BGT and why I'll never trust Mapquest again!!!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005 7:40 PM
BGT and why I'll never trust Mapquest again!!!
Dates: Thursday June 16th, 2005 9:30-6:00pm
Weather: Hazy, Hot, Humid, with occasional Sun and Rain

My trip to Florida

My trip started in a Florida-like Washington-Dulles airport where I was sweating just from walking from my car to the shuttle bus. Once inside the airport, I found a friendly customer service rep for Independence Air greeting me, making sure I had my boarding pass and explaining to me I should stand in this line to check my bags, as opposed to the other line which was for people without the capability of checking in online and printing their boarding pass. After checking my bag, I made my way through TSA Security and off to my chariot to the terminals. Except, there was no chariot. Instead, your now able to walk between the main terminal and the A & B Gates. This saves me five minutes. The chariots (cattle cars as some like to call them) are still around. They shuttle you to and from the C-Gates, Main Terminal and between the A&B Gates for a connecting flight in the C-Gates.

I left the plane, took the mono-rail to the main terminal, walked through security when I began to dig for my car reservation. ALL NO!!! I left my folder in the seat back on the plane. I quickly ran up to the Independence Air ticket counter, where once again there was no line and two friendly ticket agents there to help. Dreading the probable (I've lost my car reservation information, my valuable Mapquest directions to my hotel and my hotel reservation information) and hoping for the impossible (they would find my folder) I made a quick phone call to my wife and told her to stand by for the transmission of emergency information. The staff on Independence Air was great! They found my folder and walked it up to baggage claim so we could be reunited. After I got my rental car (a White Chevy Classic with 26,000 miles on it, black rubber marks all over it, little splotches of concrete like someone just drove it through a new concrete bed on I-4 and a suspension that made a Jalopy sound quiet and no I wasn't renting from Rent-A-Wreck, I guess since I'm giving Independence Air a plug, I should give Avis a plug as well since "We try harder"), I shoved my stuff in the trunk of my car and sped off for I-4 in an attempt to get through all of the road construction on I-4 between Orlando and Tampa before they started closing lanes at 8:00 pm. I made it with 5 minutes to spare.

Next it was time to follow my trusty Mapquest directions to the Hampton Inn Tampa Veterans Expressway/Waters Ave. As I drove closer and closer to Tampa, onto I-275, I gradually began to realize I was driving towards Tampa Bay (the water not the city) and away from Busch Gardens. I began glancing at the directions from Mapquest. I thought it was pretty clever of me to paraphrase them onto a Post It Note so I could glance quickly and continue to drive. Then I began to see signs that said, "Long Bridge Ahead! Make sure you have gas". I finally found the road I was looking for FL-60. I took FL-60 and glance down at my next set of directions which say "Take VETERANS EXPY/EISENHOWER BLVD/FL-589 N toward AIR CARGO (Portions toll)." So, I follow the signs for Eisenhower Blvd, and Air Cargo. OOPS! Wrong turn. Luckily Eisenhower Blvd parallels 589 for about a mile or so and then you come to an end. I decided to pull off and see where I was at. Well, the Avis map doesn't try harder, the Mapquest directions were not useful to begin with and then I suddenly realize, Eisenhower Blvd and FL 589 were two completely separate roads. I get back on 589 and find Waters Ave a couple of miles up the road. This is the reason why I will be making a trip to my local AAA office shortly to purchase a new road map.

I finally arrived at the Hampton Inn. The staff at the Hampton Inn was great; they showed me how to navigate the back roads to get to Busch Gardens. The rooms were spotless and the staff is the friendliest I have encountered. So, I settle in, find a local Target for some OTC Sinus Medication, Tylenol, a replacement Right Guard which I had forgotten and grab some grub (Chi-Fil-A is open till 10:00 so I had nuggets and to top my disaster of a day off, they give me sweet iced tea instead of unsweetened. That what I get for going through a drive-thru).

