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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (BGT Discussion Thread)

P. 359: Iron Gwazi opens on March 11th, 2022!

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I have a quick trip report from Busch Gardens today!

 

Journalism Day 2013!

 

Today, Friday the 13th, 6 kids from my school attended Journalism Day at Busch Gardens for Howl-O-Scream. We arrived at the park at 8:30 am with the event starting at 9:00 am. Scott Swenson, the Director of Production for events at Busch Gardens, was there with plenty of enthusiasm of this year's Howl-O-Scream. We got a lot of information. We first learned who all the "13" were through the video released by the park. Then we learned about the haunted houses for this year. They seemed really excited for Death Water Bayou as they mentioned that it probably is "the most visually impressive houses we have made." We learned a lot about the Experiment as well. Cockroaches will definitely be in the house! Also, they mentioned that it is the most interactive haunted attraction they have ever seem. You become part of the story. There is no safe word. You must "complete the experiment" and if you don't, you will be "terminated." After all of this Introduction, we were split into 4 groups of about 18 kids (three schools per group). We made VooDoo dolls first! We made a small one for ourselves and then, as a school, we made a larger doll that will be featured inside Death Water Bayou itself!

 

Next on our tour, we went through Death Water Bayou. We walked through Death Water Bayou in theatrical mode but with no scare actors. Inside, it had the same music and atmosphere as you would experience on the night of Howl O Scream but with no scare actors. I have to say that it was in fact visually impressive. A lot of really neat effects were inside the house. The theming was outstanding and the detail was very creative. It really seemed like a swamp at some points in the house. Scott Swenson was our tour for the house. We weren't allowed for pictures or video inside because we don't want to give anything away. It was a really creative house that really stood out to me. It will house a total of 28 scare actors. Be careful, there will be a live snake, and the VooDoo Queen in the first room! Also, watch out for the tongue!

 

After that, we did the Scare Actor behind the scenes with a small façade and a walk through of what the audition process is for Howl-O-Scream. Very fun. Then we had a tour of the Shop of Horrors as well!

 

Things they mentioned about this year that you might not know:

-Every night it ends, it ends at the 13th hour.

-Fiends! It will be a completely new show. It will be themed around Freakenstein's University of his teachings. There will all new music, new sets, new elements and scripts, but they are keeping the nurses lol.

-The Basement they mentioned is the same layout as one of there old retired houses but with new Basement theming. I was confused at this because isn't the Basement where Alone is this year? Is it the same layout as Alone or just a rebuilt part like from Nightshade or something.

-The Taco Bus from Tampa will be a part of Club 13!

-The 13 scare zone will have all the "doors."

-The Boar's head that is in the shop was from Alone last year.

-The Experiment, you will have to perform many different things and everything in the house for props has a purpose and need.

 

After this event, I am really looking forward to this year's event!

 

After the event, they let us have the rest of the day at the park...that's where things went down hill. Sheikra was running two trains only and the line was pretty long. There were only 5 people watching the show at the front of the park, can't remember the name but it was in the Marrakesh Theater. The park wasn't too clean. The staff was really unfriendly today. Cheetah Hunt had a 5 minute wait and was running 4 trains! That seemed like it was the only positive at the park. Gwazi was closed, everything at the park seemed to be closed. Montu was really ROUGH! I rode in the back and it was just brutal! Just hearing the ride come by you can hear the roughness. The park really has gone down hill and it was really sad today walking through the park. I can't believe what has become of Busch Gardens. Hopefully, life can be brought into the park again soon. It was just sad to see. Not much fun in the park.

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That's great news! I think we're sold on pushing it back to early November. That should be more than enough time to avoid hurricane season and Howl-O-Scream, right? We plan to be those nuts waiting outside before the park opens and when gates open, shove small children out of the way while running to Cheetah Hunt (not even kidding, I saw a man shove a kid runni g to Diamondback last year at Kings Island) so we'll get there to no queue.

 

So my three biggest concerns right now:

*Hurricanes: Should the first weekend in November be safe or should we wait until the second?

