USF students fight to keep Busch Gardens discount

Busch Gardens has offered USF students a discounted $50 ticket valid during the school months, but are discontinuing it due to "lack of student interest", according to the park. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Busch Gardens roller coasters that seem to touch the sky are visible from campus, but the price of tickets to ride these coasters is out of reach for some students.

For the last three years, the financial burden had been eased with Busch Gardens offering $50 admission to the park for USF students.  The discounted pass was valid from August to May and was significantly less expensive than other ticket options, which range from $79 for one day to $168 for an annual pass.

However, the student pass is no longer available.

Karen Varga-Sinka, a spokesperson for Busch Gardens, said lack of student interest is to blame.

“The student pass has been poorly received and sales year over year are not enough to validate us continuing the offer this school year,” Varga-Sinka said in an email to The Oracle.

USF students disagree. 

Over 2,000 signed a petition titled “Get the Busch Gardens USF Student Pass Reinstated!”

Students point out that Busch Gardens still has the potential to profit from students, even those who visit with a less expensive pass.

“It’s really the only thing to do around here… and even if the price is cheaper on the ticket, people still would be spending money inside so [Busch Gardens] is benefiting either way,” said Jenviave Farhan, a junior majoring in mass communications.

Other students said USF’s proximity to Busch Gardens is a major reason to reintroduce the discounted pass.

Joey Velocci, a sophomore majoring in biomedical sciences, said, “I think [Busch Gardens] would be a nice distraction, like a little in between class or weekend getaway, because it’s literally two seconds away.”

Varga-Sinka offers hope to disappointed students.

“Should USF student leaders guarantee enough interest we would be open to discussing a renewed offering for the USF student body,” she said.

Student Government (SG) is working to secure this and many more discounts for students around the Tampa Bay area.

Colton Morgan, public relations director for SG, said that he and other student officials are “working with the marketing team over at Busch Gardens to try to get that pass back … since it’s right there.”

Morgan said SG plans to better advertise student discounts that are already available around Tampa, as well as work with other Florida businesses to secure additional discounts for students.

SG is also negotiating with Universal Studios and Walt Disney World to create a USF discount pass for the Orlando theme parks.

However, Farhan points out, “A lot of people don't have cars, so they can’t really get anywhere even if there was something better, and [Busch Gardens] is really convenient.”

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