Category Archives: Busch Gardens Tampa

Tink’s *~*~* Links: FREE stays at Disney World, Walt’s Wisdom, and Feral Cats

© Copyright 2010 Tink *~*~*


After dark, the dirty work at Disneyland begins


I never knew that Disney actually encourages the “wild” feral cat population that lives at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Apparently, these cats serve a very special purpose… you’ll have to read the article to find out!

Long but worth it, this article touches upon one of the first things I learned about the making of Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

[pullquote]“When I started on Disneyland, my wife used to say, ‘But why do you want to build an amusement park? They’re so dirty.’ I told her that was just the point; mine wouldn’t be”. – Walt Disney[/pullquote]

I’d read a while back that Walt had taken his girls to an amusement park one day and it occurred to him that it could be cleaner, more child-friendly and more adult-friendly too. It could be a place that would appeal to everyone in the family, a place cut off from the real world, where guests could literally step into the story and really be there and interact with the characters. Walt decided that since the place he was thinking of didn’t exist, he would make it happen himself. “If you can dream it, you can do it,” he’s quoted as saying. “Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.”

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How I Stay At Disney World for FREE

Glorious morning, Walt Disney World Dolphin

Walt Disney World Swan
– a Starwood Resort
(Tower of Terror
in background)

Every so often, a reader sends an inquiry asking how I can manage to go to Walt Disney World so frequently. “What do you do for a living?” they demand. “You must be rich!”. Well, no – but a girl can dream, so hold that happy thought 😀

Seriously – first of all, I live in Southwest Florida, three hours away from Walt Disney World by car. Three hours worth of gasoline, even in these challenging times, is a whole lot cheaper than airfare! But I think the thing that saves me the most money is that I haven’t actually paid to stay in a hotel at Disney World in a very long time. I use Starwood rewards points and stay for free. The only thing I pay for under the rewards program is hotel taxes and fees (and if I valet my car, I pay for that too). So, the last time I stayed at the Walt Disney World Swan, which is a 4-star hotel, I paid something ridiculous like $90 for three nights. No, not $90 per night – $90 for the whole THREE nights in a FOUR-STAR HOTEL. See? I told you it was ridiculous!

Sheraton Safari, Starwood Preferred view

Starwood Preferred view
Sheraton Safari, just
outside Downtown Disney
Orlando, Florida

The credit card that gives me this rewards program is the Starwood American Express. I basically use it to pay for all of my expenses – cable bill, phone bill, gasoline, groceries – you name it, I pay it with Amex (believe me, if I could pay my mortgage with it, I would!). I pay off the card in full at the end of each month, so I never pay them any interest charges. I get one point for every dollar I put through the card. The year I moved down to Florida from New York, I racked up some serious points – you know how it goes with moving expenses. 10,000 points will get me a free night at the Swan or the Dolphin. About 3,700 points will get me a free night at the Sheraton Safari right outside Downtown Disney, or else at the Sheraton Suites in Tampa, just up the road from Busch Gardens, or else at the Sheraton Yankee Trader on the beach in Fort Lauderdale… well, you get the idea.


Sunset from the balcony
of the WDW Dolphin
– a Starwood resort

I just got a notice in the mail that says “Introduce your friends to the card…” – it says if I “invite a friend” and the friend is approved for the card, the friend (that’s YOU) will get a sign-on bonus of 10,000 points (hey, a free night at the Swolphin!) and I will get a 5,000 point bonus. The notice also says that the the first year’s American Express membership fee will be waived (My own current fee is $45 annually).

If you want me to “invite” you to apply for this card, you can use this secure form I’ve created (see CLICK HERE, below) for you to use to send me your email address. I promise not to sell it or to spam you – the only purpose is for Amex to be able to email your invitation to apply for the card. Good luck with the application – I hope you’re able to get the bonus points and enjoy the Starwood program as much as I’ve been enjoying it!

CLICK HERE to fill out the “Introduce A Friend” form…

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Life-changing Lessons from Walt Disney


We’re on a roll with “Walt wisdom” this week. This article comes from an unusual source as it is not a Disney-dedicated site or publication. Walt Disney’s business acumen really boils down to a set of values and a unique approach to work. You might say Walt is the anti-Puritan when it comes to work. He never would have ended up in a “survival career” – he insisted on doing what he loved to do and getting paid for it. Good for you, Walt! This article is full of some of the better Walt quotes.

