Busch Tampa- Nice park with-the biggest disappointment ever

We made our first trip to Busch Gardens in Tampa since the majority of the coasters have been installed there. Don't go to Disney first if you are going to Busch.....Disney operations ruin everything else in comparison lol.

Overall the Busch has an excellent collection of coasters with 3 great B & M's, Cheetah Hunt and the Scorpion (although Scorpion sadly just runs one 5 car train). Everything is well themed to the Africa theme, food is good, lots of aminals on display with an excellent train ride right into the animal area, a rare, long cable skyway. Overall a better park experience than most of the parks up north.

Gwazi on the other hand was the biggest disappointment ever. GCI designed a perfect dueling coaster. The coaster in its current state is absolutey worthless. The most horrible, time consuming, loading procedure ever (previously covered on this board). One side of the ride has been shut down, totally elimnating the duelling effect. Then the final blow is the thing rides like a jackhammer. It is a horrible, poorly maintained coaster. Its sad that a park would let such a great coaster decline to that point.

rollergator's avatar

LOL...way too kind on the Gwazi situation. It once gave fabulous rides, but the last several years (including the "upgrade") have done nothing to improve the situation, and may have even made it worse. Even in the MF trains, I'll only ride in the front, and only one lap just to make sure I don't want or need another.

As far as running both sides, not entirely sure if/when Tiger is intended to come back online - rumors are swirling.

I rode Gwazi in January. Only the Tiger side was running since the Lion side was closed for refurbishment. I figured it wouldn't be much worse than Wildcat at Hershey.

As soon as the train left the station and got to the pre-lift section, I couldn't believe how rough the coaster was. The only tolerable part of the ride was the lift hill. I barely remember the layout because I was so focused on getting to the brake run at the end of the ride. For years Hercules was the worst wooden coaster I had ridden and thought it would be difficult to find something worse. It's been 12 years since I rode Hercules but I think Gwazi was worse for me since I rode Hercules twice that day and even if the Lion side of Gwazi was open, there was no way I would have ridden that side even though I rarely skip a credit.

I would have hated to see how bad the ride was with PTC's. It was the only bad thing about the trip to the park. I liked everything else and it became either my 2nd or 3rd favorite park in Florida.

Last edited by YoshiFan,

I'm sorry to hear about your experience with Gwazi.

I rode it back in 2007, and although it was definitely a headache machine, I thought it was a very wild and kick booty ride with all kinds of gnarly double ups and downs (and I got to ride it dueling, with PTCs).

BUT! I'm glad to hear you liked Scorpion. How long did you have to wait with one train? An Anton ride never fails ;)

rollergator's avatar

The second train on Scorpion was removed from the transfer track well over a year ago - don't recall ever seeing it in operation and my guess is that it's been "parted out" to keep one train fully functional. Even on really busy days, Scorpion generally draws a 3-4 train wait at most, 15 minutes being the worst wait I've seen in quite a long time. Since there are no redundant restraints, the dispatches are pretty fast (10000% different from Gwazi). As a bonus, the last time we visited about a month ago, the operator on Scorpion allowed one re-ride if no one was waiting or if there was an open row.

As for Gwazi...if you have no knowledgeable maintenance staff, and aren't committed to spending time and money on maintenance, don't build a wooden coaster. And if you MUST, then by all means build an out-n-back!

Last edited by rollergator,

We went on the 24th and 25th of Dec.

On the 24th we got to Scorpion about 3Pm and the line almost from the entrance to the ride to the station. So on the next day we went back to do Scorpion first when we arrived (about an hour after the park opened) and walked on 3 times in a row.

We were forwarned about one side of Gwazi being closed and about the most horrible loading procedure in the world, but at least expected a decent ride since it is a GCI masterpiece. Maybe the wood deteriortates more rapidly in the Florida humidity, but it was shocking how bad the ride was. Especially after just riding Thunderhead earlier in the month!

