Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Run For Wildlife 5K" Q&A

Are you running in Busch Gardens' first annual "Run For Wildlife 5K"? If so, we've compiled an article with a series of Q&A style questions found on the official Busch Gardens & "Run For Wildlife 5K" website regarding the event. If any of your questions have been left unanswered, feel free to submit a comment in the area below and we'll do our best to help you out!  

Why are you doing a run at Busch Gardens?
  • SeaWorld Parks, including Busch Gardens, has a longstanding commitment to animal care, education and conservation. As part of that commitment, we work to provide opportunities for our guests, and the community e serve, to support animal conservation worldwide through the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. 100% of the proceeds from the Run For Wildlife 5K will benefit the Conservation Fund. 
Can anyone participate? What about people that don’t run?
  • Yes, the Run for Wildlife 5k is open to the public and everyone is encouraged to participate and join SeaWorld and Busch Gardens in supporting animal conservation. Joggers and walkers are also welcomed to join, but must maintain a pace of 16 minutes per mile.
Am I allowed to push a baby jogger, stroller or wheelchair?
  • For your safety and the safety of other runners/walkers, no baby joggers, strollers or wheelchairs are allowed during this timed event.  The course has a number of turns and ramps that would make it difficult to safely maneuver a baby jogger, stroller or wheelchair.
Are there different age groups?
  • The Run for Wildlife 5k will be staged in waves, not age groups.
Can spectators come to the event?
  • Spectators are welcome at the start/finish line, however, only paid 5k participants are allowed in the park during the run. Additionally, only paid 5k participants receive complimentary admission to Busch Gardens Tampa after the race.
How much does it cost to participate?
  • Early Bird Registration is $30, until Oct. 25. After that, registration is $35.
Where can I pick up the race registration packet?
  • Package pick-up will be available on Friday, November 21 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Busch Gardens Human Resources office, located at 3605 E. Bougainvillea Ave.  Please bring a completed liability waiver form, or request to fill one out, to receive your race registration packet. Forms can be downloaded directly from the registration page on
Can I pick up a registration packet for a friend or family member?
  • Yes you can pick up a registration packet for a friend or family member, ONLY if they have filled out the Authorization Form, which you can find at
How much of that money goes to the Conservation Fund?
  • 100% of the funds raised will benefit the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.
How is this benefiting animal conservation?
  • For more than 40 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment – encompassing SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove - have initiated and supported wildlife conservation, research, and education at home and around the world. Launched in 2003, the Fund was created to provide guests with an easy, direct way to get involved and make a difference.
What does that entry fee include?
  • Registration includes post-race admission to Busch Gardens Tampa, valid for race participant only, on Sat., Nov. 22, 2014. Participants also receive a dri-fit (uni-sex sizing) race shirt, finishers medal, race bib with timing chip and light refreshments at the finish line.
Will bag-check be available at the race?
  • Bag check will not be available at this event.  Due to the close proximity of the parking lot, participants should be prepared to keep their personal belongings in their vehicle. 
What is the race schedule?
Note: Race day registration is now permitted. Race day schedule is as follow:
  • 6:00 a.m. Parking lot opens and packet pick-up available
  • 7:30 a.m. 5k begins, wave starts to be determined
  • 8:30 a.m. Participants must have cleared the finish line, or will be transported there
Where in the park will runners go?
  • The course will take participants throughout several of the 300 acres at Busch Gardens Tampa, including several animal habitats and world-class coasters.
Where can people sign up?
  • Those interested can click here, or check out for registration information. Participants MUST register in advance; no race day registration will be allowed.
Is there a timed-pace for this event?
  • Yes, participants that are not able to keep a 16 min/mile pace will be transported back to the finish line.
Will there be restroom and changing facilities?
  • There will be temporary restrooms available at the start/finish line, and restrooms are available along the course.  We do not have changing and shower facilities available.
Will there be awards?
  • Awards will be presented to the Overall Male and Female Finishers.
Do other SeaWorld parks do runs like this?
  • While other SeaWorld Entertainment parks have done similar races, there is no other race in the world that provides the experience found at the Run for Wildlife 5k!
Will guests get to stay in the park after the race?
  • Every registered participant will receive one complimentary single-day ticket to experience Busch Gardens Tampa on Saturday, Nov. 22 ONLY. Participants leaving the parking lot post-race and returning later in the day to visit Busch Gardens Tampa will pay regular parking rates.
What are the park hours for Saturday, November 22?
  • Busch Gardens will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on November 22.; Please be advised that park hours are subject to change without notice.; Please visit for park information.

