Busch Gardens Tampa 3-21-2001

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Wednesday, March 28, 2001 2:29 PM
Well I put off BGT till Wednesday of our trip because that was supposed to be the first day that was sunny. Well as we approach BGT from I-4, there is the darkest, blackest cloud positioned directly over the park (an omen of things to come). Well, I guess since crowds were expected to be rather light, we got to park in the really close lot. Just as we pull up, it begins to rain. Not hard at all, but enough to let you know it was there. Anyway, there is a rather long line at the ticket booth which we were able to avoid because I got our tickets from AAA beforehand. However, passing by a closed booth, I see board with a listing of closed rides. It contained a single word, which just about took the wind out of my sails. The lone word was...KUMBA. Kumba, the one steel coaster that I *most* wanted to ride (yes even above S:ROS@SFNE & H:XLC). "Oh well", I sighed, perhaps another day.

Well after a brief visit to the local water closet, sis and I began a tour of the park. It was *very* lightly drizzling at this point as we pass by Gwazi. Hmmm, a woodie in the rain is always good fun :). However, sis would have none of it, denouncing the idea as "crazy". Adding that she would rather see a show or something. Fine, I resigned. While walking, we walk smack dab into a bird show that was just starting. I suggest that we take a seat, but sis is like "no (edited) bird shows" (dont ask me why).

So now I'm getting a little peeved, no coasters, no shows, she wouldnt even look at the map to find something she wanted to see, so we were just walking. Walked past the Lorikeets (no birds, dagnabit!). Walked passed the orangutans (who looked absoulutely bored). Pass the iguanas and Komodo Dragons (actually we passed the reptiles before the bird show but you get my picture). Pass some Bengal Tigers (where we briefly paused to photo a white one, very pretty). Pass the Python rollercoaster. We kept walking until we ended up in Timbuktu. That not a joke, BGT has a Timbuktu area. By this time, the rain had ceased (actually it stopped about two minutes after we passed Gwazi). So after sis visits the "facilities" she announces that we can begin riding.

Well since it was right there in Timbuktu, I suggest that we start with that morsel of Schwarzkopf goodness and feel the sting (hisssss) of the Scorpion (BTW: sis is a Scorpio). Anyway, they have a very Millennium Force like loading procedure. There is no waiting for certain rows. The attendant simply directs you to the first available row, loading from the front to the back. Well just our luck, we were ushered to the front row (SCORE!). Sis tried to back out and slect a different row but I was having none of that. As for the ride itself, after disengaging from the chain the ride creeps to the actuall drop. From there on in, the is the persistant pummeling of positive pressure (that's alliteration for literary fans ;)). Schwarzkopf was/is a master at heavy G loops and helicies. Scorpion is very similar to my very first adult coaster Jet Scream @ SFStL (now Viper @ SFAW). Great way to start a coasing career and a great way to start the day.

As we leave Timbuktu I should mention this is about the only area where I saw flat rides. The only ones I really remember are the looping starship (Phoenix) and the Merry-go-round (Caravan something rather another). There was also a 'Polyp' type rides, but I'm not sure exactly what it was.

We left via the same route we entered, this time with the destination Egypt in mind. Now for those unfamiliar with the park, Egypt is on the exact OPPOSITE side of the park but no matter. We walked by and rode Python. Your standard corkscrew here. Low thrills, low pain, cha-ching goes the coaster count. Upon exiting, we did get to see a trainer escorting some lion cubs around the park. Nice little photo op.

The next memory point we passed was Gwazi. We opted for the Lion side first. The load process is indeed as ridiculous as many have pointed out. Not to mention the old guy not only stapled my lar bars (something which happens from time to time) but he also pulled the seatbelt till it was really taut (something that NEVER happens). I was not very comfortable (till I re-adjusted the belt of course!) Anyway, as for the ride itself, Gwazi has to have one of the best runs out to the lift I have been on as this also consitiutes the first (and IMO most effective)'duel'. Having already ridden Dueling Dragons, the duels of Gwazi were 'lackluster' at best. But the tangled mess of wood is quite an impressive sight. G-Lion has some very nice airtime, nothing extreme, but thrilling and fullfilling. I liked the ride a lot, much like I like the other GCI creation ROAR-east.

About now I was feeling it was chow time, so I looked on the map for a table service restaurant .(I was on vacation so I wanted people to wait on me!) So we decide on the full-service plane on the Serengetti Plain (sorry the name escapes me and my map is at home). The first thing both of us notice is that the building looks like an old slave plantation "big House" (not happy). We joke that she would have worked there anyway (as she is light skinned). After about a twenty minute wait, we are seated near the window, overlooking the safari are (cool!). They had a ten buck "family style" meal deal that included all you could eat batter fried fish, fried chicken, mash potatoes (or fries) and vegetable medley. As far as the menu said you had to choose fish OR chicken, but our server Caron (pronounced Karen, who was a cutie) allowed sis to have chicken while I partook of fish (which I washed down with a heartly Michelob...this is a Busch park you know ;))

After stuffing ourselves we probably didnt make the best decision, but headed to Egypt and (more importantly Montu) anyway. I had no desire to try and convince my sis to sit in the front so instead we head to the next to last row.

