Getting my coaster fix at Busch Gardens

Gwazi & Sheikra coasters
Gwazi & Sheikra coasters

One of my favorite things about Busch Gardens, aside from feeding the kangaroos and seeing all the other animals, is the great roller coasters they have to offer! The park has some fantastic rides for kids and adults alike. If you haven’t been before, or even recently, let me introduce you to the coasters of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Kiddie Coasters

Air Grover – This ride in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun section of the park opened in March of 2010 and features a biplane theme and climbs a 24 foot lift hill. It is a quick, but fun ride with the lovable Grover. If I’m not mistaken, this is the favorite coaster at Busch Gardens of our own Cheryl Perlmutter.

Sand Serpent – In Timbuktu, this wild mouse style coaster, which is five

Sand Serpent
Sand Serpent

stories high at 45 feet, offers quick turns, dips and lifts that will leave you cozy with your friends you’re riding with. It originally opened in Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 1996 and was relocated to Tampa Bay in 2004 as Cheetah Chase, but was renamed in 2011 to avoid confusion with the brand new Cheetah Hunt coaster.

Scorpion – This was the first coaster I did when I revisited Busch Gardens for the first time in over 25 years. Also in Timbuktu, it appears to be pretty simple, but then you realize the loop is accomplished with you only wearing a lap bar and you come awfully close to the ground at a high speed and quite an angle.  It is a ton of fun, but quite the thrill for a smaller roller coaster that opened in 1980. Its max height is 60 feet, but the 45 foot drop makes it feel taller.

 

Wilder Thrills

 

Kumba
Kumba

Kumba – I just did Kumba for the first time, and this is one of the more intense coasters, at least for me, at Busch Gardens. Located in the Congo section of the park, Kumba has a name that comes from a translation from the word “roar” and it lives up to that name. With the seven inversions, Kumba, which opened in 1993 and hits top speeds of 60mph and has a height of 143 feet, is not for the faint of heart. One of the things that I think made it more intense than some of the other coasters is the loops into corkscrews one right after the other. If you are looking for a rush, this just may be the coaster for you.

Gwazi – Speaking of intense, this wooden coaster located in the Morocco section of the park is probably the most jarring of all at Busch Gardens. There are two sides with competing tracks called Lion and Tiger that offer different ride experiences. Recently the Tiger side has been closed, but the Lion side still roars, thrilling park goers with a 105 ft height and speeds above 50mph. The ride opened in 1999, but being a wooden roller coaster, it has a much more classic feel which keeps you on your toes.

Sheikra
Sheikra

SheiKra – This was one of the other coasters that I rode for the first time last week. For the longest time I thought I’d never ride it, but I’m trying to be good about trying new things, so I did. This is definitely the fastest (70mph), tallest (200ft) and steepest angle (90 degrees straight down) of any coaster I’ve ridden. It is located in the Stanleyville section of the park and when it opened in 2005, SheiKra was the first dive coaster in North America. To add to the excitement, the ride dangles you above the dive for a few seconds to where you can’t even see the track below, which seems to be behind you. It is such a smooth ride and so fun with the dive and an inversion. Can’t wait to try this one in the front row!

 

Cheetah Hunt
Cheetah Hunt

Cheetah HuntCheetah Hunt is my favorite ride anywhere right now! This is the newest coaster at Busch Gardens and one of the longest at 3/4 of a mile long and almost four minutes in duration. This ride in the Crown Colony Plaza section of the park is almost twice as long as most coasters that tend to be around 2 minutes long. This triple launch coaster that opened in 2011 is probably the smoothest roller coaster I’ve ever ridden. The highest point is over 100 feet tall and maximum speeds reach 60mph. With figure eights, a helix or two and a barrel roll as the single inversion, this ride is so much fun! My favorite part is when it feels like a slalom, reminiscent of a cheetah hunting its prey. I especially love to ride this at night!

Montu
Montu

Montu – So full disclosure, this is the one coaster at Busch Gardens that I have not yet ridden. It will happen someday, but from the reactions of my friends, I think I was right to save this for last. Montu opened in 1996 and is the second tallest coaster at 150 feet and the second fastest at 65mph behind SheiKra. With seven inversions, this is one of the more intense roller coasters in the park including a zero gravity roll. I will get back to you all after I tackle this monster coaster in the Egypt section of the park.

I absolutely love the variety of roller coasters that Busch Gardens has to offer! There is something for everyone from mild to wild and from rougher more intense rides to some of the smoothest coasters ever built. This summer I hope to catch as many rides on the fantastic coasters at Busch Gardens to get my adrenaline fix. Have you been to Busch Gardens recently? Have you ridden any or all of these coasters? Which one is your favorite?

 

 

 

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An Evening at Busch Gardens

Image Copyright Busch Gardens

Living and working near the parks in Central Florida affords those of us locals an opportunity to experience the theme parks in a little bit different way than those of you who come here for vacation. We have the luxury and privilege, if you will, to visit the parks for just a few hours at a time since we have access within about 15 minutes from either work or home. Last night was one such evening for me. I work just a short distance from Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and was able to make a quick jaunt over to the park from 7pm until park closing at 9. So how do you spend just a couple hours? What do you do, what do you do?

A practically perfect evening for me consists of a nice balance of seeing some of my favorite animals, riding at least one or two rides, grabbing a bite to eat or drink, and seeing what the special events are that the park has to offer. Right now there is an event running until August 12th called Summer Nights. This was my first time seeing this nighttime spectacular that features a special concert/show called Kinetix. After the show, guests are treated to an awesome fireworks show.

