Busch Gardens will celebrate 60th anniversary with free beer, pin trading and coaster news


A retro photo from Busch Gardens Tampa. Parking is no longer $2. - PHOTO VIA BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA/FACEBOOK
Disney World's 50th Anniversary in 2021 is getting plenty of attention, but there’s another Florida theme park readying for an even bigger anniversary. Busch Gardens Tampa will be celebrating its 60th anniversary next month.

The diamond anniversary will be celebrated all year long at the African-themed Tampa park.

March 1 will kick off the celebration with a special Florida Orchestra concert celebrating the women who forever changed rock-n-roll. After the concert, there will be a celebratory firework display.

A brand-new Pin Trading Program, similar to the one SeaWorld Orlando launched last year, will also debut on March 1. Merchandise locations throughout the park will have the pins for sale, and park ambassadors will have unique pins not available for sale that can be traded for.

SeaWorld's pin trading program was launched last year to mixed reviews, but the pin designs have received nearly universal praise. Expect many of the same great designs to make their way to Busch Gardens as part of the over 150 unique pins that will begin the Pin Trading program. More pins will be added in the coming months.

The Hospitality House with the Anheuser Busch brewery in the distance in 1960. - PHOTO BY DON MARKS VIA STATE ARCHIVES OF FLORIDA
When Busch Gardens opened in 1959, one of the big draws was free beer, and for the 60th Anniversary celebration, Busch Gardens is bringing it back.

After last year's successful summer of free beer, Busch Gardens Tampa is offering free beer all year long for 2019 with the #YearOfBeer promotion. Guests 21 and over can receive two free beer samples per day. The beer samples are available at the Serengeti Outlook Pub and Restaurant, as well as Garden Gate Café, the former Hospitality House where the free beer was given away for decades.

  • Photo via Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens isn't just looking into the past for their 60th Anniversary celebration. The upcoming Tigris roller coaster will be opening this year, but it won't be the only coaster making news during the anniversary. At a recent Tigris media event, Busch Gardens officials confirmed that new details regarding the Gwazi updates that are currently in the works will be shared during the anniversary celebration on March 1.

Gwazi was a bold addition for the park back when it opened in 1999. It is the only major attraction to occupy the land where the former Anheuser Busch brewery was located. The dueling wooden coaster cost an estimated $10 million to construct and was at the time the largest wooden coaster in the Southeast U.S. With rising maintenance costs and declining ridership, the coaster closed indefinitely. After much speculation, last year Busch Gardens confirmed that the long-standing coaster would be receiving an update. Permits later confirmed Rocky Mountain Construction, better known as RMC, will be refurbishing the coaster.

It’s still unclear precisely what RMC will be doing to the updated ride, but numerous insiders have confirmed that the dueling nature of the former coaster will be removed, instead opting for a longer single coaster experience. A new, much taller lift hill will also likely be included with the former lift hills now used as regular "air-time" hills for the coaster. In recent weeks, the lift chain mechanism has been removed from the old lift hills.

RMC is known for its hybrid wooden coaster that uses steel (I-Box) tracks. This allows for a wooden coaster attraction with far less required maintenance than a typical wooden coaster requires. Known for their extreme wooden coaster designs, Gwazi getting the RMC treatment has many coaster fans excited for next year. Reports of a twenty-story lift hill (nearly twice as tall as Gwazi's former lift hills) have the fan community placing Gwazi's redo amongst the most anticipated coasters to open next year.

It looks like Busch Gardens wants to get ahead of the wild speculation with next month's announcement. It's unlikely that details around the specific opening date will be shared, but with Gwazi’s construction well underway,  any details regarding the track layout not shared on March 1 will soon be clear.

Beyond the March 1 event, Busch Gardens will keep the anniversary celebration going when the park's annual Food & Wine Festival kicks off March 16. A special booth will feature culinary treats that the park has offered across its 60 years in operations.

The "pay for a day and get the rest of the year free" Fun Cards are back, as is the "preschoolers for free" offering. Annual passes to Busch Gardens begin at $10.99 per month.

Sadly, the Busch Gardens monorail won't be returning for the 60th Anniversary. The monorail building is now used as the Cheetah Hunt queue and load/unload area. - PHOTO BY WARD BECKETT VIA STATE ARCHIVES OF FLORIDA
  • Photo by Ward Beckett via State Archives of Florida
  • Sadly, the Busch Gardens monorail won't be returning for the 60th Anniversary. The monorail building is now used as the Cheetah Hunt queue and load/unload area.

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