Busch Gardens Tampa 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 8:53 PM

I love Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Since my first visit, I’ve been back a few times, and I love the theming, the rides, the food, and the overall atmosphere. I really liked Sea World San Antonio as well, for having the same type of atmosphere. And so I was really excited to finally hit up Busch Gardens Tampa.

On Wednesday Morning my parents drove me to Rob’s apartment complex in Orlando and we headed out from there, getting to the park sometime in the early afternoon. Once we got thru the gate, I was struck by how similarly different this was from the park in Williamsburg. It has the familiar semi-claustrophobic, but really awesome entrance, but it was totally different. And very nicely done

The park wasn’t very busy, which was great. I definitely want to get back here sooner rather than later. Our first ‘attraction’ was a bird sanctuary. We walked thru and looked at the themed topiaries around the park, and eventually came to the first credit, Air Grover. I’m not going to to a rundown for this, it’s your basic Zierer kiddy coaster that I’ve done plenty of times. It’s a cute theme, and it was a credit, so ‘nuff said.

So we walked around the park even more trying to decide what to do. I definitely wanted to do the new drop tower, Falcon’s Fury sooner rather than later, so that I wouldn’t chicken out. But our first major coaster ended up being Sheikra

Sheikra: I really like Griffon in Virginia. It has the drop, a couple inversions, the splashdown, and even some airtime, which is notably absent at the end of Sheikra. But this coaster has the theming. And I really liked it. Our first ride was in the very front of the coaster. The first drop holding brake is as amazing as ever. I like these types of coasters, but wish they did more. This one was very well done, and the theming, especially after the second drop and at the end of the ride was very well done. Not quite Griffon, but very good indeed.

Busch Gardens Tampa has one coaster that is very notorious for being pretty stellar. Actually, they have at least 2, but one really put their makers on the map, and that was the coaster I’d most been interested in riding, from the first time I saw it over 20 years ago. Kumba, here we come.

Kumba: No overhyped coaster here. The setting is gorgeous. Love how they dug out trenches for the elements of the ride. And it looks brand spanking new. Rides that way too. Very good first drop and loop, but even though I’ve done the ‘cookie cutter’ layout of drop/loop/immelman/0G Roll/Etc., this one felt different. First, it is very loud. Second, it is very intense. The Zero G Roll was amazing. The cobra roll was great. It’s just an all around solid coaster in a great environment. I’m not a huge inversion fan, but this could be my favorite sit down looping coaster.

So we headed thru some more flowers and animals and then over to the newest ride, Falcon’s Fury. I’m very afraid of drop towers, but this one uses a newer restraint that I’ve tried before and wasn’t nearly as scared. But, this drop tower is one of a kind, besides being tall at a whopping 355 feet (currently fifth tallest in the world).

Falcon’s Fury: Not only is this thing tall (and it IS tall), but it’s the only one at the time of my writing this that takes your seat and rotates your seat out so that you’re facing the ground at a 90* angle. Yes. It does that. And it does it well. The wait was about 30 minutes, but totally worth it. I loved the seat and restraint. But didn’t know how it would be facing straight down. Not long after boarding, we were raising up. I was a little nervous. We got up top and…much to my surprise, although thrilling, I wasn’t terrified of rotating the seats to the 90* view. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. And that drop. THAT DROP. Is. Amazing. This is probably my favorite new drop tower. I can’t get over how awesome it was. More of these need to be built.

Afterward we went and rode the park’s stock mouse coaster, Sand Serpent. It had a line, but was a lot of fun. Wild Mice still scare me, but I always ride them. Then we went for the park’s classic Schwarzkopf coaster, Scorpion.

Scorpion: This coaster is a classic. Lots of fun with an inversion, some positive and negative g forces, and laterals. All with only a simple lap bar. Scorpion has a great first drop with an intense loop and some figure 8 turns. It’s a lot of fun, and I wish there were still more of these at parks. I just wish the line wasn’t so long, but it only runs 1 train.

The area of the park has been re-done for Falcon’s Fury and looks amazing. The colors are bright and vibrant, and it had a great feel to it. Up next we headed over to watch the show where a cheetah runs at 40mph, but the trainer talked a good 30 minutes without these beautiful cats running, so we gave up and walked away. Earlier we watched the elephant interaction, which was very well done. Then we headed to a coaster that in my opinion is underrated.

Cheetah Hunt: I’d heard about this. During construction it looked kinda cool, but not what was expected. Obviously I’d rather have just a lap bar or at least soft shoulder restraints. My vest came down very tight during the ride. But I’d heard it was rather meh, and I wanted to try it out. I’m so glad I had low expectations! The launch out of the station was meh, but after that, the ride was really good. Up into the ‘tree’ there was airtime. Great drop off. Several other launches. An inversion for good measure, and scenery and theming. There were some nice pops of air to this thing, and i was impressed. It wasn’t Maverick. It was more like Verbolten in a sense, but more aggressive. I really liked it! Should have rode it more.

After that we were tired. Before hand, we stopped at the nice big house with a restaurant and bar for Rob to get his drink on, and after we were kinda tired. We weren’t ready to leave yet, though, and so we headed to another coaster that gets very good reviews.

Montu: This ride looks amazing. The theming is again, top notch. And it’s probably close to being my new favorite invert, though it may have to settle for number 2. I really liked the drawn out first drop. The inversions were well paced, and the theming was well done and made for some serious head and feet choppers. I like all the trenches you fly thru. This really makes the coaster. Month is solid. Very solid. I should have rode it more, but it was also intense.

