Busch Gardens Tampa 60th Anniversary Celebration Kickoff

Coaster101 was recently invited to the Busch Gardens Tampa 60th Anniversary Celebration! This was an event I was absolutely stoked about for a number of reasons. One, Busch Gardens Tampa is my personal favorite theme park. Two, we got a preview of the 2019 Food & Wine Festival (and we all know how much of a foodie I am!). Three, there was to be a big announcement about a coaster we’ve been all waiting on. And finally, the event was being held on my birthday! Let’s just say I really felt like a VIP that day!

Tigris Ride Vehicle Reveal

We were greeted by Tigris Project Manager, Andrew Schaffer, and given an up close look at Tigris’ new ride vehicles. The tiger theming looked absolutely gorgeous! This will be a visually stunning ride against the tropical treeline.

I chatted with Andrew a bit about Tigris’ theming. The ride will still be considered a part of the Stanleyville area, with the queue beginning near the Stanleyville Theater. The ride will not be utilizing the former Tanganyika Tidal Wave queue. However, a portion of the Tidal Wave drained trench will be used as part of the Tigris queue. The majority of the trees and vegetation from the Tidal Wave ride were left untouched, so riders will be treated to quite the view as they wait.

Food & Wine Festival Preview

Next, we were led into the reception area for the event. There were three serving stations set up offering a preview of new menu items for the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival.

Kona Coffee Rub Fillet & Mashed Potatoes


Mexican-Style Street Corn


Banana Foster Cheesecake

Pin Trading

Busch Gardens’ new Pin Trading experience was also on display. Guests are encouraged to collect and trade for their favorite pins at the park with ambassadors and other guests. Pins are generally available for sale at the various gift shops throughout the park. However, there are some pins that are limited edition and only available at special events throughout the year. New pins will be introduced over time, while some pins will eventually be retired. Also, there are certain pins that are only available from ambassadors, so if you want to snag one, you’ll have to be on the lookout! Ambassadors at Busch Gardens are willing traders, so don’t be shy!

We were given a set of pins that were exclusive to the 60th Anniversary Celebration Kickoff. As you can see, we were encouraged to trade one of them with ambassadors at the event.

I traded my spare event exclusive pin for a pin of my favorite African animal, the cheetah! I also managed to get the annual passholder exclusive 60th Anniversary Celebration pins that were only available to passholders this weekend. And of course I couldn’t leave the park without receiving my birthday button!


Also on display were vintage photos and paraphernalia that harken from the time when Busch Gardens Tampa opened as a beer garden and hospitality facility for Anheuser-Busch. Of note was the picture of the “Stairway to the Stars” escalator, which was a part of the brewery tour offered to guests.

The displays helped emphasize that 2019 is indeed the #YearofBeer at Busch Gardens. As part of its 60th Anniversary Celebration, the park will be offering two complimentary beer samples to guests with each visit.

Summer Camp

The park also had several of its animal ambassadors on display. These critters were there to highlight Busch Gardens’ summer camp. The park offers a day camp for grades K-12, and a resident camp for 5th grade through college.

This little guy is a West African slender-snouted crocodile. According to the ambassador, this species of crocodile was only recently discovered. Research shows that the species is critically endangered, so this critter has the important job of helping bring awareness to Busch Gardens’ conservation efforts.

This African penguin was also strutting her stuff! I learned that the African penguin was one of five species of penguins that stay exclusively in warmer weather. I had always assumed that the penguin species that made their way up to warmer areas of the world were migratory. Apparently these African penguins do not even tolerate the coldest weather in Florida!

2020 Coaster Update

Finally, the keynote of the event kicked off and Busch Gardens President Stewart Clark opened up by giving a spiel about the 60th Anniversary Celebration Event. Next, Andrew Schaffer came up and showed off a quick video highlighting Busch Gardens Tampa’s history of coasters and thrill rides.

The video ended with Andrew giving us the update that we had all been anticipating. The Gwazi Rocky Mountain Construction conversion would be the tallest, steepest, and fastest hybrid coaster in the world! The ride is slated to open in 2020. With that, the event ended and guests were welcomed to attend the 60th Anniversary Celebration Kickoff event that evening in Gwazi park.

At the public 60th Anniversary Celebration kickoff, Stewart Clark opened up with an overall summary of the 60th Anniversary Celebration events and festivities. Next, Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera came up to announce on behalf of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn that the month of March would be declared as Busch Gardens Month.

When I walked into Gwazi park, I noticed an odd large yellow balloon sitting over the remnants of Gwazi. Odd…

No, that’s not the moon! That will be the height of the 2020 Gwazi RMC conversion!

After the dedication by Councilman Viera, Stewart turned our attention to the balloon, which had now been raised up to mark the height of the Gwazi RMC conversion!

Here’s a picture of the 2020 Gwazi height marker balloon in respect to SheiKra and Falcon’s Fury.

Are you excited about Busch Gardens Tampa’s 60th Anniversary Celebration? Want to talk about Tigris or the upcoming 2020 coaster? Feel free to comment below! For more information, be sure to visit Busch Gardens Tampa’s website and follow them on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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2 Responses

  1. Harrison says:

    Is A-Z coasters going to come back? What about Park Madness?

  2. Mike says:

    We have a different feature than A-Z coasters coming for this year, so stay tuned! Park Mania will return later this month. 🙂

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