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Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (BGT Discussion Thread)

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

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9 hours ago, Zand said:

First time in Florida? Lol...this is the average forecast for like 300 days out of the year. And definitely not rain all weekend.

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I'll be there tomorrow too...first time! Got QQ with 1 Gwazi ride included lined up, but will go there first to make sure I get at least 2 rides on it. So pumped to finally get to this place.

Nope, in fact I lived in this state for 4.5 years LOL 

Thankfully forecast looks dry until 2ish then rain is expected, as you say FL "rain" often is never never then a 20 minute burst then its hot and sunny again, so this is encouraging. Yeah I'll be there at gate open, QQ, and try to get as much in as quickly as I can. IG will be the focus but a few some others are a must as well. 

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Not sure if I just got super spoiled by being at Universal for 5 days, but damn is this place miserable. Log Flume closed, Rapids closed, Skyride closed, coasters either running 1 train or the ones with multiple are stacking the crap out of them. There are 3(?) air conditioned restaurants in the whole park but the layout of this place blows so it's a 10+ minute walk to get anywhere. Currently in a full queue for Zambia Smokehouse which is at least out of the sun but not really any cooler.

I can't believe this is the same park company as Williamsburg. If i didn't have quick queue I would've left already. The food situation is almost making me want to leave anyway. Willamsburg has food every 5 feet, this place has like 7 food places and two of them are Chik-fil-a so out of luck with that today. Even with the great coaster lineup I can't see myself driving back here on my next Orlando trip.

Like I said, maybe I got too spoiled by Universal because I didn't really my night at enjoy Magic Kingdom either. But this is the second major park in a row that I've been to where I keep saying I'd rather be at Great Adventure right now.

Anyway, I'm about half done with the coaster lineup so far. Started with Iron Gwazi in front, great ride but kind of underwhelming compared to Steel Vengeance or even Velocicoaster but will ride in back later as I hear that is the better seat. Cheetah was actually really good and if they got the soft straps then it would be close to elite. No one will confuse it for Maverick but I really liked it. Rode Montu in the back right. The Batwing was insane but this is another one I probably played up too much in my head as I think I prefer Banshee and Raptor. Cobra's Curse was excellent, not much spinning but super fun and unique. Rode Kumba in the back right and yeah...insane. Zero G roll and cobra roll are batshit and it really carries a lot of speed right to the end. It shuffles quite a bit and is a headache inducer but the ride is so insane that it's worth going back to later. 

Currently 20 minutes into the Smokehouse line and finally starting into the final switchback where it is hot as hell, so, if I don't pass out, hope to report back on Sheikra, Scorpion, and back of Iron Gwazi!

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I don't think it's a secret that the BGT operations have left A LOT to be desired the last few years.  It's really quite disappointing as the park is actually quite amazing, but if it's hot out and you're dealing with full queues with lackluster employees it can be annoying. 

 

Also, it's dumb putting ChickFilA in parks, I'm saying it!!!!

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I went Wednesday and yeah, the staff was... Lackluster. Restaurants on the all day dining plan not opening until 90 minutes after open is absurd (especially when I have children with me). They also weren't verifying QQ at all which is a good problem to have I suppose, I'm just annoyed I paid for it.
 

IG was absurd and the death roll is probably my favorite element on any ride ever, but I still came off a bit underwhelmed. My second RMC and first iron horse so maybe I just expected too much but it still slots at my #3 behind Voyage and MF.
 

Falcons fury being closed was a bummer. One train on Kumba sucked. And the more I ride Cheetah Hunt, the more I love it and I think it's probably the second best ride in the park. I almost like it better than Maverick.

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I've been sitting here at the pretzel place (which is the only redeeming proof that I'm actually in a Busch park) and I wish I was exaggerating when I say Scorpion has been sending trains almost as rapidly as Sheikra. Like...who TF has 3 minute dispatch times on a B&M dive coaster? 

Hitting IG, Montu, and Cheetah one more time then honestly heading back to Fun Spot for the evening. Maybe my expectations were too high based on the reviews people give this place and based on the fact it has Busch Gardens in its title. I didn't expect getting the full Six Flags America experience instead lol.

