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Busch Gardens plans to offer new student discount

Busch Gardens is working with Student Government to create a discounted annual pass for students.

Between nature habitats and the rush of roller coasters, Busch Gardens offers a variety of options for students.

In an effort to make the park more affordable, Student Government (SG) has been working with Busch Gardens to offer cheaper tickets for students.

“Basing off of feedback from last year, from surveys that were done by the SG administration last year, they decided to propose to Busch Gardens a specific proposal,” Student Body President Moneer Kheireddine said. “One of the biggest things our students wanted to see was parking included and students wanted to see (fewer) blackout dates. And so they negotiated with Busch Gardens a new student discount pass.”

The details of the offer are still being discussed. SG put out a survey on BullSync to acquire more student opinions and gauge student interest before finalizing anything. According to Kheireddine, most of the responses have been positive, but the real test will be sales of the finalized tickets.

“When (Student Body Vice President Shaquille) Kent and I came into the equation, we met with Busch Gardens and conversed about it,” Kheireddine said. “We gave our own feedback about it and then said we were going to reach out to our student body and do what we can to get input from them for the final negotiation.”

The survey lists a $130 price for a full annual Busch Gardens pass that wouldn’t have blackout dates, would include free parking and would offer discounts within the park. It also mentions the option of adding access to Adventure Island for $30 more.

An annual pass for Busch Gardens currently costs $168 and becomes $192 when a second park is added.

“Students will be able to take advantage of the unique benefits Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers to its annual pass holders, such as free parking and discounts on food and drinks in the park, at an affordable price,” Busch Gardens spokeswoman Karen Varga-Sinka said in an email to The Oracle.

She said the pass is expected to be available starting in mid-to-late August. This comes about a year after the park discontinued its original USF student pass.

The old pass cost $50 for admission during the fall and spring semesters. It included blackout dates for summer and winter break, and did not include free parking or discounts. This pass began in 2012, although there were previously more USF student passes.

“The student pass was poorly received and returns year over year were not enough to validate us continuing the specific USF student pass,” Varga-Sinka said.

After the pass was discontinued, over 2,700 students signed a petition to have it reinstated. At the time, students were arguing that Busch Gardens still had the potential to profit from students via parking and spending within the park.

Last August, leaders of SG said they were in the process of working with the marketing team at Busch Gardens in an attempt to bring the pass back. This time SG promises better advertising to students.

According to Varga-Sinka, SG will play an important role in promoting the new pass.

“The USF Student Government will take a significant role in promoting the pass to USF students,” she said. “Busch Gardens has been working hand-in-hand with the student government to maximize the awareness of the product among the USF student body.”