Busch Gardens- Tampa 12/30- Long

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Friday, January 3, 2003 6:28 PM

Hey all,

I have enjoyed reading trip reports immensely since before I became a member of the club here. So now, I will offer up my first trip report.

Myself and three other friends made the 1100 mile journey by car to Orlando. My best friend Mike and I just had visited Orlando for Spring Break last March, but this was an amazing opportunity as our football team from Penn State would be playing in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day.

We decided on our first full day to visit Busch Gardens- Tampa because it was a park we weren't able to visit last time we were in the area.

Given the reports on these forums of crowds in the region for the holidays, we elected to leave for the park as early as possible and try to do as much as we could in the morning and early afternoon before the crowds became too much.

We arrived at Busch Gardens after an easy 50 or so minute drive on I-4. Already the skies were sunny, the temperature being cool at around 60 degrees or so. The park was openign at 9am and we made our way to the gate after a tram ride from the parking lot at around 8:40am. Already a sizeable crowd had formed at all of the entrance gates. As soon as the gates opened, Mike and I ran as fast as we could (without looking like morons :o)) to the Montu.

We enjoyed our first ride on Montu in the front seat. Already having operated three trains we waited less then a minute. The first thing I noticed was how professional the ride operators looked dressed in black pants and black jackets. It was a cool look. (I worked at Cedar Point for a season so these are the kind of things I notice having worked there.) As for the ride, I really enjoyed it! I haven't given it enough thought as to where it would rank on my B&M Inverteds I have been on a few like Raptor, Talon, Alpengeist, Dragons, etc., but it was just a lot of fun for us! I especially enjoyed the cave-like tunnels and how intense the ride was at spots. As soon as our train arrived back in the station, we quickly re-entered the queue to ride again. This time we tested the 7th row and found it to be an all-around fun ride again.

Next, we strategized to try to work our way from the back of the park to the front. We took the train to the Kumba. The train was very scenic and showcased a large assortment of animals. The train hosts were very friendly and cordial at both the station and onboard. After this ten or so minute ride we arrived at the station near the Kumba.

The Kumba was a ride that I have always heard about, read about, seen pictures of, and have been extremely excited to ride. Luckily, it didn't dissapoint me at all. I love the color scheme of it, and lucky for us it appeared to be opening as soon as we arrived to it. Mike and I enjoyed a front seat ride our first go of it. We both thought it was one of the most fun coasters we ever rode. I loved how the huge vertical loop went right over the lift hill. The other inversions were also fun as were the spirals. The corkscrews weren't the most exciting things ever, but overall again I thought it was a lot of fun. The exit ramp provides a really neat photo opportunity, just let the people go by you and you can take a neat picture. Again, we quickly re-rode I believe we tried the last row, and again we were quite pleased with the ride.

After a quick ride on the bumper cars near Kumba, which I'm sad to say were the most lame bumper cars I ever rode, we took a ride on the Python.

The Python had about a five minute line, and it appeared all it did was two corkscrews. I wasn't totally sure though, until I noticed the single train operation came back and it was clear that was all it did. So, I rode it to try to help my "coaster count". The ride was kind of boring, but hey it is better then being at school or something. I did some research before hand how the ride opened in 1977 and I wonder if it was a sort of state of the art ride back then (knowing for example Cedar Point had their Corkscrew with three inversions just a year earlier.)

By this point in the day, it was a little warmer and I wanted to do a water ride! Mike was not much excited for it, so I suggested the log flume as it prolly wouldn't drench us. Indeed, it didn't. We rode and found it to be a good time.

After that, we walked to the Gwazi. The Gwazi from a distance looked like a pretty wooden coaster. I had read previously that the ride features six near misses, but unfortunately we weren't able to experience any of them because the staff took absolutely no interest in trying to dispatch the trains to get them in unison. (I was dissapointed by that, I think it's dumb when you have a ride like that and you don't try to do that.) It was also the worst loading procedure and most inefficient in time that I saw in the park. The crew first would go up one side of the train and check seatbelts. Then, the operator would release the restraints so they could be secured and then they would check all of those. It seemed as though a train would leave every 2-3 minutes or so. (It seemed like a long time.) The ride itself was fun. I found it to be pretty smooth as wooden coasters go, and yet it was pretty intense too. The train maintained good speed throughout the course. We rode the Tiger side. After this ride, we thought we would try to hit a show up before lunch.

For the show, we tried the Rhythms on Ice show. It was in a nice, air-conditioned pavilion which was filled to capacity abotu ten minutes after the doors opened. We both enjoyed the show a lot, it was quite different then anything I have seen. They tried to represent a variety of countries in different scenes on the ice. It was a good show.

Next, we were very hungry so we decided to have lunch. We tried the Crown Colony Buffet. It was priced around 12-13 bucks, and for what they gave you I thought it was well worth it. They had ribs, roast beef, fried chicken, and all sorts of other things. They had a great dessert bar, and also fresh squeezed lemonade. I ate my money's worth that is for sure.

After lunch, we wanted to try the Rhino Rally. We noticed by now the park was absolutely jam packed. We arrived to the Rhino Rally and line was around 2 hours, and we really didn't have the patience so we walked around and experienced a lot of the animal exhibits and stuff like that. I found the park to be very clean, well kept.

We tried to get in the Scorpion, but we weren't going to wait 75 minutes on one train operation to get on that. I was kind of dissapointed not to ride that.

All in all, we had an extremely enjoyable day at Busch Gardens! I loved the feature rides, and found the park to be very nice and clean. It is kind of clear though that maybe a few more rides down the rode would be good, as it seems at any point there are thousands and thousands of people walking around in the midway, all looking for something to do. When it gets to the point it is very tough to even walk that's when we leave. We felt fortunate to have been able to do as much as we did given the time of year and that we knew how busy it would be.

Thanks for reading!

-Jason

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Friday, January 3, 2003 7:17 PM
Nice report. I am going next week on the 7th, Hopefully all the kids will be back in school, and the families back to work, and the park will be very vacant! That way I can get my coaster count up, several times over!! Heading to the Red Wings/Lightning game afterward. Should be quite a day!! Go Wings!!

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