Busch Gardens Tampa 8/9/14

Last Saturday I made a trip over to Busch Gardens Tampa for the first time in several months. I was hoping to wait until Falcon's Fury was open before making the drive over from Orlando, but since the opening kept getting delayed I figured I might as well stop by to enjoy one of their Summer Nights concerts (Taking Back Sunday was the band that evening) and get some rides on their coasters.

We arrived at the park in the early afternoon and could tell from the number of cars in the parking lot it was a very busy day. I'm guessing the crowds could be attributed to the concert that evening and it being one of the last weekends before all the kids go back to school.

The first ride we stopped by was Cheetah Hunt which was posted at a 75 minute wait. As much as I enjoy Cheetah Hunt I would not wait that long. So we moved along to Montu which was moderately better as far wait time goes at 45 minutes. I was shocked to see such wait times, typically I never see lines longer than 15 or so minutes at this park. We rode in the back row and thought the ride was good as ever; definitely a fantastic inverted coaster.

After Cheetah Hunt we walked through Edge of Africa and the new Pantopia area which is home to Falcon's Fury. I'm sure Falcon's Fury is going to be a good ride when it opens, sadly today the most activity we saw was a couple test runs with dummies (it tested with park employees this week, so hopefully it opens soon). It was nice to see Pantopia in person, I disliked it less than I thought I would. It is less garish and obnoxious looking than I feared, at least. Overall an improvement to the previous Timbuktu area, especially regarding food and drink offerings. There are several nice new stands in the area including a place offering craft beer flights.

We approached Kumba next. The line was literally completely filled with people and reportedly over an hour long, so an attendant was offering tickets to return later in the day and use the quick queue entrance rather than get in line now, I gladly accepted a ticket to come back later and continued on to Sheikra.

Sheikra had a fifty minute line according to the sign out front (I will never take the typical days where its only a one/two train wait for this ride for granted again). We rode in the back seat which was excellent. Love the drop on this ride, tons of airtime. I prefer it to Griffon at BGW if only because the setting of the ride seems more complete to me. The location of the water splash and the second drop into the tunnel is very well themed.

After Sheikra we returned to Kumba with our return time ticket and jumped on in the back with only a couple trains wait. Still the most intense B&M I have been on with nonstop action from beginning to end, plus it seemed less rough than my last ride which was nice.

After Kumba we trekked back towards the front of the park to see how long the line was for Cheetah Hunt. It was now down to 45 minutes, which was exactly how much time we had before the concert. We rode in the backseat and enjoyed the ride quite a bit, plenty of airtime going down the first big drop and over the hill after the last launch. My favorite part of the ride has always been the zig zags through the rocks, though.

Following Cheetah Hunt we made our way over to Gwazi park where the concert was taking place as well as some late night fireworks immediately afterwards. The show was entertaining, kind of a nice reminder of my youth since I had previously seen Taking Back Sunday nearly ten years ago now.

It was a fun time at the park despite the crowds. I have a new found appreciation for the "normal" days where the major coasters have 5-10 minute waits.

Random note/nitpick. I noticed throughout the day the park had the same top 40 music playlist blaring all around the park. I'm hoping this was just because it was a "Summer Night" special event type of day and not the norm everyday now. To me it really detracts from the theming of the park, which is otherwise pretty good in many areas.

Last edited by Capitalize,

Capitalize said:

I prefer it (SheiKra) to Griffon at BGW if only because the setting of the ride seems more complete to me. The location of the water splash and the second drop into the tunnel is very well themed.

This sums up my feelings about the two as well. SheiKra is much more interactive with its surrounding environment than Griffon is. I really like both rides but SheiKra catches your eye much more effectively. Nice report!

rollergator's avatar

I prefer Griffon because it has two small dips in the track (one before the splash, one right before the brakes). SheiKra has no such opportunities for airtime...

Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar

Out of curiosity, when do you typically visit that lines are only 15 minutes or so? Were they longer because it was a Saturday in August I'm guessing?

Typically I visit most often during off-peak times (mostly late summer/fall and spring) and on weekdays which definitely seems to help with the crowds. I attribute the big crowds and long lines I saw this trip to it being a Saturday and the concert/fireworks going on in the evening. Seemed like a lot of families and kids from the area having a final hurrah before going back to school.

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