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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 agree completely, the operations at BGT are horrible and have been every time Ive visited which is really a shame. Ive worked rides before, and its not that hard. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort to make to dispatch a train in a timely manner but that never quite seems to happen at Busch Gardens. Sea World is deceptively bad at is as well. Ive had visits where Manta should take about 10 minutes but ended up taking 45, and Journey to Atlantis is by far one of the worst operated attractions I have ever seen. SeaWorld/ Busch Parks have never seemed to have great operations which to me is a shame because everything else about the parks is really great.

 

*exception, Discover Cove operations and guest service is excellent

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^BGW is usually pretty on point with their operations. I won't say they're above and beyond what you usually see, but for the most part they actually try. Other than that, you're right about the whole SeaWorld Parks chain.

 

And it's not even like they have slow-dispatching rides. We're talking a wooden coaster and basically all B&Ms at the rest of the parks. Those things are made to be people eaters, and they still f*** it up.

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When I went back during Spring Break the operations were horrible. Gwazi sent two trains on Lion before Tiger dispatched one, Montu consistently stacked all 3 of its trains, SheiKra all 5, and many of the operators stood there texting when they could be working.

SeaWorld wasn't that bad they were pretty good with their operations.

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When I took the Montu coaster insider tour last month, I asked my tour guides (and I was the only one on the tour that day, so I could ask as many questions as I wanted) why on busy days I've only seen one train running on Montu & Kumba but 2 or 3 trains running on ShiekRa. They said it has something to do with the number of hours/days of service for each train. I can't remember exactly what they told me, but it was something like, if they put a train on the tracks, even for just a few hours, it counts as a "day of service" and each train can only do so many "days of service", then has to go in for routine maintenance. It was a little confusing and didn't totally clear it up for me, but I kind of understood the gist of it. No idea how true that actually is though.

 

That being said, Cheetah Hunt looks AMAZING so far. That is one sexy coaster coming together! I just got a 2 year pass for Christmas (I live 30 min away in Clearwater... used to live 10-15 minutes away when I lived in Tampa). I don't have time to redeem my voucher for a couple weeks yet, but I'm planning on visiting January 15th and will snap some shots of the progress at that point. When I was there in early November, all that was behind the walls were a bunch of mountains of dirt. That things has been going up FAST since vertical construction started.

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The sad thing is that a former student teacher at my high school hailed from Tampa and worked as part of the Phoenix crew in his junior and senior years of high school, and he said that the Gwazi crew has always been that bad. He said that they actually had to briefly keep multiple security staff in both lines due to frequent fights between patrons, not to mention the violent arguments like the one I saw that occasionally popped up between patrons and ride ops. Night was apparently the worst time due to large amounts of drunk patrons, many of whom got impatient fast and would cause myriad disruptions, including several all-out brawls. The worst one he can remember is when, after waiting close to an hour for the Tiger side, a rather heavily intoxicated dude beat the flying pig **** out of a ride op who measured the man's young son as roughly an inch too short to ride. The ride op apparently had to get emergency surgery to relieve severe cerebral bleeding (he had been kicked square in the forehead several times), while the father received a broken clavicle from being beaten by security when they were trying to peel him off the ride op, in addition to assault and battery charges and a lifetime ban from BGT and all other Busch properties. Apparently, the problem is that the company will almost never fire lazy employees unless enough complaints are made, and even then it's a crapshoot.

