FTC Disclaimer: My family was provided a ticket for entrance into the park and in return, I was asked to share our experience. Any opinions contained within are mine and my family’s.

It was a normal day at the park…then, the unthinkable happened.

Well, let me start from the beginning. It was a rainy dreary sort of day. Sure, it started out fine, but like anything weather related, it changed in a hurry. By the time we arrived at the park, we had to sit in our car for about 15 minutes until the rain died down enough to get out without getting drenched. I’d give you a play-by-play of how THAT turned out…but I’d like for you to stick around and read about the rest of the trip. (Besides, if you have kids, you probably already know how it played out.)

You cringed, didn't you?

You cringed, didn’t you?

The rain stopped, we got everyone on the shuttle and made our way into the park. The boys both grabbed maps. Because both of them HAVE to be the navigator. AMIRIGHT?

My oldest, who has informed us that he is going to become a zookeeper when he grows up, essentially leads the way. “Gorillas, dad. I want to see the gorillas.”

Who am I to argue? So, we start heading to the gorilla enclosure when he hollers for the camera so he can get a shot of the alligator.

Alligators are always willing to oblige a fan.

Alligators are always willing to oblige a fan.

Now, what follows is a series of images of chimpanzees and gorillas. My oldest son, 5, likes to take pictures. So, some of these images are ones that he took. Needless to say, I’m proud of his photographic abilities thus far. (In totally unrelated news…I may have a new photographer for my blog!)

 

After all the walking…the unthinkable happened. There was a BLOW OUT!

I know what you’re thinking. But, you’d be wrong. Yes, the blog is about Dads Who Change Diapers, but currently I have no one in diapers. So it wasn’t THAT kind of blow-out. Nope. Instead it was something a bit more nefarious.

Busch-Gardens-Blow-Out

We are near the back of the park when my wife’s shoe gives up the ghost and leaves us in a bad spot. So, we go to a kiosk and ask if they sell flip-flops. The answer was a ‘No, but the one over in Jungala might!’.

So, we cross the bridge over to Jungala and find a shop. A shop that doesn’t have any of my wife’s size in stock. So, I go up to the gentleman running the kiosk to ask if there’s any place in the park that might have my wife’s size. Now, mind you, I’m not expecting a lot here. Typically, people don’t go to theme parks looking for awesome customer service.

Busch-Gardens-Awesome-Customer-Service

 

Now, let me just say, I’m embarrassed because I lost the piece of paper with his name on it. I wanted to call him out specifically in this post because he really did go the extra mile for us.

First, he told me that this wasn’t his normal store, so he wasn’t sure what they had. He then called his normal shop at the front of the park and asked them if they had any flip flops in my wife’s size. When they didn’t have any, he cracked the storage room open and dug around for almost five minutes before coming out with the exact pair we were looking for. I’m not over-exaggerating here when I say, “He saved our trip to the park.”

Had we not found a replacement shoe, we would have been forced to leave. It was equally awesome for me, because so often in theme park environments the employees are more likely to just say, “Sorry, what’s out on the rack is all we have.” and then shoo you off so they can get back to doing the nothing they so obviously loved doing before you came up to bother them with your little problems.

Seriously, if anyone knows this guy’s name…show his boss this blog post! He deserves something for being so accommodating for us!

*UPDATE* I found the paper where I wrote his name down. It’s CHARLES! So, THANK YOU CHARLES!

Equipped with new shoes and spirits bolstered by some A+ customer service…we continue our trek.

Busch-Gardens-Orangutans

Busch-Gardens-Orangutan-Hands

Busch-Gardens-Orangutan-Hand-Size

 

Busch-Gardens-Lazy-Tiger

 

 

Busch-Gardens-Hide-and-Seek-Tiger

Seriously…they are better at it than you are. (Yes, there’s a tiger in the picture.)

After all of this trekking around, we hit the Zambia Smokehouse. One thing I’d like to add here is that I grew up going to places like Six Flags and Fiesta Texas and Atroworld. The one thing that remained true for all those years was that theme park food sucks and is over-priced.

If you’ve experienced something like that, then you are in for a shock, my friends. I’m just going to drop a picture here. If you’re feeling adventurous and aren’t afraid to lick your monitor, click it for the larger version.

Busch-Gardens-Zambia-Smokehouse-Brisket

Smoked brisket. Holy wow. I didn’t even bother with my utensils, guys! I ate it with my bare hands, and I might have even growled at someone for getting too close while I was eating.

 

We purchased one of those souvenir cups because it gave free refills throughout the day. And, as my luck would have it, I lost the receipt for my cup. So, about a half hour later, we walked back over to Zambia Steakhouse and I told them what happened. One of the ladies immediately fetched the manager for me, and within a few minutes, he had logged onto the computer, and pulled up my previous order and reprinted the receipt for me. Again, this is something that in the past might have just been blown off with a ‘sorry, you should have kept that receipt’. But not this time. Not here.

Busch-Gardens-Zambia-Smokehouse-Customer-Service-Heros

 

Again, like before, I can’t find the paper where I wrote their names down, but I would LOVE to give them a shout out. Did they save the day at the park? Not as much as the other guy did, but they DID save me like $1,200 in refills! (I’m only partially joking…it was a muggy and thirsty day!) 😀

*UPDATE* I found their names too! Thank you, to Sophia, our wonderful cashier and Anthony, the manager that never blinked an eye to help us out. 

After getting our receipt reprinted, we trekked around the park a bit more. We stopped by the Animal Care Center, where my sons got to see some of the veterinary staff in action.

Busch-Gardens-Animal-Care-Center

Busch-Gardens-Animal-Care-Center-Animal-Cards

AND, they got these super cool animal cards. (My son is using them to help diagnose some of his stuffed animal ailments at home.)

This led to a sundown train ride that my son demanded to take pictures of…darkness.

So, it was time for some consolation COTTON CANDY!

Busch-Gardens-Enjoying-the-Food

And an impromptu dance party.

Busch-Gardens-Summer-Nights-Dance-Party

 

Long story short:

Busch Gardens is changing. The feel of the park is different. They are adding lots of little bells and whistles here and there. But, one thing I’ve noticed that’s really different, is that the customer service is better. The employees seem more vested in what they are doing. And, that, adds value and magic to a park visit.

Also, did I mention that brisket from Zambia Smokehouse? Because it was amazing:

Busch-Gardens-Zambia-Smokehouse-Smoked-Brisket-with-Sauce

 

 

 

 

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