Photo TR: Five Hours at Busch Gardens Tampa

1 drop tower, 2 Kentuckians, and a few walk-ons!
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Photo TR: Five Hours at Busch Gardens Tampa

Postby Midgetman82 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:33 pm

[Long read below, and huge amount of photos further down]

On Thursday, August 21st, I flew into Tampa Bay, Florida, to do Busch Gardens Africa with my dad as a last vacation trip before my classes started back up again. This would be my first time back since 2010, before Falcon's Fury, or Cheetah Hunt, or GWAZI's new trains, so I had plenty of things to catch up on and become familiar with! It was on the car ride to the park that I had also learned it was my dad's first time to the park. Considering Busch Gardens Tampa was my favorite theme park, and still is, I assured him he was in for a treat. But of course, not being a big coaster geek like I am, he would have to be the judge of that in the end!

We arrived about an hour after the park had opened to find that only one of the lots were filling up, which didn't come as much of a surprise to us considering it was a weekday when most kids were back in school already!

We entered the park and headed toward Egypt for both of our first rides on Cheetah Hunt. I rented a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo ($0.50 per use) for my camera bag, then we waited about 15-25 minutes before we were on the front row of the second train in the station. The coaster had a surprisingly powerful first launch (as with all of the other launches) that sort of threw me back into the seat a bit (that's what happens when you're on the train that's waiting for the other to clear the tracks before suddenly launching. :-p). The track was super smooth, and the majority of the coaster had very nice swooping motions. The hills and entrance into the figure-8 also provided some very sweet airtime! Nothing compared to ejector airtime like on Maverick, or even Lightning Run. Both of us really enjoyed the coaster, and appreciated the fact it wasn't anything out of control or brutal.

We made our way over to Montu for a quick ride (again, had to get a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo). This was my top pick for favorite roller coaster until I rode Banshee at KI earlier this year. This ride still flips you through the inversions a lot quicker than Banshee, and even provides some very strong forces (some could argue that the forces on this are stronger than Banshee's). But, there's something about Banshee's speed and layout that Montu doesn't have that still somehow knocks it one level above. I love both coasters to death, but I'll still have to give Banshee the upper-hand! Still, Montu was still able to provide a kick-a$$ ride which my dad also enjoyed because of its smoothness, comparing it to his last experience on T2 at Kentucky Kingdom and how it always rattled us to near-death.

We wandered our way through some of the close-by animal exhibits (and observed Falcon's Fury begin testing from far away) before hopping on the Serengeti Express train to see some more animals. Because of the sweltering 100 degree summer heat, a lot of the animals were relaxing in shady areas (this was seen basically throughout the entire park). We hopped off at the Congo station and walked towards Pantopia to have a closer peek at the new Falcon's Fury.

The entire time from when I first mentioned testing to when we arrived, the ride had been testing non-stop with no riders or dummies on board. It was very interesting observing the ride raise, roll back, drop, decelerate/swing-out, then return to the bottom only to have the restraints checked for a repeat run. Seeing videos of the ride in action doesn't really do the drop justice. It almost looks as if the ride drops at the same rate as, say, KI's or KD's drop towers, only the entire freefall vehicle is much larger than those so it gives the illusion that it's slower. Speaking of which, the ride was also MUCH more massive/taller than I had thought it would look in real life! I guess I underestimated it being a standalone 350+ft tall tower. It's sure to be a very thrilling hit once it opens to the public! It's just too bad it wasn't soft opened... :x

Anywho, I gave the park's classic Schwarzkoph, Scorpion, a lap while I was in the area, before heading over to Kumba for a lap on it as well; my dad sitting-out on both. For both rides, I was able to hop on the next available train! Kumba didn't seem to be giving as loud of a roar as I remember it used to. Either my hearing tolerates louder noises as I get older, or they did something to slightly muffle it. I'm not sure, but at least it isn't totally gone. It's still a fun and absolutely wild ride, a gem not to be missed!

