Tampa Tuesdays: Busch Gardens Tampa

On Saturday, Bobby and I took Emma Kate to Busch Gardens Tampa. It was our first experience in the park aside from seeing a small portion when we went for a media event a few weeks ago. I did a little bit of research to at least know what we did and didn’t want to do, and we arrived at the park when it opened at 10:00 (which I thought was late!)

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Getting on the tram at the parking lot was a little hectic as there was no one there to keep people in order, and there were no true “lines”. We had a family try and push us out of the way to get on the tram (I was holding EK in my arms!) and I had to yell at a guy to let Bobby get on the tram with us b/c he had the stroller and people were pushing in front of him. However, I tried to shake it off and not let it ruin the day. The park can’t control what other people do, and it wasn’t their fault. We made it to the front, and bag check was smooth and quick.

I wanted Bobby to get to ride at least one roller coaster, so he jumped in line for Cheetah Hunt because it said there was only a ten minute wait. I took Emma Kate to go visit some animals while we waited.

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After about 30 minutes I texted Bobby and he was still in line. I was not thrilled because Emma Kate was getting bored and wanted to go ride the train. We visited the giraffes which there was SO many of, very cool, and then waited some more.

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All in all he was gone a total of 45 minutes for a ten minute wait, so I’m not sure what happened there. Maybe it temporarily broke down and we didn’t realize. Either way, nothing we could do to change it so we moved along and got in line for the train.

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It was fun seeing the animals along the route. A very nice touch. We decided to get off at the next stop and go see the monkeys and the tigers. This guy was just sitting up at the glass staring at all the kids. Emma Kate kept saying she wanted to hold him, of course.

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We also saw a couple of sleepy tigers. I loved all the lush landscaping in their habitats with multiple vantage points to view them from.

By this time it was after noon, and we were getting  hungry. We tried to get Emma Kate to nap in her stroller as we walked down towards the Food and Wine festival area.

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I love how the booths are mainly contained to two areas so you don’t have to walk all that far to get from one to another. Also, there were no long lines to wait in which was a plus.

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We each had an 8 pack sampler card courtesy of Busch Gardens, and were ready to enjoy the festival. (These can be purchased at the booths, and also you can find festival guides at each booth with a map and list of all the food and drink offerings.)

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First up, Bobby got the lamb chops and a mango margarita, which got two thumbs up.

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We then headed over towards the two Coke booths, which are next door to an inside air conditioned area with tables. We were happy to find this spot, as it was getting HOT outside. Bobby got a couple more things to eat and I got a pulled pork slider. After a brief rest, we headed over towards the concert area where there were a lot of other booths.

Bobby tried some ribs, and I got my favorite: the bacon mac and cheese, which was just as delicious as I remembered it. Emma Kate loved it, too and kept stealing my bacon.

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We both also had watermelon margaritas, which would become our favorite drink of the festival. (I may have had three.) I may have also had a regular margarita on the rocks at the margarita bar while we were in this area.

Emma Kate had been dying to “see Elmo” in the kids area, so we went there next. This area was great. TONS to do for kids all confined to one very large space. She was so overwhelmed we weren’t sure what to do first. She rode several rides, and even did a small “water ride” by herself!

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We put her in the bounce house because she LOVES those things, but there were a lot of big kids in there and she got upset and wanted to get out. We also did the carousel, and she climbed up in a large tree house area with Bobby.

Seriously we could have stayed in this area all day and Emma Kate would have been jjuussttt fine. There was also a huge really cool looking splash pad area, but we decided to skip that one for the day because it was already getting late in the day and we were all tired. We did however have one more stop to make, the show with Elmo and the gang! EK clapped and waved, and even got to touch Grover which I think made her whole day. This area was covered and had fans which was a very nice touch on such a sunny afternoon. There were also plenty of benches and other seating around the whole kids area for moms and dads to take a rest as the kids played.

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We still had a couple of punches left on our food and wine cards, so Bobby got some steak and said it was his favorite dish of the day.

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We met up with Megan and Gabe for a few minutes and chatted at a table and people watched before calling it a day. Check out the cool topiary in the background!

