As we find out more information on our next visits to the park, we'll give you the latest information as soon as we can!

The Main Attraction Signage Lies Beyond The Construction Walls.

 For the latest information and coverage of Busch Gardens Tampa, be sure to follow Viktor Tuparov on Twitter.

Busch Gardens Welcomes Three Marabou Stork Chicks!

Busch Gardens Tampa is excited to welcome three Marabou stork chicks. The first two chicks hatched on April 3, and the third chick hatched on April 5.
First-time parents Fig and Reba took turns watching over the eggs for 30 days, which is the incubation period for Marabou storks. Fig was also hatched at Busch Gardens more than 10 years ago.

Two of the chicks, along with the parents, can be seen on the Serengeti Plain at Busch Gardens. Guests can catch a glimpse of Busch Gardens' newest animal residents by taking a ride on the Serengeti Railway or on a Serengeti Safari.

The third chick is behind-the-scenes at the state-of-the-art Animal Care Center. Marabou stork parents typically raise two chicks, so the Busch Gardens animal care team, with the guidance of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), made the decision to hand-rear the third chick.

All three chicks are healthy and steadily growing as they approach their first month at Busch Gardens. Marabou Storks can reach a height of 60 inches with a 7 to 9-foot wingspan. Additionally, their bill can reach lengths of 14 inches.

The best way to see the more than 12,000 animals at Busch Gardens is with an Annual Pass. Annual passes start at $13 per month and include benefits like unlimited admission, no blackout dates, free parking and discounts on food and merchandise.

For the latest information and coverage of Busch Gardens Tampa, be sure to follow Viktor Tuparov on Twitter.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Behind The Scenes: The Elephant Insider Tour

This past month, The BGT Buzz was able to participate in Busch Gardens' newly returned Elephant Insider Tour! The tour costs $29 per person and the tour takes about an hour to complete. Throughout the duration of the tour, you'll find out firsthand how Busch Gardens' Pachyderm team cares for such large animals! Some highlights of our tour included touching & feeding Rosie the elephant as well as feeding the entire herd on the main habitat! If you're interested in learning more about this awesome tour, check out our blog post below.

Our day started bright and early at the Serengeti Outpost. There, we met up with our escort, James. James shuttled us to the Pachyderm Palace (AKA: Elephant House) via golf cart, and that's where we met our tour guide, Katie. Katie's been working with elephants for over 15 years and enjoys studying their behavioral patterns. Before entering the main compound, we were reminded that no pictures were aloud to be taken until the end of the tour, and that we were always to remain behind the yellow safety lines unless we were with a trainer. Upon entering the main building, we dropped into the kitchen where a few keepers were preparing the elephants' breakfast. Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Bananas, and Melons are just a few of the fruits and veggies the elephants receive each day. Our next stop was the elephants' "bedrooms". Katie explained that each elephant has its own room inside the main facility that can be accessed at any time of the day. The Pachyderm team is all about the comfort and enjoyment of the elephants meaning that they let the herd roam freely at all times, even after hours when the park is closed! As we moved down the row of bedrooms, we met Rosie and had the opportunity to feed her breakfast! As there were only two of us on the tour, the experience was truly unique as the trainers didn't rush us throughout the up close encounters. Katie mentioned that Rosie enjoys eye contact and that it's her signature behavior. Being inches away from a presence that extraordinary was truly awesome!
Shortly after, we moved outside to the outdoor facility. This is where the majority of the husbandry duties are taken care of. We first observed some of the trainers giving Rosie her daily check up. This is where the trainers examine the elephants and check for anything that may be a potential hazard to their health. The trainers then moved Rosie to a special area because it was time for her "Pedicure". Katie explained to us that elephants have trouble walking unless their nails are filed down. The procedure is done by using a tool similar to those used when maintaining horses hooves in equestrian sports. After the nail is at the proper length, it's polished off using an electric sander. After Rosie received her pedicure, she moved onto the scale so the team could check her weight. Rosie gained 4 pounds from the previous day meaning she would be receiving slightly less food so her weight can be properly maintained. After the trainers' morning routine was complete, they moved us onto the catwalk of the main habitat so we could feed the rest of the herd breakfast!

Katie Educating Guests On Elephant Interaction!
At this point of the tour, photography was permitted meaning we were able to get some up close shots of the entire herd! Katie gave us a few buckets worth of food and called the elephants over for breakfast. Each elephant got its turn receiving some food while I got rewarded by a grunt or gesture from the elephant.