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The sad thing is that a former student teacher at my high school hailed from Tampa and worked as part of the Phoenix crew in his junior and senior years of high school, and he said that the Gwazi crew has always been that bad. He said that they actually had to briefly keep multiple security staff in both lines due to frequent fights between patrons, not to mention the violent arguments like the one I saw that occasionally popped up between patrons and ride ops. Night was apparently the worst time due to large amounts of drunk patrons, many of whom got impatient fast and would cause myriad disruptions, including several all-out brawls. The worst one he can remember is when, after waiting close to an hour for the Tiger side, a rather heavily intoxicated dude beat the flying pig **** out of a ride op who measured the man's young son as roughly an inch too short to ride. The ride op apparently had to get emergency surgery to relieve severe cerebral bleeding (he had been kicked square in the forehead several times), while the father received a broken clavicle from being beaten by security when they were trying to peel him off the ride op, in addition to assault and battery charges and a lifetime ban from BGT and all other Busch properties. Apparently, the problem is that the company will almost never fire lazy employees unless enough complaints are made, and even then it's a crapshoot.

Shenanigans.

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Well BGT didn't fail to disappoint again today. While I was there they were running 5 trains on Shiekra. Things were moving fine. I got back in line around 3 and they decided to let the Michigan football players use the elevator (handicap only) to jump the line. A few of the players tried using the quick queue line, and were turned back. They then went up the elevator to get to the front of the line. What makes them so special? I could see if they were Florida players (no not really). It just seems to be something everyday.

 

No super high Cheetah track construction. They were using shorter crain to do some erection around Rhino Rally today.

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nd they decided to let the Michigan football players use the elevator (handicap only) to jump the line. A few of the players tried using the quick queue line, and were turned back. They then went up the elevator to get to the front of the line. What makes them so special? I could see if they were Florida players (no not really). It just seems to be something everyday.

 

I got an e-mail/alert....I think since they were "Celebrities" (BGT) wants to treat them special....

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Has anyone done the Behind the Scenes tour of Montu at Tampa, Is it worth the $20?

I did it last month and it is well worth $20.

 

And regarding Gwazi, I'm glad I've never seen any of the stuff you guys have mentioned. I've never seen any issues there except they never dispatch the trains at the same time so you lose the whole dueling concept. I can't even ride Gwazi anymore because it's just too rough and I got a MAJOR migraine last time I rode it. But when I took the Montu coaster insider tour, my tour guides told me They're rehabbing the trains one side at a time to hopefully give it a smoother ride. I also heard a rumor Gwazi is going to get Millennium Flyer trains, but who knows how true that is?

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Well BGT didn't fail to disappoint again today. While I was there they were running 5 trains on Shiekra. Things were moving fine. I got back in line around 3 and they decided to let the Michigan football players use the elevator (handicap only) to jump the line. A few of the players tried using the quick queue line, and were turned back. They then went up the elevator to get to the front of the line. What makes them so special? I could see if they were Florida players (no not really). It just seems to be something everyday.

 

No super high Cheetah track construction. They were using shorter crain to do some erection around Rhino Rally today.

 

Today was "Team Day" for the Outback Bowl so Florida and Penn State players were there.

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It's nice to see the coaster is coming along well, but I'm sad to hear the park's operations are so lacking recently. I haven't been there in two years, but I never remember it being as bad as you guys are describing now with the exception of Gwazi which has always had terrible dispatch times. Unfortunately, when you're talking about minimum wage jobs where you are expected to do a repetitive task for eight hours straight, you aren't going to get the 'best' employees possible.

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^Not true at all. There are tons of parks that have fantastic operations employees that have great dispatch times. BGT just isn't one of them. It starts at the top. If you don't have management and/or supervision pushing capacity and dispatch intervals, it doesn't matter what kind of employees you have, your operations are going to lack severely.

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Personally - slower staff is annoying, but add ALCOHOL to the crowd and it is just bad news. Any time I'm in a park where there is drinking going on (HHN for example) the guests in the park kind of come unglued. Not saying I'm against alcohol in parks - hell, I used to be one of the unglued guests .

 

I agree with Steve though - I've seen some of the same minimum wage employees absolutely LOVE their jobs at theme parks and work their butts off getting trains dispatched. I was one of those minimum wage employees (a LONG time ago - I made $3.20 / hour) and just enjoyed being at work. Some responsibility can be placed on management, but the ops themselves have to be held to at least some standard and have to be held accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

 

David

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^I guess I can put it this way. If you have great management, the odds of everyone below them following suit are much much better than if you have crappy management. If management sucks, then there's basically no chance of any quality out of your operations department.

