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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (BGT Discussion Thread)

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

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We went to the park again on Friday to get one last day (for us at least) of passholder previews before Iron Gwazi opens to the public next week. As my bf and I both have busy and conflicting work schedules, coupled with not being all that interested in visiting any of the parks during spring break, we likely won't make it back out to the park again until sometime in April.

After fighting absolutely horrendous pre-weekend I-4 traffic, we were dreading a busy park and prepared to buy QQ just in case, but we got to the park around 3:00 PM and we got a bunch of Iron Gwazi rides with 2-4 train waits, max. Operations were super fast and consistent, and as on our first day riding it, Iron Gwazi was kicking all sorts of ass.

One thing we either didn't notice before or was added since the VIP event was a small selection of pre-mixed drinks sold at the popcorn stand outside Iron Gwazi's entrance. We got the Iron Gwazi Fizz, which was some kind of gin-lemonade drink and it was really good and fairly strong. We also love that SeaWorld continues to be the only park chain to do a passholder discount on alcohol!

After some of these, we headed up the left path and found SheiKra operating with riders, a surprise we didn't expect to see. The park finished maintenance work early and decided to re-open it a day early, sweet! They were only using one station but operating 3 trains, so the 10-minute or so wait moved fast. We also rode Kumba, which was running two trains with zero wait, so we rode our hearts out on what was Florida's best coaster for like 25+ years until these new gen-Zers came in with their iron alligators and velociraptor nonsense. While I'd say it's now the third-best coaster in Florida, Kumba still kicks all sorts of ass and is still a top-15 or so coaster for me. Ride it in the back on an edge seat for positive-G bliss.

We saw Montu cycling and got excited for a second, but it was to cycle past park close with no riders. It wasn't scheduled to re-open until Saturday anyway, so oh well, but we definitely miss our only B&M invert in Florida. We went back and got some more rides on Iron Gwazi, with a line that at first was 30ish minutes, then died completely out again.

Overall we were in the park for about 5ish hours and got to do everything we wanted to do. Operations were good and we're happy that the park continues to improve.

The fact that we've now been able to get something like 20 rides on a brand new RMC so easily in just 2 visits is so, so awesome. To compare, I think I've been on Steel Vengeance like 15ish times total and we've gone every year with multi-day stays onsite with Fast Lane. This isn't a knock to Cedar Point, as we also take kind of a "chill" approach to parks we go to and don't get there at the crack of dawn nor run around like maniacs to ride every coaster during every possible moment until we're blue in the face, but it shows how easily accessible Iron Gwazi has been during just two visits during passholder previews. I already can't wait to get back to the park when it's off-peak again.

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I am curious to see Iron Gwazi's crowds and popularity once it officially opens. I went today and, despite being open for all passholders (which has to be a large portion of guests, right?), Iron Gwazi was a consistent 15-20 minute wait all day. The capacity is "acceptable" but not THAT good, I was expecting huge crowds today with it being much more widely accessible now that it was a few weeks ago, but it wasn't very crowded at all.

I wanted to go one last time during previews because I assumed it would turn into a mess of people once it opens to the public but perhaps all the nerds and coaster geeks and thrillseeking families who want to ride it have already ridden it, and anybody else from here on out is just a casual guest who may just see it as another ride rather in the park and not totally flock to it. It was actually pretty genius on SeaWorld/Busch's part to do these very extended and tiered previews (yes, they delayed it 2 years... but give credit where credit is due I suppose). I'm sure it will cut opening day crowds and hype by a LOT and make it much more manageable.

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^Not to mention, weekdays during the off season at Busch Gardens Tampa are crazy dead. Like walk onto the back row of Kumba despite it only running one train dead. So definitely hoping that stays true and come early May, we can get some pre-summer ERT courtesy of my PTO and it being a weekday in May.

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19 hours ago, thrillseeker4552 said:

I am curious to see Iron Gwazi's crowds and popularity once it officially opens. I went today and, despite being open for all passholders (which has to be a large portion of guests, right?), Iron Gwazi was a consistent 15-20 minute wait all day. The capacity is "acceptable" but not THAT good, I was expecting huge crowds today with it being much more widely accessible now that it was a few weeks ago, but it wasn't very crowded at all.

