When my Dad and I planned our trip to Florida the park I most wanted to visit was Busch Gardens Tampa. I hadn’t been there since I was a little kid and naturally I didn’t remember anything except a first ride on Kumba. After hearing how many world class coasters Busch Gardens has added since my last visit I was definitely looking forward to returning. I had visited the Williamsburg park earlier in the year for the first time in a while and was impressed with that park as well, so let’s find out how this park stacks up.
With my Sea World parks platinum pass you get free admission and preferred parking when available, so it was awesome to pull up to the front of the park and not have to wait for a tram to pick us up and take us to the entrance.
From our awesome parking spot in the preferred lot we get a great first look at Montu!
Alright so where’s the entrance?
Since it’s Christmas season the park was decked out for it’s Christmas Town seasonal event.
The entrance is very vibrant and the Christmas decorations add a nice touch.
The first animal you see in the park is alligators along with their turtle friend in the middle.
So the first target was Cheetah Hunt, the parks newest coaster and also one of the lower capacity rides at the park. So naturally we headed there first to avoid longer lines later in the day.
Is this the Cheetah Hunt?
A train of riders enjoying their ride.
The launch onto the rides towering spaghetti bowl is definitely one of the highlights of the ride.
The top of the spaghetti bowl from far away. There will be closer pictures later I promise. 😛
So how was Cheetah Hunt? It was really really good! It’s most comparable to Maverick at Cedar Point but even that comparison is a little unfair. It’s a much more family friendly variation to Maverick and a whole of a lot more scenic. Did I mention you fly under and around a waterfall on the coaster?!? Simply awesome! Much more pictures of Cheetah Hunt to come.
Enjoying our first ride on Cheetah Hunt!
The park has a lot of shaded areas which definitely must help in the Florida heat.
The train going by, we’ll definitely have to catch a ride on that later.
So the first thing that’s very noticeable about this park versus any other animal park I’ve been to are the animals are highly visible! You can get closer to the animals here than anywhere else I’ve ever been. Plus it makes for amazing photo opportunities.
The male lion was drinking some water.
The hyenas which were naturally behind glass.
Hey where’s Pumba?
A look out onto the safari where a lot of the animals are able to roam.
So after checking out some animals it was time to give Montu a shot.
I had heard a lot about Montu that it was the best B&M inverted coaster out there.
So being a big fan of the B&M inverted coaster I was eager to see how this one stacks up to my personal favorite Banshee.
Montu is old school and definitely has more snappy elements than it’s modern counterparts.
Montu is built into multiple trenches and a lot of the coaster takes place below ground.
It’s a unique concept for sure and it’s definitely a little different.
So how was Montu? Well my opinion might have been altered now that Banshee is in existence and I experience Banshee first, but the ride just doesn’t quite stack up. Yeah it’s definitely good don’t get me wrong but it didn’t blow me away like my first ride on Banshee did. The trenches are a nice added touch but there’s noting exciting going on in them that for me they don’t add too much to the ride. A good ride but I wouldn’t quite call it a world class ride.
My Dad posing with some Egyptian themed Christmas trees.
How about a good old fashioned SkyRide ride?
The SkyRide station shares space with Cheetah Hunt’s station and you walk right by the brake run and transfer track section of the ride.
Cheetah Hunt is a long ride and definitely navigates a large amount of land.
Cheetah Hunt’s only inversion is a barrel roll and it’s much smoother than any inversion on Maverick.
Far back there after the inversion and brake run is the amazing waterfall section of the ride.
I see a dive coaster over there!
Hello Mr. Rhino.
Kumba soars back in the distance.
Kumba is a great looking coaster for sure.
The next imminent destination Falcon’s Fury!
Where we just came from! Love the classic SkyRides. Sadly these are a dying breed but it’s nice to see parks that still have them.
Hmm someone told me there’s Tigers back here….
And there they are.
The tigers were sleeping but this one decided to wake up and say hello.
My Dad posing with a Tiger display.
Time for a fall?
We’re going up there?!?
Let’s hop on!
On the climb to the top of Falcon’s Fury tower height of 330 feet you face outward to look at the park….
Once you reach the top however your perspective changes just a little.
The seats begin to rotate forward until you are looking 90 degrees straight down toward the ground.
After the seats are finished rotating there’s a few more seconds of waiting and then you plummet straight down.
The look of fear on everyone except for the guy in green, he’s having a great time.
The wait time is at 0 minutes want to go again? 😛
Falcon’s Fury is certainly the most unique drop tower experience I’ve been on. It’s not quite as scary as it looks, but the experience is definitely one that you have to give a shot, there’s nothing else like it on the planet! Hopefully we’ll see more versions of this drop ride pop up in the future but until then go check it on in Tampa.
Falcon’s Fury gets my approval.
After Falcon’s Fury we decided to check out the Opening Night Critters show.
