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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (BGT Discussion Thread)

P. 355: Howl-O-Scream returns in 2021 with two new houses!

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@thrillseeker4552I've only ever been to the park once, but my similar experience as a first-time may be helpful to you.  Going on weekdays will definitely be to your advantage, like I did...granted mine was in the middle of February when I'm sure the park was less busy, but that still helps.

1.  I would recommend hitting Cheetah Chase early in the day, especially if you won't have Quick-Queue.  I can't comment on Cobra's Curse since I skipped it (I can't stomach spinning coasters), but Cheetah was one of the few places that the QQ actually helped.  From there, I'd recommend Sand Serpent (since it's a Wild Mouse it doesn't have the best capacity), Tigris, and Falcon's Fury as other lower-capacity rides.  I'd also try to hit the flume earlier in the day before it gets too hot, and the rapids if they're your thing.

2.  Whatever you do, print out the park map before you go.  When I went, there were no printed maps available at the park and their app's map is HORRIBLE.  You will need it, because I found the layout very confusing.  All of the foliage makes things harder to see and can make navigating a pain; there are also a couple of paths to get from A to B where one is much longer than the other.

3.  I didn't take in any actual animal shows, but there should be plenty available.  Even without them, you can see a lot just wandering around.  The train ride also provides good views of animals on one of the routes (can't remember which one, I wanna say it's if you get on at the Nairobi station).

4.  Do not skip the pretzels from Twisted Tails Pretzels (near Scorpion and Falcon's Fury).  Sweet, buttery goodness.

5. With two full days, you should have plenty of time to do everything, even if crowds are pretty bad.  While some of the rides here are truly awesome and should not be skipped (Kumba, Cheetah, Scorpion, Falcon's Fury*), there really aren't a LOT of rides.

*Probably Montu too, but it was broken while I was there.

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Holy crap you nerds are a tough crowd.  It looks like a coaster that will make me hoot and holler the entire time I'm on it while simultaneously trying to throw my fat ass as far from the train as pos

I actually agree with many of you talking about how the RMC's are all very similar.  And that's fine. There's nothing wrong with building a ton of very similar kick ass rides when most people who ride

It means that you can look forward to a fun-filled day riding Kumba, Montu, Cheetah Hunt and Sheikra and while you're in line for one of those you might be able to watch an Iron Gwazi POV on your phon

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don't miss the trails with the hippos and other animals that runs pretty much from just past Cheetah Hunt, back to over where the Excursions meet up are (close to the train station).

there are several animal walk thru areas that are worth your time, if you like that kinda stuff (we do). . in particular the kangaroos/Wallaby walk thru.

the times we've been, we hit Cheetah Hunt, then Cobra's Curse. . then we hop on Skyride (shares station with Cheetah Hunt) to go across the park to get to Scorpion & Falcon's Fury, and everything else in that area, then continuing on in the circular pattern starting with Kumba.

-- not sure if skyride is operating due to covid tho. . .

we've been a couple of times (multi day trips) and Montu never had a line - unless Cobra's Curse breaks down (and then that whole queue goes directly next door to Montu).  Otherwise, it was a station wait to ride every time.

the Cheetah Run exhibition is really good - they do it once a day, in the mornings usually. . . so make time to do that (tho realize that the crowd stopping to watch that *isn't* lining up in Cobra's Curse queue 😛    for us, it's worth it to see the Cheetah Run "show" - it's only ~15 minutes, so we make a point to do that when we go.

likely won't be back to BGT until 2022-2023. .but at least Iron Gwazi will be open by then

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27 minutes ago, coasterbill said:

Oops. Good call on Sand Serpent. I literally forgot that it existed.

I mean. .it's  a wild mouse.

with a line that moves like a snail.

I think we've ridden it once over the 5-6 days we spent in the park over the years.

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2 hours ago, bert425 said:

I mean. .it's  a wild mouse.

with a line that moves like a snail.

I think we've ridden it once over the 5-6 days we spent in the park over the years.

Sand Serpent was definitely a one and done for us as well.  Especially since it broke down and left us baking in the hot August sun for about 15-20 minutes.  The park did give us single-use QQ's for the breakdown, which enabled us to get another ride on Cobra's Curse with no waiting (it was still fairly new and had an hour wait).

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1 hour ago, bert425 said:

 not sure if skyride is operating due to covid tho. . .

Yeah, it’s been closed for budget since the park reopened last year. 

I mean “because of Covid” as they say. They run the one at their San Diego park but though so I guess they just don’t care if their west coast guests die of covid by riding the best ride for social distancing ever invented. 🤷‍♂️ 

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I see Sarengeti Overlook Pub on the map and that sounds like a great time. Anyone else care to comment on their experience there? 