After breakfast was served, Katie returned us to the main compound so we could say goodbye to the rest of the team. We thanked the team and had a brief chat where we brought up the topic of Spike the male elephant. The team told us Spike is doing great in his own facility on the other side of the park. The team is still uncertain when they'll introduce Spike to the rest of the herd, but they told us they'll keep us informed!
This was truly a one of a kind tour that all visitors to the park should experience. Even if you're only visiting for a day, book this tour! $29 is a bargain for the type of experience this tour provides. If you're interested in taking the tour, check out Busch Gardens' website more information.

For the latest information and coverage of Busch Gardens Tampa, be sure to follow Viktor Tuparov on Twitter.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Falcons Fury & Pantopia Nearing Completion!

Busch Gardens' newest land is almost ready for its debut! Scheduled to open May 1st, Pantopia will feature brand new culinary hot spots, exotic shopping opportunities, and so much more! The majority of construction walls throughout the land have been taken down, and finishing touches are currently being made. The BGT Buzz was at the park this Saturday to bring you an updated look inside Pantopia and the surrounding area. Check out our blog post below featuring over 15 photos of the new land!
New pieces of artwork have started popping up near the main entrance to the land. Items that reflect the story of Pantopia such as dragons and monkeys can be found on these walls. Crews were still painting and placing decorations on the walls later throughout the day.
  New mosaic tile designs have been placed on the columns of the main entryway. Similar designs can also be found throughout the land on the sides of various buildings.  

The area adjacent to The Pantopia Grill recently opened revealing a newly painted and designed henna & face paint kiosk as well as a caricature kiosk. Right next door, Lynx Frozen Treats was recently revealed showing the bright blue building that will be home to all things frosty and refreshing. A few pieces of artwork such as the flowerpot bicycle lie between Lynx Frozen Treats and the brand new Dragonfire Grill. Dragonfire will serve up various meat products that can be enjoyed at the Pantopia Grill.
The Pantopia Grill itself received a few more decorative elements such as a new sign advertising "Pantopia Grill" rather than the old sign reading "Desert Grill". The Pantopia Grill also received new paint in the upper levels of the building.   
Two new sculptures have been revealed inside the land of Pantopia. The first is a chameleon that can be found near the entrance to Pantopia. The second sculptures are a cat and dog duo that can be found outside of the Pantopia Theater. The animal sculptures were made entirely from salvaged materials.
A small seating area has been added to this section of Pantopia to accommodate guests eating at Twisted Tails Pretzels.

New midway games themed to Pantopia have also opened. Falcons Freethrow and Pantopia Balloon Race are just a few that you can choose from.
Pantopia is scheduled to open May 1st, 2014.
 For the latest information and coverage of Busch Gardens Tampa, be sure to follow Viktor Tuparov on Twitter.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pantopia's Twisted Tails Pretzel Bakery Now Open!

Today, Busch Gardens unveiled one of Pantopia's brand new culinary hot spots, The Twisted Tails Pretzel Bakery. The BGT Buzz along with our friends at Pixels At The Parks were at the grand opening of the bakery to sample a few of the 40+ options available for purchase! If you're interested in learning more about the bakery and taking a look at the complete menu, check out our blog post below.

Located in the heart of Pantopia, Twisted Tails offers visiting travelers 40+ culinary options including original pretzels, pretzel bites, pretzel dogs, pretzel pizzas, pretzel sandwiches, an assortment of dipping sauces, frozen & soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and of course, The Bacon Pretzel Fury! The signature menu item of Twisted Tails, The Bacon Pretzel Fury is 2 pieces of applewood smoked bacon wrapped around The Twisted Tails' signature pretzel dough. The finished product resembles the name of the shop, a pair of twisted tails! 

We ended up trying The Bacon Pretzel Fury as well as the pretzel dog. The Bacon Pretzel Fury was everything and more than I expected! The dough was soft and the bacon was cooked to perfection! The Bacon Pretzel Fury was big enough to feed 2 people, but who would want to share something like that? The pretzel dog was fairly large and was also very filling. Overall, we give it two thumbs up for the food!

Twisted Tails is now open which means you can check it out on your next visit to the park. Stop in for a pretzel and enjoy the land of Pantopia! We've supplied some extra photos from the shop in the area below, enjoy!

 For the latest information and coverage of Busch Gardens Tampa, be sure to follow Viktor Tuparov on Twitter.