Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vintage Busch Gardens

Fellow blogger Electrospark's recent blog about Busch Gardens' Hospitality House, reminded me that I found a great vintage brochure from Busch Gardens while rummaging through an antique store in Maine. The Busch Gardens pictured in the brochure is how I remember it looking when I visited as a young child in the sixties. My memories include the long escalator ride up to the top of the brewery (I was scared), the strong smell of beer in the brewery ( I thought it was yucky), the many colorful tropical birds (maybe that's where my love birds came originated), and the funky little miniature village. I've visited since then, my last visit being in the '90s for a concert in the old Bavarian Beer Garden (The Smithereens.)

According to the brochure, Busch Gardens was dedicated in 1959 to past AB presidents (Adolphus Busch, August A. Busch, and Adolphus Busch, II.) At that time the Gardens was open from 9:30 am to 4 pm, every day but Sunday and holidays and there was FREE ADMISSION!

Ken Breslauer in Roadside Paradise states of Busch Gardens "By the mid 1960s it had grown to over 160 acres and featured the Space Frame Geodesic Dome, Bird Show Ampitheater, Dwarf Village, Flamingo Display and and thousands of flowering plants." The Gardens expanded with a zoo, monorail and rides to keep pace with Disney in the '70s and '80s, but according to Breslauer "Busch Gardens must be credited with setting a new standard for Florida tourist attractions, but at the same time it directly contributed to the demise of many smaller roadside attractions."

Here I am at Busch Gardens on my initial visit, oblivious to the fact that my little fingers could easily be mistaken for parrot food.

On a later visit, in the then kitschy dwarf village.