So, this evening started off by making a bee line for my favorite ride, Cheetah Hunt. If you have not yet experienced this roller coaster, what are you waiting for?!?!?!? It is amazing!!! You have three super fast launches at close to 60mph. I love this ride, especially in the evening and it is one of the longer coasters around at almost a mile long lasting about four minutes. This typically has a 45 minute to an hour long wait, so coming in at 7pm, I knew I had to head here first.

After Cheetah Hunt I decided to catch a show. The one I wanted to see I guess is out of rotation for the summer, so I opted to go see Pirates 4D for the first time. On the way there I was able to snap a few pics of some animals including a pretty cool one of the lion up pretty close. The movie was cute, definitely geared toward a younger audience and I guess I chose my seat poorly because the last row I was in didn’t have any of the 4D effects.

About this time I was starting to get hungry and thought it might be a good idea to get a spot for Kinetix in Gwazi Park, which is situated behind Gwazi, the wooden rollercoaster. I wasn’t starving so I opted just for a churro and a frozen coke for dinner. I know this wasn’t the best meal, but it hit the spot and was only about $5 with my passholder discount. Arriving around 8:30, I was able to find a seat on the end of one of the rows of metal benches with backs that are setup in the park. If you are coming with more than one person, I would definitely recommend getting there closer to 8pm if you all want to sit together. Keep in mind I was there on a Monday night and I’m sure it is even more popular on the weekends.

Kinetix is an incredible show featuring current pop music (LMFAO, Pitbull, Nicki Minaj, Adele, Maroon 5, etc.) performed live on stage by singers, a band, dancers, acrobats and includes some crazy stunts from balancing to aerials to trick bikes. I love the energy that this show brings from all of the performers, and it is very appropriately named with all the kinetic energy you feel from the stage. I am going to include videos below since I don’t think pictures will begin to do it justice. Please go see this and the Summer Nights fireworks show that follows. I think this is probably the closest I’ve ever been to fireworks of this magnitude.

All in all it was a great way to spend a few hours in the park. I got my thrills on Cheetah Hunt. I was able to sit and relax in air conditioned comfort, a huge plus in July in Florida, at the Pirate 4D film and was entertained. Dinner could have been much more substantial, but I really wasn’t hungry for more than the churro and frozen coke, which I got to enjoy while seated on a bench with a nice breeze while listening to pop music before the Kinetix show. That was another thing I noticed that I think is new for the summer, or maybe just in the evening, but from the time I arrived at 7pm until I left a little before 10pm the music being played throughout the park was mostly familiar pop music. I thought this really added to the fun summer vibe I felt from the Summer Nights celebration.

How do you like to spend a quick few hours at Busch Gardens? Have you been to Summer Nights? What was your favorite part?

 

Check out our YouTube page here to see other great videos from around Central Florida parks and activities.

 

httpv://youtu.be/0VKupNxfOdU

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httpv://youtu.be/EiFemisTcjQ

httpv://youtu.be/GA-LbAtXiO8

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httpv://youtu.be/5XrP8cNcO98

httpv://youtu.be/-uKdUyDsV9A

httpv://youtu.be/j-7f4WZisRo

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Busch Gardens photo tour 4/7/12

Every once in a while it is nice to sit back and just let the pictures speak for themselves. I can attest there are times when I am a bit longwinded and tend to get distracted (ooh squirrel). I’m going to try to introduce photo tours into my blog posts much like I did for my previous post on Disney’s Pop Century Resort. For those who don’t know, I work in Tampa and live south of there by a good 45 minutes. As often as I can, I try to take the opportunity to visit Busch Gardens since it is less than fifteen minutes from my office. This past weekend was gorgeous, so I decided to head over to the park on Saturday after I got out of work.

Since it was a kind of warm afternoon I noticed quite a few of the animals napping, which was not something I had seen on my previous few visits. I also couldn’t help myself in noticing several of the animals were mooning me while I tried to take their pictures. 😉

On this day I experienced two new attractions: Tut’s Tomb and Iceploration. The former is a recreation of King Tut’s Tomb that was discovered in Egypt in the early 1900s. This was a really neat area to explore that I had never even noticed before. I was very grateful that it wasn’t a very confined space, which I was a little worried about since I am claustrophobic. Iceploration is a relatively new show that takes place in the Moroccan Palace Theatre. The premise is that a young boy who doesn’t like to play outside and is very much into electronics is forced to travel around the globe with his grandfather exploring areas such as an African savanna, the Great Barrier Reef, the Arctic and a Rainforest. It is a unique presentation with performers dressed as different animals ice skating throughout the different scenes. There are also live animals (warning: birds fly into the audience!!!) that come on stage in the different scenes from birds to cats and dogs. You can even meet one of the huskies after the show and have a picture taken with it. It was an enjoyable show with a variety of entertainment styles from dance to ice skating, animal entertainment, all while telling the story of exploration across the globe. For you Disney folks think of it as Festival of the Lion Kings combined with Finding Nemo the Musical and the old Tarzan Rocks show at the Animal Kingdom (minus the recognizable songs and characters). They even have their own version of the tumble monkeys!

So I present to you some pictures I took at Busch Gardens this past weekend and invite you to join along for this photo tour. Enjoy!

 

 

All in all I spent a few hours in the park and was able to enjoy a few new things along with some of my favorites. I can always go to the park and just enjoy myself by walking around and watching the animals. It was especially nice to see the baby joeys and to see the cheetahs as close as I did. There seemed to be even more beautiful flowers than on my last few visits. Spring is in bloom. Have you been to Busch Gardens recently? What are some of your favorites? Is there anything you’d like to see on another photo tour? If so, please leave us a note in the comments or feel free to email me at Betsy@onthegoinmco.com.

If you enjoyed these pictures, check out my previous blog post here on the animals of the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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