As is the case with SeaWorld, I almost start to feel like I do so many Busch Gardens Tampa reports that I should just stop doing them since it might as well be another "home park" of ours. I'm not letting you that off easy though, so here goes
If you remember back a few years to when I started writing this Florida report, mom flew down with us but spent the weekend with a friend in Tampa. Brit and I were doing our own thing in Orlando, but we talked her into going to Busch Gardens with us on our last day in paradise before we flew back to the frozen f*cking hellscape that we call home.
Because of the typical SEAS cost cutting, the park had a really short operating day. I feel like it was something absurd like 10am-5pm but I don't remember exactly. Still, since it was a Tuesday and since Sheikra was down for refurb we weren't all that concerned that we'd be able to get everything in.
Speaking of Sheikra, in a way I was a little bummed about that but in a way I wasn't. On one hand, mom LOVED Griffon and I really wanted her to get on Sheikra. On the other hand, the original rehab schedule called for Kumba to be down and we traded it for Sheikra so... f*ck Sheikra in the butthole. Priorities...
Speaking of priorities, the day started out according to plan. We stayed with our friends in Tampa that night and got up, bought mom's ticket and got to the gate right around opening. We were on our way to Cobra's Curse and Cheetah Hunt when mom mentioned in passing that she'd never seen a cheetah.
... wait, what? Coasters can wait.
I don't know how this is even possible, but apparently the park does a "Cheetah Walk" presentation every morning and we had somehow never seen it. We had seen them run plenty of times, but apparently once a day they just put a Cheetah on a leash and bring him out onto the midway (behind a little plastic fence). This allows you to get ridiculously close and it's just as awesome as it sounds.
It's amazing to think that an animal that can run over 60 miles per hour can be so incredibly docile, but apparently that's just the norm for cheetahs. They CAN run 60 miles per hour, but they'd much rather not do sh*t. According to the trainers they really act more like canines than felines, but they did get the feline laziness trait.
At the end of the presentation, we made our way over to Cheetah Hunt but saw a 70 minute wait posted. I walked into the queue just to verify that and yeah... wow. There wasn't much to think about, it might be the only time mom ever got to the park and they closed at 5 so we made a b-line to the Quick Queue building, got our wristbands and then walked right onto the Cheetah Hunt load platform.
I've told you my thoughts on the Busch Gardens coasters like 8 times in this thread, so I'll keep them brief but I'll say that mom absolutely LOVED the thing. I sort of figured that would be the case, but it's always nice to experience rides with people who haven't ridden them before. Cheetah Hunt is awesome, and we decided we were definitely coming back to ride again later on.
Up next was Cobra's Curse which (as usual) I forgot to take a picture of but we all loved that too. It was posting a sizeable wait so the Quick Queue was already paying off big time, and for mom the Quick Queue would be worth it on this ride even if it was a walk-on since you bypass the snake exhibit and she f*cking HATES snakes.
I feel like one day I need to go to this park and ride Cobra's Curse like 10 times. We love it, and every time we go to Busch Gardens we talk about how great it is and then we fail to get back to it for the remainder of the day. Why are we the way that we are? Why?
The natural progression from Cobra's Curse is obviously Montu, and I was excited for this one knowing that mom was sure to be a huge fan. We took the back row, putting her in the good seat closest to the load side and (as always) the ride delivered a ridiculously intense and butter smooth buffet of awesomeness.
Mom loved it as much as we figured she would, but unlike the other rides we couldn't wait to ride this one again so we went right back around and took the back again, this time with me in the kill seat. That batwing... jesus
We debated riding the Sky Ride (well... I debated it), but we decided against it because we were headed to our most anticipated ride of the weekend, Falcon's Fury. On the way though, we of course had to stop at our favorite non-cheetah related animal exhibit in the park...
Mom rides drop towers, but they scare the hell out of her. Because of this, we figured we'd just say absolutely nothing about this ride's tilt feature, walk over to the ride and get on before she noticed and then just watch the fun at the top. Unfortunately when we got in line she asked if "this was the one that tilts" and then realized that over the course of her 4 days in Tampa, someone told her about Falcon's Fury when she said she was going to Busch Gardens. Bastards, people ruin all of our fun...