We wandered around more exhibits in the Congo area, viewing tigers and orangutans, before making our way over to Stanleyville to give the park's original belly-down-vertical-plunge-ride-themed-to-a-bird (Sheikra) a front-row lap together. Still one of the smoothest coasters in the park and yet provides an absolutely awesome experience, which makes it hard for me to understand why any enthusiast would be disappointed by it. Sheikra might be shorter and it might do less than the other coasters, but it's still awesome for the height, drops, and speeds alone!

We took a small break back in Pantopia again, half to prepare for any sudden soft openings, and half for me to get Phoenix and Sand Serpent over with. Ugh and ouch!

We threw darts on the park map for what to do next, and decided upon walking back near Sheikra to do the Skyrail out of Stanleyville and into Cheetah Hunt's area, to which I gave my dad my bag and camera before giving Cheetah Hunt another lap on my own. This time around, the coaster was a near walk-on! I only had to wait three train cycles before I got on for a back row ride. Still an awesome coaster!

From there, we walked past the entrance of the park to give GWAZI a lap. Mind you, I had not been on it since the ride's previous trains, and was okay with the ride's particular roughness at the time. The layout and design for the coaster is still one of the best I've ever seen on a wooden coaster, coupled with its massive footprint! Unfortunately, the ride gave an almost-unbearable vibrating rattle along the entire ride, and proved to be far from enjoyable. I'm thankful for the amount of cushion on the seats that reduced it from any serious jackhammering, but I think it needs to see some serious love and attention or just be scrapped for something better.

The last thing we both did before we left the park was the kangaroo walkabout. Still a quaint and very friendly-looking corner of the park with the amount of landscaping work done to the area, and how it felt very peaceful and secluded at the time. Many of the kangaroos were resting in the shade (much like every other outdoor animal in the park) and sleeping, so there wasn't a whole lot going on in there other than the many birds playing in the water. Still, it's a nice break from roller coasters for any who would like one.

Overall, I had a very, very good day at the park, even without getting the chance to try out Falcon's Fury. You can't beat being able to do walk-ons for most of your favorite roller coasters, especially in your favorite theme park! My dad also ended up liking the park very much. He mentions that he especially enjoyed how every coaster he rode was super-smooth, and how you could stop and look at animals in between riding rides. The roughly 5 hours we spent at the park was well worth it, and it's mostly thanks to the absence of a frighteningly large crowd!

Coaster Count---
Cheetah Hunt: 2
Montu: 1
Scorpion: 1
Kumba: 1
Sheikra: 1
Sand Serpent: 1
Gwazi: 1

Edit: The day after, I learned the ride had soft opened. :| Of all the luck. Anyways, jedimaster1227 got to ride it.

Edit #2: I totally buzzed over ALL my photos and DID NOT realize they were all watermarked when I batch-exported them... :oops: I normally don't do that when I write trip reports here, but now I really don't want to go through the trouble of uploading and retagging each one. Sorry 'bout that folks.

[And now, pics!]
A slice of Africa
The many buildings near the entrance do make the entrance a bit congested and confusing, but the rest of the park's easy once you learn the loop.
Alligators were here greeting people with hello's, as well!
*Brand new for 2011*
Some nice curves before the airtime-inducing drop.
Overbank curve, with some sexy steel support action!
It states 30 minutes, but we estimated waiting about 15-20.
New credit. Cha-ching!
Revisiting my former top favorite roller coaster.
Still gives some kick-ass rides, and still very smooth.
Inverted coasters are my absolute favorite types, which is more of a reason why this takes the cake of being one of my favorites.
"I'm gonna eat your kids."
Meanwhile down by the watering hole we spot some flamingos and other wildlife creatures.
No, look this way.
An upcharge that's well worth whatever it costs to do it.
Because of the heat, the majority of animals on this day were in shade, half of those were napping.
These guys were running amuck when we arrived.
... only to crash shortly after.
A brave bird goes deep water diving.
Same bird, surfaced.
Oh? What's this?
Seems like one ride has finally woken up!
Last edited by Midgetman82 on Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:15 am.
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Re: Photo TR: Five Hours at Busch Gardens Tampa

