We are obsessed with Walt Disney World. We bought season passes two years in a row and just loved every visit. However, we thought we would try some other new things because there are so many great theme parks in Florida. This year we decided to try out Busch Gardens because the kids got the free preschool pass. So we were comparing the two theme parks a lot and I thought I would share our opinion of the similarities and differences between Disney and Busch Gardens.
Walt Disney World vs. Busch Gardens pros and cons
Disney and Busch Gardens both allow children under the age of three into the park for free. Love this! Other than that similarity, Busch Gardens is definitely cheaper. They also have a preschool pass for kids five and under that gets kids into Busch Gardens and Sea World. However, Disney World has four different parks with four amazing experiences so you pay more but get more (and with Disney- you get a lot of awesome). Busch Gardens has a lot to offer as well but it’s one park so it’s cheaper.
Busch Gardens has more adult rides like roller coasters and while Disney has a variety, most rides are geared toward people of all ages. If you want thrill rides head to Busch Gardens. If you want unique experiences, head to Disney.
I do want to clarify that Busch Gardens has rides for kids. In fact, they have an entire kids section with rides, games, bounce areas, etc. and my kids loved it. But I feel like teens and adults would have a lot more to choose from at Busch Gardens if they love big roller coasters.
Disney is awesome because you get three fast passes per day (in one park) per ticket (or season pass). At Busch Gardens you have to buy a completely separate “Skip the Lines” pass. The price for that pass at Busch Gardens is:
Skip the lines once per ride: $14.99
Skip the lines on kid-rides only: $9.99
Skip the lines unlimited for one day: $19.99
Skip the lines unlimited all year long: $299.00
Get a “skip the lines” pass at Busch Gardens here.
Parking at both parks is free with season passes. Let me clarify though, at Busch Gardens it’s free with the Annual card, NOT the Fun card. Parking is free with all season passes at Disney whether you are Silver, Gold, etc. When pulling into Walt Disney World, I feel like parking goes smoother in that you drive in and you don’t have to wait in a long line to show your pass and park. However, Disney is always, always, always busy no matter what time of year and no matter which park you are visiting so we always seem to be parked pretty far away. And, as I will discuss later under the “strollers” topic, I always walk all the way to the park because I don’t want to get on the tram with a stroller, so that can be a pain. I do get a ton of steps on my FitBit though.
Busch Gardens, on the other hand, seemed more unorganized in the parking department. We were in a traffic line for like 15 to 20 minutes just to get through and show our pass and then another few minutes to find the parking spot. BUT, Busch Gardens has an amazing thing that we loved…they have up close parking for stroller families. Ah-mazing!!! Less walking for us tired parents.
Meal plans are also cheaper at Busch Gardens. You can get a meal plan for one day and it gives you food and drink every hour all over the park. We did it and LOVED it. I highly recommend. The dining pass at Busch Gardens cost $34.99 per adult and $19.99 per child (ages 3-9).
However, you can bring food and drink into Walt Disney World and you can’t at Busch Gardens. So that saves us money because I always pack our lunch at Disney and we only end up having to buy one meal and maybe drinks. Disney offers dining plans as well but they are a little more pricey and generally aren’t worth it unless you are staying for a few days at the Disney resorts.
There are very few smoking sections at Disney, which I personally love, but I also don’t smoke. They are also secluded and I never ever walk through them…at least to my knowledge.
At Busch Gardens there were a lot more smoking sections and I felt like I had to walk through them to get to the next attraction, which I didn’t like at all.
I feel like there were a lot of signs at Busch Gardens pointing us to where we wanted to go next. Honestly, I know Disney so well that I don’t even look for signs so I think they have them I am just not observant enough to notice. There are maps at the front of both parks to help you too.
Both Disney and Busch Gardens win. They both have pros for different things. At Disney they have spots all around the park and outside of most attractions for stroller parking. It’s great! Busch Gardens does not have that.
Disney wins! Disney keeps their bathrooms much cleaner. Not to mention the diaper changing area is much bigger and cleaner.
Overall, I love both parks. They both have their pros and their cons, but both would be worth visiting with your family! 🙂 For more information about Walt Disney World, click here and for more information about Busch Gardens Tampa, click here! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Here are a few more pictures from our Busch Gardens day! It was so much fun!