Thursday, October 16, 2014

Busch Gardens Van Nuys California 1968

In Van Nuys during the 1960s and 1970s was a fun theme park located next to a large brewery. The main draw for kids was a boat ride, monorail and lots of gorgeous tropical birds. The main draw for adults was free beer. Busch Gardens was owned and operated by the Anheuser-Busch company adjacent to the large Los Angeles brewery. In the late 1960s the main draw was a lovely Jungle Cruise style boat ride with the jungle filled with hundreds of tropical birds. In addition there was a neat monorail that toured the brewery. Although a strong tourist draw, images of the park are not that common. First up is a view of the winding river and scenic waterfalls of the cruise.

The second image shows the lovely tropical birds and flamingos which were one of the main draws.

Final image shows a close up of the birds. I can relate to the kid being both fascinated and scared about the birds.

In the mid 1970s more rides and attractions were added. Busch Gardens closed as a theme park in 1977, re-opening as a bird sanctuary and was closed in 1979 a victim of expansion of the brewery. The birds were sent to the LA Zoo and Busch Gardens in Florida and Virginia. Today one can see some of the monorail tracks at the brewery but nothing else of this once verdant and tropical garden theme park.


K. Martinez said...

It's really too bad they didn't try and keep this going. I can imagine the nearby competition of Magic Mountain and the other Southern California theme parks played a part in Busch Gardens demise. Just imagine in they went the route their Tampa and Williamsburg properties did.

MRaymond said...

I remember that place. I think we only went once or twice in the early 70's. Too bad it's gone.

Anonymous said...

It was a great change of pace from Disney and Knott's. Remember taking a date or two there. Yes, the free beer didn't hurt either. Other than San Diego Zoo, there isn't a place remotely similar in SoCal today.


Major Pepperidge said...

I still remember people (mostly men?) carrying the beer around in little metal pails.

I wish I could recall if the pails had "Busch Gardens" printed on them, wouldn't they make a great souvenir?

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm… I visited Busch Gardens many, many times from the mid-60s until it closed and never saw a metal pail of beer. Each pavilion (Michelob, Budweiser, etc.) offered 10 (not 12) oz. paper cups of beer… my Dad always said they used paper so you'd have to drink it up instead of carrying around a plastic cup which would have lasted longer than paper. Toward the end that they switched over to plastic but stayed with the 10 oz. servings.

Anyway, I'm certainly not discounting the good Major's recollection… just stating that I never saw the metal pails. I miss Busch Gardens in Van Nuys!

JG said...

We visited here once or twice, I remember the monorail tour through the brewery and the smell of the brewing beer.

The boat trip was fun, but not a patch on the Jungle Cruise. There wasn't much to do or see except the vegetation and birds and a few fake-rock waterfalls. Kind of dull for a young kid, but I could see it being really restful for adults with a snoot full of beer.

Our visit must have been near the end of the span since I used a photograph of one of the pavilions rising out of the water as an image for a gouache rendering in first-year architecture school.