It all started with the brewery. The Busch Gardens we know today exists because the Anheuser-Busch company opened a new brewery in Tampa. In an effort to promote the company’s products, tours of the brewery were given as part of a free attraction which also included manicured tropical gardens and a collection of exotic birds.
Official Open Date: March 31, 1959
Close Date: December 21, 1995
Tours of the brewery began when the park opened in 1959. Postcards and other advertisements touted the brewery investment at $25 million.
The tour of the brewery began with the Stairway to the Stars, a large outdoor escalator that took guests up to an observation platform on the brewery’s roof. From there, guests would enter the plant and eventually end up exiting across a cantilevered ramp near the Hospitality House, where free samples of Anheuser-Busch products could be enjoyed.
When it opened, the brewery had a capacity of 550,000 barrels to serve five states. By 1967, the brewery was listed as a $37 million facility, with a capacity of over 1 million barrels serving Florida only.
The brewery continued to operate at the park until late 1995 when it was closed as part of corporate restructuring. At the time, it was Anheuser-Busch’s smallest brewery, employing approximately 375 workers. The last of the beer was shipped out of the brewery in early December, and the final workers closed out their shift at 3 p.m. on December 21st, 1995.
It was later demolished, and a large portion of the land it occupied was used for Gwazi, a wooden roller coaster that opened in 1999.
Additional details and images on the Anheuser-Busch Brewery will be added in the future.
Tampa Bay Business Journal | Dec 23 1996 – accessed 9/9/2016
St. Petersburg Times | Dec 22 1995 – accessed 1/14/2017
Boca Raton News | Jun 18 1967 – accessed 2/3/2017
Park Brochure – 1970 (Author’s Collection)