1980 – 1989

The expansion of Busch Gardens Tampa into a full fledged theme park continues during the 1980s.

1980

  • January – Admission listed as $9.35 per person, with children ages 3 and under free. (Ledger 1/26/1980)
  • January 25Timbuktu officially opens to guests, with new rides, the Festhaus, a dolphin show, and more.
  • April – Listed as The Dark Continent, Busch Gardens. Parking $1, and hours were 9:30 to 6 daily (8 p.m. in summer) (Temple Terrace Beacon – 4/0/1980)
  • May 2 – 4 – Over 1200 Girl Scouts attend event at Dark Continent, Adventure Islands, and Busch Gardens Campground (Temple Terrace Beacon 5/22/1980)
  • May 16 – Scorpion opens.
  • July – Admission listed as $9.35 per person, with children under 3 free. Parking is $1. Summer hours are 9:30 a.m. to dusk daily. (Ledger 7/4/1980)
  • November – Senior Safari Days offer for guests 55 and older. Discount coupon of $2.55 off regular price (of $9.35) available at many mobile home parks, condos, and senior centers across Florida, or by writing to park. Offer valid through December 21, 1980. (Ledger 11/14/1980)
  • November 15 – 16 – “Carload Weekend” offer for admission for all occupants in one car (trucks, vans, etc. excluded) for $30 with coupon available from Maas Brothers or in Sunday newspapers. (Ledger 11/14/1980)
  • December – Daily admission early in the month listed at $9.35 per person, with children under 3 free. By the end of the month, admission listed at $10.50, per person, with children under 3 free. Annual passes available for $25; offer valid through January 1981. Parking is $1. (Ledger 12/12/1980 & 12/26/1980)

1981

  • January – Admission listed as $10.10 per person, with children under 3 free. Parking is $1. (Ledger 1/9/1981)
  • February –  Admission listed as $10.10 per person, with children under 3 free. Parking is $1. Regular hours of 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Annual passes available for $30. (Ledger 2/13/1981)
  • June 15 – Zoo Camp 1981 begins, with one-week sessions for children ages 5 to 15 from 8 a.m. to noon. Fee is $70. (Ledger 5/8/1981)
  • July – Park hours over summer are 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., part of new summer night lighting program, which runs through August 23. Annual pass cost $30. (Temple Terrace Beacon 7/23/1981)
  • August – Total of 44 animal births reported at the park, including a Grevy’s zebra. (Ledger 10/16/1981)
  • October – Senior Days through December 13, with discount admission of $7 with coupon available at area senior centers and organizations. A $15 senior pass with unlimited visits through December 13 also available. (Ledger 10/2/1981)
  • November 2 – Admission raised to $11.05 ($10.52 + tax) per person, with children under 3 free. Parking is $1. Regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Ledger 10/30/1981 & 11/6/1981)
  • November – Carload Weekends offer on November 8 & 9, 14 & 15, and 21 & 22 for admission for all occupants in one car (trucks, vans, etc. excluded) for $30 with coupon available from area Farm Stores. (Ledger 11/6/1981)
  • December – Daily admission late in the month listed at $11.05 per person plus tax, with children under 3 free. Annual passes available for $30; offer valid through January 1982. Parking is $1. Extended hours from December 26 to 30 of 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on December 31 from 9 a.m. to 7 pm. (Ledger 12/25/1981)

1982

  • January – Park launches new “Adventures with Animals” learning program aimed at area youth groups. Cost is $2 per child. (Ledger 1/15/1982)
  • January 17 – February 1 – Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales visit park with appearances from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. (Ledger 1/15/1982)
  • January – Late in the month, admission listed at $11.50 + tax per person, with children under 3 free. Parking is $1. Regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Ledger 1/29/1982)
  • February – Annual pass price listed at $35. (Ledger 12/25/1981)
  • May 26 – Congo River Rapids opens.
  • June 19 – Through August 22, summer hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. (Ledger 6/18/1982)
  • July – Admission listed at $11.75 per person, children 2 and under free. Parking is $1. (Ledger 7/9/1982)
  • September 1 – Park offers “Senior Safari Days” through March 27, 1983. Coupon worth $3.50 off regular admission available at senior centers, mobile home parks, and other organizations across the area. (Ledger 8/20/1982)
  • December – By the middle of the month, admission listed at $12.50 per person, children 2 and under free. Parking is $1. (Ledger 12/10/1982)

