Florida, Day 4 -- BGT (1/13/2002)

Associated parks:
None

Tuesday, January 15, 2002 6:33 PM
Ah. Busch Gardens Tampa. The only other park, along with IoA, that was on my "MUST" list for my trip. The location of the only woodie(s) I'd be hitting. Home of typical excellent Busch food, and scenery.

And also the park that opened at 10am instead of 9am, allowing me plenty of time for that hour drive from the hotel ;)


I got to the park a bit early, actually. The parking lot hadn't opened yet, so I sat in my car in line for about 5 minutes. I quickly took notice of how few cars there were, though, and started anticipating a good day ahead.

Since Busch opens in sections, AND the crowds were very light, I went against my conventional wisdom and rode the first thing in front of me (actually I did that at IoA with the Hulk, too, but again it was a light day for crowds)

Gwazi

I SO wanted to love this coaster. Really, I did, especially after Lightning Racer at Hershey. Now, don't get me wrong, the coaster is decent, and indeed I DID like it, but perhaps not as much as it deserves.

First of all, when Gwazi opened, only the Lion side opened. Tiger sat idle. Now, I can even understand that -- offseason, and a slow day on top of that, probably some staffing issues at play. Ok, so I'll ride Lion a few times and then Tiger when it opens.

Heh, right.

Let me describe the loading procedure, so you too can revel in its awesome power. The riders get in the car and buckle their seatbelts. Next they tug in vain at their lapbars, which are locked in the open position. Now, one operator walks down each side of the train, tugging every seatbelt nice and snug. When they get to the end of the train, the bars are released, so riders may pull them down. The operators then walk the train AGAIN, checking that the bars are secure, and FINALLY the train is dispatched.

First lap out on Gwazi Lion. The ride is actually rather fun, although I think it probably missed something with not having Tiger to duel with. We then sit on the back brake run for *8 minutes* waiting for train 2 to dispatch. Welcome to Busch Gardens Tampa, where not only is capacity not King, it isn't even Pawn.

Annoyed, I decided to go over to the other open coaster, Montu. Now, this was more like it.

Montu (7 laps, 6 of them consecutive rerides) -- Take no crowds, full capacity operations, and a fast crew, and what do you get? No need to get out of your seat if you don't want to, that's what. On top of that, we're talking about a GOOD B&M inverted (better than Raptor and possibly even Alpengeist). Even with a trim just before the batwing (which I didn't notice at all on the first lap, but was there on subsequent laps), I fell in love with this coaster.

Next up, I decided to hit Rhino Rally, before the line grew too much. The sign said 20 minutes, but my actual wait was only about 10.

I hate to say it, but I don't really like this ride. The idea of a free-ranging, driven vehicle, among unrestrained animals, seems like an accident waiting to happen. I dread the day an animal gets hit, or the rhino decides to charge a vehicle. Now, I'll admit I know nothing about the internals of the "ride", and with all the effort Busch puts into animal preservation I'm sure there's SOMETHING that keeps the animals away from the vehicle other than natural aversion ("invisible fence" type systems, perhaps), and I'm sure the drivers are well-trained, but I really feel that wild animals should be kept more separated from guests, period. I don't like "drive-through safaris" for the same reason. Sorry, Busch...

After wandering around for a while, taking pictures of various animals (all of them safely in their enclosures, I might add) I find myself by

Scorpion (2 laps) -- This ride is a classic steelie. Single loop, lapbar, and possibly the highest Gs on the trip. I loved it :)

Now it was lunchtime. When in Timbuktu, eat at.....Festhaus? Um, ok...

So what do my feet bring me to next after a fine meal?

Kumba (7 laps) -- The only "conventional" sitdown B&M I've ridden. We've got floorless coasters, we've got inverted coasters, we've got a launched sitdown just down I-4, and we've got Kumba (and Wildfire, and others, but I haven't been on those yet).

Some people say Kumba isn't the best B&M anymore. They'd be right. Some people say Kumba has to grow on you. For them, they'd be right. However, I was blown away by Kumba from the first lap. Another coaster that was well worth this trip.

Now I came to Python. Or rather, tried to. Python was closed, and in fact a good portion of the Congo section was fenced off "for continued improvement". Probably general upkeep, but "hmmm" nonetheless.

So now it's time to try Gwazi again, right? Sure it is. Only now Lion is closed, and Tiger is open. Glad I hit Lion earlier. Same silly procedures, although at least the ops let me stay on when there was nobody in the row. 5 laps. I THINK I liked Lion better than Tiger, but it's hard to tell with only one Lion lap.

