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Busch Gardens in Florida: How to Visit on a Budget, AND Make it a Field Trip!

One of the most exciting parts of teaching our children at home is getting to take them to places that enhance and bring alive the things we are teaching them out of books. Being able to show them Independence Hall after a unit on our nation’s independence or walk into the Statue of Liberty after a unit on immigration, brings “book learning” to life for our children. Yet, how do we do this without forgoing the budget? My family is located in Florida, so there are many things for us to do here that as residents cost far less for us than the vacationing family.

Busch Gardens has all of the best aspects of a theme park and a zoo rolled up in one.

It has a wonderful range of animals from aardvarks to zebras. Literally, I’m sure you could go through the park and find an animal based on each letter of the alphabet! There are feeding times for the animals where the keepers will talk about the animal being fed and answer questions. Each animal also has a plaque which gives the onlooker some information about the animal without the need of a park employee.

As Florida residents, we have chosen to purchase Busch Gardens passes for our family. Although the initial sum seems large, broken down it really isn’t. A Fun Card purchase (per person 3 years and older) in January and used at least once per month will end up costing $7 and change per month until December 31 (not including parking). We opted to buy a 2 park (Busch Gardens and Sea World combined) 2 year pass which covers our parking and gives us discounts inside the park as well. Broken down, that comes to about $12.50 per month (per person).

We choose not to purchase our food in the park. Instead, I pack lunches, snacks, and beverages (which are allowed) and we enjoy a spending free day.

Busch Gardens is truly an adventure waiting to happen. My 5 year old has been going since her 3rd birthday and has never gotten bored. From the Sesame Street Safari of Fun children’s section to walking through the park to see the animals, there is always something for her to see and do. For adults, there are always the roller coasters, which are always trying to be the fastest, highest, loopiest, and most breath-taking. Of course, if you feel the need to sit for a while, you can always catch one of their many shows (some even I an air-conditioned venue!).

The park is a pleasant place for families to go for a few hours or all day, whether for an educational experience or just as an escape from their normal duties. The Sesame Safari of Fun is the most child friendly section of the park with water fun areas, pint sized rides, a live show featuring character from Sesame Street, and even rides that encourage (require) parents to ride with their children.

We have a field trip planned soon after we finish our science unit on animals in the African savannah. It will be exciting to see my daughter light up as she sees some of the animals we have seen before with new eyes and a little more knowledge.


Suzette Ladouceur is a former classroom teacher of 10 years now stay-at-home wife and mommy to her husband Brian of 9 years and 5 year old daughter Addie and almost 2 year old son Ian. You can learn more about her at The Joy of Homemaking and follow her daily ideas on her blog’s Face Book page.