The rest of the coasters at Busch were more than redeeming and made up for the horrible state of Gwazi. If Gwazi was run how it was designed to run, with normal loading and a smooth ride, Busch Tampa would have one of the best overall collections of coasters at one park IMO. It's just a shame that something that looks like is so spectacular is THAT bad!

Last edited by super7*,
TheMillenniumRider's avatar

I actually liked Gwazi better with the PTC's. Never thought I would say that, but I have ridden quite a few times, before and after conversion. back seat was rough, but not intolerable for me. Has good air at points, but can be rough in places. The MF's just don't seem as good though.

Bobbie1951's avatar

I completely disagree about Gwazi. I went to Busch Gardens Tampa 2 days ago with the intention of riding 5 coasters (Sheikra, Kumba, Montu, Cheetah Hunt & Gwazi) but got to ride only 4 because Kumba was not operating and Gwazi turned out to be the biggest surprise of my visit. I had very low expectations of this ride compared with the others but Gwazi exceeded my expectations. I didn't even know until later that it used to be a dueling coaster; the Lion side is a good ride all by itself. I thought that it was superior to a number of wooden coasters I had ridden and enjoyed it so much that I got right back on for a second ride. The drop into a tunnel after the loading station, very substantial length of track and plunge into total darkness made for a good ride. I've ridden a couple of dueling coasters - Lightning Racer and Gemini - and in my opinion with two trains or one, Gwazi is better than either of those. Of course it's no El Toro or The Voyage, but for its size and class it's absolutely fine.


DejaVuNitro's avatar

I respect your opinion but you are definitely in the minority. Both sides of Gwazi rank close to the bottom of my wooden coaster experiences right alongside Georgia Cyclone, Grizzly at Great America, etc.

I can imagine that with PTC's, dueling and being brand new it was a great ride. I never got to ride it like that.

To tie this into the Hershey thread- does anyone else feel this GCI dueler is also oddly placed in its respective park?

Last edited by DejaVuNitro,

I'm sheriff of this here rollercoaster.

LostKause's avatar

I found Gwazi to be amazing thirteen years ago; not quite as fun as Lightning Racer though.

Gwazi's location in the park is just fine with me.

ApolloAndy's avatar

That's because you're fat and lazy. ;)

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

LostKause's avatar

You're so CoasterBuzz Hardcore! ;)

delan's avatar

I'll probably get egged for this, but with the exception of Wodan I was/am never/not a huge fan of GCI twisters. Therefore, the shyteous rides I have gotten on Gwazi I thought was just par for the course. The only Twister type coaster that really turns my pages is the one in Elysburg.

Last edited by delan,

I personally have ridden 2 GCI coasters within the last year. MM.... Apocalypse and Dollywood's Thunderhead recently. Both awesome coasters. I would give the nod to Thunderhead for GCI coasters. I can't imagine them building a bad twister coaster.

Last edited by talon1189,
ApolloAndy's avatar

I'm like you Delan. None of the GCI twisters register for me. (OzCat is probably my favorite and is somewhere around #10 for me).

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

I like GCI coasters ok, some are better than others. In general I find them rather force-free. The twisters are speedy, the duelers are quirky and fun, and most are very rideable. I think the rides with Millenium Flyer trains work best. My visits to Dollywood this season brought me back to Thunderhead, and I was reminded what a great ride it is, probably my favorite out there. I also really enjoyed Ozark Wildcat and it pisses me off to see it sitting there all forlorn. Someone should've picked that ride up. I think my least favorite has to be SFA's Roar with the PTC trains. Ouch.
As for Gwazi, I must be in the minority too. My last trip to Busch Tampa was over a year ago, a track rehab had just been completed on one side, I forget which, the other side was about to commence, and the new trains were running. The park was virtually empty that November day, and I rode it over and over again and had a blast. I've heard a lot of complaints, though... I wonder if I've just managed each time to hit it during a brief spell when it was still good. Whoever said Florida is unkind to wooden coasters may have something there...
I also may be in the minority when I say my big disappointment there was Cheetah Hunt. Honestly, for the time and money spent I expected something a bit more thrilling. I had high hopes, the placement and theming was great, the odd two launch start was fun, but the rest was lacking. Same day, multiple rides, and it was fun enough, but in the end I could only call it a really big budget family ride. (not that there's anything wrong with that, but I went expecting something else.) (or Maverick.)
Wishing a safe and happy, fun-filled New Year to all my friends at CoasterBuzz.

