As we’ve discussed already, Busch Gardens Tampa was built on the site of a Anheuser-Busch Brewery with an African theme. This was also the case with the Williamsburg brewery’s European themed park and the Houston brewery’s Asian themed park (which closed in 1973) that were all parks built on brewery property and patterned after the Tampa park. However, did you know there was a Busch Gardens Rumored for Cartersville, GA?
In 1995 Anheuser-Busch closed the actual operatimg brewery at Busch Gardens Tampa park and moved its production the new Cartersville, GA plant. The Cartersville brewery was opened in 1993 and sits on 1700 acres of land adjacent to I-75. Living personally just a few miles from the Cartersville facility, people locally used to talk about the potential of a Busch Gardens in our own backyard. Evidently when Anheuser-Busch opened the brewery it was mentioned as a possibility “someday”, but no promises were made. Given that the Tampa park is just 335 acres there would also be more than enough room for a theme park. Cartersville is in a good location about 45 minutes north of downtown Atlanta and 60 minutes south of Chattanooga, giving it a very similar location to the Six Flags Great America park in Gurnee, IL which is perched between Chicago and Milwaukee. However, in 2009 Inbev (the new owners of Anheuser-Busch) sold off the company’s amusement park holdings and the possibility of another Busch Gardens adjacent to an operational brewery appears to have ended…for now.
As a resident of this area it’s still fun to think of what might have been and dream. How close did it come to being a reality? After all, why have 1700 acres if something like this wasn’t a serious possibility? What would the theme have been? How big would it be, a little botanical garden-style facility or a massive theme park? Would it have made it given the looming great recession of 2007-2009? How would have Cartersville have changed? There have been other theme parks rumored for this area, including one with a Hunger Games Land (what?), but nothing has materialized yet.
The original “Busch Gardens” dates back to the early 1900’s at the winter home of Adolphus Busch in Pasadena, California, but all the modern parks are patterned off the Tampa facility. Demonstrating this connection, according to the website Houston Past, the Galveston Daily News reported this about the Houston park’s opening on May 23, 1971:
A $12 million amusements park patterned after Florida’s biggest tourist attraction opens next Saturday in northeast Houston. The 40-acre Busch Gardens primarily has an Asian theme except for an ice cave with a temperature controlled environment for several varieties of penguins, polar bears and sea lions.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and having a park with the quality of Busch Gardens Tampa a little closer to home would have sure been a treat for this blogger! What might have been…