1983

  • February 1 – Annual pass price increases from $35 to $40. (Ledger 1/21/1983)
  • April 4 – Josephine, a female black rhinoceros, is born at at the park. She is the fourth of the species to be born at the park to rhino pair Julie and Joe. (Temple Terrace Beacon 6/9/1983)
  • April – Births at the park during the month include 15 mammals and 82 birds, bringing year to date totals to 76 mammals and 159 birds. (Temple Terrace Beacon 6/9/1983)
  • June 25 – Extended summer hours of 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. begin, and run daily through August 21. Park admission listed at $12.50, children 2 and under free. Annual passes available at $40. Parking is $1 per vehicle. (Ledger 6/24/1983)
  • July 30 – August 3 – Helga Steinboch Studios of Vienna, Austria, demonstrates 19th century craft of enameling daily at noon, 2, 4, and 6 pm. (Ledger 7/29/1983)
  • September 1 – Senior Safari Days offer with coupon worth $3.50 off admission available from senior centers, mobile home parks, and other organizations across area. Offer valid through March 25, 1984. (Ledger 8/26/1983)
  • December – For the Christmas holiday, the park offers annual passes for seniors age 55 and above at $20, which is half the regular price of $40. (Ledger 12/23/1983)

1984

  • January – Advertisement for park as Busch Gardens, The Dark Continent with 17 rides including Congo River Rapids, The Python, and Monstrous Mamba. (Milwaukee Sentinel 1/23/1984)
  • January 21 – Park hosts Super Bowl fan party from 8 p.m. to midnight. The separate ticket event features games, special activities and four rock bands including the Bobby Friss Band and the Critics. Park attractions also open. Tickets available in advance at Camelot Music stores for $6.95, at the gate for $7.95. (Ledger 1/13/1984 & 1/20/1984)
  • January – Near the end of the month, admission listed at $13.50 per person, with children 2 and under admitted free. Parking is $1. Regular park hours of 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. (Ledger 1/27/1984)
  • February – Early in the month, the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales visit the park and are on display daily in a tent in the Moroccan Village. (Ledger 2/3/1984)
  • May 18 – 20 – Park celebrates its 25th anniversary with special events. On the 18th, a separately ticketed takes place from 8 p.m. to midnight, with attractions opens and country music star Gary Morris performing two 45 minute shows at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. in the Festhaus. Advance tickets available for $6.99 at Camelot Music stores, and $7.99 at the gate. Hours extended to 7 p.m. on May 19 & 20, with special buy one, get one free admission available with coupon from area newspapers to “Thank You, Tampa Bay.” On the 19th, special entertainment and activities scheduled to celebrate the anniversary. (Ledger 5/18/1984)
  • October 12 – Auditions held for musicians, belly dancers, and performers for new revue show “All That Music” featuring songs from the 1940s and 50s. (Ledger 10/5/1984)

1985

  • January 22 – Eagle Canyon habitat opens.
  • February – By the middle of the month, admission listed at $14.50 per person, with children 2 and under free. Parking is $2 per vehicle. Daily hours of 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Ledger 2/15/1985)
  • March 25 – 31 – A team of the Anheuser-Busch Budweiser Clydesdales visits the park, and is on display daily in Moroccan Village. While visiting, the team also parades several times daily from March 26 – 31 from the park entrance to the brewery entrance. (Ledger 3/22/1985)
  • May 6 – 19 – Senior citizens age 55 or older receive discounted admission of $6.50 (regular price $14.50). Special group rates (15 or more) for scouts or those under 55 start at $7.25 per person (offer available through June 2). (Ledger 4/19/1985)
  • June 15 – August 25 – Extended summer hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. until August 18, and 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. August 19 – 25. (Ledger 5/31/1985)
  • August 24 – October 6 – “Church Days” offer of $3.50 off regular admission for church groups of 15 or more with advance reservation. (Ledger 8/16/1985)
  • September – December 21 – Senior Safari Days offering a discount of $3.50 off regular admission to those over 55 with a coupon available at senior centers, mobile home communities, and other organizations across area. (Ledger 9/6/1985)
  • September 20 – The Outlaws and Van-Zant perform concert at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7.95 in advance through Camelot Music stores or $8.95 at the gate. (Ledger 9/13/1985)

1986

  • Unknown – Asian Elephant display and breeding program introduced; 22 elephants with 6 births at park. (Sun Sentinel 5/14/1989)
  • January 25 – SimSim, a male gorilla, is born at Yerkes Primate Center. He was moved to Busch Gardens’ Myombe Reserve in 1992.

1987

  • April – Admission listed as $17.95 with children under 3 admitted free; parking at $2. (Sun Sentinel 4/26/1987)
  • November 4 – Mary, a female gorilla, is born at Gladys Porter Zoo. She was moved to Busch Gardens’ Myombe Reserve in 2010.

1988

  • Unknown – Monorail trains upgraded to new “futuristic” look with air conditioning. (Sun Sentinel 5/14/1989)

1989