The next morning I wake up, take a peak outside. Cloudy, but the rain has stopped. Excellent, maybe that will keep some of the peeps indoors playing RCT3. I get dressed, shower (got open those sinuses again), shave etc... (not necessarily in that order) and head out to my car. It starts to sprinkle a little. I head over to BGW in hopes of being at the park by 9:30 and able to get through the gates at 10 in time to power walk back to Sheikra. Only to find, 1) My BGW Platinum Pass gets me Premium Parking at BGT and 2) The park opens at 9:00 for Season Pass holders to ride Sheikra (only during the month of June). So, I get inside and head straight for Sheikra where I find two lines setup, one for Season Pass Holders and one for regular ticket holders. I had a blast walking past all of the general admission guests with a big smile on my face. Straight into the queue where I didn't stop until I get into one of six lines to board Sheikra. I was able to get two rides on Sheikra in 20 minutes. AWESOME!!! The $250 I paid my platinum pass just paid dividends.

Sheikra

I boarded Sheikra in the front row, second seat in. They were running all four trains. The attendant checked my restraints, the safety gate moved back, the floor dropped and I was off for my first ride on Sheikra. The coaster picks up pretty good speed leaving the station and you begin going up a lift hill. A lift hill that reminded me of Batwing at SFA because of the angle of the incline. On this day it was cloudy but I can see where the Sun is going to be a definite factor on the lift for this ride. Finally you reach the top of the ride and slowly move forward to the 90 degree drop. Gaining a little speed until you hit a break that slowly tilts you over the edge. You begin to move slowly forward, leaning your upper body against the restraint. It seemed like forever and a day before that break let go and you finally descend down the first ninety degree drop. I will say this, this didn't seem like a 200' tall coaster. Perhaps the height of the station makes it seem less. After the drop, you go directly into the immelman and this is when I begin to think this is going to be an okay coaster. You glide along the track to the first brake run and then come to a complete stop where you find yourself peering down into a fog filled tunnel (a first for me). By the time you start screaming the brake releases and you plunge into the tunnel, out the other side. This is where the speed effect comes in since the only thing between you and the guests on the midway is a cargo net, everyone gets a good sense of this bird's speed. You hit the turn around and splash down where on the other side a group of kids has gathered to see if they can either get soaking wet or outrun the tidal wave of water heading towards them. Before you know it. Your back in the station. I also rode in the second row and felt I had a better ride than in the front row. By the end of my second trip, they had begun letting the GP in so I stopped my rides for the time being (and little did I know the day) and headed for Kumba.

Kumba

Since everyone was heading for Sheikra, I headed for Kumba. I had a one train wait for the front row. Kumba is still a great coaster. It appears, the warm weather does not favor a smooth a ride as the cool November air does. Approaching Kumba, I began to wonder when they are going to paint this coaster. The coaster with it's teal track or red supports was beginning to look like the old Mind Eraser at SFA, quite faded. However, I still had one wild ride on it. I thought the inversions on this coaster were a little rough and the ride didn't feel smooth in parts. I really liked the drag that's by Congo River Rapids, you speed right through it without even knowing what hit you and before you know it, your in the cobra roll and heading back for the station. Even with the rough spots and a little head banging this is still one great coaster.

After Kumba, I headed for Congo River Rapids where I dropped in $3 worth of .25 squirting people with water canons. I discovered that one canon actually can squirt someone in the back of the head getting quite a rise out of people.

Desert Grill

I made a brief stop (30 minutes?) at the Desert Grill for a drink and to watch American Beat. This is where I saw one of the rudest things ever in an amusement park and it involved employees from BGT.

BGT has a Adventure Camp program for kids. They were eating lunch at the Desert Grill. Seems like a nice camp program, the kids get a t-shirt and an Ice Cream treat. However, in the middle of the American Beat show, the camp leaders (BGT Employees) decide it's time to move on and get the gets up and out the door in the middle of the show. Suddenly the show wasn't about what was happening on stage but the kids leaving. This wasn't a small groups of kids, probably 100 or so spread out over six-eight tables. So, not only did the kids leave during the show, a good size portion of the shows audience left as well. What was the crime in sitting there for another 15 minutes?

