So,,,,,,,, Busch Gardens it is.
The drive from Sarasota to Tampa is roughly an hour and it's all highway so it's an easy commute. I rented a nice Chevrolet HHR which is that new Chevy SUV that kind of looks like a PT Cruiser. Nice ride.
Decided to drive up the night before and got a hotel right by the park. Just seeing the lights illuminating off of SheiKra had me pumped up to start riding some stuff.
Woke up the next morning and paid the 8 bucks to park. It was a nice surprise to see tram service take you to the front gate.
Grabbed a map and I was off. Decided to find the closest route to get to SheiKra as I thought since it was new this year that it would generate a line. Later on I found that not to really be the case.
I haven't been to this park since I was about 8 years old so nothing in the park looked that familiar except for Python and Scorpion which I rode back then.
Got to SheiKra and was just like WOW!!! Just what it does, how it looks, and a pleasure to watch and experience getting wet really enhanced this coaster's appeal. First ride I waited one dispatch. This coaster features 4 trains with 3 rows: 8 across. Due to the shortness of the trains, the station is set up to allow 2 trains to enter the station at the same time. Unloading and loading happen with both trains simultaneausly.
The neat thing about the station is that most people think that the front row is strictly the first car in the stations front row. Actually you have 2 sets of front rows so the back train in the station has a shorter line for its front row. Took advantage of that quite a few times. However, I like the back row better due to the yank over the drops.
Finally off on my first ride and was in for another surprise as we started up the lift hill. This hill is freakin STEEP. I am talking even more steep than MF's lift. You feel like you are reclined while ascending this hill.
As you get to the top, you slowly move on the turnaround and then the train is gaged by the chain dog that holds the train over the drop. After about 4 seconds of waiting, you just drop. Nice sensation and then up into the tall immelmen inversion. After that you do a big turnaround into the straightaway for the next 90 degree drop. This one just uses trim brakes on the straight track and then down you go into a tunnel and another turnaround before hitting the pond that splashes spectators watching.
All in all, a winner in my book. Some will ***** that it's to short, not enough to it, blah, blah, blah. For what it is and being the only one of its kind in the states, it's great. Bring on more of these. Got quite a few laps on this dive coaster.
Not going to go into detail like with SheiKra on the other coasters but I must say they have a decent selection and with 3 custom made B&M's, I didn't get bored.
Kumba is probably my fav. in the park because of the layout and elements. First sitdown looper that I have been on by B&M but its not much different than a floorless. What I like about Busch Gardens is that alot of the track on the B&M's at this park go through tunnels and valleys which adds to the excitement. Kumba is great. I power rode this.
Scorpion is your typical Arrow looper from the early 70's. Lifthill, drop, 2 corkscrews and done. One ride for me was enough.
Python is a 70's Scharzkopf coaster with one vertical loop and lots of laterals. Due to limited leg room, I rode this twice and was done. Still love the Anton coasters.
Cheetah Chase is a non-spinning mouse coaster that is basically braked to death. I think we braked hard about 4 times on this. Not really exciting at all except for the first half at the top. One ride.
Gwazi was just insane. This thing after going down the first drop doesn't let up. A few rough spots but the layout is great and very disorienting. Rode Lion and Tiger and enjoyed both. On the weekdays when I was there, only Lion was operating so I lucked out by hitting a weekend day to ride Tiger.
Montu in my opinion is only great near the front of the train due to the lagging track toward the end of the ride. However, still a great B&M invert that has spitfire elements that navigate through a tunnel and a couple valleys. Power rode this one as well.
Besides the coasters, and being over 21, I took advantage of FREE BEER!!
2 samples per person my ass. Throughout the day I made sure to stop into the hospitality house and grab a sample so each day got me about 5 samples. Also did the beer school on one of the days and enjoyed that as well. We got to taste a new Bud beer coming out that is called "B to the E". Don't ask because I thought the same thing. Anyway: it looked like beer, and smelled like beer but when tasting it, it had a wine cooler orange taste to it. Hmmm, interesting, but anyway, that was cool to do that(school).
Spent a total of 4 days at the park but not in a row. Did 2 days, went back to Sarasota for Thanksgiving, then came back for 2 more days. Enjoyed the coasters, the animals, the free beer, and the low crowds along with 75 degree temps in November.
Took some pics of the park that you can view by clicking here.
Thanks for reading. *** Edited 12/10/2005 1:53:52 PM UTC by Chitown***
They hit a home run with Sheikra, the setup is as good or better than Montu and any other Florida park.
To answer the train/track question, on the weekend, there were 2 trains each on Gwazi Lion, Gwazi Tiger, Montu, and Kumba. I believe Sheikra had about 4 on the weekend.
On the weekday, Sheikra had 2 and every other coaster had one. Also, Gwazi Tiger was closed both weekdays.
Kumba was closed, it looked like a fresh coat of paint was in the process of being added.
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