Well a friend of mine had told me how impressed she was with Montu (over B:TR and TG @ Carowinds). But I had heard the overbraking reports so I reserved judgement. Also, from the pictures I had seen, I assumed that the midcourse brake run was right before the batwing element so I thought all the intensity would be sucked out of that move. Anyway, I get on the ride and at the top of the lift, I realize we are pretty high up. There is an immediate rush of speed as we tear through the Vertical loop. Then thru the trench, becoming disoriented and up into the Immelman followed quickly by the inline twist. At this point I'm kinda expecting the midcourse brake, but insted we take a VERY INTENSE dive loop to the left, entering the batwing. Then reversing the manuver (with equal intensity) to exit the batwing. THEN we hit the midcourse. Now at this point, I would have been happy to get off right here, but NO, there was still a second vertical loop and a *tight* corkscrew left to challenge. What a ride! Braking or no braking, Montu is my favorite invert.

After Montu, we checked out the King Tut exhibit. It was interesting, but nothing fantastic, however there was a framed print that I mention to sis I want to buy before we leave. Also in this area we ride the Akbar simulator. For some reason, I can ride any coaster on a full stomach, but sims dont react very well with me. No I didnt hurl, but I wanted to chill for a while so we did the walk through "Edge of Africa" safari; where we got to see a male lion try and 'spray' the crowd. Kinda gross, but it was really funny watching the little kids freak out (thank goodness for plexiglass). To get a little better look at the animals we decide to take the train.

Walking to the train station, the sun peaked out a little bit (another omen). We didnt fit on the first train that came by so as we are waiting in the station I see a train traversing Kumba's course. I wasnt the only one as a younger kid asked the station attendant was Kumba open. The op explained that thet had been doing landscaping under/around Kumba, and they had not (to his knowledge) reopened the ride. In any case, we board the train which gave a great view of the wildlife and the wilder rides (Rhino Rally & Montu). As we near the Congo station, sis points out that there seem to be people on Kumba. About the same time the Congo stationa attendant announces offically that "Kumba is now open" (yippee-skippy) We decide that we will ride the train one complete additional loop and get off at congo next time. Of course the attendant states that the train will not return to that station. I suggest that we just get off now because it was about 6pm, I thought the park closed @ 7pm and I still wanted to hit Kumba and Gwazi-Tiger. Sis just assumed that Lion and Tiger were the same thing and even after I explained it to her, she still didnt think it was a big deal. Whatever. After snapping a few pics of rhino rally, we high tailed it back to Kumba.

Finally, I got to ride "the" B&M sitdown that everyone raved about. We headed straight for the back row (back right). Only now do I know why everyone is so hyper about the zero-g roll. I ridden Hulk and just rode Kraken earlier in the week, but Kumba's 0-G was just fiecre! I really dug Kumba (I liked Kraken a little more...but just a little). We walk by the lockers where sis had stowed her purse and she just kinda paused then said "Don't you want to ride again". Sheesh! As if she had to ask! We sat about 5th row this time (far left). It was still an awesome experience.

It was now pushing about 6:40 and I still wanted to hit Gwazi and get that print. I tricked my sister into going the long way around the park back to Egypt to pass by Gwazi. However, as we passed the "Land of the Dragons" kiddie area, there was a sign that said it closed at 7:30pm, but I was still under the impression that the park closed at 7pm. Whatever! Anyway we get in line for Gwazi-Tiger, on the platform I ask the op and he tells me the park doesnt close till 7:30pm...I was wrong, sue me! Honestly, there was not that noticeable difference between Tiger and Lion. True, tiger had a few more laterals, but I didnt notice any *significant* lacking of airtime. I think I liked them about equally, with only the most miniscule of edges going to Tiger.

Anyway, after that, we went back to that store where I got the Egyptian print I had seen earlier as well as an Eqyptian themed BGT beach towel. I just thought it looked really cool. It will soon line my bathroom tile :).

All in all it was a fun day, the longest wait in the day was for Gwazi-Lion and that was only about 40-45min. Most of that being due to the double checking. BGT is a park that I will visit again in the future.
Sorry for rambling so long. I'll holla.

Wednesday, March 28, 2001 3:29 PM
Excellent TR! And Like you, Montu rates as the Best Inverted Ive ever ridden (Much Love and Respect to Duelling Dragons of course) and rode this puppy till I walked funny when I was there last August.
As for Kumba, only got the one ride though the lines were non-existant (Spent too much time on Montu). I believe there is a distinct different between the two Gwazis and I am surprised you feel that they rate the same. Anyway Rock On!

If Lifes a Rollercoaster, I want a Flawless
Thursday, March 29, 2001 2:09 AM
Great TR! MOntu also blew me away and is my new fav. invert as well. Can't wait to go back to BGT next year :)
Saturday, March 31, 2001 9:50 AM
I thought the Gwazis seemed much the same as well. I couldn't really tell the difference except on the passes. Montu was closed when we were there, and after reading your TR, I'm more disappointed than ever that I didn't get to ride it. :(

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