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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (BGT Discussion Thread)

p. 375: Phoenix Rising family inverted coaster announced for 2024!

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^While neglect is certainly a part of it, the ride was a victim of its own design. It was designed with track movements not fit for the PTC trains it hosted for years. Those trains were not designed to navigate GCI-style maneuvers (as they were new designs for an old-style train to handle). You can't say that Busch Gardens didn't try to salvage the ride, considering several ongoing retracking efforts before a comprehensive retracking was done in preparation for the arrival of the Millennium Flyer trains, built specifically for Gwazi.


There are a lot of factors that led to Gwazi closing--neglect, poor operations, low guest satisfaction and an increasingly rough ride experience all contributed to this.

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^After the major investment that was Falcon's Fury/Pantopia last year and the current financial standing and restructuring that SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment is undergoing, I'm not banking on anything major for 2015. I'm also very curious to see if whatever 2016 addition was intended for the park (construction would need to begin sometime this year) may be put on ice as well.


Aren't they getting a clone of Colossal Curl for Adventure Island in 2015?

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Yep. It is slightly different in layout than Water Country's due to differing dimensions though. The Pantopia Grill, being rebranded the Dragonfire Grill, is also under construction to become a more food court-esque option, like Expedition Cafe at SeaWorld.

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I've always been a fan of the Desert/Pantopia Grill,I hope they don't screw it up too much.I saw a pic of the entire place empty and under construction,supposedly the stage,seating and bar are staying the same so the changes will be to the design,the way you get your food and the menu which is apparently getting a more international makeover,Asian,Mexican,Italian and American,which until I actually see the food I can't approve or disapprove.

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I never got to ride Gwazi, but it seems to be regarded as one of GCI's worst creations, from the people I've talked to anyway. I have to wonder if it's because Busch Gardens doesn't seem to care too much about wooden coasters in general, and just let it go to rot over the years. Busch seems to heavily favor steel, along with a lot of other corporate parks, and an RMC job is probably the only way we'll see any wood in one of these parks, if at all.

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Rode Gwazi yesterday for the last time.


Now I had ridden it on opening day YEARS ago and felt it was good, but not GCI great. Over the years it got worse and worse.


Then I rode it 4 years ago with the new trains. It was GREAT! Smooth, enjoyable, fast. That didn't last long.


And yesterday I rode it in the front seat, thinking it would be the smoothest. Wrong.


It was rough. It was shaky. It just sucked.


I will NOT miss what this ride has become.


Empty station.


They are only running one side but they decided to use on of each train (Lion and Tiger) til it closes.


So does it count as two credits? :)

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Rode Gwazi yesterday for the last time.


Now I had ridden it on opening day YEARS ago and felt it was good, but not GCI great. Over the years it got worse and worse.


Then I rode it 4 years ago with the new trains. It was GREAT! Smooth, enjoyable, fast. That didn't last long.


And yesterday I rode it in the front seat, thinking it would be the smoothest. Wrong.


It was rough. It was shaky. It just sucked.


I will NOT miss what this ride has become.

They have been running one of each trains since the tiger side closed

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Busch Gardens Trip Report.


I am flying home from our trip to florida and thought i would share some thoughts on busch gardens. I went with some friends and their 9 year old son Markus. They aren't coaster nerds (yet) and Markus had limited coaster experience what with being 9 and all. We had been to disney and went on the barnstormer and the mine train as a warmup.


We went last wednesday, and my advice to people is, go in january on a mid week day when kids are in school! The park was pretty empty and we got to explore the concepts of 'walk on', 'reride' and 'marathoning'. One of the neat things about busch gardens is that it shows the evolution of coasters, and i set about taking my friends to Coaster school.


First up was air grover as a warmup and review of the previous day. Start small and work up.


After watching people get wet from ShaKeira we took the train to Nairobi and walked to Pantopia to our first real coaster. Sand Serpent is an off the shelf wild mouse coaster and we were able to discuss the concepts of block sections, trim brakes and then get into banking, lateral and normal g forces with a brief mention of bunny hills and airtime pops. They liked it so much that we switched front and back and rerode. It may be a common coaster but they all had fun.


We then had a brief talk about Werner Stengel and Anton Schwarzkopf and made our way to Scorpion. We discussed the clothoid loop and a bit about banking and lateral g forces as well as helixes. This coaster was a big thrill, and we rerode, first front then back. It was decided that we liked the back better for how you get pulled over the loop and through the helixes.


Thank you Mr Schwarzkopf


We had a little look at falcons fury. It hit all of the marks: nice and tall, lots of noise and lots of screams. I don't personally like drop towers and we didn't go.