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Last time I was at BGT folks in line were asking if the ride broke down between every cycle because every ride crew was that lazy. 

Both BGT & BGW have such incredible rides and park atmosphere yet the soul is dead and the newer attractions are an afterthought beyond the ride track. But hey they're still crazy fun new rides?!

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The TVs in the queue and station showing cycle times only exacerbates the problem. Any of their B&M coasters should never have a train in the station for more than 180 seconds but it happens every time.

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Wow, Im glad I only bought the normal QQ and not + Iron Gwazi.... the park (while I was there) was shockingly quiet....

I did 2 rides on IG then did a loop to hit all the rest: I had under 10 min waits for Tigris, Sheikra, Kumba, Montu...I used my QQ only for Cheetah Hunt, no joke. Glad I didnt go all in, would've paid $120 for basically 1 free ride on IG. AND after I did my loop I went back to IG for two wait was only 35-40 minutes 😮 So yeah QQ+ wasn't needed and sadly even normal QQ was kinda useless, what can ya do/first world problems lol Like some guy used QQ for Kumba, but I ended up in the same row as him lol 

I will agree with Zand, I kinda hated being here lol So it can't help the heat....that's Florida for ya but yes, very hot + miserable ops = bad time. Iron Gwazi was only 35-40 mins on my later rides BUT the line was only in the station 😮 To an above comment, I actually did think they went down to 1 train ops. With how short the line was and its slowness I figured something happened and they went down to 1/just reopened, but nope they were somehow running 2 trains! And the other waits while short, prob would've been walk ons if they tried. No doubt the ops were kinda terrible. And yes! So few rides are open! Falcons Fury was not up, as were a few others, half the food/drink places were closed. I did BGW 2 weeks ago and that park was far superior. Not just the atmosphere but was running way better/did not have these issues! 

Also this can't be helped but I can now say BGW has a superior lineup. BGT has Iron Gwazi which is God-tier but Griffon>Sheikra, Alpengeist>Montu (sorry! I mean Montu was great ofc), Verbolten > Cheetah Hunt/Cobras. Its a good, fun lineup dont get me wrong but kept thinking oof the BGW one is better lol All this is why I left at 3:00. Got all I wanted, multiple on Kumba, IG, was feeling not great so I bailed. Good rides no doubt, but quite disappointing and for the price.....cmon. 

That said Iron Gwazi is sick. Especially once warmed up, damn that thing was bonkers!!! I do put it behind SV (and probably Timbers) just bc it doesnt have quite as many elements/isnt as non stop balls to the wall, but that is one helluva ride. I can see why some may prefer it to SV, as it more 'rideable' and a tad less trying to kill you. I prefer the latter but just preference. Great ride, deff top tier RMC

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Day ended up going from bad to worse at the end. After riding a fun Scorpion (what Schwarzkopf isn't fun?) and the lousy Mouse (standard layout but no bunny hill near the end...what gives?) we headed back to the front of the park. I first turned toward Montu and got two back right rides on that and then a front row ride on Cheetah. Then made my way over to use my one QQ on Iron Gwazi, got into the station, and...thunder. Went down to the covered area near the front gate and waited it out. Around 7 it stopped raining and thundering so went back to IG where they were letting people into the station, but kept saying the whole park was down for lightning (even though that storm had totally dissipated and the closest storm was about 10 miles southwest of Lakeland so...IDK) so admitted defeat at 7:30 and left.

I'm pretty upset I never got to use my QQ for Gwazi but at the same time I could've just gone that way instead of going to Montu and Cheetah for more rides on those. Truth be told, I think I instinctively did it because I think they're better coasters. While I wanted to get that coveted back seat ride on IG to really judge how much I liked it, I was underwhelmed by my front seat ride and honestly can't remember more than one or two spots that are memorable to me. I literally don't remember the death roll or wave turn because they didn't really stand out to me. I'm sure it would grow on me if I rode it in back, but I honestly left the park thinking it's the 4th best coaster in the park and that Mine Blower is a better coaster. 

