1959 – 1969

Busch Gardens Tampa opened to the public in 1959, and this section details the first decade of the park’s existence.


  • March 31 – In a ceremony attended by dignitaries and invited guests, the new Anheuser-Busch Brewery and grounds of Busch Gardens Tampa are dedicated.
  • June 1 – Busch Gardens Tampa officially opens to the public as a free attraction with tours of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, sampling of beers in the Hospitality House, and expansive tropical gardens with a number of avian species on display in the original Bird Gardens. Some 1,600 guests attended opening day, and hours were listed as 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
  • November – Winter hours listed as Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays 1 to 6 p.m. (Salt Lake Tribune 11/15/1959)


  • March 1 – Patsy, a female chimpanzee residing in Myombe Reserve, is born.


  • June – Newspaper article lists Richard G. Naegeli as park director and calls Busch Gardens the largest tourist attraction in Florida. Annual attendance is reported at over 3 million (with a peak daily attendance of 42,000), and admission is free. A 278-acre expansion is in development, which includes a new monorail and Swiss House. The parking lot is estimated to hold 1900 cars, and the park hours are listed as 9 am to dusk Monday to Saturday. (Boca Raton News 6/18/1967)