As a kid, my brother and I had season passes to Tampa, Florida’s Busch Gardens. My aunt and grandmother lived nearby, and a day at the hybrid theme park-zoo was ingrained in our summer routines. I remember my parents, and sometimes my grandmother, making a point to swing by the theme park’s free beer hut. I didn’t get the allure of this as a kid, obviously, but as an adult, HOLY CRAP FREE BEER.
Busch Gardens’ Tampa location stopped giving away the free beer samples—which harkened back to the parks’ original purpose as marketing machines for Anheuser-Busch—in 2009. But the theme park’s new owners, BlackStone Group, are tentatively bringing back the free beer for a trial run this summer. Adult visitors can snag two free 7-ounce samples per visit to the Tampa park now through August 5.
The beer brands will rotate every two weeks, starting with Corona (“just in time for Cinco De Mayo,” a press release notes), then switch to other options including Bud Light, Founders All Day IPA, M.I.A 305, Miller Light, Shock Top and Yuengling. Alright, two free 7-ounce beers might not have a dramatic effect on your experience at the park—how much are you going to “feel” 14 ounces of Miller Light?—but a return to Busch Gardens’ beery roots is symbolically cool. I don’t remember many of the rides I liked there as a kid, but I totally remember the Clydesdales. Marketing mission accomplished, theme-park-beer-marketing people.
And there’s another perk to beer’s return: The park has also debuted a new Brew Club. For $79, club members receive a stein, and $5 refills of any of the 20 draft beers served at the Serengeti Overlook Pub. At the end of the season, members keep the mug. Say beers are around $10 regularly; if you drink 16 of the $5 refills, the mug club pays for itself, making it a deal only for the most hardcore of park attendees. Tampa Bay Times also makes the important note that Serengeti Overlook Pub is adjacent to the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster. So remember: coaster before beer, have no fear; beer before coaster, dude, I am not helping you clean that up.