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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has announced that Howl-O-Scream will return in 2021 with two new houses, scare zones, roaming hoardes and two shows!

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https://buschgardens.com/tampa/events/howl-o-scream/

TERRIFYING HAUNTED HOUSES ARE BACK WITH A VENGEANCE FOR MORE FRIGHT-FILLED NIGHTS

Tampa’s premier Halloween event returns earlier than ever for 28 killer nights with scare zones and haunted houses, including two ALL-NEW haunted house experiences.

Fear returns to its most immersive form with the return of iconic horror-filled haunted houses to terrify guests at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream, Tampa Bay’s BIGGEST haunt event. Park guests will find nowhere to hide as zombies, deranged clowns, werewolves and new surprises stalk their prey throughout eight scare zones, and unpredictable roaming hordes lurk in the darkness. Beyond the haunts, killer entertainment can be found on stage with “Fiends!” returning to the Festival Field and last year’s best-kept-secret “The Rolling Bones” performing electrifying rock covers at Dragon Fire Grill. 

Howl-O-Scream is intended for a mature audience. This event contains intense adult content such as violence, gore, and blood. Howl-O-Scream 2021 is a separately-ticketed night event. No costumes are allowed.

*Event dates and details subject to change and/or cancellation without prior notice.

SELECT NIGHTS

September 10th - October 31st 

EVENT HOURS

Fridays & Saturdays - 7:00 PM - 1:00 AM 

Thursdays & Sundays - 7:00 PM - 12:00 AM 

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5 HAUNTED HOUSES 

Dark minds have been brewing new ways to terrify those brave enough to enter two all-new haunted houses. Plus, three fan-favorite frights will come back from the dead to consume guests with fear in all-new ways. Beware! Even the most experienced Howl-O-Scream fans will encounter unexpected fears and frights throughout the night.

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8 SCARE ZONES & UNPREDICTABLE HORDES 

The scares are everywhere as new terrors lurk in every corner of the park. With eight frightful zones, guests will experience screams & scares at any moment. Plus, with roaming hordes and a new unmarked zone, frights await at every twist and turn.

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2 FAN-FAVORITE SHOWS

The raunchy monster dance party, Fiends,  will return to its spacious outdoor venue for more devilish antics from Dr. Freakenstein and his gang of ghouls. Plus, guests fuel up on a pre-fear feast with the return of the The Rolling Bones. This skeleton band lights up Dragon Fire Grill with live performances and epic covers classic rock anthems.

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PULSE-POUNDING ATTRACTIONS 

With exhilarating coasters and thrilling attractions, guests can take on their favorite rides in the dark in between the frights and scares of Howl-O-Scream. Bring your fears to new heights on Falcon's Fury & SheiKra, then let the adrenaline rush as you launch into the shadows of Cheetah Hunt & Tigris.

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On 5/17/2021 at 8:27 AM, PKI Jizzman said:

I see Sarengeti Overlook Pub on the map and that sounds like a great time. Anyone else care to comment on their experience there? 

Bump!

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REALLY happy they moved HoS forward a week from what they previously announced! I had to plan my trip earlier in the month due to work stuff, I thought I would need to miss it, but I rearranged a few things and now I can take advantage of opening day of HOS! 🔪

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3 hours ago, PKI Jizzman said:

Bump!

It is too bad this thread has come to bumping while the potential #1 coaster in the world sits idle...

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8 hours ago, PKI Jizzman said:

Bump!

The Pub is very nice and during the crazy lines of Covid provided a nice break to sit at and get some quick bar food and to cool off. Bartenders were good and clearly had tons of experience handling a lot of people at once. Highly recommend it when the restaurant is closed and you're looking for a similar dining experience (just with a lot less food options).

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They’re down to 5 haunted houses? Didn’t they used to have way more than that?

I’m thinking they had one kind-of across from Gwazi, one in the Gwazi station, that zombie bullshit near Cheetah Hunt in that building that was probably used for something once but I have no clue what, like 2 houses in Gwazi Park, Black Spot, Deathwater Bayou and one by the wild mouse... right? Maybe I’m confusing a few different years and one or two of those weren’t there at the same time but still...

What happened over there?

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4 hours ago, coasterbill said:

They’re down to 5 haunted houses? Didn’t they used to have way more than that?