Okay, enough of my griping, on to Montu.

By this time, black clouds are moving in. So I hustle of to ride Montu.

Montu

Once again, a one train wait for Montu's second row. Montu was running the best of all the coasters at BGT on this day. The ride was smoother than silk. In fact, I had such a great ride on this coaster it's now my #1 inverted coaster, followed closely by Alpengeist. The coaster is so quick at diving above and below ground, the inverts had no head banging and plenty of air. Montu is a must ride at this park, anytime you go.

Cheetah Chase

The threat of rain was beginning to send people for cover, so I headed back to Timbuktu for my credit on Cheetah Chase. Now typically, I have a love/hate relationship with mouse rides. I love the ride, but I hate riding by myself because I slide across the seat on the hairpin turns. Except, Cheetah Chase. First, you leave the station and begin cruising up the lift at a brisk pace. One of the fastest lifts on this type of coaster I've seen. Once on the circuit you glide across the track smoothly and the hairpin turns are easy going. Though to me, part of the effect of a mouse coaster is the sensation your going to go off the side, the leaning of the car over the side of the track. This coaster didn't do that, it just cruised the circuit and had little excitement to it. The ride was nothing more than enjoyable.

After Cheetah Chase, I began to walk back towards the front of the park. I stopped at a merchandise stand to look at toys for my niece and nephew and as I did, the skies opened up. The rain was solid for about 45 minutes, then it stopped just long enough for me to make my way over to the Hospitality House side of the park where I waited through another 45 minute rain storm before eating lunch at the Hospitality House.

Hospitality House

The Hospitality House was a nice retreat from the rain. I grabbed a small pizza and headed for a table by the stage. A few minutes before the show started it began to rain again. So, how appropriate for the three man band to begin the set with a song about rain (the name escapes me at this point). While sitting there, three pre-teenage boys came up to me and asked if they could sit at my table. I obliged. While sitting there, we had a conversation. They asked where I was from. I said Washington, D.C.. They were rather amazed that I had been inside the White House. See, being from Washington, D.C. I take for granted that I live so close to the many monuments, museums and the White House. I forget sometimes what a privilege it is to be able to see these things. It's kind of like living in the neighborhood of Cedar Point everyday, and going several times a year. You never know how lucky you are sometimes. These boys were nice boys, something I don't see very often. Well, they were nice until they started throwing ice at a bird.

Oh, btw, the pizza at the Hospitality House was okay.

After the rain subsided, I gathered the on ride pictures of me riding Montu and Sheikra, bought a Sheikra T-Shirt and headed for my car. Where, I waited out another 45 minute rain storm. Finally the rain broke and the clouds sort of broke open so I headed back inside the park for a ride on Gwazi.

Gwazi

Gwazi is a ride I knew and read little about. It was closed when I visited last November. Only the Lion side was open with a one train wait. I entered the train, sat down and fastened my seat belt. My ride op checked my seat belt while the ride op for the guy sitting next to me made him put his cell phone inside of a canvas bag and strap it to his waist. While this was happening, I looked down at my seat belt and noticed it was unfastened. UH! SURPRISE!!! I've rode woodies before without a seat belt but it surprised me the ride op didn't pay closer attention. I mentioned it to the ride op helping the other guy and her response was "He's funny like that". That is not what I wanted to hear.

I couldn't believe how powerful Gwazi is and yet it seemed about as smooth as woodie can get (I don't remember putting my hands down the whole ride). This coaster just seems to continue building speed as it goes along as if it was Seabiscuit fighting for the lead in a horse race. You never fully understand the height of this coaster until you reach the top of the lift you can see pretty much all of the park. I need to find room for this coaster in my top 10 someplace.

Stanleyville

I'll finish this trip report up with a few comments about the Stanleyville section of the park.