*Intamin: We're doing all we can to get it before it goes down (and you KNOW it will) but how reliable is Cheetah Hunt compared to other Intamins? (Mainly Maverick)

*Fitting: 5'11 and 220 pounds but I should fit into Cheetah Hunt, right? I pulled 3 inches of slack when I tried Maverick's this past July. I'd assume they all have the same strap, right?

 

Thanks for all the help!

 

Not to sound rude, but I think you are over-thinking this. I've lived in Florida for over 6 years and I can count on one hand the number of times hurricanes have impacted operations to the point parks had to close early. Most people outside Florida think hurricanes = Florida, but in reality they don't hit as often as most believe, especially in the Tampa area.

 

Cheetah Hunt is reliable from what I've seen in my visits - like any other complex coaster that has multi-launches it will experience some issues here or there but long breakdowns aren't the norm. There is no need to run - anytime this time of year, save for a holiday or during HoS, lines will be more than manageable. I rarely have seen Cheetah Hunt over a hour wait - and that has been on some pretty busy days.

 

Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks! I'm just flying there from Ohio and want to make sure that nothing ruins the trip. So of we go for 1.5 days in late November and one of them is a weekday, we should be fine?

 

And one last concern; private events. How early will we be able to tell if a day is going to be unavailable due to a private event?

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Thanks! I'm just flying there from Ohio and want to make sure that nothing ruins the trip. So of we go for 1.5 days in late November and one of them is a weekday, we should be fine?

 

And one last concern; private events. How early will we be able to tell if a day is going to be unavailable due to a private event?

 

You'll have MORE than enough time. I swung through the park yesterday afternoon and was in and out (mid-afternoon) with a ride on all the major coasters in about 2 hours. 1.5 days is MORE than enough. I would pencil the .5 day to something else if you can - some cool brewery tours in the area.

 

As for private events I don't remember the park ever being closed for a private event (during a normal operating day - they host plenty of events post-closing) so you'll be fine there.

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Thanks! I'm just flying there from Ohio and want to make sure that nothing ruins the trip. So of we go for 1.5 days in late November and one of them is a weekday, we should be fine?

 

And one last concern; private events. How early will we be able to tell if a day is going to be unavailable due to a private event?

 

You'll have MORE than enough time. I swung through the park yesterday afternoon and was in and out (mid-afternoon) with a ride on all the major coasters in about 2 hours. 1.5 days is MORE than enough. I would pencil the .5 day to something else if you can - some cool brewery tours in the area.

 

As for private events I don't remember the park ever being closed for a private event (during a normal operating day - they host plenty of events post-closing) so you'll be fine there.

First off, I'm just 19...no brewery for me! XD

 

Second off, thanks! Time is no longer a concern!

 

Now my biggest worries are hurricanes, fitting into Cheetah Hunt, and private events. (which is very minimal, I'll probably nix this one if I call the park tomorrow and ask)

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fitting into Cheetah Hunt

 

I'm not saying the coaster won't break down but the park is really good about getting Chunt back open. They also tend to run a lot of trains on this coaster even if the park is slow. This coaster you can see from other parts of the park to know if the ride is open. Honestly, you should have no problem riding it, even if it breaks down for a little while.

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^ Time shouldn't be a problem at all.

 

There really isn't much you can do about hurricanes. One will either happen or it won't. There's really no point in worrying about it. Most likely you'll be fine.

 

I've never seen any park in central Florida completely close for the whole day for a buyout. The worst case would be them closing an hour or so early, but even that probably wouldn't happen. Check the park's schedule online.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today I was invited out to Busch Gardens Tampa to get on the "Scream Cam" for one of their new Howl-O-Scream Mazes "Death Water Bayou!"

 

This is a Louisiana-themed mazes filled with voodoo and spooky characters! Kinda felt like Deliverance meets Princess & The Frog. It was both scary and "pretty" in that sense that the maze was beautiful! Anyway, onto a couple of photos and my Scream Cam video!

 

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Check it out! New Howl-O-Scream Maze! Death Water Bayou!

