Park History

Busch Gardens Tampa opened on March 31st 1959 as a hospitality center for Anheuser Busch were they had various beer tastings, a bird garden and the Stairway to the Stars which was an escalator that took guests to the roof of the brewery. 
In 1964, The Old Swiss House opened which overlooked the Serengeti Plain, it was considered one of Tampa's finest restaurants. A few years later,In 1965 the manufacturing plant closed down and Busch decided to focus on it's landscape, animals and various attractions. 

They also expanded the park to include the Serengeti Plain which was a 70-acre free roaming animal enclosure with giraffes,zebras and other African animals. In May of 1966 the Veldt Monorail opened which gave guests an up-close look at the animals on the Serengeti Plain. 
In June of 1971, Busch Gardens introduced a new way to get an up-close look at the animals on the Serengeti Plain and get around the park. The Serengeti Express is a two-mile railroad around the park on replica steam trains.

In June of 1973, "Stanleyville" opened which was a new land. It included the Stanley Falls Flume which was a log flume with a 43 foot drop.

In May of 1974, the Skyride opened which gave guests a birds eye view of the park. 
In July of 1976, The Congo area opened which featured the parks first coaster, Python. Python, a corkscrew coaster opened. Also in the Congo area, Monstrous Mamba which was a flat ride.  Lastly, Bengal Tigers were added to Claw Island. 

1977 was a very busy year for Busch Gardens Tampa. In September, a new ride the African Queen Boat Ride a Jungle Cruise style ride opened in the Stanleyville area of the park. After that, a swinger flat ride called the Swinging Vines. 
In January of 1980, a whole new area of the park opened called Timbuktu. It featured a carousel called Carousel Caravan, a flat ride spinner called the Crazy Camel. It also featured a new restaurant, The German Festhaus a dining with a show experience. One of the most popular expansions was the Dolphin Theater. Lastly, Timbuktu featured games and crafts and shopping opportunities. 
In 1981 Busch Gardens Tampa's first looping coaster called Scorpion opened along with Sandstorm, an orbiter ride in the Timbuktu area.

In May of 1982, Congo River Rapids, a water ride simulated whitewater rapids.

In 1983, Dwarf Village, a small child play area opened near the Bird Gardens area.

In June of 1984, Phoenix, a looping cargo vessel ride opened in Timbutku.
In August of 1986, a new 1,200 seat theater called Moroccan Place opened starring a lavish Broadway style show, Kaleidescope.

In June of 1989 Tanganyika Tidal Wave, a water flume ride with a 55-foot drop opened in the Stanleyville area. The Clydesdale Hamlet featuring the famous Clydesdale's opened.
In 1990, Around The World On Ice replaced Kaleidescope. Around The World On Ice was a musical revenue on ice. Also, The Crown Colony, a renovated Old Swiss House opened. It was a full service dining experience with a view overlooking the Serengeti Plain.
In 1991,  Questor, a simulator ride in which you take a journey through the earth searching for diamonds opened in the Egypt area.

In 1992, Myombe Reserve a animal enclosure that puts you right near chimpanzees and gorillas with only a glass panel between you and them. 

In April of 1993, Kumba, a 143 foot steel coaster with 7 inversions opened in the Congo area.
In 1994, Hollywood Live On Ice, an ice show featuring classic Hollywood movies opened. 
In 1995, Land of the Dragons opened replacing the former Dwarf Village. It was a highly interactive play area with a show for children.

In May of 1996, Montu opened in the Egypt area of the park. Montu is a 150 foot steel inverted coaster with 7 inversions.
In 1997, The Edge of Africa opened, it has many up-close encounters with various animals for guests to enjoy.

In 1998, Akbar's Adventure Tours starring Martin Short opened replacing Questor. It was simulator ride of a wacky tour of Egypt. Also in 1998, World Rhythms on Ice opened replacing Hollywood Live on Ice! It was an ice show featuring various skaters from around the world. 

In June of 1999, Gwazi, a 90 foot dueling wooden roller coaster opened in the Bird Gardens area. 
In 2001, Rhino Rally, A River Adventure ride opens in the Nairobi area. It was an off road safari tour experience on Land Rovers.
In 2003, R.L Stein's Haunted Lighthouse 4-D a interactive 4-D movie opened in Timbuktu replacing the Dolphin Theater.
In February of 2004, Cheetah Chase, a wild mouse coaster originally from Busch Gardens Williamsburg opened in Timbuktu. In May of 2004, KaTonga, a Broadway style show featuring the tales of the jungle opened in the Moroccan Palace replacing World Rhythms on Ice.

In May of 2005, SheiKra, a 200 foot dive coaster opens in the newly renovated Stanleyville. It features a 90 degree vertical drop and was the first of its kind in the U.S.
In February of 2006,  Pirates 4-D opens in the Timbuktu Theater replacing R.L Stein's Haunted Lighthouse 4-D. Also, In November of 2006, Python and Claw Island closed for a Congo renovation. 

In 2007, Critter Castaways, a show featuring pets and exotic animals living in harmony opened in the Bird Gardens. Also in 2007, SheiKra, went floorless after Memorial Day. 
In May of 2008, Jungala, an interactive play area with up-close animal encounters opened. The new area featured 2 new attractions, Jungle Fliers which is a zipline ride over Jungala and The Wild Surge which is a launch tower ride. Also in 2008, Rock A Doo Wop opened featuring classic songs from the Rock N Roll era in the Marrakesh Theater. 

In 2009, Busch Gardens Tampa celebrated their 50th Anniversary. Dance To The Music, a show featuring songs from the disco era opened in the Desert Grill.
In April of 2010, Sesame Street's Safari Of Fun opened in the former Land of Dragons area featuring a new kiddie coaster called Air Grover and a new water play area. In June of 2010 Walkabout Way opened. Walkabout Way is an immersive animal attraction were you meet some of Australia's favorite animals . Lastly in December of 2010, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, the Broadway hit opened in the Moroccan Palace replacing KaTonga.
In January of 2011, Gwazi, the parks wooden coaster from 1999 got new Millennium Flyer trains that made the ride both smoother and sleeker. On May 27th, Cheetah Hunt, the parks first multi launch coaster, & Cheetah Run, an up-close cheetah encounter opened.  
In January of 2012, the brand new Animal Care Center opened in Nairobi which made guests apart of the animal care experience. Then on February 2nd, Iceploration, the epic ice spectacular opened in the Morrocan Palace. 

Photo credits to Anthony Armenia and Busch Gardens Tampa.

This page was last updated in January 2012.