First the Smokehouse has opened and seems to have the same menu as BGW's Trapper's Smokehouse. The restaurant has a small a/c section. I hoped the park would have a bigger a/c section with Florida's hot weather but I guess not.

Second, they're still working on the Stanleyville Train Station. Hopefully, it will open again soon

Third, I really like how they built the restaurant and Sheikra so they interact with each other. It's going to be fun sitting their watching Sheikra while chowing down on some BBQ.

On Friday, I left for Orlando and some quality time with my sister and her family in Orlando. No trips to any of the Disney Parks, Universal or Sea World this time. I don't want them to feel like that's the only reason I come there.

I learned a lot on this trip. Not to trust Mapquest. Don't pack at the last minute. It's a privilege to live close to the White House and BGT has just become my favorite park! *** Edited 6/14/2005 11:41:59 PM UTC by coasterguts***

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005 10:52 PM
Nice TR. BGT for me is one of those parks that can be outstanding or mediocre, based on operations. We just never seem to know what we are going to get when step through the gates. I am glad to here to that Sheikra is a winner and that you were able to take advantage of the special early entry for Platinum members (they are only doing that through June). When I got my brochure in the mail advertising that, it almost made me wish I was back in SC (where we were living when we bought the passes) and only an 8 hour drive from the park. Almost.;)
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Tuesday, June 14, 2005 11:59 PM
Great TR!

I love Gwazi as well and don't know why it's not more popular.

Too bad about the weather and stupid Mapquest. BGT is really fun when you have all day to enjoy it.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005 12:22 AM
You sure are getting in a bunch of firsts this year, aren't you?

I'm jealous of the Sheikra credit, but then again the last time I was at BGT the only coasters they had were Scorpion and Python. Their coaster selection keeps getting better, so I don't think it will be too long before I return to BGT.

Sounds like you had a relaxed visit. I tend to enjoy those more then the non-stop running around types.

That stinks about Mapquest. I've had trouble with it in the past also. I'm real good with maps though, so I usually just map it out myself with my trusty road atlas.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005 12:27 AM
What?! No Scorpion?
Scorpion was a huge suprise for me when I was there a few years ago. It's looks tame, but it's pretty intense.

I need to get down there again. My family took a trip there about 7 years ago. We spent our 3rd of 5 days at BGT and it was a MUCH needed thrill ride break from the Magic Kingdom.

If only Kumba and Montu were built closer together. The park was DEAD the day we were there and we were constantly going back and forth between both ends of the park to get many, many rides on both Kumba and Montu.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005 7:48 AM
I really enjoyed Gwazi, no doubt about it. One of these days I hope both sides are open so I can spend sometime racing the other train and compare it to Lightning Racer at HP. Lightning Racer is a great racing coaster but I like Gwazi better at this point.

Yeah, I've had a few first this year, my first B&M Flyer, my first Stand Up, my first foggy tunnel. Incidentalist I urge you to get down to that park sometime and get the other credits.

You know, I don't know why I didn't ride Scorpion. I rode it the last time and I'm pretty sure I liked it, no particular reason that I didn't ride it that I can remember. Good Question! I missed a good coaster.

The park was busier than my visit last November but I almost walked on to Kumba and Montu. I guess everyone was hanging out in Stanleyville watching Sheikra. It's funny, I saw more parents riding Sheikra than any other coaster in the park and they were loving it. It's like the two 90 degree drops made them feel younger.

I'm good at reading and maps but with the internet I became lazy and just used Mapquest. I've had other problems where they've told me I should get off at one intersection, only to get back on again. I think the combination of a good road atlas and Mapquest will probably get to just about any place I want to go.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005 9:34 AM
Nice TR Wes! But hey, don't you already have the credit for Cheetah Chase when it was Wild Maus at BGW?? ;)
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005 10:07 AM
LOL!!! That's the one coaster I never got to ride at BGW. Wish I did. :(
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005 6:13 PM
I really enjoyed my visit to BGT in March '04, great park.

I was lucky enough to get on both sides of Gwazi and thought it rocked! Great coaster!