I do want to go back and hopefully have a better visit next time and get more rides on IG, but my opinion of the park operations, layout, and food options literally fall somewhere in the SFA category after today. Lunch at the Smokehouse was the 2nd most miserable dining experience I've ever had (after Krusty Burger). Ended up being 36 minutes in line because there were 2 people serving food slow as molasses while 5 others were f*cking around doing nothing behind them. Ended up with a super soggy pulled pork sandwich. Rapids, Skyride (which I knew about), Falcons Fury, Looping Starship all closed. Lots of food/drink stands closed. Flume down a good chunk of the day. Kumba running one train with a 30 minute line. Saw instances on Sheikra and Montu where the gates still weren't even open by the time the previous train returned.

I hate being mostly negative but I call it like it is. Part of me never wants to go back there again but I know how good the park is supposed to be so I'll be back someday. Seaworld tomorrow then this trip is history.

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Sorry to hear it went so poorly :( I was super anxious about the rain, glad I managed to get all I needed in by 5 and scram, (along your lines I had no real want to stay longer, even for IG since it was moving at snails pace and just didn't wanna deal). I too am quite disappointed in my day at BGT, not the rides but the actual park left a lot to be desired. Deff worst park experience I've had in the last 2 seasons, much as I wanna blame SeaWorld BGW was far better in every aspect so maybe something about this one. Oh yeah the food...besides much of it being closed while we know what to expect at a park...but even I was a little taken aback at $23 I think it was for what was mass catered quality burger and some waffle fries.

Was glad to have gotten 4 rides on IG 3 in the back (which was insane, esp as it warmed up) between that, it not being close, and my experience, won't lie I probably won't go back here unless they open up a big new ride. With so many RMC's now, while IG was great superb I can get a fix elsewhere. KD is also much closer to me, and BGW I do feel had a better atmosphere and overall a far stronger lineup. 

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I've now been a few times over the last couple years.  Park layout is bad, and especially bad for non-regulars.  I can agree with much of the recent comments.  BGT always seemed like a top tier park to me, but my visits have ranged from not so great up to decent.  IG helps the park for sure.

Still love riding the train through the Serengeti and seeing the animals. 

 

 

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36 minutes ago, tndank said:

I've now been a few times over the last couple years.  Park layout is bad, and especially bad for non-regulars.  I can agree with much of the recent comments.  BGT always seemed like a top tier park to me, but my visits have ranged from not so great up to decent.  IG helps the park for sure.

Still love riding the train through the Serengeti and seeing the animals. 

 

 

just curious but what about the park layout do you think is bad? I mean it's pretty big and spread out, but I don't particularly find it to be bad, but it's really not that different than any other theme park out there. A crossover between Stanleyville and the plaza by Falcon's fury would be nice, but it's not that far of a walk really.

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The area around Kumba and the log flume to Flacons Fury annoyed me for awhile. The area around Sheikra threw me off, too. 

But also, Falcons Fury seems like the centerish of the park but there is really no direct path. 

Just seemed to take me longer to familiarize myself here than most parks.  

Maybe it's partly the size. All good after a couple visits.

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I feel like we kinda got screwed up on the layout by taking the train (which was fantastic BTW) from near Cheetah Hunt to Kumba. If we just walked, the park does form a complete circle. But it does suck being stuck past Sheikra near the kids area just trying to find air conditoned dining (after walking past the line out the door at Zambia Smokehouse), then finding out the Garden Gate Cafe doesn't serve food. So you try heading to Dragon Fire Grill which might as well be in another area code because you have to go all the way around the park to get to it even though as the crow flies its not that far, then by the time you get around the bird enclosure you're ready to pass out and say f*ck it and just wait in the Smokehouse line. 

There are a few smaller areas that are confusing as well, such as the aforementioned Sheikra area as well as trying to get into Pantopia from the Tigris area and figuring out which dead end looking path is the correct one. And I didn't even know until after that there is a path from Cheetah Hunt that connects up near Dragon Fire so I totally missed the Hippos.

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We went to BGT last Tuesday and had a nice time, but the details were pretty in line with what others mentioned before. We’ve lived in Orlando for a decade and have just learned to appropriately adjust our expectations the moment we set sail on I-4 West. 
 

