Tiger Tug-of-War: Tampa Bay, Florida, U.S.A.
Battle with a Bengal
Feeling tough? If you really want to test your strength, consider playing tug-of-war with a Bengal tiger at Jungala, the new 4-acre (1.6-hectare) animal park at Busch Gardens.
Jungala is mainly geared for kids, but its tiger tug-of-war experience certainly isn’t child’s play. Twice a day, up to six visitors are permitted to challenge one of the park’s 11 tigers.
During this fierce competition, you’ll be separated from your opponent by a secure glass partition—though it doesn’t do much to ease your trepidation. These powerful beasts have an awesome amount of strength. So far, the park’s tigers, who weigh around 300 pounds each, have a flawless record of victory, which means that your chances of winning are slim to none. One of the most energetic animals typically beats visitors in about a minute. But even if you lose while giving it your best tug, it’s sure to be one pretty thrilling minute.
If you can’t help lamenting your defeat, there are plenty of rides nearby that are sure to lift your spirits. If you’re with the kids, check out Jungle Flyers, a ziplining experience for 6- to 13-year-olds. Your teenagers might like Wild Surge, a four-story ride that shoots 14 passengers out of a mountain crater topped with a waterfall. But when you’re ready for a faster ride, head deeper into Busch Gardens and give the SheiKra a whirl. Named for a sub-Saharan bird of prey, this roller coaster carries you 300 feet (90m) into the air, dangles you precariously over the side, and then takes you down a 90-degree drop and stops for 4 seconds. Just when you think you can’t scream any more, it plunges toward the ground at speeds of more than 70 mph (110kmph), goes around a loop, another vertical drop, then into an underground tunnel, and finally (thankfully) comes to a stop. After this wild ride, you’ll have forgotten all about that tiger.
Jungala at Busch Gardens, Tampa ( 888/800-5447; www.jungala.com and www.buschgardens.com).
When to Go: Oct–Apr.
Tampa International Airport (17miles/27km).
$ Hyatt Place Tampa/Busch Gardens, 11408 North 30th St. ( 813/979-1922; www.tampabuschgardens.place.hyatt.com). $$–$$$ Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, 2901 Osceola Pkwy., Lake Buena Vista (407/939-7429; disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/animal-kingdom-lodge).