Busch Gardens has introduced their own Food and Wine Festival to rival that at Disney’s Epcot. In 2019, the festival runs over six weekends (Saturday/Sunday) from March 16 through April 28 and admission is included with a standard ticket, Fun Card or annual pass.
Note thought that both Fun Cards and Bronze Annual Passes have some blackout dates during March and April so not every day is available to those members.
The festival area opens at noon on festival events days and there is a preview day on Friday, March 2 with the Florida Orchestra featuring the Mambo Kings.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been running a Food and Wine Festival since 2013 during May/June but 2015 was the first year for an event of this kind at the Tampa park.
It follows the same format as Williamsburg, where guests are be able to try out a variety of individual appetiser sampler sized portions priced at around $3 to $7 each from around a dozen food cabins located around Gwazi Park and the Bird Gardens.
Each cabin offers several different dishes inspired by a different region of the country along with beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic).
In total there are around 35 different food items, plus more than 100 wines, craft brews and cocktails to choose from.
The food cabins open at noon each day (Saturday/Sunday) and close at 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 p.m. on Sundays.
You can also purchase full sized wine bottles to take home with you as well as cooking and gardening related gifts from a number of artisan festival cabins leading up to Gwazi Park.
A cashless wristband linked to a credit card allows for easy payment.
In addition to the food and wine kiosks there are also a number of demonstrations from talented chefs and other artisans.
In 2017 Busch Gardens introduced a series of larger-than-life topiaries of animals, birds, marine mammals and insects located throughout the festival area plus special Coca-Cola inspired festival games including Coke bottle ring toss and Coke “can crush”. New for 2018 is a living statue fountain.
Most of the festival activities take place in and around Gwazi Park and the Bird Gardens area.
As well as providing the opportunity to sample food and drink from around the world there are also live music concerts each day of the festival.
Food & Wine Festival Concerts
Each day of the event, there is live music on the Coca-Cola Stage followed by a live headline music concert at Gwazi Field. The headline concerts start at 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 6 p.m. on Sundays. The main concerts typically run for about one hour.
The provisional line up for the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival 2019 is as follows:
- 16 March 2019 − Daughtry
- 17 March 2019 − The Band Perry
- 23 March 2019 − 3 Doors Down
- 24 March 2019 − Blue Rodeo, Kathleen Edwards & Fred Eaglesmith featuring Tif Ginn
- 30 March 2019 − Justin Moore
- 31 March 2019 − El Gran Combo
- 6 April 2019 − TBC
- 7 April 2019 − Josh Turner
- 13 April 2019 − Mighty Mighty Bosstones
- 14 April 2019 − Boys II Men
- 19 April 2019 − Edward McCain & Vertical Horizon
Food & Wine Festival VIP Seating Package
You can purchase one of two VIP Seating Packages. The tier 1 package gets you closest to the stage and prices start at $39.99 per person with the Tier 2 package from $34.99. Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 packages include a Sampler Lanyard good for up to 5 items from the food and drink menus.
Food & Wine Festival Sampler Lanyards & Tastings
As well as buying individual samplers, you can also purchase a lanyard for five, eight or twelve choices of food, wine, cocktails or craft brews from the various cabins. Note that the All Day Dining Deal is not valid at the food festival cabins.
A five-item sampler is $29.99, the eight-item is $39.99 and the twelve-item is $54.99 (all plus tax).
You can also indulge in a range of specific drink Tastings but you must be 21 or over to participate.
There are five different four sample tastings; Tequila Tasting, Bourbon Tasting, Vodka Tasting, Ice Wine Tasting or Sparkling Wine Tasting, all from $27.99.
You can also combine two separate tastings from $39.99 or four tastings from $59.99. All prices are plus tax.
The samplers and tastings are only valid on Saturday/Sunday Festival dates and expire on the last day of the festival. If you buy VIP concert seating then the price includes a five-item sampler lanyard.
Pass Member Discounts
Pass Members get a 10% discount on the VIP Seating Packages, Sampler Lanyards and Drink Tastings. Note Pass Members can also purchase an exclusive 15-item sampler lanyard for the price of a 12-item sampler.