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The InBev/Busch Discussion Thread


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It is a shame that they're stopping this, but its been common knowledge that inBev were going were going to sell the parks, and obviously a company with no connections to inBev / AB etc is going to give away free beer, so it was going to happen eventually. They may as well do it now.

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Here is additional article posted today on the Sentinel's website:

 

No more free beer at SeaWorld or Busch Gardens

 

Busch Entertainment Corp. is about to end of the longest-standing traditions at its theme parks: Free beer sampling.

 

The company announced this morning that it will close the popular hospitality houses at all of its SeaWorld and Busch Garden parks beginning this month. The facilities will eventually re-open -- without the beer sampling.

 

In a written statement, Busch didn't offer an explanation for the move. But it said employees at the hospitality centers will remain with the company.

 

Busch said the Busch Gardens hospitality house in Tampa will close "briefly" at the end of January and re-open with a new "cafe-style menu." The SeaWorld Orlando hospitality house will close for a longer stretch as of Feb. 1 and will ultimately be converted into a new restaurant.

 

UPDATE: A spokeswoman says Busch is recasting the hospitality centers in order to "expand the facilities' appeal across age groups."

 

UPDATE: Just to clarify, Busch says the parks will still sell beer -- just no free samples.

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It is a shame that they're stopping this, but its been common knowledge that inBev were going were going to sell the parks, and obviously a company with no connections to inBev / AB etc is going to give away free beer, so it was going to happen eventually. They may as well do it now.

 

I agree that if no connection exists to the brewer free samples don't make sense.

 

However, as long as InBev runs the parks at the very least the Brewmaster's Clubs should exist as they serve as a great way and inexpensive way to generate buzz and word of mouth around new products in the pipeline. If I was inBev I would also keep the free samples but only serve lesser known/newer products. Unfortunately, InBev does not see it the same way.

 

Of course once InBev sells the parks it makes perfect business sense to cut off the beer.

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The Hospitality House and BrewMaster's Club were staples on my visits to Busch parks. While in the past I would never even bother purchasing a bottle of a AB product, after sampling many different things over the years at the parks I found a few that were actually very tasty and worth picking up a bottle or 6 pack of if I came across them, mostly the seasonals but sometimes their new products or the Michelob line, and then telling other friends and coworkers about the beer and how it was decent. With this change though I'll won't bother purchasing any of their products, saving that money for beers that I know I like, or at least are 90% probable of having flavor, and I doubt I'm the only one. Stupid InBev, must have never heard the phrase "you gotta give to get".

 

Fortunately I know plenty of other places surrounding the parks to get good beer worth paying for.

 

Just wanted to quote that post because I agree 100% with it.

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I don't know what I'm going to do with myself if I can't be drunk on SheiKra.

 

Well, you CAN still get drunk on Sheikra. It's just now going to cost you as much for one beer as you can get a six pack of decent-tasting beer for.

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My heart just broke.

 

I definitely think this is going to hurt their beer sales and annual passes sales, but I'm not surprised. I kinda saw it coming, but just had my worst fears confirmed. I screamed when I heard the news.

 

I don't know what I'm going to do with myself if I can't be drunk on SheiKra.

Not sure why you think something like a small cup of beer samples would stop an annual pass member to cancel their pass...I think MOST passholders are teenagers & families who like Busch for the rides & athe atmopshere...the beer (at least to me) was just a BONUS.

 

In fact, I was just at BGA yesterday & got possibly my last beer sample...a nice cold Bud Light...I got a 2nd sample & poored on the floor..for my homies.

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^Well, I used to live across the street (at USF) and me and my friends used to just walk over for some free beer. Some of my friends didn't like coasters, so they just went for the Gardens, Animals, and Beer (well, mostly beer). I think it'll hurt their beer sales more if anything, as (like someone else noted) I never knew of the combinations and seasonal beers if it weren't for the advertisements of the new types in line for the free samples.

 

Let me put it this way, it can't help their sales.

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I definitely think that the lack of the free beer will not stop people from going to the park. If anyone wanted the free cup of beer (or several depending on who and where you are), they don't need any of those parks to get that. I highly doubt "one" cup of beer will deter any true park goer. True I will miss the occasional Smirnoff Ice they offered a few times I went into the tent for myself... (which sadly the last time I went they didnt have) but I know I dont go there for that anyhow. SWO definitely needs another restaurant though. I hate the food there. Hopefully they make it family friendly.

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^As someone who lives in a huge college town, I disagree. I know a lot of people who go to BGA over the other Central Florida parks because of the beer. Obviously this is the college-aged GP I'm talking about, but it's really easy for a lot of people to get more than one free beer while they're at the park as long as they go during different employee shifts at the Hospitality House. I have plenty of friends who go to BGA quite often and NEVER go to Disney or Universal strictly because of the availability of alcohol and the cheap price of the fun card.

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Unfortunately, this looks to be the first of many moves that AB-InBev will enact. We interviewed Alan Stein (Corporate Director of Entertainment for Busch Entertainment Corporation until late 2008) and he stated that InBev incurred a lot of debt and they have no interest in keeping these parks; meaning the only option for the Theme Parks is a diluted operation until a whole-sale is accepted to diminish the financial damage. My personal observation is that AB-InBev will continue to eliminate any gifts, perks, and quality experiences that separate these parks from your "Basic Operation Amusement Park."

 

Hopefully within the next couple of months we'll hear good news (Please.... God....) about a "savior" corporation investing in all 10 parks.

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^It's interesting you say that. It seems as if AB-Inbev plans to run these parks at the bare minimum until a buy is found, which may mean that the quality we are used to seeing in Busch parks may noticably decrease. At least that's what I got out of your post. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

 

Exactly! You're spot-on. It's unfortunate because there is such beauty that is displayed within the Busch Parks and it's not just the scenery and layout, but the special care that each guest receives once admitted.

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Which sucks, because whichever operator that picks up these parks won't pay as much attention to those intangible qualities as Busch did, unless of course Disney or Universal pick up these parks. That however is safe to say is a longshot.

 

I think if Merlin or Parque reunidos buys the parks, the intangible qualities will remain and even is the parks remain under the control of InBev, they will try to keep that quality going no matter what, it is their nature thanks to Busch.

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I think it is terrible that they are closing down the hospitality house. It is bad enough how expensive the theme parks have gotten. The parks just want your money, they overprice everything. I hope people protest this move in earnest! At Busch Gardens free beer should ALWAYS be available.

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^ But they're not always going to be connected to AB. The free beer (if you can even all it that! ) was a way of promoting the AB products. Since it will cease to have any connection with AB, it was always going to stop eventually - they're just making the transition now to save any new owner from having to do so (and save some pennies in the process!)

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They should look at it this way: lost revenue. They could have forced a buyer into keeping the hospitality centers open as part of the deal, which would have meant yet another nice account for them.

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Perhaps - but it would be an unattractive term to attach to the parks, when they're probably going to want to get rid of them as soon as possible.

 

And why would they care about another park giving away their beer? In the grand scheme of things, its not that much additional income for InBev

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They could pull a fairly hefty licensing fee, I think. This would be as close to "free" advertising as they could get--all Busch/InBev would have to do is provide the beer and cash the checks.

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