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    Busch GardensBusch Gardens Tampa, Florida
    Busch Gardens Tampa Bay opened in 1959 with an exciting African theme, which was why it would be initially called the "Dark Continent" and considered one of the biggest zoological institutions in the nation housing over 2700 animals. Their major attractions include the Kumba, Montu, Stanley Falls, Rhino Rally, Congo River Rapids, Gwazi, Jungala, Scorpion, Serengeti Railway, Sesame Street, Phoenix, Sheirkra, Edge of Africa, Cheetah Chase and the Tanganyika Tidal Wave. The animal attractions include the bird gardens, walkabout way, Edge of Africa, Serengeti Plain, Jambo Junction, Rhino Rally, Jungala, Myombe Reserve and Lory Landing. In Jungala, you'll have a close encounter of the most exciting kind when you get close enough to a Bengal tiger to see his dark eyes watching your every move, or ride a zipline through a rainforest, or perhaps you would not feel too intimidated to look an orangutan in the eyes while you are standing on a jungle outpost. This area is four acres of fun and up-close encounters and animal interactions, live entertainment and a three story maze of rope bridges and nets for the kids to climb or even the adults if you feel up to it. The newest adventure to come to this dark continent is Sesame Street Safari where you'll have a chance to meet all your old friends that have been around for decades and climb Elmo's tree house or fly through the desert with Grover. All the old gang is here to help you enjoy the day and the park much better, giving your children the opportunity to meet these crazy characters up close. It is one of the best theme parks in the state and has many folks from the state going there all year long.

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    Henry B. Plant MuseumHenry B. Plant Museum Tampa, Florida
    in the south wing of Plant Hall and originally called the Tampa Bay Hotel, the Henry B. Plant museum sits on the campus of the University of Tampa, concentrating on the turn of the century Victorian lifestyle of the old hotel's guests, especially those that could afford the Gilded Age and the start of the state's and Tampa's huge tourist industry that has grown into the most fascinating industry in the state today. The entire structure has become a National Historic Landmark, done so in 1972, and the entire hotel was constructed for railroad king, Henry B. Plant; with a huge price tag for its time of $2.5 million. The hotel occupies six acres itself and is a quarter mile long, with the first elevator installed in the state, still being used today and now it is one of the oldest continually operating elevators still in use today. There were 511 rooms, with some of that number actually being suites that held three to seven rooms inside, with electric light and telephones and the first in the state. The majority of rooms had their own private bathrooms, completed with full size tubs, with the room prices ranging from a low of $5 a night to a high of $15 a night. The grounds that encompassed this huge structure contained 150 acres with racetrack, indoor heated swimming pool, golf course, casino and bowling alley. The grounds would eventually include twenty-one buildings, while the Moorish revival style that Plant chose because of the exotic appeal it would have for world travelers, Victorians that would become his main customers and guests. The hotel has three domes, six minarets and four cupolas, which were restored to their original stainless steel condition in the 1990s. It would operate from 1891 until 1930, welcoming thousands of visitors from around the world and hundreds of celebrities that included, Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Sarah Bernhardt, the Prince of Wales, Clara Barton, the Queen of England, and Stephen Crane.

March 30, 2014