So Rob and I headed out for a bite before heading back to the park for a bit. When we returned, we did the log flume, which was fun and wet, another round of Falcon’s Fury, and then finished on Sheikra.

I really liked Busch Gardens Tampa. I’m definitely going to go back sooner rather than later. It’s a beautiful park with a solid line up of coasters. Too bad it’s 10 hours south.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015 9:05 PM

I kind of regret not getting out there a few more times when I still had a pass. It's a really great park overall. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who gets Cheetah Hunt. It's a lot of fun, and it is what it is.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015 9:18 PM

Add me to the Cheetah Hunt fanbase. On my last visit, I started with it and went around and rode everything else once before a storm hit. As I went through the park, though, I found myself wanting more and more to, given any chance of riding anything that day, getting one more Cheetah Hunt lap. Sure enough, ten minutes to close, they reopened it. Tek, you are indeed right about it not being Maverick, but it didn't really need to be. I look forward to riding it again soon!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015 9:33 PM

I was really wowed by Cheetah Hunt. Next time I go to Florida, I'm NOT doing Disney (well, maybe Animal Kingdom, you'll read why in a bit), and I'm unlikely to do Universal, unless I get a free ticket in to ride the couple of new rides. But I'm definitely going back to BGT. Rob (Frisbeeking) and I were both tired, so we kinda of just moseyed around, grazing on coasters. But I really loved CHunt, and I will go back to BGT and finally hit Sea World.

CHunt has airtime. I mean, it has that Intamin air I love, but it's still in a great setting. I actually wish Verbolten's first outdoor section was more like this ride.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015 10:58 PM

I missed Cheetah Hunt by a year. I have always thought it looked like a fun and aggressive (for a family coaster) ride.

BGT remains in a high spot for me for favorite parks. It is beautiful, clean, and has a pretty darn good collection of coasters (Montu is my favorite invert...though I've only ridden a few). The park is so pleasant that I feel like I could go there and just walk around and enjoy the sites. Glad to see more BGT love.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015 11:46 PM

I might wish that Verbolten's first outdoor section was like Big Bad Wolf's. :-)

I was at BGT when I was a kid, it was just a brewery, the bird gardens, and the monorail. When I started coastering I visited BGW many times before I ventured back to Tampa and I wasn't sure what to expect, but felt pretty certain the African theme couldn't possibly provide the visual beauty or atmosphere like was found in The Olde Country. I was wrong. I think highly of both parks and would entertain a visit to either anytime.

Funny, Tek, I have the same impression of the parks' entrances. Kind of small, winding, and different from what you find at any of the other mega parks around the country. (except maybe Hershey) What struck me about the park's coasters and rides, although a rather tiny observation, is how the loading platforms or stations are always at or very near ground level. (Cheetah Hunt is an exception, but I recall ramps left over from the monorail, not stairs) Anyway, I like that concept- not only does it remedy accessibility issues, but I think visually its very appealing.

I didn't give Cheetah Hunt a very good review, but I'm not sure why. I do know the ride was a walk on all day and I rode it many, many times so I couldn't have hated it that much, right? I think I fell into the "it's no Maverick" camp, but Maverick isn't one of my favorites either, so I don't know. I thought the launches at the beginning were quirky, and after all I had seen and read about the ride the way they were situated was still a surprise for me. True, a ride in the front seat provides air time in spots, particularly at the top of the tree. I guess in the end I thought for the time and money spent there might've been more to it.

I'm not much for zoos (and I'm from Columbus) but I was really taken with the park's animal exhibits and spent as much time there as I did on the rides. The gorilla walk through was awesome, and who doesn't like coming face to face with a wallabee?

Thanks for a great report, it makes me want to go back.

Last edited by RCMAC, Tuesday, March 24, 2015 11:48 PM
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 9:35 AM

Cheetah Hunt on its own merits is a really good ride, I'm not denying that at all -although the restraints could be better.

That being said, taken in the context of a park that was already chock full of inverting coasters, and that it was announced as Intamin as opposed to yet *another* B&M...simply had to hope for a renaissance of the chain-lift hyper. I still haven't found a steel coaster better suited to my tastes than RoS-SFNE...and unless I make Ex GeForce, likely never will. I can enjoy CHunt as is, but I'm probably always going to pine for "what could have been."

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 10:04 AM

^^Sheikra's Station is pretty high up.

Tek, glad you had a good time, and glad you were were able to appreciate Cheetah Hunt. I give that ride much side-eye since it opened. I waited 3 hours....unshaded in front of the Crown Colony Cafe. By the time I was done with the day, I was as dark as 2 am. I may have suffered from anticipointment. The first launch was weird and the ending was blah. I *did* like the trick track section after the MCBR though.

Last edited by delan, Wednesday, March 25, 2015 10:05 AM
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 5:05 PM

That's right about Sheikra, which does involve a stairway or two. Oops.

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Friday, March 27, 2015 6:16 PM

I also really like Cheetah Hunt, but I can totally understand the anticipointment. It's probably the least intense "modern" Intamin coaster I've been on. That said, it's a lot of fun which goes a long way for me, but it's pretty low on pure thrills.

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Friday, March 27, 2015 8:38 PM

I had the opposite experience. I heard so much "meh" about it that I had low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised.

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