Florida Guide > Other Parks
Busch Gardens......a history.
The sometimes overlooked theme park called Busch Gardens is in the Tampa area, about an hour or so from your vacation villa.
Busch had very simple beginnings as a place people could go to sample the brewery beers and watch a bird show. This was in the late fifties before the advent of Disney.
August A Busch decided that if many thousands of people would come and watch a bird show then even more would come to an animal theme park. And thus Busch Gardens was conceived.
It was determined that the park should have an animal theme and the first section to be completed was Serengetti. The year was 1965. This was not in any way a zoo but African animals like elephants and giraffes wandering freely across 29 acres.
During the mid sixties The Old Swiss House was built and became a very popular restaurant. This always seemed incongruous to me sitting uneasily in the African theme but I recently discovered that August had this built to honour his 3rd wife who was Swiss. In 1975, Augusts son made a succesful hostile takeover of the Busch corporation.
The Old Swiss House was closed as a restaurant in the early 80s and has been remodelled as the Crown Colony House. I wonder what old August thought of that?
In 1966 they added a momo rail and this was updated in 1987 reopening to the public in 1998. The monorail takes people on a 10 minute tour of the park.
In 1973 Stanleyville opened and along with it the first of the 3 water based rides.
Two years later along came the Moroccan village with its mix of acrobats, monkeys and themed cafes.
The skyride also opened in the 70s and this gave a wonderful aerial view of the whole park and the African Jungle Queen was launched. Later on this was incorporated into a water ride.
In 1977 the first roller coaster was unrolled to a delighted public. This was Python. 4 years later a loop the loop coaster called Scorpio was installed. In subsequent years 5 other innovative roller coasters were added which sealed the Busch reputaion for thrill rides.
So the seventies were a busy time for Busch but they were not all done. Timbuktoo was completed in 1980 swiftly followed in 1982 by Congo.
During the last decade they have not sat back on their laurels but have constantly updated and improved the park.
In 2005 they installed Sheikra which is the fastest, tallest roller coaster in the south east and is definitely not for the faint hearted (me)
The brewery started it all closed in 1995 and free beer tastings have also ceased. In the early days admission was free but now costs $69. 99 a day. The only things that survive from those early days are the birds.
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