This post has been transferred from its original location at cbjPages.com to its new location here. This will now be the live article and any updates will take place here.
This series of articles will focus on giving a precise history of the Busch Gardens theme parks. It will not focus on any of the other AB owned parks as the history of Busch Gardens is expansive. Perhaps the other parks will get their own articles at some point in the future. These articles will hopefully provide those interested in the history of these parks and the rides and attractions contained within them a chance to have any of their questions answered. This collection of entries will be the product of many, many hours of research as well as personal insights and memories of the parks (the Williamsburg park most specifically) from childhood through today.
The original Busch Gardens was located in Pasadena, CA and served as a tourist hotspot for millions of people between 1905 and 1937. This park was created by Adolphus Busch who had originally purchased the land for his wife, Lilly, and to build a winter home. It is reported that Busch’s real-estate agent had envisioned this property as an ideal spot for a large garden. Busch agreed and construction of the gardens began in 1904, to be completed prior to the Busch’s moving into the house in 1905.
By 1906, 14 acres of land had been transformed into a Victorian garden and was open to the public. Also in 1906, work began on the “Lower Gardens”, which were less formal than the “Upper Garden” that had already been completed. This new section had several miles of walking paths and paths that were wide enough to accommodate carriages. Both sections of the gardens were officially opened to the public in 1909, there was no admission price and the gardens were open seven days a week.
In 1910, Busch purchased property once owned by Thaddeus Lowe and incorporated some of the land into his gardens. These gardens ceased operation as Busch Gardens in 1937. It was not until 1959 that Anheuser Busch would open another public garden complex.
The park that opened in 1959 was located in Tampa, FL and was designed as an animal conservatory. The first animals to inhabit the gardens were birds that were free to roam in a large enclosure and interact with guests. The park expanded in 1965 with the addition of the “Serengeti Plain.” This made Busch Gardens home to the largest free-roaming enclosed habitat outside of Africa.
Click Here To Go To The History Of This Park
The year prior to the expansion in Tampa, Busch opened a park in Van Nuys, CA. This park was small and fairly boxed in in comparison to the other Busch parks and would eventually fail to compete with the other parks in the area and shut down in 1979.
Anheuser Busch opened a small park in Houston in 1971, but it was closed just two years later. This park was a fiscal disaster, costing the company approximately $4 million dollars in just one fiscal quarter.
In 1975 Busch opened a new park near Williamsburg, VA with a European theme. This park, like it’s sister in Tampa has undergone many changes through it’s history. Each of these parks are going to be covered in their own entries as a part of this history. Part two of this article will be covering the history of the park in Tampa and should be completed soon.
I welcome any comments, suggestions, corrections and personal memories of any of these parks. Please check back often to make sure you catch the newest part of this extensive article. Thanks for reading.
Part Two: Tampa
Part Three: Williamsburg
Pasadena Living Magazine