Gwazi is a good coaster, but it was also the biggest disappointment of the trip.


So don't get me wrong -- Overall, I loved Busch Gardens Tampa. Not perfect, but little in this world is. The food is good, the park is beautiful, the B&Ms are great, and Scorpion is a great retro blast. Gwazi has potential, I'm HOPING what I saw was offseason blues. As for Python, well, I'd have liked the credit, but I'll live. Hopefully it'll still be there when I make my eventual return ;)


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--Greg
"The questions ticket agents ask at airports are useless, but give an illusion of security to the GP. Much like seatbelts on roller coasters...
My page

*** This post was edited by GregLeg on 1/15/2002. ***

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Wednesday, January 16, 2002 3:45 AM
No thats pretty much how Gwazi is run most of the time. It almost never duels and when it does consider yourself verry lucky. The only time I have ever seen it duel was when I was there for a promo shoot for Howl-O-Scream.
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Joey Ciborek
FLCC Member
www.FloridaCoasterClub.com
"WE RIDE ALL YEAR!"
Welcome back Raptor riders-how was your flight?
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Wednesday, January 16, 2002 6:23 AM
Well, that Gwazi issue is certainly a bummer. Hope I get the lines you had when I go next month:).
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Kara
403 Laps
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Wednesday, January 16, 2002 8:56 AM
Kara when are you coming down to Florida?
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Joey Ciborek FLCC Member
http://www.FloridaCoasterClub.com"
"WE RIDE ALL YEAR!"

*** This post was edited by Alantis104 on 1/16/2002. ***

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Thursday, January 17, 2002 7:40 AM
From talking to the ops on gwazi... if the park is really empty, and you split your group between the two sides (or if you ask really nice) they will try to duel... otherwise they just don't bother. However, it seems that there is a separate dispatch for each side and no computer controlled lift (like Dueling Dragons) - so even if they are trying, getting them to duel properly is nearly impossible.
In December, Python was running and Scorpion was down, so I wouldn't worry about Python going anywhere.

*** This post was edited by kip099 on 1/17/2002. ***

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Thursday, January 17, 2002 8:45 AM
I'll be at BGT on the 17th of February. Hey BUSCH GARDENS: it would be just dandy if you could operate all coasters and duel Gwazi when I am there;).
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Kara
403 Laps
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Thursday, January 17, 2002 8:49 AM
Hey I might be there that weekend maybe we could meet there drop me an e-mail or IM.
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Joey Ciborek FLCC Member
www.FloridaCoasterClub.com
"WE RIDE ALL YEAR!"
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Thursday, January 17, 2002 2:02 PM
Thats funny cause I was reading reports that BGT had infact stopped the duelling on Gwazi because of all the complains BGT had receieved on its Poor Loading procedures, At first I found it hard to believe because the whole point of Gwazi is for the coaster to duel. Seems like from your report though that it is indeed true. A big Shame I think, Oh Well :(:(
I would have thought this would improve loading times, but it dosnt seem to have improved at all, Not from your report where you said you waited 8 mins to get in the station, I know I once waited 5 mins to get back into the station once, It was soooo bad that I felt like shouting at someone

You didnt miss much on Phython, You would have only got a headache if you did ride it anyway, And its also a very short ride which simply isnt worth it not in my opinion anyway.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2002 8:00 PM
PaulD, funny distinction that!  You see, people weren't complaining about the (unbelievably bad) loading procedures, they were complaining about the wait times.  Considering their options, they could either: a) revise the loading procedure to a more sensible one-check operation, or b) stop the dueling which "seemed to slow things down"....hmmm.

Python, really, the opinions noted here are really kind if anything.  Definitely a coaster to ride once if you want to up the count by one, not for the ride itself...but the Python Soft-Serv gets rave reviews...the rumors that it would be removed for a future installation didn't even bother me, and that is NOT like me, as I hate to lose ANY ride...

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PoTP acolyte - remove fear to reply
Son of Drop Zone - PKI CoasterCamp I Champions!!!