I’m thinking they had one kind-of across from Gwazi, one in the Gwazi station, that zombie bullshit near Cheetah Hunt in that building that was probably used for something once but I have no clue what, like 2 houses in Gwazi Park, Black Spot, Deathwater Bayou and one by the wild mouse... right? Maybe I’m confusing a few different years and one or two of those weren’t there at the same time but still...

What happened over there?

In 2019 they had 6 I believe, some years before that I think it was maybe a few more, but never "way more" than that. Maybe like 7 or 8 a couple of years? But feels like the houses recently have been fewer but more scare zones.

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I had a wonderful first visit to the park today. It was everything I had hoped for and more. I am extremely excited to now call this my new home park as I move across the country from California to Florida.

The weather was absolutely perfect. Clear skies all day and relatively manageable humidity, coming from someone who grew up in the dry desert out West. Even yesterday at SeaWorld Orlando was also perfect. We really lucked out with weather so far at these parks.

BGT is interesting because there is no clear stand-out coaster (yet), and there is also not a single bad coaster. The lineup is solid and Iron Gwazi will only add to that. I was able to ride every coaster in the park, some multiple times, and we are going back for a second day tomorrow.

Cheetah Hunt is awesome. It is glass smooth, has comfortable trains (I know some do not like those Intamin OTSRs, but since Cheetah Hunt isn't whippy and snappy like I305 or Maverick, they were perfectly fine for me), and features a totally unique and great layout. It doesn't produce any significant positive or negative G-forces, but it may be my current favorite coaster in the park for its re-rideability, length, and uniqueness.

Kumba met my expectations, which were already quite high. I am not going to say it was perfectly smooth and comfortable, it definitely has some old-school grit and intensity which can lead to some shakiness, but that didn't take away from the ride for me. This coaster has put in WORK with year-round operations for over 28 years, so I am surprised it still runs so well. It hauls a$$ through the layout. I only got 2 rides on it today and I plan on riding it a few more times tomorrow (and of course, from here on out) since I now live here. This is a ride that I can see really growing on me, like Riddler at Magic Mountain did. I can see why it gets the hype, but I can also see how somebody may not like the ride. My brother said it was a one-and-done. I tend to enjoy coasters with bone-crushing intensity and grit (I actually miss Green Lantern at SFMM, I'm not kidding), so Kumba gets a thumbs up from me.

SheiKra was my first dive coaster with "regular" restraints since the only other one I've ridden is Valravn. What a difference! Even with a simpler and less exciting layout, those drops are WONDERFUL when there isn't a vest crushing you. I have yet to ride in the front but the back row had great pull down both drops, and a sweet near-miss on the right side of the train when coming out of the immelmann.

Montu, as expected, delivered. I am not sure where exactly it places in my list of favorite Inverts, but it is up there. I really, really like Banshee but also haven't ridden it since 2017. Montu feels very similar to Afterburn for me, just longer. The trenches are great and inversions are forceful. This one will also take a few more rides to get a better feel of it. Often I need multiple rides on coasters to get a good feel for them, but even my first impression of Montu is high. This and Kumba are a very strong one-two punch for those who love old school looping coasters that perfectly encompass some of B&M's best work.

The rest of the lineup is also great. Tigris is good, but just like Electric Eel back home which I'm used to. Cobra's Curse was loads of fun and super unique and pumping out cars like nobody's business. Scorpion was solid and Sand Serpent was fine.

The star of the show for me, honestly, was Falcon's Fury. I'm a sucker for drop towers but this one is on a whole new level. WOW! Perhaps my overall favorite ride in the park. Also got a chance to ride it at night thanks to the park's 10pm closing and it's just fantastic. There's really nothing else like it, except in Sweden I suppose. I'm stoked to make this my "new Supreme Scream", but infinitely better!

I didn't take many photos since I spent so much of the day exploring and riding, but perhaps I'll try to take more photos tomorrow if the clear and sunny weather forecast holds. Overall LOVE this park! And once Iron Gwazi opens it will be even better.

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Great report. I also just moved to Florida this week and BGT is going to be my new home park as well. 

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Any entertainment/restaurant suggestions for my non park/arrival day in Tampa? It'll be a Friday. Looks like there's a brewery district and Arena district with waterfront restaurants. Any waterfront restaurants or bars you can vouch for would be great!

Really excited for my first BGT visit. It looks like the Safari upcharge attraction doesn't take reservations online and is a first come first serve typa deal. Hopefully to get that locked up. Quick Queue is running $130 for next weekend! Whew!

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2 hours ago, PKI Jizzman said:

Any entertainment/restaurant suggestions for my non park/arrival day in Tampa? It'll be a Friday. Looks like there's a brewery district and Arena district with waterfront restaurants. Any waterfront restaurants or bars you can vouch for would be great!

