BGT - Sat. August 13th - Cheetah Hunt and some other stuff

Monday, August 15, 2011 1:20 PM

Was down in St. Pete Beach for a conference and we have some family up in Tampa, so my wife (6 months pregnant), my son (almost 2), my father-in-law (will ride anything) and mother in law (will not ride anything) got some afternoon tickets to BGT. We had to go on a Sat. because it was the only day that everyone had free, but lines and crowds weren't *too* bad.

First off, holy crap on the daily ticket price! I think it was $81. I looked for discounts and such, especially since we were going with Florida residents, but nothing really dropped the price by much. Luckily, the hotel where the conference was had half-day tickets for $53, so that was what we went with.

Arrived at the park and mom and grandma took our son on the train (which he absolutely loved). Meanwhile, grandpa and I got in line for Cheetah Hunt. Line was 60 minutes, but we got called to ride as singles after about 20 minutes. I'll spare the play by play but by the time all was said and done we got 4 rides - 2nd row, back row, front at night, back at night. I really, really liked this ride, but it lacked a little something to put it over the top. The initial pair of launches was interesting and unique, but not super thrilling. The climb up to windcatcher tower had some nice air and the rest of the course diving under tunnels and especially the zig-zags in the canyon were really neat. The hill after the third launch had some really solid air. Overall, it was a lot of fun, and the themeing and the new area was spectacular. I suspect it will be a huge hit and I would certainly ride it again given the chance, but I'm not sure I'd wait 60 minutes for it again.

Non-thrill side of the family went to grab a bite at the Crown Colony House (the upstairs restaurant part) and said the food was excellent and a good value (for a park). Grandma, who's on a super strict low-sodium, no fat, no cholesterol diet, even found things she could eat.

While we were dropping them off, we looked over at Gwazi and they were walking people down the lift hill! One of the trains was stuck at the top of the lift (blocking error?) and they were popping the people out about 6 at a time and walking them down.

We headed to Egypt and took 3 trips in Montu and it was the same goodness as always. Walk-on everywhere but the front. I started getting a little dizzy by the last lap, so decided to cool it. We met the non-thrill riding part of the family and walked through the Edge of Africa section. We got to see the lions up close (they were right against the glass) and see the trainers feeding the hyenas. As a family man, I have to say that BGT's animal sections make the park a huge winner in my book. It gives options for things the whole family can do together.

Grandpa and I took a spin on Kumba while Grandma and son rode the carousel. Holy cow, Kumba is intense. Way faster then I remember it. After one trip, I was done, but still a really good ride.

The non-thrill side went to the new kids area (which they said was crowded beyond belief - they waited 45 minutes to ride the kiddie ferris wheel together and then left) while we rode Sheikra. This is the first time I've seen them use both stations at the same time and while the capacity increases greatly, the station becomes a gigantic mess. The two front row queues spilled out onto the walking area and the back of the second station was almost unused. I'd be surprised if the last row of the second stations averaged 75% use. That said, I do love that drop from the front in the floorless trains. The second drop is nice and the rest of the ride is kind of meh.

Grandpa and I rode Gwazi (which was open and running both sides somehow) lion side in the dark somewhere in the middle of the train. I don't remember much about Gwazi from riding it about 10 years ago, but I felt like the Millennium Fliers gave a good ride. Still definitely let you know it was wood, but not really rough by any stretch. The ops tried to duel the coaster, but by the top of the lift we were already 2 seconds ahead of the Tiger side, so we didn't see them on any of the flybys.

We wrapped up with the 2 night rides on Cheetah Hunt (non-thrill side went back to the house and my wife came back later to pick me up) in front and back and I definitely enjoyed my front row ride the most, both for wind and visuals and also for the ride itself.

I definitely felt like I got my $53 worth and I know grandpa did, but I'm not sure the non-thrill part of the family did. Between the heat and the crowds, they were pretty ready to go. Overall, I give BGT a gigantic thumbs up. I think if we had gone on a less hot or less crowded day we all would have had an awesome time.

Now who do I speak to to get the hospitality house to come back?

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Monday, August 15, 2011 2:41 PM

^No Scorpion? :(

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Monday, August 15, 2011 2:45 PM

I was especially impressed that they started racing Gwazi again. They are almost never in sync, and the dispatch times are dismal, but I give them a B- for trying. The quality of the ride though....jiminy crickets!! I nearly pooped a puppy. It was extremely jarring. Glad you got a better ride ;).

I also thought cheetah was just...OK. The zig zags were my favorite part. Reminds me of doing airborne heismans in P-90x :-)

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Monday, August 15, 2011 3:40 PM

I really need more laps on Chunt before I can give a better opinion - but based on my singular ride in the front seat....I have to agree. The video with the "full speed launch" had me eagerly anticipating the ride...losing just 5mph per launch really toned the ride down QUITE a bit. Too much, IMO.