Then we walked down to Cheetah Hunt. We got to see the LIM fins and discuss how they worked. They appreciated being able to watch first to better know what to expect. After a very short queue (3 or 4 trains) we got almost on when they unloaded the passengers and went down. Apparently light rain had tripped out some of the sensors and they were cycling some trains to get the computer happy. We agreed to wait for 5 trains before bailing and were rewarded for our patience when they started up again and we got the first train out. I took the opportunity to explain more about heartlining and the idea that when Scorpion was made in 1981 computers to calculate banking and even rail bending were primitive. We have come a long way and the result is some really smooth and exciting coasters. We were having a good visit up to this point, but they were blown away. Mom demanded a reride in the front row. This is a really fun coaster, smooth as glass with a lot of really nice banking, and a few nice little inversions. The part where you follow the river bed and twist right and left was spectacular. Without the concept of heartline it wouldn't have been possible. We got a few little pops of airtime, but it wan't particularly forcefull. Everybody including myself loved it and wanted to reride several times!


Cheetah Hunt, it's heartline roll and airtime hill on the return trip.


Next we hit Montu and discussed B&M and inverted coasters, and elements of all kinds. Dad sat out and the rest of us enjoyed our introductions to the B&M invert, and we hit the final brake run with huge smiles. Mom was a little dizzy but really liked it. I put it in by top 3 B&M inverts. It had some great clothoid loops and dive loops, and zero g rolls. After the MCBR it lost a bit of pacing and lagged in a few spots, but was otherwise pretty great. For this reason Batman @SFGA and it's clones edges it out for #1. It edges out Talon at dorney park, and Great bear at Hershey. After lunch Markus and i rerode in the back this time, while mom sat out. The phrase 'walk on B&M invert' is a really nice one to hear!


We then took the skyride to the back of the park, and took a spin on the stanley falls flume, and briefly discussed Arrow Dynamics. I have fond memories of riding Python with my dad when i was 9 or so, and maybe it is better as a memory.


After a brief stint on Ubanga Banga bumpercars we rode Kumba the B&M sit down. It was interesting to compare to Montu. It was a really nice ride with a lot of forceful elements and some Nonstop pacing. It was a nice introduction to coasters and a good B&M 101 course. Later in the week we went to Seaworld and rode Manta and Kraken to cover the flying and floorless B&M's just to be thorough. It is also a reminder of the awesome forceful but balanced coasters B&M made working with Ingeneurburo Stengel…


Kumba peeks out of the bushes and gardens.


On our way back we watched ShaKeira, but didn't ride. I don't really like the hang you over the top and drop you element, and since this was a one trick pony that does this twice along with an immelman and helix, i didn't feel i needed to ride (despite it being a walk on B&M drop coaster, which would probably make somebody somewhere crazy). This reinforced the concept of If you don't feel comfortable with a ride then don't do it. It is supposed to be fun!


On our way to the front we did Gwazi. I can cover it in more depth in a separate post, but Markus and i actually enjoyed it. It was rough not in a lateral neck breaking way but rather in a vibrating square wheels/ missing a few ball bearings way. It even did this all of the way up the lift hill. We rode it twice as the ride ops almost outnumbered the riders. We were able to discuss GCI and the concept of duelling coasters, and were glad to have had the chance to ride.


For some reason they are promoting ride on lawn mowers near the thatched roof of Gwazi. Coincidence?


Having rerode the coasters we liked 2-3 times, We made our way for the exits with a solid day of rollercoaster school under our belts. I had as much fun sharing the info with them as they did in learning it.


Goodbye Gwazi. Your future is uncertain.

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According to Travis Clayor (Public Relations Manager), “Yes, I can confirm that Rhino Rally has been closed permanently. No decisions have been made on what will be done with that area of the park, but we’re always looking for ways to enhance the guest experience.”


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I just thought I would post a quick report of the other day at BGT. It was thursday, the weather was great, (83 degrees) and we were bored, so we thought, heck, why not go and ride a few coasters? So the following is just a few pics of our adventure. First off, is our drive across the bay from St Pete to Tampa, always beautiful.100_0241.thumb.JPG.eae539f7d49b2c884787beabca2d9574.JPG

crossing the bay

AAh , We're almost here, Shangrila ! But first we gotta stop and get some monies.100_0244.thumb.JPG.9e2ea3cda38d84f2614c4ed2efefabcc.JPG

Uh, yeah,it can be sketchy on the way there

Our first ride up at 2:00pm today is of course this beauty.100_0246.thumb.JPG.9da6f352d543cefdbe4c877cf6f0baf0.JPG

I love this ride

I wonder how long it's going to take to get on ?100_0249.thumb.JPG.d364b24ed9826908dd2a7118c8e2fedb.JPG

Look at that couple laughing at all those that bought fast pass today !

