Florida trip: HELP!!

I am travelling to Florida for six days next week to visit my dad, and I would like to hit some parks. Dad and I are going to Sea World, so I fully intend on at least doing Kraken, but I'm wondering about other recommendations. I was going to go to Busch Gardens Tampa for a day, but I've been so tempted to go to Universal. I've been told that it's just not possible to do both Universal parks in a day, and I really don't want to spend all the time visiting my dad NOT visiting my dad, so I'd prefer to only do a one day trip. I'll be staying in the Sarasota/Bradenton area. Anyone have a strategy that could optimize my one-day coaster sprint? Do I really need to do Universal? Any specific rides at either park that are a MUST that might help me make a decision? I've been told that Hulk and DD are actually not that great, and I've heard Kumba is FANTASTIC, but is just Kumba worth spending my day at BGT? Are there any small scale parks that are worth a little extra time? Any thoughts are helpful.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Since you are staying in the Sarasota/Bradenton area, private message me. I would rather give you other tips while you are here besides the parks(but will help with those also).

My favorite MJ tune: "Billie Jean" which I have been listening to alot now. RIP MJ.

rollergator's avatar

Now that Space Mountain is officially "down for the durtation", USF's RotM is unchallenged as the best darkride-coaster outside of DL. Given that IoA is heavily torn up by the PotterLand construction, I can't see why you couldn't accomplish both parks in one day. As has been mentioned, you could EASILY spend a week at The Complex, but if you stay open-close and maximize your time (no Dudley's at 2pm, for instance), you can hit the majors insode a day - esp. if you utuilize single-riders' lines for Mummy, MiB, Spidey, Hulk, and Doom.

SFoGswim's avatar

Your dilemma is a tough one for sure. Universal has no SheiKra, but Busch has no Mummy... or Spider-man or Hulk or Dragons. Universal it is.

Welcome back, red train, how was your ride?!
rollergator's avatar

^IMO (obviously) - SheiKra is still the fourth best coaster at BGT (and the lamest B&M going outside of the early stand-ups)...thankfully for SheiKra, the mouse came in before Python left.

Acoustic Viscosity's avatar

Gator, SheiKra is the fifth best coaster there. Gwazi counts twice, remember? ;)

Although Gwazi is my favorite coaster currently operating in Florida (since Space Mountain is down), I would definitely go to Universal/IOA for the day. You can easily get a good visit in at both parks if you are efficient about it. Spending an entire day at Sea World may be a stretch. I can't imagine spending more than a half day there. There just isn't enough to hold my attention for that long.

AV Matt
Long live the Big Bad Wolf

rollergator's avatar

^My disappointment with SheiKra was evidenced when it was standing at....11th (?!?) in the rankings - IIRC, that was even Mitch's poll. After I finally got to Grif-FUN, my feelings about SheiKra only intensified. Oh, and Gwazi does count as two - putting SheiKra one notch lower still...;)

Until the kiddie coaster *finally* shows up at Land of the Dragons, the 'Kra is bottom-of-the-barrel material at the park. Shoot, even teh Maus has improved drastically from its overbraked operation at BGW...

Last edited by rollergator,
Raven-Phile's avatar

I'd go to Busch, just for Kumba. It's my favorite B&M.

Montu's pretty cool, too.

Just to throw another idea out there, since you are already planning to go to Sea World, you can probably snag Busch Gardens tickets much cheaper than Universal Studios.

Ticket deals change all the time, but I recall my local AAA office offering a 5-day unlimited pass to both SW and BGT for about $100.

Both the Busch parks and the Universal parks have unique thrill rides. Enjoy your vacation!

Gwazi is good? I was highly interested in that...been craving wood coasters so far this season...but I've wanted to do Hulk like crazy for years...maybe I'll go straight from the airport to BGT, hit whatever I can that evening, and then do Universal for my full day...can a ride on BGT coasters be had all in 5 hours? I'm flying into Tampa and renting a car, so I'll be super close that first day. Or am I pushing my luck trying to do all that?

Acoustic Velocity, I LOVE Sea World! I thought it was such a nice park, and it was a relief to be away from the crowds for a day after being in Disney most of the week last time I went down to FL. Of course, it was thundering and lightning and pouring rain, so that could have been why there was no one there. *chuckle*

What's wrong with SheikRa? Is it boring or rough or something? To be honest, I forgot all about SheikRa. Wasn't really all that interested in it, and my nemesis (what's the plural of nemesis? Nemeses? lol) is/are drop towers and ferris wheels, so I was a little intimidated by it (after Ka, I'll ride anything else coaster-related though).

I've heard Mummy at Universal is amazing...thoughts? What about the Simpsons ride? Spiderman? If I go to Universal, I'd like to hit the coasters AND these rides...how is the Terminator attraction? Is the Jaws thing still there (insert random Mallrats thoughts here)? Anyone have a recommended plan of action for either Universal OR Busch Gardens? Maybe that would help.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Some of my friends who have been to way more parks than I have tell me that Hulk is awesome. This is third hand information for you, so take it with a grain of salt. Just for the record, I have never rode it and therefore have no opinion either way.

My mother (1946-2009) once asked me why I go to Magic Mountain so much. I said I feel the most alive when I'm on a roller coaster.
2010 total visits: SFMM-9, KBF-2
2010 total ride laps: 437

I loved Hulk but the line is absolutely ridiculous unless your at one of the resorts (which i always am when we go)

Busch Gardens is awesome. It reminds me more of an Amusement Park instead of attractions they have rides. Anyway, if your going for more experience than go to Universal but if your going for thrills and traditional roller coasters than Busch Gardens has way more of that.

If you can get fastpass at Universal though, than do that and you'll have more fun power riding the rides.

Kyle Says: Diamondback was a lot of fun! Made his first time at Kings Island worth it all!

SFoGswim's avatar

^ The prices for Universal's Express Pass when he is going to be there are the cheapest they have which means they aren't expecting a big crowd, and I believe that. I don't think you'll need and Express Pass to have a very successful trip.

Welcome back, red train, how was your ride?!
delan's avatar

Hulk is awesome..well the first third is. The reason why Fire Dragon is the best coaster at Universal is that its action from beginning to end. Hulk starts off good, exceptionally good! But the ending? Yawn!. Rollergator once made this great comparison....Hulk starts off as Hulk, the big green monster, and limps back to the station as Bruce Banner.

Anyhow, Universal is my second favorite place on earth, so even with the construction I would recommned it over any park in Orlando.

Huh...I'll have to check out as much as possible then, it sounds like. Well, wish me good weather and a safe flight (I hate to flyhatetoflyhatetoflyhatetofly!!!). Thanks for all the info.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Crowds shouldn't be much of a problem next week, though the parks are probably running on shorter hours so it will limit what you can do in a day.

You can do BGT in half a day when the crowds are light, if you only want the coasters. Ask five people and you are bound to get different faves. Everyone seems to love Kumba, but I'd rather be on Sheikra or Montu or either side of Gwazi. Yes, Sheikra is no Griffin but it's better than no Sheikra.

Uni/IOA also can be done in a day, though it assumes that you will only be doing the thrill rides or the marquee attractions. Get to IOA before the 9am open and you can go full circle before noon. Just hit Hulk-Spider-Man first and keep going clockwise. You'll be a step ahead of the crowds and be able to walk on to just about everything. You won't see people again until you're at Seuss -- and by then you're done.

Heading to USF by noon-ish will mean actually waiting in queues, but thanks to single rider lines on MIB (where it's walk-on just about every time that way) and Mummy (which is NOT a walk-on, even with single rider) you'll have time to take in some of the longer Hollywood-esque attractions.

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