Montu and Kumba are just awsome, I hope to get back there sometime to do some re-rides and get on Sheikra.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005 5:44 PM
Great trip report. I am so excited about my upcoming trip there post-hurricane season in November.


coasterguts said:
This is the reason why I will be making a trip to my local AAA office shortly to purchase a new road map.

If you travel quite a bit, just buy the AAA membership. You get major discounts from Hertz, hotels, some amusement parks, and free maps. I seriously order so many maps from them in one year, that the maps alone are worth my membership dues. Not to mention many of their tour books have excellent coupons in them too.

**And no, I do not work for AAA :)

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Thursday, June 16, 2005 6:49 PM

ltlbat said:
Great trip report. I am so excited about my upcoming trip there post-hurricane season in November.


coasterguts said:
This is the reason why I will be making a trip to my local AAA office shortly to purchase a new road map.

If you travel quite a bit, just buy the AAA membership. You get major discounts from Hertz, hotels, some amusement parks, and free maps. I seriously order so many maps from them in one year, that the maps alone are worth my membership dues. Not to mention many of their tour books have excellent coupons in them too.

**And no, I do not work for AAA


Let me also plug AAA. As a member you can do the Trip Tik online. Its gotten me through two big trips to multiple parks and states with no troubles at all.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005 6:58 PM
I'm a member of AAA, the discounts on Hampton Inn alone pay for the price of membership. I forgot I can order maps from them. I'll remember that. Hampton Inn (or any Hilton Hotel for that matter) is the official unoffical sponsor of Coastergut's 2005 USA Tour of Amusement Parks. :)

I only stay at Hilton hotels and accrue points for free stays to take addition trips. I've found they have the most consistent quality of any hotel I've stayed at and with the free internet access, I think it makes a great deal. . I have 40,000 points now on my Hilton Honors card. :)

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Friday, June 17, 2005 9:16 AM
coasterguts - I agree with ChiDan that online AAA Trip Tiks are great. I can attest to your confusion though because we travel to Clearwater through Tampa from Michigan every year at the end of February. It can be a little confusing because there is so much going on and usually a lot of traffic in downtown Tampa, but you must have either passed it or taken a wrong turn. Yes 60 and 589 are different highways off 275, however in the downtown area by the ariport the loops are confusing around there. 60 aka Gulf to Bay, splits off to the West and goes away from Tampa all the way to Clearwater and the beach. 589 starts about the time that 60 splits off and farther down the road I think portions become a toll road. As far as getting to the park goes it is easy, you can either go up 275 because Busch Blvd is right off of it or take 589 because 589 becomes Busch Blvd if I am not mistaken.

Glad you had a good time. We were disappointed that we were there last Feb and watching them piecing Sheikra together knowing that we'll have to wait a whole year more before we'll be on it.
*** Edited 6/17/2005 1:16:32 PM UTC by cyberdman***

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Friday, June 17, 2005 10:38 AM
Thanks for the advice. How is the area around the park? Should I be concerned for my life if I was to stay in a hotel near the park?
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Friday, June 17, 2005 11:31 AM
Good question - I've heard the locals say it is not what it used to be, but I have never had any bad or negative experiences in the past 10 years that we have been going.
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Friday, June 17, 2005 3:09 PM

coasterguts said:
LOL!!! That's the one coaster I never got to ride at BGW. Wish I did. :(

Actually, other than the *rather dubious* credit, LOL, the Maus from BGW is run infinitely better at BGT. Surprised me a LOT, but the overbraking was REALLY reduced at BGT...not that I've ridden recently, LOL...

Did go to BGT today, short stop for a couple hours meet up with a GREAT coaster friend, and get that first ride on SheiKra....nice ride, LOVE the Immelman on the right side. Vertical drops were cool, midcourse stopped us COLD...meh...not ALL that I'd hoped for, but WOW was it bringing in the peeps like CRAZY...gator's *unofficial estimates* for SheiKra's attendance boost may have to be revised somewhat...;)

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