Lions and Tigers and Rollercoasters?

So, I happen to live about 2 miles from Busch Gardens Tampa. I have been an annual pass holder for as long as I can remember. Even the 500 pound version of me loved going to see the animals, shows, and concerts. A long time ago, I used to love rollercoasters and thrill rides. Busch Gardens has a bunch of world class rollercoasters, but sadly I didn’t fit in them for the last 20 or so years.

I am excited to share with you that in the last month or so before they closed for coronavirus precautions I started fitting on those rollercoasters again. Slowly I have been checking them all off my list. I still love them, they still scare me, but I am so looking forward to their reopening so I can get back on them.

This post is more than a love poem to rollercoasters, I want to tell you how Busch Gardens is helping me lose weight. One of the ways you won’t believe.

I’ll start with the obvious one. I go often and hardly ever ride the tram from the parking lot. I chose to walk, then once I am inside the park, its huge, there is a big loop from the main entrance, you can either go right or left, and if you keep going you will end up back where you start. Walking in an amusement park is so much better than walking on a treadmill. Every walk lets me see animals, people, and even duck on a ride or two if the lines aren’t too bad.

Now here is the surprise one you won’t believe. Busch Gardens started something called all season dining back in October of 2019. The deal was for one flat price, you could get up to 2 meals a day in the park, every day they are open (meals must be at least 4 hours apart). Cost was around $125 for 2020, but if you bought early you got the end of 2019 for free. You have to own an annual pass, which was not an issue for me, since I already had one. My wife and I were averaging about two meals a week each at Busch Gardens. The math works out great (I am guessing we will end up paying between $1 and $2 a meal when our year is over). There are plenty of healthy options in the park at all the restaurants. Some of the meals come with fries, but all but one cashier lets me swap the fries out for a giant pickle (I don’t know she might be the only one doing the rules right, so I don’t give her much grief). What this means is that twice a week on average we get a healthy meal, in a very cool setting, at a great price, with tons of exercise along with the meal.

Let me share my favorite healthy meals at Busch Gardens in case anyone gets a chance to go:

Zagora Café – Griller Chicken Sandwich with pickle instead of the fries or Turkey Wrap with pickle instead of the fries

Pantopia Grill – Pasta with Marinara and Grilled Chicken Breast or The Fajita Chicken Bowl where I bring in my own fat free sour cream and fat free cheddar cheese in little plastic cups with lids

Smokehouse – Grilled Half Chicken (and I try hard to get the pickle instead of the fries, but this is where the one cashier who keeps saying no works)

Serengeti Overlook Café (best view to eat) – Turkey Club Sandwich with Salad (I bring my own fat free dressing in little plastic cups with lids)

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