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.
  • Attendance for the year was reported at 1,519,000. (Orlando Sentinel 1/1/1964)


  • January 25 – Park announces plans to construct a mile-long monorail at an estimated cost of over $1 million.
  • December 26 – Largest single-day attendance recorded to date at 35,000 guests. (Orlando Sentinel 12/29/1966)
  • Attendance for the year was reported at 1,450,000. (Orlando Sentinel 1/1/1964)


  • March 26 – General Telephone Co. of Florida dedicated its half-millionth telephone at Busch Gardens – a gold-plated public phone in an anodized gold booth. (Orlando Sentinel 3/27/1964)



  • September 13Veldt Monorail officially opens at the park.
  • December 27 – New record single-day attendance of 42,000 guests was recorded at the park, pushing total attendance for the year up to 2,776,000. (Orlando Sentinel 12/29/1966)


  • 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)


  • March 26 – The park announces a $900,000 expansion that would include Boma and Nocturnal Mountain.