What’s kind of sad is that I grew up going to BGW as a kid in the late nineties. My parents are in their 60s and I’ve dragged them to most of the major parks over the years. They haven’t been to BGW since 2001 but they still claim that is their favorite park. The place had (and still does have to a certain extent) a magical quality about it; especially for a young enthusiast. Then there’s Tampa. 
 

I actually give a slight edge to the Tampa coaster collection but for such a high profile park, I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been to the place where there weren’t at least 4 rides on the closed board plus more that are unavailable indefinitely.  
 

I had bought QQ earlier in the week because I had hoped to marathon Scorpion and The Flume. The latter has basically been closed all year. I asked Guest Relations if I could get a couple of one time skip the lines for next time but got a lecture about their closed attractions page on their website. To their credit, it’s up to date, but it changes last minute so I advise anyone thinking about QQ to wait until the day prior to purchase. Falcons Fury, Scorpion, and Flume we’re not listed to be closed a week prior to my visit. I quickly let it go but it was irritating. 
 

Whereas most parks have a “prime” season where everything is essentially opened, staffed and running decently well, I can’t tell you the last time or ever that I saw BGT run on all cylinders. There might be more coaster trains on the tracks and a shorter closed rides list during busier of the year, but there is always a sense of disorganization that is obvious to the average park goer and their TripAdvisor reviews are a testament to that. Still love the hell out of the park, it’s just an unfortunate situation. 

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To be honest, I feel like buying QQ was a waste of money. Especially with IG only getting 1 ride (which of course I never got the chance to use). It would be different if IG was unlimited. Otherwise, I skipped ~30 minute lines for Cheetah Hunt and Cobra's Curse early on but when I returned in the afternoon they were total walk ons. Montu was running half empty. The only other time I skipped any kind of line with QQ was Kumba with its one train ops. Even Scorpion, Sand Serpent, and Tigris were 5 minute waits or less midday. I just wish I could've had QQ for that shitshow at the Smokehouse lol.

I have to admit I was shocked at how dead the park was. I thought maybe I was having crowd withdrawal after Universal and Disney but on one of my Montu rides I could see that they had maybe 4 rows of cars beyond the tram station. Unlike Cedar Fair they didn't jack the price up on QQ last minute or take them off sale on site, so next time I will definitely wait and see how the crowds look.

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Yeah sounds like you fell into the quick queue / flash pass etc. trap. I've made that mistake thinking there's NO WAY it wouldn't be crowded but alas I was wrong. Memorial Day Saturday at Six Flags New England, absolutely dead. Now I always wait, just in case the weather gets bad and clears everyone out, etc. If you're early enough at the parks they really aren't at risk of selling out. Stinks you only get 1 ride on Iron Gwazi.

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So I'm thinking about doing something kind of insane but here's the back story...

For the past 3 or 4 years, my wife had been asking when we were going to go back to Florida since we hadn't been since 2012. My answer was always "When Iron Gwazi opens, we will go to Florida." True to my word, within a month and change of the ride opening, down to Florida we went. Even when we walked into Islands of Adventure last Monday, I looked at VelociCoaster and said "this is the secondary reason for this trip!" then proceeded to fall in love with the damn thing. Finally, on Sunday we made our way to Tampa to finally ride the coaster that was the main reason for this trip (and the main reason for putting it off for 3 years). Naturally, after 6 days in the hot sun Sunday would be the first super humid day of our trip and after getting one somewhat disappointing ride in the morning (and pledging to return in the afternoon instead of immediately using the one-time IG skip the line pass that I paid an extra $30 for) I spent the whole middle of the day feeling ready to pass out. One thing led to another, I ended up not returning to the front of the park until 6:00 and as soon as I made my way into the IG station, the storms blew up and ended the day far too early.

SO....

On Sunday June 5th my plan is to fly to Tampa early in the AM (on points), Uber to the park, spend the day (AAA has a good deal on admission + dining pass which is cheaper than just admission on the BGT website), stay at the Hampton Inn across the street that I stared at through the pouring rain last week, then Uber to the airport Monday morning and fly home (also on points). With points taking care of the flights, I would only need to pay for Uber, the park ticket, and one night at the hotel which, all told, should be in the $300 range.