 

Now personally, I don't know what management is like at BGT, and I'd rather not throw them under the bus. However, based on what I've seen in my visits there the last few years, my impressions of their operations management isn't very flattering.

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Middle management is key when it comes time to operations. Internal audits and incentives are great ways to increase capacity.

 

This pretty unrelated, but I was at Seabreeze in Rochester, NY one day and saw a single ride op. dispatching trains on the Jack Rabbit in under thirty seconds. That included crossing the tracks, letting people on the ride, crossing back over the tracks, locking the restraints with the manual lever, checking restraints, and manually dispatching the train.

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There are tons of parks that have fantastic operations employees that have great dispatch times. BGT just isn't one of them. It starts at the top. If you don't have management and/or supervision pushing capacity and dispatch intervals, it doesn't matter what kind of employees you have, your operations are going to lack severely.

 

Steve I totally agree with you on management leading the way. Years ago Cedar Point was a great park to visit. The lines moved, and the rideops seemed to like there jobs . That has taken a turn for the worse in recent years . I rank Cedar Fair park employees worse than 6 Flags employees for the past few years. I know that sounds crazy , but that's my observation. I travel all over the states for my job, and visit many Cedar Fair and 6 Flags parks. Cedar Point used to be my #1 park for years (I guess I'm biased after growing up there). Now they're my #3 behind Magic Mountain #1 and Great Adventure #2! Right now BGT doesn't even show up on the map for good experiences. Let's hope they get it together for Cheetah Hunt!!

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Honestly, I think the fact that they're far enough away from top rate theme parks, and they have the only decent line up of coasters in the state plus their second rate management all equate to the fact that they really are able to be lazy with their operations. They really don't need it. Think about it, It's about $20 cheaper to go to Busch than their top two competitors up the interstate, and the city of Tampa vs. Orlando are two totally different worlds. It's not like they really have to be top notch. Though, I think if they did clean their act up, even 50%, they'd really give the big boys a run for their money. They need to stop employing the USF folk, and start improving their intern program like BGW does, and really get some good and qualified people in the mix. They have such a fantastic park that is unique, they just seem to let it slide as it's really not necessary for them. Now Sea World on the other hand, I they have no excuse.

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Anyone know what the anticipated opening date of Cheetaka Hunt Chase is? i know spring but has Busch Gardens set an estimated grand opening date or anything? I'm going to the park tomorrow for New Year eve (during the day) and am very excited to see how this thing is coming together.

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This is a massive, multi-million dollar theme park attraction they are building, it's not like they are working at Taco Bell. I've worked on plenty of projects where, if we are behind schedule, you put in time on the 24th, you have Christmas day off, and you're back at it again on the 26th. When someone is paying you tens of millions of dollars for something, and there are expectations of having it open by a certain date, you make some sacrifices.

 

--Robb

 

Funny you should mention Taco Bell Robb, because I used to manage one here in NY as my first job ever. The only two days we closed here were for Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Every other stinking holiday, we were open!! I didn't care back then though...It was before the family stuff.

 

I love the way this looks! The theming is pretty cool. I am just hoping my chicken son, who is 15 and is an even bigger chicken than I was before my first real upside down coaster - will try this one. He does not like drops - so I am hoping that "drop" doesn't look too intimidating to him. This may be my one shot to get him on something!

 

Oh, Griffon totally had excellent operations when I was there this year. As a matter of fact, each team moved the trains out very quickly. SFGAdv also had excellent dispatches and great teams this year - except for Rolling Thunder. I truly hope I do not have to experience any of that. Wishful thinking I suppose. (That Montu tour sounds like a grrreat idea!)

 

Thank you everyone for all the updates!!!!!

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