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I'm getting all suited up for the Scream Cam!

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The Voodoo Queen gave me back my voodoo doll so I can torture myself!

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On another note, Voodoo Doll LOVES that Busch parks now server Coca-Cola! =)

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I was able to attend this evening for opening night. Overall the crowds were pretty light with the longest wait time listed being about 15 minutes long. Platinum pass holders get in free for both the first Friday and Saturday night. I went ahead and did the Fright Feast. This includes fast pass entry to all the mazes until 8:30 (which we were able to do all 7 before that time). They also opened the mazes about 15 minutes early as an extra perk. I always like HOS. The scare actors really seem to be into thier roles, and the houses seem to be heavily populated with them. Overall I thought the houses were quite good. There was only one real scare zone this year. They had a few groups of wandering zombies, but it did not seem to be as many as there were in 2011. Overall I thought it was a prety solid event, but I do not think it was quite as good as the last one I went to in 2011 (TPR's Busch Bash). Anyways, want to see a few pictures?

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The 13th year for Howl-O-Scream.

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Death Water Bayou was the best of the bunch of the new houses this year.

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The entrance into the house was quite detailed.

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The Vampire Casino was redressed to Warewolves this year.

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This us the front of the house.

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The third and final new maze this year was The Basement.

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It was themed to cannibalism.

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Did someone ask about the Naughty Nurses? Fiends was the show that played during Fright Feast this year.

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Pain Lane was the only scare zone that I saw this year.

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If clowns frighten you, you may want to avoid this one.

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I suspect that this maybe the last year for the Poe one.

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I think that the facade is quite impressive.

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This years's map.

Edited by Erik Johnson
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"Robb's Personal Hell" would probably involve a Pepsi factory at Magic Mountain that morphs into Fuji Q and exits into a zomble-filled Golden Corral.

 

Nice photos, Erik. The Nevermore "House of Usher" facade is pretty cool, and the Naughty Nurses are better rhan the magic show I saw there a few years ago.

Edited by cfc
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  • 2 weeks later...
"Robb's Personal Hell" would probably involve a Pepsi factory at Magic Mountain that morphs into Fuji Q and exits into a medal wearing zomble-filled Golden Corral on a Carnival Cruise ship

 

Fixed.

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Did anyone read the latest on a possible Gwazi replacement? At Screamscape they reported that members of the parks ride engineering team made a trip to Canada's Wonderland to look over their big steel coasters. Could this be a Giga coaster in the works for Busch Gardens Tampa? Any thoughts on this rumor? This would be amazing if they put a Giga in Florida. I remember a lot of debate of building anything over 200ft. at any Florida park. The soon to be opened Falcon's Fury is said to be over 300ft. so maybe a Giga coaster is not so far fetched.

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BUT BGT HAS A 200 FT HEiGhT LiMit!

 

Screamscape didn't really list it as a Gwazi replacement rumor, but the time frame listed makes sense. I really think Gwazi was truly great when it opened, but was disappointing when it stopped dueling and then got rough. I was also disappointed with the turnout with the refurb/Millennium Flyer trains, and at this point it does makes sense to me that they would get rid of it (though that pre-lift hill section will always be great). I would rather see them add an Intamin or RMC wooden coaster than maybe any giga coaster, as a wooden coaster still seems unique for any Busch park at the moment.

 

I haven't ridden Leviathan yet, but based on reviews of peoples' opinions which I respect - and if Busch Gardens reps were at Canada's Wonderland doing any sort of surveying - I hope BGT was learning how not to build their own B&M giga coaster. I would really love to see B&M build a kick ass giga coaster, but I'm really hoping that any BGT reps surveying at CW were a little put off by Leviathan and would look to Intamin for something different. If they were there though, I have a feeling that they would have already made up their mind with B&M.

 

Falcon's Fury just sounds like Insanity, and I am so excited. I'm still more surprised at the fact that that this drop tower may reach 300 feet (not to mention the tilting seats) than any rumors of a giga coater at BGT.

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