Five Things you Might Not Know About the History of Busch Gardens

Maybe you’re already a Busch Gardens geek and know its whole life story.  However, your average visitor may not be aware of some of the fun and unique things about this great park’s history.  So this month as the park celebrates its 60th Anniversary we present “Five Things you Might Not Know About the History of Busch Gardens”

5.  It’s been around longer than Disney World

This month (March 2019) the park turns 60 years old.  By comparison, Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971, making it only 47 years old!

4. It used to have/be a brewery with free admission

Back in 1959 the park opened as a FREE Anheuser-Busch brewery tour and botanical garden experience (hence the Busch name).  Over time an admission fee was added along with animal experiences and amusement park style rides were built in the 1970’s.  The brewery itself was later closed in 1995 and demolished, freeing up the area for the Gwazi roller coaster and other attractions in the middle of the park.


Picture courtesy of

3. It’s official name has changed a couple times

The park has basically always been known as Busch Gardens “something”.  Today it’s officially Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, but from 1976–1990s it was known as “Busch Gardens: The Dark Continent” and from 2006–2008 it was known as “Busch Gardens Africa”.

2. In 2013 an Emmy nominated TV show started originating from the park

The Saturday morning CW show Wildlife Docs is filled in the park’s animal care facility.  It follows the park’s animal staff as they care for the more than 12,000 different animals living in Busch Gardens.

1.  The park’s first “ride” was probably an escalator called “Stairway to the Stars”

Seen in the video below, the escalator transported guests over a reflecting pool to an observation deck on the roof of the brewery.  It was an 86 foot ride that was often billed as the world’s longest outdoor escalator.


These are of course just some fun highlights, but if you really want to dig deeper into the history of Busch Gardens Tampa head over to the great site BGT History.   Also, here’s a great video the park put out.

Happy Birthday Busch Gardens!

lighted happy birthday candles

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