Thoughts after my visit: After seeing how much of the Gwazi area is still Gwazi themed, I somehow doubt the saga of Tampa's finest ass massager is quite over. Cheetah Hunt, Kumba, Sheikra and Montu might be the best "big 4" coasters at any park. Scorpion desperately needs another train. It's wait time shouldn't be nearly as long as it is. RIP Rhino Rally.
Fully on the Twisted Cyclone hype train. Credit Count: 55 (Latest: Fury 325) Favorite Steel: F325 Favorite Wood: GASM at SFOG
Yesterday I had the chance to stop in to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay to check out this year's Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival, and in the process I was able to see just how good Cobra's Curse is looking as it nears its opening for later this year! The Food & Wine Festival has improved leaps and bounds from last year with tons of new items, several new booths and even the returning dishes being significantly better than I remembered them previously. As for Cobra's Curse, the ride is fully built out at this point but work continues on the ride's station and surrounding areas. The ride stands out in the Egypt section of the park, but also blends in organically with its close calls to existing structures of the land and Montu. The ride is visible from throughout the park and it looks like it could be the sleeper hit of 2016's new coaster list!
Cobra's Curse has taken its place on the skyline of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
It makes quite a statement from the outside of the park.
The real reason I came to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay... FOOD!
The Coconut Shrimp Cigars over a Jicama Slaw with a Horseradish Marmalade were a wonderful start to this year's tastings (and significantly tastier than they were last year)!
New to this year's menu was the Goat Cheese Polenta Cake. It is a good thing I love goat cheese AND polenta, because this was wonderfully executed!
Similar to Epcot's setup, you order outside of the event booths and pickup your food with your receipt. This year there are 11 food booths and 16 beverage booths to choose from.
Busch Gardens uses this even as another opportunity to show just how talented their horticulture department is, with larger than life topiaries like this located throughout the park.
How about this paparazzi topiary?
One of the new "food booths" this year was actually hosted in the Garden Gate Cafe...
The former Hospitality House for Busch Gardens Tampa Bay serves normal food items alongside several special dishes for the Food and Wine Festival.
Outside of the Garden Gate Cafe is this awesome octopus topiary!
The Tuna Poke from the Garden Gate Cafe was fantastic!
A surprise win for the event was the Pheasant Sausage Flatbread.
A significant portion of the Food and Wine Festival takes place along the path to Gwazi Park, where the events' concert series is also hosted each day of the festival (which is run on weekends only). It is certainly strange walking in the shadow of Gwazi without seeing trains rush by.
The Pan-Fried Cod Provencal atop Fennel Risotto was nice and light.
The Bison Slider was served on a brioche bun with cartelized onions, sriracha ketchup and a thick strip of bacon. The combination? YUM!!!
The Cheese Plate from the Lighter Fare Canteen featured Port Salute, Cabot Cheddar, Bel Paese and Buttermilk Blue Cheese. I could eat tons of that blue cheese without pause if given the chance!
The Potato and Goat Cheese Tart was a returning dish from last year and it did not disappoint.
The Roasted Pork Belly was wonderfully cooked and required no knife to cut.
Cigar City was one of the featured breweries at the Food and Wine Festival, and the Strawberry Shortcake Strawberry Lager caught my eye... It was DELICIOUS!
The Duck Taco was a solid addition to the year's lineup.
The Pan-Seared Salmon Cake was one of my favorites from last year's inaugural season and I was thrilled to hear it was returning. This thing was ridiculously tasty!
The Beef Short Rib had an OK flavor with its Strawberry Wine Habanero BBQ sauce but I found it to be a little less tender than I would expect for short rib.
The Lobster Ravioli was a hit for our group.
The only item we wouldn't recommend out of all that we tried was the Buffalo Chicken & Blue Mac & Cheese. It didn't really have a cheese taste--more like blue cheese dressing in which the pasta was tossed, and then drizzled with buffalo sauce and chicken. This was the only item that was sampled that was intentionally not finished.
The Bacon Mac & Cheese on the other hand was a much dish to be sampled.
Throughout the event set up, themed shops and games are also available for you to enjoy.
A look at the main stretch of the event.
Busch Gardens' sister park SeaWorld was represented at the event with this topiary.
Alcoholic Frozen Cherry Lemondade? Yes, please!
Even the topiaries have improved when compared to how they were last year.
The Green Peppercorn-Seared Hangar Steak had a great spice to it.
The Bacon Wrapped Prawns were arguably the least Kosher item on the event's menu, but it was worth the sin!
Founders Brewing Company's Rubaeus caught my eye, and it was well worth the sampling!
Signs are placed next to each topiary with a list of "ingredients" that make up the art, in case you decide to make one at home.
Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?
The enchanted fountain statue has returned as well, and she has a newer, more open location to host all of those that stop and stare (she had quite the crowd both times I saw her).
More great topiaries throughout the park!
Oh right... They have crazy fun rides here too!
Taking the train throughout the park, you get an up-close look at the progress over at Cobra's Curse.
That snake is just massive!
The ride interacts heavily with the layout of the train.
Look at that turn!
Some of these track maneuvers will make riding a spinning coaster so much more fun.
The spinning coaster car our front is still in place.
This is going to be such a fun coaster!
Cobra's Curse can be seen on the train from as far back at the Edge of Africa section of the park.
We can't forget about Montu!
The future entrance of Cobra's Curse is still being worked on.
This ride looks fantastic!
The old King Tut's Tomb walkthrough attraction has been repurposed to serve as the entrance to the new ride, as well as to play host to a small display of snakes while queuing for the ride.
I love how the ride interacts with the normal Busc h G
The top of the elevator lift is ready to go...
And can be seen from anywhere within the Egypt section of the park.
The ride's lift hill comes very close to Montu's immelman loop and crosses over one of the stone archways of Egypt.
Wow, BGT has changed so much since my last visit (2003). Cobras Curse isn't even located where I thought it was this whole time. I think that's a sign that I really need to get back to Florida and to BGT lol!
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