Florida Guide > Other Parks
The Busch Gardens African themed park is set within a 335 acre plot and opened nearly 50 years ago in March 1959. It originates from the days when the Anheuser-Busch brewery, famous for its Budweiser and Michelob beer brands, offered admission free hospitality at its Tampa based facility. In those days visitors could watch various animals and hundreds of exotic birds flying free in a giant cage whilst taking advantage of the ‘beer tent’ providing free samples of the Busch beer products. Even today, well after the original brewery closed down, the hospitality building still lives on providing free draft beer samples to visiting guests aged 21 years or over.
In the next 6 years, and after closing down the primary manufacturing plant, the massive Serengeti Plain was constructed allowing animals to roam and graze freely in their natural surroundings. The Plain is still a major feature of the park today having received many upgrades and improvements. During this time frame, and as the park attracted more and more visitors, admission charges were introduced.
1977 saw the introduction of the first roller coaster called the Python (later removed in 2006). At the time this was a huge attraction for which the park could charge extra fees to ride it. By today’s standards it would of course be relatively tame. In 1981 the Scorpion, a loop type coaster was built, after which it took a further 12 years before adding another.
In 1993 Busch built its biggest coaster to date in the form of ‘Kumba’, followed closely by the inverted ‘Montu’ in 1996. Busch Gardens had now earned it’s title of a thrill park attracting more visitors than ever, although it has always remained an animal sanctuary first, thrill park second.
1999 saw the opening of the two largest wooden duelling roller coasters, ‘Gwazi’.
The biggest and most dramatic roller coaster was introduced in 2005 and at the time was the tallest and fastest coaster in Southern Eastern USA. Sheikra named after the speed of the African Hawk reaches speeds of 70 mile per hour and includes a 138 foot sheer drop into an underground tunnel. Sheikra, the newest addition, is still Busch Gardens show piece attraction.
From its small beginnings Busch Gardens now consists of The Serengeti Plain, Myombe Reserve, Edge of Africa, Curiosity Caverns, Morocco, The Bird Gardens, Land of Dragons, Stanleyville, Congo, Jungala, Timbuktu, Nairobi, Crown Colony and Egypt.
Well worth a visit.
Author: Denise and Nigel Taylor (Villa link: click here)
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Page added on: 26 May 2008
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