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Continue Your Family Tradition with Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa!

Tampa Bay’s Biggest Christmas Celebration is Now Included with Your Busch Gardens Admission!
Tampa, Fla. (Oct. 30, 2014) – Christmas Town™ transforms Busch Gardens® Tampa into a holiday wonderland of wintery surprises and all things Christmas, filling guests’ senses with seasonal sights, sounds and flavors, and continuing a beautiful family tradition.
Christmas Town is now included with any annual pass, Fun Card or daily admission to the park. This year’s event has added even more dates to experience Christmas Town attractions, shows and shopping. Christmas Town is open 23 select dates and park closing times will range from 8pm to 9pm throughout the event, Nov. 28 through Dec. 31.
From the nostalgic Holiday Hills to the nature-inspired Jungle Jubilee, more than a million lights will blanket Busch Gardens during Christmas Town. Plus, fan-favorite shows including Christmas on Ice and the Carol of the Bells light show return to ring in the season.  Check out this video for more returning Christmastime experiences.
In addition, brand new beautifully-lit areas will debut at Christmas Town:
v  Dazzling lantern stars transform Pantopia™ into the jewel-toned Celestial Crossing, complete with a gigantic LED star that beautifully lights the way to Mrs. Claus’ Family Feast and the Christmas Celebration show. The new area is also home to the Bottle Christmas Tree, a conservation collaboration project that transformed 5,000 recycled plastic bottles into a Christmastime masterpiece with the help of nearly 50 Hillsborough county schools.   
v  The Egypt area of the park transforms into the humble town of Bethlehem, where guests discover the famed journey to the Three Kings. The magical story unfolds as the North Star guides the way to a land filled with desert-themed rustic d├ęcor, larger-than-life camels and the Three Kings Caravan.
Christmas Town provides unforgettable Yuletide experiences for the entire family around every corner, creating a Christmas celebration like no other:
v  The Claus family invites you into their North Pole home at Welcome to Santa’s House. While the elves are busy preparing for Christmas, Santa is taking a break from his busy holiday schedule to meet and take photos with families in his private study.
v  All aboard the Christmas Town Express for the biggest Christmas carol sing-a-long on wheels. Friends and family are invited join in singing traditional songs of the season like “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” while circling the Serengeti on a beautifully lit vintage-style steam locomotive.
v  Busch Gardens is excited to welcome African penguins to the family! Come chill with these dapper little creatures and marvel at their underwater antics at the brand new Penguin Point, complete with a giant penguin photo opportunity in the Nairobi area.
v  For those who can’t wait to get their night at Christmas Town started, guests are invited to pull up a seat at Mrs. Claus’ Family Feast for a special evening filled with stories, songs, a delicious holiday fare, plenty of opportunities for holiday hugs and photos with Mrs. Claus and her favorite elves. Space is limited for this exclusive dining experience and reservations must be made in advance at
Guests will also have the opportunity to ride some of Busch Gardens’ most popular thrill rides, including Cheetah Hunt, SheiKra, and America’s tallest freestanding drop tower, Falcon’s Fury™. 
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Howl-O-Scream At Busch Gardens Tampa : 2014 Complete Event Review

After months of tedious waiting, the time has come to share our official 2014 Howl-O-Scream review! Twice over the course of October, The BGT Buzz staff fell under the curse and paid a visit to Tampa Bay's premier haunted attraction. Our first visit on opening weekend was cut short due to inclement weather & torrential downpours! However, our latest visit this past weekend turned out to be a great success bringing in low crowds & pleasant weather in the upper 60's! To find out more about our visits to Busch Gardens Tampa's Howl-O-Scream, check out our complete event review in the area below!