Postby Midgetman82 » Sat Aug 23, 2014 12:35 am

Pt. 2 of photos...
Hungry (and a lot bigger from underwater)
Dozed off
On the hunt
Still love the level of theming that goes into the park. The bright colors of the Serengeti Express suits the area very well!
Since the train was pulling into the station, we walked around the corner and boarded it.
You can get some nice, and even private angles from the train!
A normally-tricky coaster to photograph becomes more photogenic!
Up close too!
"Don't forget about us!" Don't worry Mr. Giraffe, we didn't!
But now and then, we focus on other things that demands everyone's attention
Oh boy...
Now we have TWO diving themed-to-a-bird rides! :3
How's it going, Holiday World. ;)
"Did you know, the most common zebra is not black and white, but brown and white?" Could've fooled me.
"Did you know one kick from an ostridge can knock down a lion." Translation: don't mess with these birds...
*Lion King opening theme starts playing*
Hope you're not tired of pictures yet, because there's more.
Sun flare (Not something you're supposed to do with your camera...)
Drop vehicle resting
Sign 1
Sign 2
Sign 3
Massive vehicle, but not clunky actually.
Thru the trees
Entire vehicle being lifted for yet another unmanned run.
Assume the position...
Now FLY!
Aaand come to a sudden slow.
Gotta give ye ole Schwarzkoph some deserved respect. Sustained G-forces on this thing still packs a punch!
No riders. At least, not today. :(
Next up, everyone's usual first example of a "classic" B&M.
Gotta love mist areas in Florida!
Then we saw some tigers
Resting in the heat as well, though the one on the left was directly in the sun.
Yawn. More photos coming soon...
Last edited by Midgetman82 on Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:04 pm.
So long, and thanks for all the fish! | Photography Blog |Flickr | @WaterSlideDB | Coaster Count

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Re: Photo TR: Five Hours at Busch Gardens Tampa

Postby Midgetman82 » Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:02 pm

Pt. 3, last part.
We hopped on Sheikra not long after this photo was taken. Still a great ride.
Afterwards, we came back to Pantopia to rest for a bit, and pretend we rode Falcon's Fury. :-p Plus I braved Sand Serpent and Phoenix. Phoenix is tolerable, but I still don't like either of them very much.
We basically threw a dart on the park map on what to do next, and landed upon the Skyrail.
Good views of the park from here.
Especially of the animals.
... and Cheetah Hunt
Being that the station is connected to Cheetah Hunt, I hopped back in line for another lap on the coaster. only a 5 minute wait for the backseat! Still a fun coaster!
I braved GWAZI while my dad sat out. There was more people in the quick queue than there were in the regular line, which surprised me considering there was almost nobody in line for the coaster. It had very intense rattling, which made it very hard to enjoy the amazing layout.
Lastly, we saw some kangaroos
An always humorous sign.
Most of them were laying down in shade as well, from the heat.
We almost bought the cup to feed them, but decided against it since they weren't as active.
Something tells me that they had plenty to eat not too long ago, though.
Random Emu stalking some kids.
And some more kangaroos. This pretty much ends my report. After this, we exited the park, picked up our on-ride photo we had ordered earlier from Cheetah Hunt, and left to hit the airport and fly out to see family in another part of Florida. Thanks for making it this far, even with the huge spill of photos!
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Re: Photo TR: Five Hours at Busch Gardens Tampa

Postby mike541x » Sun Aug 24, 2014 7:52 am

Awesome TR. Another reason why I need to visit FL again. BGT is such an amazing park with a great coaster line-up, and of course the addition on Falcon's Fury. Glad to it's up and running now!

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Re: Photo TR: Five Hours at Busch Gardens Tampa

Postby Midgetman82 » Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:42 pm

Thanks. Most of the park's coaster are in my top ten, with Cheetah Hunt now sitting pretty at #6! (Sheikra at #7, Kumba at #4, and Montu at #2)
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