Everyone loved the ride, but since she was prepared the ride didn't have the same "Oh sh*t" factor that it would have had otherwise. Still, she got off saying that it was one of the best drop rides she'd ever ridden and we're definitely inclined to agree.
After checking out the exhibits a bit more (and probably riding Scorpion, I honestly don't remember), we made our way to the back of the park to the best coaster in Florida!
As always, we immediately made our way to the back row and (because we're nice like that) we directed mom to the far seat. As always, the ride was f*cking spectacular, though I got the feeling that she wasn't quite as into it as we were. Going in I knew that was a possibility as I've seen a lot of people refer to the ride as rough (though I don't get it at all), but there was nobody waiting so we switched seats (with me taking the end) and I rode again, blissfully not giving a f*ck what anybody else thought because that ride is complete and utter perfection.
It was actually tempting to double back since without Sheikra, we "might as well" but Brit reminded us that the tiger exhibit was just ahead so we proceeded around the loop. Since we were back there anyway, we figured we could check out the tigers and then hit the smokehouse since it's undoubtedly the best food in the park.
It was almost painful eating at smokehouse near the splashdown pool without any Sheikra trains going by, but I was able to successfully drown my sorrows with some Reef Donkey from the Tampa Bay brewing company and some amazing food. While there, we noticed another brave squirrel, but unlike our squirrel friend at SeaWorld this guy was a huge dick and decided to take off running with your french fry bits after forcibly snatching them out of your hand. No fun...
We hung out for a bit, eating and drinking and enjoying the nice weather. It was in the mid 60's which was a little chilly for Florida, but we knew it was supposed to be in the single digits when we landed that night so we figured we'd enjoy it while we could.
When we finished eating, we made our way back from the way we came without too much of a plan. We only had about 2 hours left but (since the Sky Ride was closed), the only thing we needed to do that we hadn't done yet was ride the train around the Serengeti plain to see the animals. Stanley Falls was running, but since it was in the low to mid 60's nobody was riding. Though we came right up to it when we finished eating, I was unable to convince anyone to ride with me since it was a little chilly. You all know me, so I was secretly a little bummed but I decided to go with the group and move on, knowing we'd probably be back sooner rather than later and I'd be able to ride it then.
LOL, Wait, you didn't actually believe that sh*t did you? I don't need that kind of bullsh*t negativity in my life.
When I got off the ride, mom noted that it looked like fun (I TOLD YOU SO, LOL) and that I didn't get too soaked so she decided to give it a go. Brit had ridden Stanley Falls and knew what it was capable of so she was having none of it. Since the ride was a total walk-on and cycling empty logs I suggested that we ride separate if she didn't want to drown. She agreed, and we decided to ride in back to back logs since we wouldn't be holding anyone up anyway since there was absolutely no line.
After exiting the ride, we decided to head over to the Stanleyville train station and take the train 2 stops so we could see the animals, but I had the idea to head over to Sky Ride real quick just to see if it was running. That turned out to be a good move because whatever issues it was having earlier had been corrected and it was sporting a brief, 5 minute wait.
When we exited the ride we had the thought to ride Cheetah Hunt since it was right there, but opted instead to ride the train since we hadn't done it yet, the park was closing soon and everyone wanted to see the animals. It was sort of convoluted since we were basically headed right back to where we came from, but it was worth it. Doing some quick math in my head, I realized that we should have about 10-15 minutes after the train dropped us off to get one last ride in, though depending on where everyone wanted to go we might have to hustle a bit.
Everyone loved the train, and (as predicted) we had about 15 more minutes before closing. I suggested riding Kumba since it was right there and since it was awesome, but mom wanted to ride Cheetah Hunt again so (even though we were just there), we decided to walk across the park and take the chance.
It was hard walking through the hippo area without stopping, but Brit was on her best behavior and we made it with 2 minutes to spare.
Cheetah Hunt brought the awesome (per usual), and since we really had to fly up to the front of the park to ride it the ride was probably made even better by the sense of accomplishment that came along with actually pulling that off.
Overall it was a great day, and it was a lot of fun bringing mom to one of our favorite parks (and one that's nowhere near home so we never really thought we'd get the opportunity). Busch Gardens was an awesome way to end an awesome weekend!
Up next: Our first ever trip to the NorCal parks!