Haunted Houses

Death Water Bayou - A returning favorite house for many Howl-O-Scream fans, Death Water Bayou made its highly anticipated return to this years event. In my opinion, Death Water Bayou was the best house of the entire night! The level of detail in this house is extraordinary! Down to the single label on a jar, Death Water Bayou contained the best theming & set design of all the houses we went through. The scareactors working this house definitely knew what they were doing as many of them were so well hidden, you couldn't see them coming! Overall, I give Death Water Bayou a big "Thumbs Up" and hope to see it make a return in next years event!

Circus Of Superstition 3-D - The Show Must Go On ~ Making a return from last years event but now in a different location and with a twist on it's name, "Circus Of Superstition 3D ~ The Show Must Go On" has now taken the place of the once "Ultimate Gamble : Reversal Of Fortune" house located inside Gwazi Field's concession stand. Disappointingly, the house has remained virtually the same including the 13 superstitions that lie hidden within. The scareactors in the house didn't scare us at all, but the 3-D element of the house was very effective. I was definitely expecting more from this house with it's new location and name change, but it failed to provide. Overall, I think Circus Of Superstition's luck has run out and it's time to say goodbye after this Howl-O-Scream season ends.        
The Basement - Back by popular demand, "The Basement" has returned to the area behind the Xcursions gift shop near the entrance to Gwazi Park. This wildly popular house reaches wait times upwards of 90 minutes on peak nights, so be sure to pay your visit to Momma & The Butcher early on in the night! As usual, this house was flawless! The scareactors were on point, the theming inside was awesome, and the entire storyline of the house was one of the best all night. I can honestly say this house was the only one that actually scared me and had me running for the exit! Overall, I hope to see "The Basement" make a return at next year's event!
Blood Asylum - Back for another year, "Blood Asylum" makes it's return at this years Howl-O-Scream event. Taking place in the Oglethorpe Asylum, "Blood Asylum" revolves around an escaped convict rightfully nicknamed "The Creature", who basically wants to steal your face! The house has remained the same since its conception in the 2012 event with the same props and storyline. The house seemed understaffed the night we attended with scareactors not popping up in their usual hiding spots. This is one of the lengthier houses at the event and usually takes about 6 minutes to complete. Overall, as much as this house provides a nice & gore filled scare, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the final year for "Blood Asylum".
Zombie Mortuary - Making a return from the "Dark Side Of The Gardens" era, fan favorite house "Zombie Mortuary" has made its return to the area next to the Pantopia Theater. Taking place in the Russo Romero Mortuary, "Zombie Mortuary" gives guests a firsthand look at the transformation from human to the living dead. This house was great as usual due to its detailed set design as well as unpredictable hiding locations of scareactors working the house. Although this house did contain the fewest scareactors of the night, it definitely made a comeback in rich set design & props. Overall, as a big fan of zombies in general, I hope "Zombie Mortuary" makes a return in next years event! 
Dead Fall - A newcomer to this years Howl-O-Scream event, "Dead Fall" has now taken the place of the former "Nevermore" house located next to the Tanganyika Tidal Wave ride in the Stanleyville area of the park. "Dead Fall" takes place in the surrounding areas of a Victorian Era mansion by the name of Hemlock Hall. "Dead Fall" ends up taking you on journey throughout the estate's greenhouse & boathouse, just to name a few locations. I absolutely loved this house! The majority of the house is kept very dark, so you basically loose orientation of where you are several times throughout the house. Also, the sheer quietness of the house adds to the creepiness as the house uses minimal background music, but better yet refers to creepy children's' voices echoing throughout the house! Overall, I must say this was probably my second favorite house of the night behind "Death Water Bayou". Overall, I truly hope to see "Dead Fall" rise from the darkness and make a comeback at next years event!     

