Busch Gardens photo tour 4/7/12

Every once in a while it is nice to sit back and just let the pictures speak for themselves. I can attest there are times when I am a bit longwinded and tend to get distracted (ooh squirrel). I’m going to try to introduce photo tours into my blog posts much like I did for my previous post on Disney’s Pop Century Resort. For those who don’t know, I work in Tampa and live south of there by a good 45 minutes. As often as I can, I try to take the opportunity to visit Busch Gardens since it is less than fifteen minutes from my office. This past weekend was gorgeous, so I decided to head over to the park on Saturday after I got out of work.

Since it was a kind of warm afternoon I noticed quite a few of the animals napping, which was not something I had seen on my previous few visits. I also couldn’t help myself in noticing several of the animals were mooning me while I tried to take their pictures. 😉

On this day I experienced two new attractions: Tut’s Tomb and Iceploration. The former is a recreation of King Tut’s Tomb that was discovered in Egypt in the early 1900s. This was a really neat area to explore that I had never even noticed before. I was very grateful that it wasn’t a very confined space, which I was a little worried about since I am claustrophobic. Iceploration is a relatively new show that takes place in the Moroccan Palace Theatre. The premise is that a young boy who doesn’t like to play outside and is very much into electronics is forced to travel around the globe with his grandfather exploring areas such as an African savanna, the Great Barrier Reef, the Arctic and a Rainforest. It is a unique presentation with performers dressed as different animals ice skating throughout the different scenes. There are also live animals (warning: birds fly into the audience!!!) that come on stage in the different scenes from birds to cats and dogs. You can even meet one of the huskies after the show and have a picture taken with it. It was an enjoyable show with a variety of entertainment styles from dance to ice skating, animal entertainment, all while telling the story of exploration across the globe. For you Disney folks think of it as Festival of the Lion Kings combined with Finding Nemo the Musical and the old Tarzan Rocks show at the Animal Kingdom (minus the recognizable songs and characters). They even have their own version of the tumble monkeys!

So I present to you some pictures I took at Busch Gardens this past weekend and invite you to join along for this photo tour. Enjoy!

 

 

All in all I spent a few hours in the park and was able to enjoy a few new things along with some of my favorites. I can always go to the park and just enjoy myself by walking around and watching the animals. It was especially nice to see the baby joeys and to see the cheetahs as close as I did. There seemed to be even more beautiful flowers than on my last few visits. Spring is in bloom. Have you been to Busch Gardens recently? What are some of your favorites? Is there anything you’d like to see on another photo tour? If so, please leave us a note in the comments or feel free to email me at Betsy@onthegoinmco.com.

If you enjoyed these pictures, check out my previous blog post here on the animals of the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Why I love Disney’s Pop Century Resort

I have always considered myself to be somewhat of an old soul. As a friend recently said, I do like movies starring dead people (read: I like classic films often shown on TCM more than a lot of the recent releases). As far as music is concerned, I know more oldies and classic rock music than my parents do. I am content listening to stories of the way things used to be. I even wrote my college admission essay about how I grew up in the wrong era. I am definitely a Gen Xer, but feel comfortable thinking back to the time when men wore hats and women wore gloves (think Mad Men or earlier). These all combine to account for a fraction of why I like Disney’s Pop Century Resort as my go to value resort at Walt Disney World.

The nostalgic atmosphere of the resort cannot be denied. For the uninitiated, the resort is comprised of ten buildings that house 2,880 rooms, making it one of the largest resorts in the country. The different buildings are themed after the decades of the 1950s through the 1990s, which makes it a great choice for anyone with a thing for looking back and reminiscing about the good old days. Of course there are tons of other great reasons guests may enjoy Pop.

 

One of the most appealing benefits that the resort has over the other three current value resorts (Disney’s All Star Movies, Music and Sports Resorts) is that it has its own bus transportation to the theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney that is not shared with any other resorts. As anyone who has stayed at All Star Movies may have experienced, there is not much more frustrating than seeing a bus pull up for the destination you are looking for, only to be completely full and not accepting any guests. More good news for Pop guests is that it will NOT be sharing a bus with the brand new Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opening on May 31st of this year. This is on top of the fact that Pop is a bit more centrally located than the All Star resorts.

The standard rooms at Pop Century have either two double beds or a king bed (note: many of the king rooms are handicap accessible). Flatpanel tvs sit atop sleek mid century modern light wood dressers and the artwork is themed after the decade of the building in which you are staying. A curtain can be pulled across the opening between the vanity area of the bathroom (which is separate from the toilet and shower area) to provide some privacy and a separation from the bedroom. Each room is also appointed with a table and a couple of chairs, an in room safe, telephone, dresser as well as an alarm clock radio. The rooms are clean and comfortable and quite adequate for the value of the resort.

In the last few weeks the value of the resort has increased even more. The resort is in the process of installing mini refrigerators in all of the rooms. These are slightly smaller than the ones at the moderate and deluxe resorts, but still large enough to store a decent amount of stuff. I was fortunate enough to have one of these newly installed in my room when I stayed at Pop in the middle of March. If one has not yet been installed in your room (even at the All Star Resorts) you may request one at no charge to be delivered to your room, whereas previously they were $10./night. Another great upgrade has just been completed across all of the value resorts: FREE WI-FI!!! This may not seem like a big deal to everyone, but to those of us who are permanently attached to our phones or laptops, this is a huge benefit that was previously only afforded to guests staying at Deluxe and recently the moderate resorts.

Given these upgrades and, in my opinion, the superior theming over the other three value resorts, I find it difficult to justify staying at the Moderate resorts over Pop. Previously I would rationalize by saying they have the fridge and coffeemakers, which I never use, but now what? Ceiling fans are nice and all, as is the larger room, but unless I’m going to a moderate with two queen beds, I’m going to choose Pop. The resort seems to be great for adults with a sense of nostalgia as well as kids who will recognize the large icons of some of their favorite Disney animated characters like Lady and the Tramp, Mowgli and Baloo from the Jungle Book, Roger Rabbit and even Mickey Mouse!

Everything Pop is one of the nicer options at the value resorts and has a nice open concept design with the gift shop flowing into the food court. Many mistakenly assume that counter service restaurants only serve burgers and hot dogs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to inform people that it can be oh so much more. One of the great selections at Everything Pop is the nightly special that is something akin to mom’s home cooking. Some nights you will find a baked turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and green beans served with cornbread fresh out of the oven, and others you will have fish, pasta or meatloaf. The other food and beverage location at Pop is the pool bar Petals. I will admit I have spent more than a few hours there enjoying friends’ company over libations. It is a nice location and the CMs are always friendly and willing to strike up a conversation.

As with the other value resorts, Pop has several pools. The Hippy Dippy Pool is the main theme pool with the images of flower power from the 60s being prevalent as the pool is situated between the two 60s buildings. There are also pools between the 80s and 90s buildings with a computer theme, and my favorite being the 50s bowling pin pool. An arcade is located in the lobby just adjacent to the front desk and Everything Pop.

I’m not quite sure how I will feel about Pop when the Art of Animation opens in the end of May. I don’t often have need for a family suite, but it may be nice for several friends staying together or if I travel with family again. The bigger question will be if I will be staying at DAAR (Disney’s Art of Animation Resort) once the standard rooms in the Little Mermaid building open. I took some pictures last week of the progress that has been made recently with the construction at the new resort along with some nice views of Pop at sunrise.

 

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