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Another name change for the Busch Gardens theme parks?

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Published: July 30, 2008 at 3:26 PM

I've heard through the grapevine that the Busch Gardens theme parks in Williamsburg, Va. and Tampa, Fla. might be changing their names, again.

The parks, originally known as Busch Gardens: The Old Country and Busch Gardens: The Dark Continent, respectively, were long known as Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. In 2006, Busch changed the names of the parks to Busch Gardens Europe and Busch Gardens Africa.

Of course, as many readers have pointed out, this created quite a bit of confusion. Theme park chains are opening parks all over the world, and Busch is no exception. One hears "Busch Gardens Europe" and expects it to be in, well, Europe.

So Busch is said to be mulling a change back to more geographically accurate names, such as Busch Gardens Williamsburg or Busch Gardens Virginia for the European-themed park, and Busch Gardens Tampa or Busch Gardens Florida for the African-themed destination. There is no comment from the official channels on these rumors, one way or the other, as of this point. (And yes, I've asked.)

Complicating this question is the recent sale of parent Anheuser Busch to Belgian brewer InBev. If InBev were to sell the parks to another company, would that buyer want to keep the "Busch" name on the parks? If there is a chance that it would not, why endure the hassle of and public confusion over a name change now, if the parks names might change again in a year or two?

And if the name change is to go through at the end of this season, would that indicate that the "Busch" name is likely to stick around -- suggesting that the might be something to the rumor of the Busch family buying control of the parks?

So many questions....

Readers' Opinions

From Joshua Counsil on July 30, 2008 at 5:17 PM
I find it more ridiculous having a Euro-/African-themed park named after an American location rather than vice versa. Were people really not considering visiting those parks because of their names? The Magic Kingdom is not really magical, nor is it a kingdom.
From steve lee on July 30, 2008 at 5:22 PM
Honestly, the Busch employees I know steadfastly deny that the parks were ever "officially" changed to BGE and BGA. They claimed that it was a branding thing for their national campaigns and nothing more than that. Makes sense, I guess.

I just wandered around the BGW/BGE website, and I see in most text sections the park is referred to as "Busch Gardens Williamsburg." The only place "Busch Gardens Europe" is listed is on the headline/banner.

So honestly, Busch needs to decide what their names are and be consistent with their choices anyways.

From Robert Niles on July 30, 2008 at 5:26 PM
But "Magic" and "Kingdom" are concepts, not place names. And how has Disney named its MKs since WDW? Toyko Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

As for the official/media-campaign difference, I agree that this is silly and needs to be made consistent. It reminds me of Disney in promoting the "Toy Story Midway Mania" rides as "Toy Story Mania" in advertising and press releases, despite the fact that WDI clearly included "Midway" in the attractions' name. Why the confusion? Why not pick a name and stick with it?

From Missy Renee on July 30, 2008 at 5:51 PM
One thing is for sure...it will be a much bigger change if they take the word "Busch" out of the name, instead of only the geographical location. I can't imagine any other name before "Gardens"...(sigh)

For the record, I still consider it Busch Gardens Williamsburg (and probably always will), but because I see the park referred to as Busch Gardens Europe so much on this site, as well as at the official web site, I have begun referring to the park as BGE most of the time. It really doesn't bother me one way or the other. As long as everyone can identify the place that I am referring to in conversation, I am happy!

From Anthony Murphy on July 30, 2008 at 7:31 PM
Wait, it used to be called Busch Gardens Dark Continent? Thats a little weird.
From Brian Emery on July 30, 2008 at 7:50 PM
I consider this good news and this indicates the Busch family buying these parks as rumored.

I know Aquatica can be changed to Florida Wet Busch…… hahahahahaahahhaha

From Rob P on July 31, 2008 at 1:51 AM
I agree 100%.

How much time and money is spent at endless commitee stages in the development of a brand name only for it to lose any sense of continuity when put in the hands of the marketeers ?

Decide on a name format and run with it. Customers like continuity.

From Derek Potter on July 31, 2008 at 3:14 AM
If the parks get sold to an outside entity, it's likely that the name will change, because InBev will either not want the new owners to use it, or they will charge them big bucks to do so. The only way I see BG keeping the Busch is if the company doesn't sell the parks, or if the Busch family buys them.
From Scott Sanders on July 31, 2008 at 5:39 AM
I really love the name Busch Gardens, so I hope that part stays the same regardless of who overtakes the parks. Unless they change it to....

Duff Gardens! Mmmmm......Duff Gardens.

Seriously, I like the Europe and Africa monikers better than Williamsburg and Tampa.

From W McCarthy on July 31, 2008 at 10:01 AM
Busch Gardens Europe sounds like it's in Europe. It's an awful name from a marketing perspective. Bring it back to BG Williamsburg, that makes much more sense and associates the park with that other marketing campaign for Colonial Williamburg.
From Robert Niles on July 31, 2008 at 2:06 PM
This reminds me of the "Epcot 95" thing. (Who remembers that?)
From Gareth H on July 31, 2008 at 5:34 PM
Or "Epcot 94" don't forget that one, lol
From Gareth H on July 31, 2008 at 5:40 PM
And if you want to watch "The Epcot Movie", go here http://www.the-original-epcot.com/2008/05/epcot-film-video.html
From James Rao on July 31, 2008 at 7:59 PM
I still kind of like TPI GARDENS. It has a nice ring to it.
From Robert Niles on August 1, 2008 at 11:31 AM
Sorry, I'm saving my money to buy the LA Times. At the rate that the price is falling on newspaper companies, I think I should be in range to get it within a few months ;-)
From Gareth H on August 1, 2008 at 12:29 PM
Just on the subject of buying things, and this will actually be totally irrelvant, but funny.

Around the time of the tax rebates there were some local commercials for "Fun Spot". The annoying place just off I-Drove with the dirty great big wheel visible from Kirkman, I-Drive etc. They also have a location on the 192 in OldTown.

Anyhoo, these commercials featured a family, of course, being the US and being a cheapo commerical, the Family was the owner, his Son, Daughter and their charming (I'm sure) Children. They were holding up their lovely rebate & stimulus checks saying that they were going to visit a themepark. When asked which one, they obviously replied "Fun Spot". When asked why they did want to visit one of the bigger ThemeParks they replied that they didn't get that much!

Nice little bit of tongue in cheek promotion for them, but in all honesty, who would want to visit a 2 bit Go Cart track, that costs around $7 per 5 minute ride.

IF, you were to visit this place for a full day, highly unlikely, and decided to take in 10 rides each (There is a bigger selection at the Old Town Location) then you are looking at about $70. For that price you might as well get a 1 day, 2 park Universal Ticket for not much more with the apportunity to ride a much larger selection of rides, much much much better themeing and a location that would offer some kind of safer enviroment for kids.

(Yeah, Wristbands are available, but check the terms and exclusions on those things)

Anyway, totally irrelevant to the rest of the thread, just wanted to mention it and didn't think it was worthy of its own Discussion!

Toodles :)

From David Sutter on August 2, 2008 at 3:48 AM
Well lets ee...Busch Gardens..Old Country liked it sstill do for the Willimsburg Park...And like the Busch Gardens AFrica for the Tampa Park...They are the Brand themeing of the parks feel..not a location..

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