While we were in Tampa at the RV SuperShow, we also took a day to visit Busch Gardens right down the road. Since we both love roller coasters, one of our RVing goals is to visit as many amusement parks as possible and ride coasters across the country!
Our Busch Gardens day ended up being the coldest day of our Florida trip. Even though we thought we came prepared with sweatshirts and light jackets, we were still underdressed for the high-40’s weather. When the sun was shining it was almost comfortable, but in the shade we were pretty chilly. Then add in the occasional zooming around on a coaster 200 feet up at 70 MPH and we felt like it was time for some hot soup for dinner to warm us up!
We try to visit parks as off-season as possible. We often target the first week of school or finals week since parents are less likely to pull their kids out those days. Busch Gardens was almost empty during this visit, a Thursday in January. Interestingly, we found that English was rarely spoken—most of the visitors were foreigners, including several large tour groups from Brazil. We quickly learned that the hundred-plus of them moved around the park together, so if we went in the opposite direction, we would almost never have to wait in line for an attraction.
The newest ride, and easily our favorite of the day, was Cheetah Hunt. It’s an induction-launched ride that is very long (nearly a mile), very smooth, and with some great turns and features. We’ve done induction rides before, this was one a little different because there are three sections that use magnetic induction acceleration. We highly recommend it! This was the only coaster we had to wait in a line for.
We tried Gwazi, a fun wooden coaster that’s scheduled to be replaced in a year or two. With no line, we were easily able to get into the front seat which we prefer on wooden coaster, since the back is way too shaky and bouncy. As we get older, we find that our joints and bones don’t like being shaken up as much as they used to.
SheiKra is a coaster with three tiered cars each eight riders wide. The tiers allow each row a good view which gets frightening since the coaster stops right at the edge of the first hill for about 5 seconds. The first row is the best (worst?) since you feel yourself leaning hard on the harness straps staring straight down. The back row is fantastic since you’re being pulled down the hills so it feels much faster and the turns all feel sharper. This is a coaster definitely worth doing both the front and last row.
Kumba is an older coaster but very fun ride full of corkscrews and loops. It has a lot of really great quick turns and it’s very smooth.
Montu is an inverted coaster. It’s your typical suspended coaster which means it has some great corkscrews and loops. We find that the front seat is the only one worth doing on suspended coasters. Every other seat you are unable to see anything in front of you except for the next row, which takes a lot of the thrill from the ride. If you’re in the front, you have a great view, especially on the first hill where you see a whole lot of air between you and the ground!
Busch Gardens really does a great job landscaping its parks. They have a lot of gorgeous foliage (unlike other parks which are just concrete everywhere). Plus they have some animal areas too: kangaroos, flamingos, alligators, koi, orangutans, and tigers. The tigers have a pretty large area to roam with multiple viewing areas for people. We looked on for a while as what looked like a mother and three young tigers were doing a lot of playing, pouncing, and wrestling. There is one “pop-up” viewing area. In one area of the tiger’s den, there is a plexiglass popup where you climb up a ladder to look around from inside the den. I climbed into the viewing area to look around. Mike told me to “look up”. When I did, I just barely held in a scream but jumped pretty hard since the momma tiger was sitting right on top of the plexiglass one foot above me, looking quite comfortable. It’s a great view and those paws are huge!! I have to admit I was a bit nervous to have hundreds of pounds of tiger sitting on my ceiling while I stared at her not a foot away from me.Kat
It really was a great day but due to the cold, we decided to skip the last two coasters and head back to the hotel to thaw out. We do really like the Busch Gardens amusements parks both in Williamsburg VA and Tampa FL. Definitely worth a visit!
Catching some thrills in Tampa, Florida