I recently found some of these very Walt Disney quotes decorating the temporary walls that had been erected around some construction at EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom. These signs were a delightfully welcome change from the typical “We’re Building The Future EPCOT for your enjoyment” (I saw just one of those). I took pictures of these inspirational messages while I was in the World in April. To accompany this article, I’ve made them into a little presentation using Flickr. Enjoy!

[Subscribers: if you do not see a FLICKR slide show just below this sentence, then click through to the blog HERE]

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That’s it for TINK’S *~*~* LINKS this week
Hope you’ve enjoyed 🙂

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The unfortunately named peacock at Disney and Busch Gardens

© Copyright 2008 Tink *~*~*


This peacock blends in pretty perfectly with his surroundings.
Photo taken at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. April 25th, 2004

Peacocks come in different colors, which is something I did not know until I encountered this one at Busch Gardens “Africa” in Tampa, Florida –

Interestingly enough, I’ve discovered that the peacock technically should not be included in Busch Gardens “Africa” because it is indigenous to India. But he was pretty so I’ll let it slide. 😉

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Eagles from the Florida Gulf Coast

© Copyright 2008 Tink *~*~*

Eagles from the Florida Gulf Coast

(a Camera Critters post)
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A couple of weeks ago, I saw a bald eagle hanging out in a dead tree on Sanibel Island. I was only able to get a few shots, most of them no good, before it took off. I was told that the eagle had been collecting sticks out of the tree to make a nest.


This got me thinking about some other photos of eagles that I’ve got in my archives. Here’s the big Anheuser-Busch topiary eagle. It can be found in Busch Gardens “Africa” up in Tampa.


The other eagle I found on my hard drive is made of sand. I photographed this particular eagle at The 2008 American Sand Sculpting Championship Festival. The detail is amazing, and I find it a real treat to watch people create beautiful tableaux from a pile of ordinary sand.


Bald eagles have spent some time on the endangered species list. Use of the pesticide known as DDT had a huge negative impact on bird eggs until it was banned in the early 1970s. The second largest population of bald eagles in the United States is now in Florida (first: Alaska).

I’ve written about the effects of DDT poisoning before, when I cruised Rookery Bay with Dr. Jerry Jackson last spring. Dr. Jackson is a wildlife biologist at Florida Gulf Coast University, and has a radio spot on the local NPR station, WGCU 90.1 Fort Myers. The eagles have made a significant comeback since the banning of DDT, but encroaching civilization represents a new threat. Deforestation in Florida has resulted in a loss of habitat. Very often, people will point to eagle nests coexisting with human neighborhoods, such as the one by the Dairy Queen on Sanibel, as evidence that the eagles will be fine, and that they have adapted. Dr. Jerry Jackson says that situations such as the Dairy Queen nest have not existed long enough to know whether or not coexistence is really a success.

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[sticky] Next Mobile Adventure: Busch Gardens Africa/Tampa, November 10-11

UPDATED ON 11-01-2008
This post is sticky. For regular blogging, please scroll down.

If you have ideas for recreation activities in Tampa, please do leave a comment and tell me about it! .

Chez Bro, SIL and Nieceling are making their annual fall trip to Florida, and I’ll be joining them in Tampa for a long weekend.  I’m excited about Busch Gardens because they have opened a new section called “Jungala”, which looks really fun on the commercials.  I’m also going to look for something new to do in the area.  I don’t think Busch Gardens is a 4 day park, and we love the Aquarium but we’ve done it already.  Nieceling is 12, the rest of us are in our 40s.

UPDATE: We are now arriving on November 9th, so one less day.  They are coming from Disney and turns out the 9th is the day their annual passes are no longer good, so the 9th it is.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE ON 11-01-2008:  They are now not arriving until the evening of Sunday November 9th.  NOW what am I going to do with my weekend, hmmm?

I plead plexi-glass

As it was yesterday at Busch Gardens, most of the animals in the Aquarium are behind plexi-glass, and therefore the photos have all these weird ghostly images superimposed upon them. These are the reflections off the glass of people standing around, including me. Anyhow, this little smiley-faced guy was only about two feet long; they didn’t have any super-sized gators at this exhibit.

Our day at Busch Gardens Tampa

I’ve filled in some explanations for the photos I’ve been blogging all day. Additionally, if you surf over to My Adventures *~*~* , you’ll be able to see more pictures that I’ve uploaded from the Canon.

I think we’re going to the aquarium tomorrow… stay tuned!

Heading to Tampa

Meeting up with Chez Bro and da fambly for a foray to Busch Gardens in Tampa this weekend. Here we go!