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Thursday, January 24, 2002 4:46 AM
Well, I was definitely disappointed I couldn't ride Python -- I wanted the count ;)  I'll surely be back to BGT, though, so I should still be able to get it at some point.
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--Greg
"The questions ticket agents ask at airports are useless, but give an illusion of security to the GP. Much like seatbelts on roller coasters...
My page
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Thursday, January 24, 2002 6:19 AM
Ugh... don't be. That thing is brutal. I found MA's Corkscrew to be more kind.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

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Thursday, January 24, 2002 1:01 PM
I agree. That is the only real bad Arrow coaster I've been on. It seems strange, but why would BGT not maintain it well?
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"Go banana!"-Ralph
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Sunday, January 27, 2002 8:25 AM
The only BAD Arrows I recall riding are Carolina Goldrusher (poor excuse for a mine train) and GASM-II @ GAdv (felt like potholes in the rails).

Anyway, I got to ride both sides of Gwazi when they were dueling. After riding the Dragons though, ALL the dueling coaster seem weak (even LR...the racing parts rock though :)). The only duel on Gwazi that I even really noticed was the inital duel on the run out to the lift. Gwazi was still decent. Lion and Tiger felt about the same to me, but I *think* I like Tiger a skostch more. Either way, it's my least favorite GCI (but it's a twisted so still cool!)

Glad to see someone else liking Montu especially over the green bird. I actually like it more than Alpengeist, but I like Alpy a lot too.

And oh yeah, Kumba is the real deal!
jeremy

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Besides, if we were really shutting down people we disagreed with, would Jeremy (2Hostyl) still be around? :) I think not. - Jeff 1/24/02

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Sunday, January 27, 2002 11:56 AM
Wait, are you telling me you like Trailblazer at Hershey?

-l(who also likes Montu more than Alpie or Raptor)
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"Go banana!"-Ralph

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Monday, January 28, 2002 10:22 AM
I'll second the statement about Python being rough... Not near as brutal, but rough for its size... I likened it to Steel Phantom in the "pain in the neck" category. It was the only coaster on my Fla trip that gave me the slightest discomfort (acutally, the thing gave me a headache... but not bad enough to keep me off of Scorpion and Kumba later in the day).

I'll also second the Duelers that don't work comment.  I have been on Gwasi, Lightning Racer, and Dueling Dragons.  The only one where I found the dueling to really work was Dragons, and then because Dragons are inverted, only in the front seat.  As for Lightning Racer, the racing part is great.  As for Gwasi, even though they were dueling them when I rode it, I did not really notice the other train.  However, as stand alone coasters, I liked both sides of Gwasi so not noticing the dueling was no big deal for me.

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Monday, January 28, 2002 10:33 AM
Canobie Corkscrew is really smooth compared to Python right?
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Out of the coasters i've ridden here is wat i rank them overall:(ive been to canobie lake and SFNE)
1. S:RoS 2. Yankee Cannonball 3. Riverside Cyclone 4. Canobie Corkscrew 5. Thunderbolt 6. Galaxy 7. Mind Eraser 8. Dragon coaster 9. poison ivy's tangled
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Monday, January 28, 2002 5:51 PM
No. I dont *like* trailblazer, but in the same breath, I dont dislike it either. CGold was the only mine train that was painful, uncomfortable and smelly that I've ridden. I still cannot understand why I couldnt fit in the train without crossing my legs. I didnt have to do that in any of the others.

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"Nobody writes about the planes that land." Steve Salerno Washington Times 7-10-01

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Monday, January 28, 2002 8:31 PM
2hostyl, agreed that Carolina GoldRusher was UNIMAGINABLY weak...but the dueling on the Gwazi was pretty cool (even if the "near-miss" feature is quite the misnomer...call it "advertising", LOL.
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Off-season coaster blues got you down, stop by the 'buzz and turn your frown upside-down...
Son of Drop Zone - PKI CoasterCamp I Champions!!!
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Tuesday, January 29, 2002 8:39 AM
Gwazi's loading procedures are so stupid.  However, it was made up after I got off the ride.  I love this thing and wish we'd see some more dueling woodies.  This ride(Lion and Tiger) kick some serious a** from start to finish.  It's fast, intense, and full of my favorite element...surprises.  After only getting one ride on each side, It's just behind the Beast as my fav. wooden coaster and just ahead of the Villain.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2002 9:22 AM
Oh, I certainly enjoyed Gwazi, but I didn't think it matched up to Lightning Racers, Raven, Legend, Phoenix, or quite a few other woodies I've loved over the years.  Good, but not quite "There".
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--Greg
"The questions ticket agents ask at airports are useless, but give an illusion of security to the GP. Much like seatbelts on roller coasters...
My page
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