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Theme Park Adventures: Going Behind the Scenes

Unusual tours and up-close-and-personal encounters.


Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Serengeti tour at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Compliments of Orlando CVB
One of the benefits of being a journalist is getting to go behind the scenes. I've seen and done some amazing things. I've been behind those walls at Disney World, toured the bellies of cruise ships, stepped inside luxury suites that I could never afford myself, ate in the kitchens of some of the finest hotels, and peered into the backstage of many attractions. I found it all fascinating.

Now you can be fascinated by some impressive back-stage tours that give you an up-close-and-personal glimpse of some of your most favorite places. Don't expect to just stand there taking notes and pictures (as I often do) though. You will be right there in the middle of the action. These are real hands-on experiences that have you doing the real behind-the-scenes stuff like preparing food for animals, feeding them, cleaning up after them, helping with the training, eating with the staff, and sometimes even sleeping over.

If it sounds like fun, it probably is, but the price of this fun doesn't come cheap. Most of these tours tout a hefty price tag (and often also require admission into the theme park). Just remember, the price of privilege may be expensive, but memories of once-in-a-lifetime experiences are often priceless.

Busch Gardens Africa - Tampa Bay

  • Serengeti Safari
    Encounter African wildlife as close as you dare on an off-road tour through the Serengeti Plain. It's a wild expedition that puts you in the center of the action as you discover intriguing information and the thrill of feeding antelopes and giraffes. Capture memories to last a lifetime in the many photo opportunities.
    Cost is $33.99 (plus tax) for 30-minute open truck tour. Tour does not include park admission, which is required. Must be 5 years of age or older to participate.
  • Serengeti Night Safari
    This two-hour adventure begins in the exclusive Safari Club, noshing on appetizers and Anheuser-Busch beverages. Next you'll stroll through the Edge of Africa and explore the nighttime mysteries of hippos, lions and hyena's. Guided by night vision goggles, view the animals that roam the plain and listen to African lore told by your guide around a bonfire. Finally, enjoy African coffee, tea and desserts back in the Safari Club.
    Tour begins at sunset on select evenings and is $60.00 (plus tax) per person. Park admission is not required and not included. Must be 21 years of age or older to participate.
  • Sundowner Safari
    This unique tour begins in the Crown Colony's Brewmaster's Club, where guests may sample premium Anheuser-Busch lagers. At sunset journey into the adventure park's 65-acre Serengeti Plain to hand-feed giraffes and encounter zebras and other African wildlife.
    This VIP Safari Tour is $39.99 (plus tax) for 45-minutes. Participants must be 21 years of age or older.
  • Heart of Jungala Tour
    Go behind the scenes at Jungala, endangered species new state-of-the-art home. Meet with tigers, orangutans and their keepers. A portion of the proceeds from this tour will go to the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.
    Tour begins at 2:00 p.m. daily. The 30-minute walking tour of Jungala is $33.99 (plus tax). Park admission is required. Animal interactions may vary. Must be 5 years of age or older to participate.
  • Saving a Species Tour
    Have fun while contributing to conservation! Travel aboard an open safari truck through a 65-acre African animal habitat. The 45-minute tour includes up-close encounters with animals, such as the endangered white rhino, giraffe, zebra and black rhino.
    Tour price of $44.99 (plus tax) does not include park admission, which is required. Animal interactions may vary. Must be 5 years of age or older to participate.
  • Animal Adventure Tour
    This adventure tour takes you where few have gone before — from behind-the-scenes to the animal action front line. Get V.I.P. treatment on this two-hour tour as you enjoy up-close encounters of many kinds with Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales, hippos, black rhinos and giraffes. Meet the keepers who care for these amazing animals and take advantage of remarkable photo opportunities.
    Tour price of $119.99 (plus tax) does not include park admission, which is required. Animal interactions may vary. Must be 5 years of age or older to pariticpate.
  • Keeper for a Day
    This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes with a price ($350.00, plus tax), but the experience is priceless. Your adventure begins early in the morning as you assist the mammal team feeding, training and caring for giraffes and antelopes. Later, in the afternoon, you'll assist the Avian team care for some fine-feathered friends on the Serengeti Plain.
    Tour includes park admission. Must be at least 13 yeas of age and 52 inches tall to participate. Tour is 6-1/2 hours and participants must be able to climb a flight of stairs, follow instructions and lift 15 pounds. Animal interactions and tour components may vary.

General Information - All tours are subject to availability. Valid identification is required for tours with age restrictions. Prices are subject to change without notice. Platinum, Gold and Silver Passport member discounts are available by phone. To reserve a tour adventure, call 1-888-800-5447 or visit the Adventure Tour Center located in the Moroccan Village area of the park. Also, reservations and additional information is available online at Exclusive Park Experiences.

More "Going Behind the Scenes" tours... Florida Aquarium, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World

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