Like any other animal show it included jokes and plenty of different animals.
This poor dog was a little bit stage shy.
There was even an owl.
Plus we can’t forget the tuxedo cat.
All in all a pretty entertaining show, as the Sea World parks always put on great animal shows.
After the shows we gave the classic Schwarzkopf coaster Scropion a shot.
Schwarzkopf also built solid coasters and this one is still good despite it’s age. You can see SheiKra lurking in the background.
That SheiKra looks pretty good we might have to check that out. 😉
Through the netting you can see Scorpion on it’s final helix.
Just like Sea World San Diego had there’s a phone recharge area by the Scorpion.
Next we gave the wild mouse Sand Serpent a try. Nothing special, standard wild mouse here.
But here’s the ride photo because well it was included. haha
After Falcon’s Fury it was time to conquer another “diving” bird.
SheiKra will dive you straight down twice and twist you around all different ways until coming to a stop.
SheiKra’s big trick is a holding brake at the top of it’s 200 ft. first drop.
You slowly inch over the edge.
Then the train is held there for a little bit before the brake releases and the train plummets to the ground.
The train then plummets into the rides only inversion.
A nice smooth immelman.
It’s not over though as there’s another drop coming.
You’re not held for quite as long but it’s just as good a drop as the first one.
Then you round the corner into….
The splashdown finale!
Another look at the splash the train creates.
And that ladies and gentleman is SheiKra.
Our first ride on SheiKra on the far right of the front row.
This being only my second dive coaster I’ve ridden, I might prefer it just a little bit to the other one I’ve ridden Griffon at the Busch Gardens Williamsburg park. Griffon is the bigger badder brother of SheiKra but SheiKra does have more theming and arguably a much better setting. They are both amazing rides however and make me really want to try out more dive coasters in the future. Who knows maybe Cedar Point will be adding the third US dive coaster in 2016. 😛
Our second ride later in the day.
And our final ride of the day on SheiKra.
After SheiKra we rode the Stanley Falls Flume which sadly I did not get a picture of besides the on ride photo.
There’s a train sighting again.
Some Christmas themed topiaries.
We did a little exploring through the nets of the children’s area.
Even saw some birds.
Then it was time for a kiddie coaster credit!
There was no line so I decided to jump right on.
Enjoying Air Grover. Actually one of the best kiddie coasters I’ve been on, nice and smooth and a whole lotta fun.
After the Seaseme Street section we ended up by the flamingos.
Also in this area were the kangaroos and as you can see there were a lot of them.
This one even decided to check us out.
Then it was time to experience Gwazi.
This was sadly the only picture I captured of the coaster. Didn’t know at the time that it would be closing for good just a little over a month later. It wasn’t the best ride but it was still pretty decent.
After Gwazi it was time to check out the Christmas ice skating show.
There was even a child ice skater.
The costumes were all red and green of course.
And the tricks did certainly amaze.
There was even a cable element with some cirque inspirations.
All in all a good ice show, just like any other Busch Gardens show. They are always good.
Next up was to catch a ride on the train but before the train arrived it provided a good opportunity for more pictures of Cheetah Hunt.
You can also see Falcon’s fury off in the distance there.
Cheetah Hunt dives off the spaghetti bowl and into it’s incredible second half.
Montu riders are also having a little bit of fun.
And we’re off!
The train circles the safari which houses even more animals in a wide open space.
This giffare couldn’t pass up a bite to eat.
Falcon’s Fury and giffares the view doesn’t get much better than this.
Hello again Mr. Rhino.
One of the SkyRide’s turn stations that we went through earlier in the day.
After getting off the train it was time to revisit an old friend. Like I said earlier the only thing I remember about visiting this park when I was younger was Kumba. Now it must’ve been pretty good for me to remember it, so let’s check it out.
Kumba is a monster B&M sit-down coaster and one of the firsts.
The ride sure does look magnificent still to this day.
The corkscrews are tight and snappy like a classic B&M should be.
Well how was it? Damn that’s a good coaster still. Didn’t remember much except for riding it but yeah it’s got some great speed and great force. A perfect blend of everything, Kumba sure is a classic.
The cobra roll looms back in the jungle.
Enjoying Kumba in the very back row.
Last ride on Cheetah Hunt before leaving?
You just gotta race the cheetah to the ride.
Here we go!
And here’s our final ride of the day.
At the entrance to the park before leaving there was a singing show going on that we caught that last few minutes of.
Busch Gardens Tampa was an amazing park. Like I said earlier there’s more animals here than any other animal park I’ve been to, plus they have some of the world’s best roller coasters in Cheetah Hunt and SheiKra. Don’t forget the incredibly unique drop experience in Falcon’s Fury. I’d definitely recommend Busch Gardens Tampa to anyone visiting Central Florida, you don’t want to miss it!