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The park is really big, and there was no way we could have done everything in a day, which just means we will have to go back!

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Not five minutes after leaving the park, this one fell asleep in the car. I think that’s a sign of a good day!

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A huge thanks to Busch Gardens for inviting us back to experience the park and the food and wine festival. Don’t forget, you can experience it for yourself every weekend through the end of this month, and there is a free concert every night of the festival with your park admission! Check out BuschGardens.com for the lineup and information.

Disclosure: I was provided free park admission for two as well as lanyards to try out the food at the festival. However, I was not asked to write a blog post about it, but we had a great time and I wanted too! Also, all opinions are my own.

**I would love it if you would take a quick second to fill out a 6 question survey about how you plan Disney vacations. Thanks in advance!**

Son Valley Rally 5k Race Recap

Last Saturday, I ran the Son Valley Rally 5k, first 5k I have run since the Royal Family 5k in February of 2014. I was extra excited because my parents were there to watch, as was baby EK.

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The race started at 8:00, and there were clouds looming and a very high threat of rain, which unfortunately meant very high humidity. It was a small race (less than 200 between the 5k run and 5k walk) so the start was pretty informal. I lined up around the middle of the pack, and Bobby got towards the front (you can spot him in the grey shirt).

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I had not looked at the race course so I had no idea where we were going and I just hoped there would be signs or people at the turns (there were). Mississippi is relatively flat, but this course was not. I admittedly started out too fast, and when we started going downhill I knew we were in trouble because we would eventually have to go back up. We turned onto the trace running trail, and went up, up, up and across the interstate and down the other side. This is about where Bobby passed me going the other way. I hit the turnaround and headed back up towards the interstate overpass. I had slowed down considerably, but was still holding a good pace. When I hit mile 2, I stopped at the water stop and walked for about ten seconds. My fast start was catching up with me and I was kicking myself for not leaving some energy in the tank for the end. I made it back onto the road and was really starting to hurt and slow down. I took one more walk break around mile 2.8, and those last three tenths seemed to take FOREVER! The humidity made it really hard to breath, but I turned the last corner pushing with all I had. I crossed a little after the 30 minute mark, which was super disappointing to me. I have been running on the treadmill and could run a 29 minute 5k, so I figured in a race situation with adrenaline pumping I could do at least that well. Thanks mom for taking a picture of me right after I finished and thought I was going to throw up.

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I only recently started working on speed after my marathon was over, but I was still frustrated. Coming back after having a baby is SO humbling and I still have a ways to go.

Bobby struggled with the humidity too. He ran a 24 something, and usually can run in the 22 range.

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It felt good to push my body, but wow I forgot how hard a 5k is! I much prefer a half where I am not trying to basically flat out sprint the whole time.

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A fun thing about this race was some of the animals that were at Bobby’s duathlon a few weeks ago were back. Specifically, Frank the camel was back! He really liked my dad.

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Selfie with a camel! A phrase I never imagined I would say.

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Emma Kate did SO well all morning and loved people watching in her stroller.

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The guy in charge of the petting zoo decided my dad needed to hold a snake. My mother, who is DEATHLY afraid of snakes, flipped out and wouldn’t get near him,

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I was sure to stay a safe distance away myself. I am not a fan. ick.

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Bobby made a friend as well.

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I thought this bird was really pretty, I have never seen one quite so pink!

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more animals that I kept my distance from.

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Frank the camel’s owner ran him through the finish line at the conclusion of the race.

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We stuck around for the awards, and I found out I placed 3rd in the 20-29 age group. What was really special was that the awards were handmade by some of the amazing special needs adults at Son Valley. I got to pick out a piece of artwork as my award.

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This was the first year for the race and while it needs some tweaks (they had THIRTY FIVE door prizes and took FOREVER handing them out while we were all waiting around for awards) I would run it again, especially since it’s for such a good cause, raising funds for the Son Valley community center. Next up, a 4th of July 5k. Hopefully I learned my lesson and will pace myself better!

QOTD: Have you ever poorly paced yourself during a race?