1970 – 1979

The second decade of Busch Gardens Tampa’s history saw continued expansion, and the rise of the theme park we know today with additions to the lineup including the park’s first roller coaster.

1970

  • Spring – Parking listed at $1 for cars, $1.50 with trailers, and $2 for buses, with auxiliary lot available on 40th Street north of Busch Boulevard. Hours for gardens and brewery tour listed as 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed on Sundays and major holidays. Extended summer hours from June 8 to August 16 of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, closed July 4. (Brochure – 1970)
  • Summer – Boma, a new area where guests can get close to and interact with animals, opens at the park. The million dollar project also includes housing for 13 species of nocturnal animals that guests can view (Chicago Tribune, 7/12/1970)
  • Summer – Free admission ends as park begins charging $1.25 for adults and 50 cents for children as part of an over $12 million expansion in the next decade. Annual attendance reportedly 3 million (Chicago Tribune, 7/12/1970)

1971

  • October – Admission listed at $1.25 for adults, 50 cents for children under 12. Parking is free. Open daily, hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Ledger 10/1/1971)

1972

  • January – Admission listed at $2 for adults, 50 cents for children under 12. Parking is free. Open daily, hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Ledger 1/28/1972)
  • July – Admission listed as $3.75 for adults, $2.50 for children age 6 to 11, and $1 for children under 6. Parking is free. Open daily, hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Ledger 7/2/1972)
  • August 7 – Kishina, a female gorilla, is born at Yerkes Primate Center. She was moved to Busch Gardens’ Myombe Reserve in 1992.
  • December – Attendance for the month reported at 145,000 (Chicago Tribune 1/11/1974)

1973

  • July – Admission listed at $4.25 for adults, $3 for children age 5 to 11, and free for children under 5. Parking is free. Summer hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Ledger 7/6/1973)
  • September – Admission listed as $3.75 for adults, $2.50 for children age 6 to 11, and $1 for children under 6. Parking is free. Open daily, hours 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Ledger 9/7/1973)
  • December – In the weeks leading up to Christmas, admission listed at $4.25 for adults, $3 for children age 5 to 11, and free for children under 5. Parking is free. Extended hours of 9 a.m to 7 or 8 p.m. After the Christmas holiday, rates and hours revert to previous ($3.75 for adults, $2.50 for children age 6 to 11, and $1 for children under 6; hours 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) (Ledger 12/7/1973 & 12/28/1973)
  • December – Attendance for the month reported at 128,000. Lower than the previous December, it is blamed on three days of rain following Christmas (Chicago Tribune 1/11/1974)

1974

  • February – Admission listed at $4.25 for adults, $3 for children age 5 to 11, and free for children under 5. Parking is free. (Ledger 2/1/1974)
  • March – Admission listed as $3.75 for adults, $2.50 for children age 6 to 11, and $1 for children under 6. Parking is free. Open daily, hours 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Ledger 3/1/1974)
  • April – Admission listed at $4.25 for adults, $3 for children age 5 to 11, and free for children under 5. Parking is free.  Open daily, hours 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Ledger 4/5/1974)
  • September –  Admission listed at $4.75 for adults, $3.75 for children age 5 to 11, and free for children under 5. Open daily, hours 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Ledger 9/20/1974)

1975

  • April – Admission listed at $5.25 for adults, $3.25 for children age 5 to 11, free for children under 5. Hours are listed as 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. By the end of the month, admission for children was raised to $4.25, and the age range changed to 4 to 11. (Ledger 4/4/1975 & 4/25/1975)
  • May 24 – 26 – The park celebrates Memorial Day Weekend with two daily concerts at Stanleyville Theater featuring The Southern Gentleman, Sonny James, and the Hee Haw Twins, the Hagers. (Ledger 5/23/1975)
  • June – Summer hours (Father’s Day through Labor Day) listed as 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, returning to a 6 p.m. close time after Labor Day. Parking charge of 50 cents implemented. (Ledger 6/13/1975)
  • June 16 – The Eagle Within opens in Tangiers Theater.
  • October – Admission listed at $5.25 for adults, $4.25 for children age 4 to 11, free for children under 4. Hours are listed as 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. (Evening Independent 10/2/1975)
  • October 6 – 12 – Salute to active & retired Armed Forces with discount admission of $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for children ages 4 to 11 at the gate, or $4 for adults, $3 for children purchased at base locations. (Evening Independent 10/2/1975)
  • November 8 – 9 – “Africa Goes Latino” weekend at the park when the park presents Latin American singers, guitarists and flamenco dancers, including the Carmen Morales Dancers of Tampa, adagio dancers Mikki and Kenny McDowell, guitarist Henry Valdez and the Tampa Spanish Ensemble of Jose Vega. (Ledger 11/7/1975)

1976

  • July 1 – Python, the park’s first roller coaster, officially opens to guests in the Stanleyville section of the park (later Congo, present day Jungala).
  • July –  Admission listed at $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for children age 4 to 11, free for children under 4. Summer hours are listed as 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, with return to 6 p.m. closings after Labor Day. (Ledger 7/16/1976)

1977

  • May 16 – Senior Citizen Days begin at the park with discounted admission for guests 55 and above though June 5. $5.75 at gate or $5.50 when purchased through Maas Brothers department stores (regular price $6.50). (Ledger 5/20/1977)
  • July – Joe Fisher is general manager. Hours are listed as 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m through September 5 (Labor Day). Admission listed at $7 for all ages with children under 3 admitted free. Prices for various food items include 35 to 50 cents for cold drinks, 35 cents for popcorn, 50 cents for french fries, 50 to 65 cents for ice cream, $1.25 for a slice of pizza, $1.35 for a hamburger and fries, $2.50 to $2.75 for sandwich platters with potato salad. (St. Petersburg Times 7/29/1977 & Ledger 7/15/1977)
  • July 26 – Congo area officially opens, including new Claw Island, African Queen Boat Ride, and Swinging Vines attractions, along with Python and Monstrous Mamba that opened in previous year.
  • December – Admission listed at $7.25, free for children 3 and under. Moroccan Village hours extended until 9 p.m. for Christmas break, with regular park closing time of 6 p.m. (Ledger 12/30/1977)

1978

  • January 27 – 29 – The Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales visit the park, on display throughout the weekend and also on parade daily.
  • July – Admission listed at $7.25, free for children 3 and under. Parking is $1. Summer hours are 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Ledger 7/14/1978)

1979

  • February – Early in the month, the park announces Timbuktu expansion and addition of Adventure Island water park.
  • February – Admission listed at $7.80. Annual attendance estimated at 2.5 million guests. W. Randolph Baker listed as vice president of Busch Gardens. (Ledger 2/9/1979)
  • May – Admission listed at $7.80, free for children under 3. Parking is $1. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Ledger 5/4/1979)