My one and (probably only) question regards Quick Queue. This past Sunday 5/1 QQ felt like a total waste of money. If you could get unlimited IG, it would be one thing. But the park was pretty dead, the rides in the back were walk ons all day save for Kumba which inexplicably ran one train. The front of the park had small lines in the AM, but was deserted after 5PM. This potential trip will be exactly 5 weeks later, also on a Sunday. How much busier (if at all) would the park be in early June compared to early May (assuming similar weather)? With my own experience in mind, I'm definitely leaning towards not buying one, but does the park get significantly busier in the next few weeks? I haven't booked any of this yet, but would like to do so soon.

I know no one here will find it weird that someone would make a special trip just to reride one coaster (more rides on Kumba, Montu, and Cheetah Hunt are also pluses, plus hopefully Falcon's Fury will reopen by then) but I feel kind of insane for considering this. I obsessed over getting back to Great Adventure after getting shutout on Jersey Devil opening day last year, and did the 8-hour round trip two days later to go back and ride it. This feels similar, only it's more expensive and 1200 miles further.

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2 hours ago, Zand said:

With my own experience in mind, I'm definitely leaning towards not buying one, but does the park get significantly busier in the next few weeks? I haven't booked any of this yet, but would like to do so soon.

What's the advantage to booking QQ prior to your trip? They sell it at the park. I would look at the lines and decide from there. Nothing like blowing $80+ for nothing. Even on a Sunday if you go to the park early when it opens you can knock a lot of stuff out. Cheetah hunt maybe not so much.

If you're afraid it's going to sell out I wouldn't let that hinder you... it's 99.9% a non issue for a Sunday that isn't even in the heart of summer. Just my opinion though after visiting busy parks and even busy days, but every park I've ever been to even on those days you can knock out a lot of stuff early if you get to the parks at open. Just depends if you want to have a "strategy" or not, or just want to take things as they come with QQ and not worry about anything.

I can't tell you what that strategy is because Iron Gwazi is new, but I wouldn't even make the consideration of buying QQ ahead of time. At the very least check in on the forums or social media weekend prior to the weekend you'll be there for any info online about crowds. You'll have a better idea once June rolls around how you should plan your game plan once there are more "knowns" and get an idea of traffic patterns at the park.

Just my opinion though. If IG was unlimited I would most likely say take it, if you wanted to ride it many many many times even if it was a quiet day, but since it's not, just wait and see.

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9 hours ago, anonymouscactus said:

What's the advantage to booking QQ prior to your trip? They sell it at the park. I would look at the lines and decide from there. Nothing like blowing $80+ for nothing. Even on a Sunday if you go to the park early when it opens you can knock a lot of stuff out. Cheetah hunt maybe not so much.

I keep forgetting that this isn't a CF park lol...I almost got burned at Cedar Point AND Kings Island last Memorial Day weekend because they sold out days in advance. Preordered one of my CP days so at least I had that one.

So yeah, I absolutely will wait and see how the park looks that day but continue leaning towards not buying one. I can't really use the Sunday before as a guide because it's Memorial Day Weekend but I'll keep an eye on the next 3 Sundays.

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Maybe that's actually the new SeaWorld coaster and B&M is going to tell RMC where to shove their outward banked turns?

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Falcon's Fury will be down for my visit this weekend and that's a major bummer. 

My expectations for this visit are so low, I'm just hoping what's not listed on the closed list Friday is actually open. 

The pretzels at BGW were actually the biggest surprise of the trip and seemed to be close to the 'omfg amazing' level that people raved about at BGT, any pretzel reviews lately? Last year the spot by FF was just fine, but also better than anything else being served in the park. 

Has anyone been to the rooftop safari restaurant yet or is it even open?

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Giraffe bar is now open.  

Everything else was running last weekend outside of Falcons.  Pres said Falcon started having problems after some storms about a week ago.  Been trying to get it back up quickly but I guess they need another week or so.  Park is still not running 100% with several food stalls still closed.  Pretzel place next to Falcon was open and smelled great.

 

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