Affordable Water Fun at Adventure Island
“Don’t be scared of the dark on this slide,” we are warned by an 8-year-old before sliding down Adventure Island’s Wahoo Run, which starts high in the sky (so it seems), and is mostly in the dark before you splash down at the faraway bottom.
The dark turns out to be not that scary, although dozens of other riders scream their way down the slide to add to the drama and excitement.
Kids have a lot to be excited about at Tampa’s Adventure Island, which is owned by Busch Gardens. However, what their parents can be excited about is its affordability and its convenience if you live or are vacationing in the Tampa Bay area.
If you get an annual pass to Adventure Island and neighboring Busch Gardens, you only shell out about $14/month. That includes admission all year, parking (a $12 value for each visit), and 10% off food, drinks, and souvenirs. One park alone is $9.99/month. As Adventure Island is owned by Busch Gardens, which owns a number of amusement parks, you could customize your pass to also include Sea World and Aquatica, which are both in Orlando. A pass for all four parks for a year is about $22/month.
Plus, you’re allowed to bring coolers to the park (those coolers will come in handy at a minimum for drinks, so you don’t have to pay the $2-$3 charge many parks have for just a bottle of water).
If you’d prefer to buy a day pass, it’ll cost $40-$45 for Florida residents and slightly more if you’re visiting from outside the state. Whether you choose to buy an annual pass or a single visit, you’ll save time purchasing tickets online in advance and printing your ticket.
The park is located off of Interstate 4 or Interstate 75 depending on how you are arriving, just minutes from downtown Tampa. It is very close to Busch Gardens Tampa.
And what about the park itself?
Just like its Orlando sister waterpark Aquatica (which Florida Culture wrote about before), Adventure Island has the requisite wave pool (Endless Surf), lazy river, an area for younger children (Fabian’s Funport), and beach areas with sand where you can catch some rays and lay down your towels and bags. (Click here for a park map.) There are also the slides with jaw-dropping drops and twists and turns, such as Wahoo Run, Runaway Rapids, Water Moccasin, and Key West Rapids. There’s also a steep drop to the bottom on the ride Everglides–“Be careful,” we are warned by the same 8 year old.
An area that was a hit with the 8-year-old boys during our recent visit is called Paradise Lagoon. It includes an obstacle course (you fall in the water if you don’t make it all the way across the ropes), smaller slides, and a cliff jump. Although almost all of Adventure Island’s attractions were popular during our visit, the boys could probably have made a day just of spending time in Paradise Lagoon.
If you’d rather just sunbathe, you can pass the time buying drinks and people watching. You’re sure to have a show with an endless parade of interesting swimwear and tattoos.
Adventure Island is open from March until October. It’s best to check the park calendar for specific hours and days as they can vary. Generally speaking, the park stays open the longest hours in June and July.