Zombie Containment Unit 15 - Another newcomer to this years Howl-O-Scream event, "Zombie Containment Unit 15", or "ZCU 15", made its debut as the first interactive laser tag haunted house experience of its kind. Upon entering the house in one of three briefing rooms, you'll be handed a "Zombie Eradication Device", or "ZED", to partially stun the zombies for 5 seconds giving you "Ample" time to make a getaway. The deal with this house is, you love it or you hate it. And in our unfortunate case, we give "ZCU 15" two big thumbs down. In general, the whole hype for this house is very deceiving. The "Zombie Eradication Devices" handed to us were virtually useless as they light up every sensor we passed by even without aiming or firing the gun in the target's general direction. You could also find the targets "Strategically Placed" on top of each scareactors' clothing completely ruining the theming of the house. It's very disappointing that the targets couldn't be better hidden and incorporated onto the scareactors clothing. The biggest reason not to do this house is purely the wait time itself! On peak nights, "Zombie Containment Unit 15" reaches wait times that exceed 100 minutes! Overall, I would skip "ZCU 15" in a heartbeat and repeat some of my favorite houses a few more times. I think this house was a total & utter letdown and it should be replaced with a traditional style walkthrough house in next years Howl-O-Scream event.  

Themed Areas

While this years Howl-O-Scream event brought no official scare zones, three themed areas could be found throughout the park.
  • "Cursed" Front Gate Experience - Located in the Moroccan Village at the parks main entrance, you'll find the "Cursed" Front Gate Experience. Here you can find a detailed prop filled with radios, TV's, and much more spreading the curse to all who dare to enter the park. Also, the "Cursed" figures make nightly presentations, so be sure to catch one of their brief performances.

  •  Nairobi Area Walkway - Starting near the East Entrance of the Myombe Reserve and ending near the former Otter Habitat, a themed area containing props from the former "Nightshade Toys" house could be found. Occasionally, a roaming horde of skate punk scareactors could be found occupying the themed area.    

  • Sesame Street Safari Of Fun Walkway - Over by the walkway connecting Stanleyville to The Sesame Street Safari Of Fun, a themed area containing cages, severed limbs, and a few dismembered bodies could be found. Occasionally, a roaming horde of older witches/sorceresses could be found occupying the area cursing passers by.

Roaming Hordes

As mentioned previously, with the removal of designated scare zones from this years Howl-O-Scream event, the park has now relied on hundreds of roaming scareactors & hordes that can pop up anywhere around the park. We encountered several hordes throughout the night and have listed them below. One of my personal favorite groups have made their return from last years event and now stalk the area near "Club Cursed". Yes, they're the stilt walker alien creatures!

Hordes We Encountered 
  • "Cursed" Figures - Park Entrance
  • Alien Stilt Walkers - In Front Of "Club Cursed" (Marrakesh Theater)
  • Clowns - Gwazi Park Walkway Leading To "Circus Of Superstition" House
  • Vampires - Egypt, Between "Blood Asylum" & "The Experiment" Houses
  • Skate Punk - Varies Between Nairobi Train Station & Near Elephant Habitat
  • Zombies - Next To Bumper Cars
  • Old Witches/Sorceresses - Sesame Street Walkway Themed Area
 Remember, The BGT Buzz has covered Howl-O-Scream 2014 since the beginning, and we've been keeping you updated all the way until the end. As the majority of our reporting for Howl-O-Scream 2014 comes to an end, we invite you to join us in 2015 as we cover another amazing season of Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa!
FTC Required Disclosure: The BGT Buzz was provided with complimentary admission on opening weekend. All opinions are our own.

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