Bobbie1951's avatar

Wow, you liked Gwazi as well? I'm so glad to hear it. When I think of some of the other woodies I've ridden - most notably The Hurler, Cyclone Six Flags New England, Blue Streak and Mean Streak - there's no question in my mind that Gwazi is significantly better than any of these. (Especially Mean Streak - how can a coaster with a 155-ft. drop be so lacking in airtime and everything else?)

I respectfully differ with you on Cheetah Hunt, however. I knew nothing about this ride before getting on it; hadn't bothered to research it (the only ones I'd looked up were Sheikra, which I knew would be like Griffon, and Montu, which I expected to be like Alpengeist) so had no idea that it was a launch coaster. Was I surprised! I found the sudden, unexpected acceleration pretty exciting and thought that the track layout was brilliant. Of the 4 coasters I rode, I thought that Sheikra was the best thrill ride, Montu was one of the best inverted coasters I've ridden, Gwazi was one of the best non-big-boy woodies and Cheetah Hunt was by far the most fun. Rarely have I found any coaster as entertaining as this one. I sometimes get into the bad habit of thinking that unless a coaster scares me half to death, it isn't any good, forgetting that the whole idea is to have fun. And fun is what I had on Cheetah Hunt.

I agree that Thunderhead is a great ride. However, I put Shivering Timbers one notch above it on my top ten list.

Happy New Year to you and everyone on this site!


TheMillenniumRider's avatar

The thing Cheetah Hunt has going for it is the story it tells. You start in the tree, descend onto the plains, chasing your meal, and you can just see the big cats doing the same. It is not the most thrilling coaster of them all, but it is a good addition.

rollergator's avatar

SO, my pass (2 year BGT pass) was set to exire 12/28 this past year. Trying to get a jump on the situation, I tried to renew online. Signed in to the pasholder website, and when I said "renew my pass" it brought up the new purchase pass price of 229. But I saw a link to login for renewals and discounts (even though I had already logged in), and tried to relogin. Didn't understand my pass number - the same one I had JUST logged in to the main page with...argh!

So, after about 25-30 minuts of frustration, I thought I'd simply call the park and do it that way. Lady on the other end says I can't get the renewal price until after my pass expires. (So I asked, I need to pay parking to go in and renew? Yes, unless you have someone drop you off, renew, meet back up, and THEN go thru the parking booths - how convenient). Or, she says, wait until after 12/28 and renew by phone. Hey, that sounds easier than the hoop-de-doo from the drop-off to the entrance than back to the road, etc....

So, today I sepdn about 45 minutes trying to simply "renew", and they've got my entire history of financial transactions, long before InBev took over, etc. The gentleman on the other end recites a history of Platinum passes, multi-park passes, once when I did EZ-Pay, etc., but for some reason they still CANNOT renew my pass. I'd have to go to the park to do that....oh, and my clock is still ticking on my 30 days - beyond that, you're buying a new pass again, at about a $45 upcharge over renewal....unless a manager at the park is convinced your story is valid (and why should they be, a request for a manager to talk to at the call processing center went ignored after a 15-minute hold, so I have no name to relay as far as validating my story).

Short totals: Website, 30 minutes. First call, including 20-minute hold to start the call, 45 minutes. Today's call, including two holds while managers declined to talk to me, 45 minutes. Grand total, 2 hours, still no pass, no satisfaction, and one truly PO'd guest. I don't think I need Busch that badly...

LostKause's avatar

I never hear you complain about anything, Gator. Any business should make purchasing their product as convenient as possible.

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