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SeaWorld - South End: Clydesdale Hamlet & Busch Hospitality Center

Rating: * * +
Type: Horse stables and free beer
Time: As long as you want
Kelly says: For horse lovers and Bud fans

Since Anheuser-Busch, the brewing giant, owns SeaWorld, you probably can’t hold it against them for blowing their own horn a bit. And even if you find this sort of blatant self-promotion distasteful, you’ll probably have to admit they do a pretty good (and fairly tasteful) job of it.

There are really two attractions here, Clydesdale Hamlet, the home of Budweiser’s trademark Clydesdale beer wagon team, and the Anheuser-Busch Hospitality Center. Clydesdale Hamlet is actually a very upscale stable, impeccably clean and not in the least aromatically offensive. This is where the impressive Clydesdales hang out between appearances elsewhere in the park and where you can meet and pet them at times posted in the daily calendar.

These steeds, from Scotland, were originally bred for the heavy work of hauling man’s stuff from place to place, and while they may not have the magnificent grace of their racing cousins they are pretty impressive in their own right — all 2,000 pounds of them. They are also pampered, beautifully groomed, and obviously well-cared for. There are stable attendants always close at hand to make sure you don’t slip them a sugar cube or a contraband carrot and to regale you with horse lore. Did you know, for example, that if you hold down the jaw of a supine Clydesdale, it will be unable to stand up? Seems they have to be able to raise their heads off the ground first before they begin the process of standing up.

Hospitality Center

Rating: * * * +
Type: Free beer!
Time: As long as you want
Kelly says: For Bud fans

Next door is the Anheuser-Busch Hospitality Center, a large, airy pavilion whose architecture reflects that of the stable. It’s a lovely building surrounded by immaculate lawns. A comfortable outdoor seating area overlooks a crystal clear lake, fed by a babbling waterfall. It’s the nicest place in the park to just sit and take your ease.

Inside you’ll find The Deli (a fast-food restaurant) and the Label Stable (a souvenir shop). The centerpiece of the Center, however, is the free beer dispensing area that faces the main entrance and is backed by huge copper brewing kettles. That’s right, free beer. The cups are on the small size (about 10 ounces) and there’s a limit (one sample at a time, two per day), but it’s still a gracious gesture. Most of Anheuser-Busch’s brands are available, including the nonalcoholic O’Doul’s.

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