Gwazi - not sure what to say. Happy about dueling, but the ride never really came back to form from about 3-5 years ago. I'll always have those monumental rides with AV Matt when it was totally kicking butt. Since then, rougher and rougher, despite the trackwork, despite the new trains. Ouch-tastic....and sad.

On a positive note, Scorpion never disappoints...it's the Phoenix of compact steel loopers. :)

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Monday, August 15, 2011 4:11 PM

^+1 Scorpion

^I wonder why Gwazi could be so rough with Millennium Flyer trains? I haven't been back since the switch, but thought Gwazi (headache and all) was a pretty damn solid ride with the old PTC trains. Aren't the Millennium Flyers supposed to help out with smoothness?

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Monday, August 15, 2011 4:45 PM

^I was worried about the Wildcat->Mildcat transformation that happened at Hershey...somehow Gwazi is still rough (too much bouncing even in the lead car), but without the intesity it had with the old PTCs. When it was running well with the PTCs (rare, but it happened), Gwazi could be an amazingly good ride. Now, the best woodie left in the State of Florida is...???

Trick question, Gwazi is the ONLY wooden coaster still running in FL...for the time being at least.

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Monday, August 15, 2011 5:02 PM

I've never been a big Anton fan, so we skipped Scorpion entirely. Didn't think twice about it, actually.

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Monday, August 15, 2011 5:02 PM
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Friday, August 26, 2011 11:34 AM

rollergator said:


Trick question, Gwazi is the ONLY wooden coaster still running in FL...for the time being at least.

There is the Dania Beach Hurricane in Dania Beach, FL (between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami). It's a 1-off ride at an arcade/gocart place but it's actually a VERY decent ride for what it is. I was impressed and rode it many times when there.

Edit: ouch! Just saw that as of 4/27/11, it is no longer operational. Sad.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011 9:15 AM

^That changes in October when Legoland opens.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011 8:23 PM

Jwalther - I was actually down in Lauderdale that weekend visiting family and went to get my *approximately semi-annual* laps on Dania Beach Hurricane. Should have gone earlier in the weekend, but by Monday the ride was closed...there are some rumors circulating that a Miami area zoo is looking into re-building the ride.

Legoland is only re-opening the kiddie woodie (hopefully with a new name - and that's something I almost never say, LOL).

Starliner is potentially returning to its former home on the Gulf coast...but that seems like more of a "hope" situation than DBH.

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Monday, August 29, 2011 8:38 PM

ApolloAndy said:


Arrived at the park and mom and grandma took our son on the train (which he absolutely loved). Meanwhile, grandpa and I got in line for Cheetah Hunt. Line was 60 minutes, but we got called to ride as singles after about 20 minutes. I'll spare the play by play but by the time all was said and done we got 4 rides - 2nd row, back row, front at night, back at night. I really, really liked this ride, but it lacked a little something to put it over the top. The initial pair of launches was interesting and unique, but not super thrilling. The climb up to windcatcher tower had some nice air and the rest of the course diving under tunnels and especially the zig-zags in the canyon were really neat. The hill after the third launch had some really solid air. Overall, it was a lot of fun, and the themeing and the new area was spectacular. I suspect it will be a huge hit and I would certainly ride it again given the chance, but I'm not sure I'd wait 60 minutes for it again.

We wrapped up with the 2 night rides on Cheetah Hunt (non-thrill side went back to the house and my wife came back later to pick me up) in front and back and I definitely enjoyed my front row ride the most, both for wind and visuals and also for the ride itself.

I will agree with you Cheetah hunt wasn't super thrilling. From seeing the videos online I was expecting something just a little more from it. It is missing something and that first launch out of the station is blah. My daughter even asked what was wrong with that launch. She is just becoming a coaster fan and she thought the ride was boring but loved Kumba and Shrieka. We only got to ride it once becuase after an hour of operation it was down for the rest of the day and night. I wanted to try it again but it wasn't in the cards. I was greatly impressed with the park but dissappointed with the Rhino Rally, that was way too short and you could see how much focus was put on the upcharge safari option. I must say I know how much now I miss White Water landing at Cedar Point after riding the log flume here.

Maybe someone can answer this question. While we were down there, there were two deaths from the Naegleria fowleri amoeba that thrives in the warm waters of Florida. It appears that Stanely falls flume and Congo River rapids use fresh water? If so would that not cause a problem with the amoeba? Same deal at Island of Adventure for Popeye it appears the water comes from the lagoon.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011 3:04 PM

The amoeba strikes primarily in the standing water in lakes (or swamp....eww) Plus I think people are less susceptible since they are merely splashed with the water and not fully immersed (swimming)

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011 4:22 PM

In the water, the standing water,
The amoeba lurks tonight...

Sorry. Couldn't help myself. ;)

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011 6:36 PM

In general....running water is healthier than standing water. In hot and humid conditions, this is doubly true. Snakes, gators, and parasites...just not worth it to swim in FL's lakes. Saltwater, springs, and hotel pools are plentiful...and safer.

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