Free beer returns to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

April 30, 2018, 11:21 AM · Busch Gardens Tampa Bay today announced the return of free beer samples at the park.

Starting tomorrow and running through August 5, guests age 21 and older can get up to two free samples a day at Garden Gate Cafe, which long-time fans will remember as the park's old Hospitality House — the former home of the park's free beer samples.

Those free tastes of Anheuser-Busch brews used to be one of the big attractions drawing people to the Busch Gardens and SeaWorld parks. Remember that Busch Gardens Tampa opened in 1959 as a brewery tour and gardens (thus, the name), evolving into a theme park over the years.

But when Belgian brewer InBev took over Anheuser-Busch in 2008 and spun off the company's theme parks, Busch Gardens and its sibling SeaWorld parks lost the free beer samples. It's been a tough road for the chain ever since, thanks in large part to increased competition from Universal Studios in Orlando, which launched its industry-changing Harry Potter attractions in 2010. The return of free beer to the original Busch Gardens park* is welcome news for fans.

This time, though, fans won't be limited to Anheuser-Busch brands. Busch Gardens will start by pouring Corona (just in time for Cinco de Mayo), and will follow that over the spring and summer with seven-ounce samples of Bud Light, Founders All Day IPA, M.I.A 305, Miller Light, Shock Top, and Yuengling.

Fans planning to visit the park frequently during the promotion might consider the Busch Gardens Brew Club, which will offer five-dollar refills of 20-some on-tap brands in a reserved stein. And Busch Gardens will follow the free samples with an Oktoberfest-style Bier Fest event, running weekends August 25 through September 16.

*Okay, the Tampa park isn't actually the first Busch Gardens, even though it is the original theme park by the name of Busch Gardens that remains open. But long-time Theme Park Insider readers will remember that the original original Busch Gardens was located in Pasadena, California (Theme Park Insider's hometown).

Replies (6)

April 30, 2018 at 1:15 PM ·

Sea World Orlando needs this far more than BGT. Unfortunately, the park's Hospitality House is still consumed by the Infinity Falls construction site, which looks like it may not be ready until July.

April 30, 2018 at 7:43 PM ·

Now wait a minute. Wasn't the first Busch Gardens in Van Nuys? The big brewery, factory tour, small park with bird exhibits, a log ride and of course beer tasting.

May 1, 2018 at 8:04 AM ·

Van Nuys California was technically the second Bush Gardens. It was the first one though to have theme/amusement park attractions though. The Pasadena one was just gardens.

May 1, 2018 at 8:08 AM ·

Great we use to love this attraction called Free samples...

First how or why would one even want a Free sample of Bud or Miller lite..
Never mind before I digress..

I the past when this was offered we world always Tip a buck or two per beer and they would always forget to count how many 'Free' one's we would get...

May 1, 2018 at 8:54 AM ·

@Brian - It sounds like there will be a rotating selection of beers sampled, perhaps subsidized by the breweries themselves. When AB owned the parks guests could always belly up for samples of Bud or Bud Light, but all of the parks offered a rotating selection of different brews. The AB breweries that still offer tours use the same concept in their tasting rooms giving guests a sample of Bud/Bud Light, but also giving them samples from a wide variety of products that are much further from the mainstream. When we toured the Ft. Collins brewery last year, they had over 12 different samples on tap, including a few unique to Colorado (the San Antonio Hospitality House served Ziegen Bock, which was a pretty solid facsimile of Shiner Bock that's only available in Texas).

May 1, 2018 at 9:23 AM ·

Thanks Rus - we do agree that SeaWorld needs this also. BGT has some great rides and shows and with this added feature, hopefully their attendance will increase. (Probably more like the local Tampa folks will just go there more).. hahahahahaha...

I know Discovery cove always kept this in place for free beer (and food) even after Bud no longer owned them...

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