Closed Rides:Gwazi (annual maintenance), Tidal Wave
It was a gorgeous day outside, my wife and I were in Orlando visiting family. Unfortunately, they had to go to work. So we decided we would make the 1 hour 45 minute trek from Orlando to Tampa Bay for our first visit to Busch Gardens Tampa (BGT).
The ride from Orlando to Tampa was smooth as the come, despite the non-stop construction for the nearly 60 miles between I4 and I75. But with the luck, there were no construction delays and we were parking our car around 10:30. The whole park opened at 10.
One change that is being implemented is a new tunnel is being built under McKinley Blvd. It's hard to tell if the new tunnel will be for trams or pedestrians but either way, it's going to shorten the time it takes for you to get from your car to the gate.
As we approached the gate, we noticed the park is refurbishing their ticket windows. There was no line to get in, our bags were checked and we were in the park.
I noticed everyone was heading towards Crown Colony so we decided to head towards Land of The Dragons and Congo. We stopped along the way and paid a visit to a few of the animals, my wife was impressed with the flamingos.
As we headed towards Congo, we passed the old Stanleyville section of the park and the location of the new Sheikra roller coaster. An update on that will come later in this trip report.
We finally reached Congo and I hit my first roller coaster. Python. Pyhton is a a Arrow Corkscrew coaster. The coaster is 1250 feet long, 70' feet high, reaches a speed of 50mph and the circuit is completed in 1:10. I rode Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and thought it was a little rough. Anaconda at Kings Dominion was even rougher. However, I found Python to be smooth and not a lot of head banging going through the loops. My only complaint is you spend half of the 1:10 seconds going up the lift. The coaster was running one train all day but that didn't matter since you could pretty much walk on except the front row, which was at the most a two train wait.
After Python, we walked over to Congo River Rapids. This rapids ride is well landscaped. With any rapids ride, I like to drop a dollars worth of quarters in the water guns to get people wet. I couldn't pass this one up, you could see the anticipation on people's faces as they left the station and took the bend heading towards the water canons. They looked up and were just waiting for you to hit the button, never knowing when that squirt of water was coming. While I didn't ride Congo River Rapids, it didn't appear people were coming off really soaking wet.
After Congo River Rapids, I made my way to Kumba. I paused for a minute or so when we first entered in the Congo section of the park and watched a couple of trains of people go speading under the bridge and then throught he cobra roll over it. When I saw how fast they were flying, I knew I had to ride this coaster. Kumba is dizzying array of twists and turns over and under ground. In places you come extremely close to buildings, trees and bridges. I especially like the portion of the circuit that heads below ground level heading towards the cobra roll. It really gives you an impression of how fast were going. An awesome ride, in fact it probably beats out Superman Ride of Steel at my home park, SFA. I head three of four train wait for the front row while others probably had a one or two train wait for any of the other rows. They were running one train on the circuit. One train operation is no big deal. The crews load the trains quickly and efficently check restraints. Holding wait times down to 15 minutes or less.
After Kumba, we headed over to Timbuktu. We were going to ride Scorpion, which apparently just went down when we got there. The line for Cheetah Cheese was some what long, my wife was complaining she was hungry. We were going to each lunch in Timbuktu, but the line for food was long and we weren't impressed with the selection. So we left Timbuktu and headed towards Crown Colony.
On our way to Crown Colony, we passed the Serenghetti Plain. We paused for a moment as we watched the animail trainers feed the elephants. The Serenghetti Plain is an expansive wildlife area of the park. We watched several animals from a distance. My wife, every since watching Daddy DayCare, has developed a fondness of turtles and their size. So we stopped for a few minutes and watched the massive sized turtles. Then my wife had to start with the "Big Poop" jokes from the movie.
Onward, we completed our track by the Serenghetti Plain. We snuggled in for lunch at the Crown Colony "self serve" restaurant and chowed down on Chicken Tenders and Shrip and Tuna Salad. All of the food was good. Now, my only complaint of this trip was the manager at this restaurant. Who decided in the middle of her lunch rush, to move the register from behind the lunch counter to a stand outside the queue. While I'm sure this was intended to speed things up, it would have been quicker to do this before they opened for lunch or at least opened another register.
After lunch, we watched BGT's new show KaTonga. The story of four people who want to become the master of the storytelling craft. The show was rich with great music, awesome costumes, sound acting and amazing acrobatics. Not to mention the theater the show was in was pretty state of the art. It never ceases to amaze me how a beer company can produce a better show than a major motion picture company (ala Paramount, PKD and Magic of the Movies).
After the show, we returned to the car and retrieved my camera so I could try and take a few pictures of the coasters in the park. This is no easy feat. Since you are blocked practically at every angle by a 8' fence or support pole.
When we returned to the park, it was time to takle Montu. If Kumba can bounce S:ROS out of the top spot on my list of best coaster, Montu can easily knock them all out. Honestly, I don't understand why Montu isn't in more top 10 lists. I've rode similar inverts at BGW and HP but those didn't even come close to the experience I had on Montu. After the drop you immediately are launched into the loop and then into a cobra roll. From there, it's nothing but a mess of twists and turns that are close and low to the ground. Montu is must ride at this park.