So yes, the park was very slow today and every thing was walk on. We did the rides multiple times as there was no wait ,until we were ready to leave. For our last ride of the day we thought, seeing as it's going away soon, Hey, lets ride Gwazi! Hmmm, I wonder how long the wait is going to be ?100_0253.thumb.JPG.8df2fbf86b44936b83d88fa05597f7e0.JPG

OOOH NOOO ! You have got to be kidding me !

Aaand so, this was the wait in the station. Somebody was getting their ha-ha's obviously.100_0255.thumb.JPG.9d9ddd52361617de2b6bba1902d5720a.JPG

Uh ,yeah. 90 minutes ?

And today, my chiropractor said there isn't much hope for me. He did suggest however, that if I re-rode it again, my spine "might" be jostled back to the way it was before ! Oh well, I only have a few days left to re-adjust everything, or totally destroy myself!

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^ That's what I find so ironic about Gwazi. I remember riding it on its first day, and when I got off, I thought it was a decent ride. Just a little too new and smooth. The group I was with also commented on that and we all agreed that it would probably get better after it had a little break in time. Boy were we ever mistaken on that one.

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Back from my visit. Don't have time for all the details but wanted to report that we waited for the front row of Gwazi as the second ride of the day (we hit Cheetah Hunt first) and boy was it a night and day difference in the front row in the morning! I'd actually venture to say it felt like a normal wooden coaster. I barely had a hint of that square wheels feeling in the slightest. I really, really enjoyed it, and it was a great way to send a friend off. Our first ride was in the aqua train. We rode it again in the front row, getting the yellow train some 20 minutes after our first ride, and some of the square wheel feeling returned. The yellow train didn't seem to track as well and maybe just a little later in the day affected it.


If anyone else is going to experience this ride before closing, I highly recommend riding it first thing and riding it front row. I know not everyone here has had a pleasant experience even riding front row, but I can verify it's a lot better experience than otherwise. When I rode it several weeks ago it felt like a ride that needed to close. Not so at all today.

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Having ridden Gwazi early on in its career and riding it last year, it is obvious that the ride has deteriorated. Crying shame as GCI has manufactured some of the best wooden coasters of our time. Sadly, this particular ride was not among their best creations. I welcome whatever new ride Busch Gardens may be looking at in the near future. Who wouldn't want to see a new hypercoaster from B&M or Intamin in its place?

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Yesterday I stopped by Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for the first time in a while, to make sure to get some last rides in on and to see the latest going on in the park. With one side open on the ride, it took a while to be able to get on the ride, and with only a morning to spend in the park, I was only able to ride twice, once in the front row and once in the back. The first ride in the back row was surprisingly solid, not too rough, but the front row was pretty terrible. All-in-all, I'm glad I went back for another ride but I won't miss Gwazi once it is gone.


This was why I was here today...


You have to admit, it is a nice looking ride.


Too bad the ride profile didn't match the ride's looks in recent years.


There are lots of closeup places where guests were able to see the trains pass by (something that GCI would push to the next level with later rides in for the form of the station fly-bys and fly-thrus).


A full view of the two tracks and how they intertwine as seen from the station exit.


Landscaping in the guest-facing sides of the ride was always a plus too.


The structure was always imposing to walk near.


Taking a break from Gwazi for a bit, we rode the Sky Ride. Rhino Rally was recently confirmed as being permanently closed and the ride is already looking like it. There are no jeeps to be seen and all entrances to the jeep's paths into the Rhino Rally areas are closed.




The gate leading to the starting line for Rhino Rally is closed.


The entrance to the ride is blocked with a construction wall and much of the queue's theming has already been stripped.


A look at Gwazi from afar...


A ride on the Sky Ride is always a great opportunity to stop and appreciate just how great Cheetah Hunt looks in the park.


Really just a fantastic ride for an incredible park!


Still one of my favorite elements of Cheetah Hunt.


Always the first ride I go for when I visit the park.


Back for one last ride...


In more recent years Gwazi was sponsored by a company that sells lawn mowers.


A couple of final photos for the Park Index.


I remember when the ride first opened...


There used to be two of these signs... One for each side.


For the index.


This sign used to direct you to the left or the right, leading you to decide between Gwazi Lion and Gwazi Tiger.


The extended queue was rarely used in the ride's last few years of operation.


The start of the ride weaves into itself and presented the first dueling fly-by... When the ride's still dueled.


This side of the ride has been standing but not operating for over a year... And it clearly shows.


Since moving a single-side operation, trains from both Gwazi Lion and Gwazi Tiger were operating on the same track.


I remember riding these Millennium Flyers for the first time...


For the index.


I would totally bid in the front car decorative piece if given the chance, especially for charity.


That side's station was decommissioned with a foot-bridge installed across the track to give access to the remaining operating track for guests using Quick Queue.




One last look from the exit of the station...


Loved this dueling turn...


One last ride in the front row... For the memories.

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