Really excited for my first BGT visit. It looks like the Safari upcharge attraction doesn't take reservations online and is a first come first serve typa deal. Hopefully to get that locked up. Quick Queue is running $130 for next weekend! Whew!

 

Armature Works is a really cool spot downtown, kind of the food hall type place that's all the craze these days but it's an awesome location in an old restored building with a lot of different food and drink offerings. We ate at Empamammas last time we were there and it was great, but all of the food from the other stalls everyone else had looked amazing as well.

https://www.armatureworks.com/

 

Besides that you can't really go wrong in Ybor, and there's a trolley that runs through there into downtown.

 

Check again on the Safari tours, when we went over spring break it was the same thing, reservations not available online, but I looked this morning for a trip tomorrow and they had reservations available for the rest of the summer so they may have just recently brought that back. 

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9 hours ago, PKI Jizzman said:

Any entertainment/restaurant suggestions for my non park/arrival day in Tampa? It'll be a Friday. Looks like there's a brewery district and Arena district with waterfront restaurants. Any waterfront restaurants or bars you can vouch for would be great!

Really excited for my first BGT visit. It looks like the Safari upcharge attraction doesn't take reservations online and is a first come first serve typa deal. Hopefully to get that locked up. Quick Queue is running $130 for next weekend! Whew!

There does seem to be a blossoming brewery district on the East Side of downtown Tampa.  If you like hazy IPAs, then I would definitely suggest Woven Water and Magnanimous.  I really enjoyed the hazies when I was there at both places not too long ago.  They also produce some tasty sours and pastry stouts.  Nearby, you will also find Angry Chair and Hidden Springs.  AC makes lots of good beers in various styles, so you should check it out too.  I didn't care for any IPA I had from HS, but most people seem to go BAT S#!+ CRAZY for their flavored dessert/pastry stouts!  If you want to go in a completely different direction and you're craving some traditional lager beers, then hit Barriehaus in nearby Ybor City.   

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We made a quick run to Busch Gardens on Saturday to celebrate my oldest daughter's 2nd grade graduation (really it was just a good excuse for me to take a trip to the park and drag her along), but we ended up have a pretty solid day. Couple comments from the day....

We were able to hit Cheetah Hunt first thing in the morning when it opened up at 10, then got on and off Cobra's Curse and Montu by around 10:40. If you can get there early and be in line for Cheetah Hunt when it opens it's worth it to grab a ride early, but if not I'd suggest heading anywhere else as everything else in the park is probably a walk on for the first hour, and if you're not in line for Cheetah Hunt in the first 10-20 minutes or so after it opens it'll be an hour plus the rest of the day so might as well spend your time somewhere else.

I chatted with a supervisor at the rope drop for Cheetah Hunt for a few minutes and she mentioned some of the staffing issues the park is having like everywhere else out there. It wasn't immediately noticeable to me throughout the day as most all of the attractions were running well (except no Skyride which is a bummer), but it was pretty apparent in some areas. Scorpion and Sand Serpent and the rest of the flat rides in that area (except Falcon's Fury) didn't open until 11am, not sure if that's normal or not. Food service was AWFUL, lines for every dining location stretched out the door, and every stand seemed like it had a line 15-20 people deep. I usually don't eat a lot at parks but with an 8 year old it was a little frustrating to not be able to find a drink stand without a 15-20 minute wait. Another thing was odd was that every single on ride photo location was closed, every attraction. Not really that big of a deal even though we've got the unlimited Photo Key thing, just kind of odd to see a revenue stream like that completely unavailable at a packed park in the middle of the summer. 

If anyone is headed down during the Summer Nights even The Cirque Electric show was a pretty solid surprise. I wasn't expecting much, just wanted to sit down for 45 minutes inside some air conditioning, but it was really fun. Worth checking out for sure.

Tigris was my fist Premier Sky Rocket clone, and man that was fun. I don't understand the comfort collars but really didn't notice them during the ride so no big deal, but that thing was a blast, really surprised me.

I'd highly recommend quick que but you can still have a pretty solid day without if you get there early/stay late and manage your day well. We got on every major coaster once without quick que with a couple re-rides on Montu, Kumba, and scorpion, plus rides on the rapids, log ride, train and a show. My 8 year old went on every coaster in the park, she was a little hesitant about Sheikra but she rode it and ended up loving it, so proud coaster nerd dad here haha. We're headed to Carowinds next weekend so we'll see if she goes on Fury or not, but all around a solid day even with heat and massive crowds.

 

 

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