I wanted to go one last time during previews because I assumed it would turn into a mess of people once it opens to the public but perhaps all the nerds and coaster geeks and thrillseeking families who want to ride it have already ridden it, and anybody else from here on out is just a casual guest who may just see it as another ride rather in the park and not totally flock to it. It was actually pretty genius on SeaWorld/Busch's part to do these very extended and tiered previews (yes, they delayed it 2 years... but give credit where credit is due I suppose). I'm sure it will cut opening day crowds and hype by a LOT and make it much more manageable.

I really hope this ends up being true, still waking up super early to be one of if not the first in line for the official opening. Excited to get back to the park, just realized it's been over 10 years since I was last there!

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Alright, I'm in Tampa and the plan is in full motion to be one of if not the first to ride IG. Does anyone know if they do rope drop around 30 mins early like some other parks do? Planning on getting there around 8:30-9:00am to beat the rush.

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44 minutes ago, The username said:

Alright, I'm in Tampa and the plan is in full motion to be one of if not the first to ride IG.

🤣 People have been riding it for like a month. 😂

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3 hours ago, The username said:

Ended up getting 4th train today, but we were present for the grand opening ceremony! Absolutely fantastic ride, even better than Steve imo. Gonna have to ride it again at night!

Good to hear! We were there in December on a larger family FL Christmas trip and this was my son's feelings on Gwazi not being open yet. When we had booked the trip a year ago we were still hoping it would be. But we will be back down for the ACE spring conference in May and catch a ride then.

 

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13 hours ago, The username said:

Ended up getting 4th train today, but we were present for the grand opening ceremony! Absolutely fantastic ride, even better than Steve imo. Gonna have to ride it again at night!

Who is Steve? Do we know her?

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I'm looking at hotels in the area. The less expensive options like Econo Lodge, Tampa Inn, and even a La Quinta have really bad reviews. Has anyone ever stayed at one of those 3 on a regular basis, and if so are they really that bad?

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9 minutes ago, AndrewA86 said:

I'm looking at hotels in the area. The less expensive options like Econo Lodge, Tampa Inn, and even a La Quinta have really bad reviews. Has anyone ever stayed at one of those 3 on a regular basis, and if so are they really that bad?

Are you getting a rental car?  If so, I'd stay in Orlando and drive to BGT.

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I was just there for Iron Gwazi previews recently. All the "local" AirBNB's are located in a scary area of town. I stayed a 2 different ones and lived to tell. There is is La Quinta by USF, not the one near the park that isn't bad and "not too dangerous. " Try that one.

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Stay at the new Hampton Inn across from the park. The first thing they told me when checking in is that they lock the doors at night. That was a bit of a surprise visiting for the first time and not knowing the area. They also have a shuttle and the driver is on call to pick you up to and from. 

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We stay at a nice courtyard Marriott about 10 minutes from the park 

 

I’d recommend it

 

this one

COURTYARD TAMPA NORTH/I-75 FLETCHER

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Thanks for all the recommendations. I am flying into Tampa and looking to stay within walking distance from the park. I looked at that Hampton right next to the park but it's too expensive. And I am not renting a car as it is cheaper to uber to and from the airport. It looks like the Holiday inn right by USF is where I'll be. Not right next to the park, but still within walking distance. Really excited to get back to the park and check out Iron Gwazi!!!!

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12 hours ago, haydn12 said:

We always stay at the Holiday Inn Express Suites across the road.  They have a free shuttle to the park.

 

Thanks. I would if the price were lower. Everything right next to the park is either crap or too expensive.

 

10 hours ago, tndank said:

Just in case you haven't considered it, you could also look for a cheap hotel at the airport and uber to the park.

 

The airport is too far away. The uber costs would wipe away any savings from the hotel price.

I'm going to stay about 2 miles away. I can walk that distance no problem.

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