Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

After a hard day at work, you come home, kick off your shoes, and pop open an ice-cold can of beer. Staring at your beverage, the idea of a perfect vacation comes to mind – a field trip to a brewery! All that’s left is to convince the family to share in your dream. Never fear, Busch Gardens is here.

The first Busch Gardens, owned by Anheuser Busch (makers of Budweiser Beer), appeared in Pasadena, California in 1905. Unlike its offspring, it actually was a botanical garden rather than an amusement park. It was also quite popular with the local residents until it closed in 1938. During its run, a number of classic films such as Gone With The Wind and The Adventures of Robin Hood were partly filmed on the grounds.

Still, Busch had bigger plans. In Tampa Bay, FL, they opened up a wildlife park in 1959 called “Busch Gardens Tampa” (later renamed “Busch Gardens Africa”). Today it is home to over two thousand animals as well as roller coasters and other attractions – and yes, plenty of Budweiser Beer.

Following the success of Busch Gardens Tampa, the company expanded in two other locations: Williamsburg, VA and Van Nuys, CA. The brewery tour in Van Nuys that opened in 1966 was amended to include an aviary, a working monorail tour of the brewery, a log ride, and a boat journey. Sadly, the So-Cal amusement park didn’t fare well against the nearby competition and closed in 1979 to make way for a brewery expansion.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg (now known as “Busch Gardens Europe”) was far more successful and remains so to this day. The park is divided into seven areas, each sporting the theme of a European country.

This park has been voted “Most Beautiful Theme Park in the Country” over a dozen times and offers wide variety of theme park rides and roller coasters including: Curse of DarKastle, Escape from Pompeii, Alpengeist, Loch Ness Monster, Verbolten and Apollo’s Chariot.

You may also remember Busch Gardens being parodied on the iconic animated series, The Simspons. Bart and Lisa first traveled to “Duff Gardens”, home of Homer’s favorite Duff Beer in 1991 and have returned numerous times over the years.

Some might say that a brewery and an amusement shouldn’t coexist side by side but Busch Gardens has proven the naysayers wrong for over five decades. Grab the family and leave the cooler at home. There is plenty of fun, and cold beer, to be had at Busch Gardens.

Have you visited any of the Busch Gardens theme parks around the country? We’d love to hear any of your thoughts and recollections in our comments section below.

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