I did manage to get a few pictures. Including this one of the first piece of track being laid for Sheikra. Sheikra now has several supports in place and the renovations to the restaurant are coming along as well. BGT has managed to keep a lid on the status this project by erecting at least a 10' tall fence around the whole project. You can see the supports for the lift and a couple of supports that are close to the midway. This coaster is going to be a lot like it's sisters Kumba and Montu. Low to the ground, lots of tunnels and choppers (head and foot). In a couple of spots you will really come close to the restaurant and wild life show.
While I was meandering around taking pictures, I got the chance to ride Scorpion. Scorpion is an execllent family coaster and like the other coasters I rode that day, it didn't disappoint. This coaster has one loop and a double helix. The coaster runs pretty fast and smooth. While it wasn't the highlight of my day, I will remember it.
After my ride on Kumba, it was 5:45 and the park was closing at 6. We made our way back to the front of the park. I noticed Gwazi was making a couple of test runs but never opened. Bummer, but at least I will have the oppurtunity to ride this coaster when I return to ride Sheikra in the spring.
I had a great day at BGT. Busch Gardens is making easier and easier for me to justify renewing my platinum passport to my wife at the end of next season. Each Busch Park we have been to (BGW, SWO, BGT, WCUSA) has been clean, fast, efficent, beautfilly landscaped, excellent staff and provided my wife and I memories for a long time to come. Busch Parks is by far the best family park I have been to so far. They are well worth the price of admission and a few souveniers.
Thanks for reading.
*** Edited 11/15/2004 10:47:40 PM UTC by coasterguts***
But thats me.
Glad to hear you had a nice day there.
*** Edited 11/19/2004 4:50:23 AM UTC by eightdotthree***
One hour, 45 minutes is what it took me. There really is 60 miles of road construction between Kissimmee and Plant City/Winter Haven. Your travel time may vary depending on what side of I-4 they are working on.
Since it wasn't peak season the lines were short, most coasters were a walk on for the any row except the front. The front, you had a 15-20 minute wait. I don't know why, but there seemed to be a lot of school age kids at the park. I guess some school districts celebrate Veteran's Day on Friday. Making it a busy 3-day weekend. At no point during the day did I see a line that stretched out of the station and into the overflow queue. Now, December is considered peak season in Florida so you may experience something different.
Gwazi was down for annual maintenance. There wasn't anyone at the entrance to the station to ask questions. They were doing test runs as we were leaving the park. Hopefully, they will have it back up and running for the long Thanksgiving weekend.
I have a season pass to Busch Parks so I didn't do much looking into park promotions. You might want to look at this website and see if maybe one of the Flex Tickets would help you:
One tip my sister gave me, if the park is open late, say 10pm that's a good sign they are experiencing alot of people. Makes since to me.
Don't forget Cypress Gardens will be open December 9th, and 10th until 10pm. Busch Gardens will be open until 6pm those days, you could do Busch until 6 and then Cypress that evening.
One last bit of advice, we flew back to Washington from Orlando on Sunday evening and the place was a mad house. We will never do that again!
Let me know if you have any other questions I might be able to help with.
I'm the opposite, I haven't rode the Batman Inverts but my wife and I are planning a trip to Dallas for spring break so I hope to hit my first Batman invert then. Just from the looks of the pictures on RCDB, Montu is a better coaster but we shall see. *** Edited 11/16/2004 4:35:19 PM UTC by coasterguts***
Why don't you come back when you're either A) as Mature as Kyle Fobe or B) never.
Oh, and Danny, Insignifigant is way too big. Troll, on the other hand, fits nicely... *** Edited 11/19/2004 7:10:01 AM UTC by TeknoScorpion***
How can you say that Montu can't be that good when you've never ridden it?
On the TR - you made me pissed that I missed BGT for the first time this year in the last 4! Kumba's always been one of my favorite coasters anywhere (until I met Nitro and Medusa East, it WAS my favorite) and I really like the way that the animals and the rides just mesh together. My Mom doesn't do many rides (the occasional Pirate Ship) but I've always wanted to bring her to BGT because she wouldn't have to wait long for my Dad and I to get off the rides, and there's so much non-ride stuff to do there! Can't wait for Sh-whatever to be done! Gotta love those "trench" coasters!
Mforcebob, Python does look like a duplicate of the old Corkscrew at GL just from looking at the pictures on RCDB.
My wife and a friend of mine, like water parks and don't really go for the theme parks that much. However, both have agreed the Busch Parks have so much to do outside of coasters and thrill rides they don't have a problem finding things to do. That to me is what makes Busch Gardens such a great park. The fact that every member of your family from kids to GrandMa and GrandPa can find something to do.
As for Gwazi, I was disappointed it was down. I have yet to find a GCI woodie that I don't like. Does anyone know if this is a dueling coaster? I know it has duel tracks but it doesn't necessarily mean they race it.
I can't for the life of me understand why when a coaster is built for a certain effect/purpose, you wouldn't use it that way? That's like buying a toaster and using it as a paperweight.
During Halloween night I had some fun with the board op upstairs....the trains on Lion were sitting idle (they leave one in the station, and one on the brakes), so I made the hand-motion the ops use to ask the board op to duel them....he pointed to the idle Lion train as if to say "we're not even RUNNING both sides".....I laughed and made a *coaster going around the track* motion, as if to say "Start it up"...GOOD TIMES! :)
The ONE thing that DOES in fact *Disappoint* at a Busch park, is their handling of that wooden coaster, in terms of operations AND maintenance....what a SHAME!
*** Edited 11/19/2004 11:53:48 PM UTC by coasterguts***
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