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Photo TR: Cheetah Hunt Media Hard Hat Tour

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So today we were invited to take part in a special media hard hat tour for Cheetah Hunt. Led by Mark Rose, VP of Design and Engineering at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, we were able to see a side (or several) of Cheetah Hunt that had not been seen by the public eye before, and some that won't likely be seen again--at least as close as we were! You submitted your questions, almost all of them (plus many that you guys didn't ask) were answered during the course of the tour. Rather than type up the individual responses to each question, I figured I'd just show you!


Here is the abbreviated version of the video from the tour, for those that are looking for just the specifics...



And here are parts 1 and 2 of the longer, complete video of the tour.




Read through the following trip report to see some of your answers in print, and make sure to watch the video (to be posted later tonight) for a good deal more!


We start out this trip report with a look at our spiffy hard hats.


See? Tons of spiff going on here.


We started our tour by entering through the Egypt Gate, somewhere I hadn't entered thru before (the Nairobi Gate and the main gate have already been traversed).


Here we go!


We started on the side of the former Clydesdale barn, soon to be the home of 14 cheetahs as a part of Cheetah Run.


Once again, we were fortunate enough to be led by Mark Rose, the VP of Design and Engineering at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.


Quite an accomplishment!


Looks a little different in here, but much of the building's main infrastructure remains the same.


What was once home to Clydesdale pens will now be "hotel rooms" for the cheetahs.


Walking out of Cheetah Run, we enter the area that will become the park's new realm (or land), known as The Crossroads.


Theming mockups have been developed on the side of the construction site, giving a better idea of what kind of architectural influences will be found in The Crossroads.


Track work is expected to be completed within the next two weeks, starting with the plunge off of the tower, and finishing with the final piece over the Skyride.


Yes, I said OVER the Skyride.


We are currently standing in the area that will host the Cheetah Run. A unique mechanism has been developed to transport a lure from end to end of the area, giving the cheetahs a reason to run, seemingly racing the coaster as it goes through the second launch.


The thematic elements that wrap around the first launch are starting to take final shape.


The designers behind Cheetah Hunt's theming have hidden little references in the architecture. For example, the eye in this archway is meant to look Egyptian, but also features the distinct outline and black tone of the eye of a cheetah.


You asked, and Mark answered! Following the completion of track work, the zero car and the first car of the train will undergo a pull-through of the entire track, testing the reach envelope and ensuring that the train can properly navigate the track.


Another look at the Egyptian-influenced archway.


Think of it as Busch Garden's take on the "Hidden Mickey."


Guests will be surprised at every turn, and the theming has been placed to intentionally distract the guests from drawing expectations of the experience before they ride.


These cheetah homes will have operational doors that can be used to corral the cheetahs into a different pen for cleaning, or out into Cheetah Run for some exercise.


Not sure if we'll be able to stand here again once the ride opens...


Each pen has its own entrance/exit for the cheetah residents.


Here's the dive into Trench 1.


Mark Rose told us of the intention for the ride to shock guests in how it would "disappear" throughout it journey across the park. The trenches are a major part of that intentions' concept becoming a reality.


Early additions to the area surrounding the bridge over Trench 1 provide further insight into the theming yet to come.


This was merely cinderblock a few weeks ago...


Launch 2 is lengthy, but is expected to take riders by surprise by giving them an even greater burst of speed than the launch out of the station.


Work on the arch over the second launch is well under way.


Another look at the dive into Trench 1.


The main entrance to the Crown Colony House is boarded up. It appears that nothing has been done to reform said entrance as was previously speculated.


Go Gators!


Here is what will be the entrance to Cheetah Hunt when completed.


A sculptor works to finish the "driftwood cheetah" treasured by the natives of The Crossroads.


Details in the works.


There will be a specific line for Quick Queue when completed. The Sky Ride entrance will also be relocated when construction is completed.


Time to go in!


This stairway was added to the old monorail building in preparation of Cheetah Hunt's arrival.


There is still much work to do in the queue area, but much of the old building's features have been preserved during the construction.


One of the ride's supports runs down into the base of the building.


Most of it looks the same as it did back when it was still the monorail station.


"Here is our Cheetah Rock."


Not kidding. This was stated.


There is actually a backstory to this rock, fit to the rest of the overall story of The Crossroads.


Here we are at the station. The ride, although produced by Intamin, will feature air gates produced by Mack Rides.


A themed window in the works.


You really can tell just in speaking to him, Mark Rose loves his job!


Here's a look at the final turn into the station.


The station needed to be lengthy to accommodate the five trains (each holding 16 riders) that will run along its course.


One of the three ride control booths, this one is joined by an additional one near the Skyway station and another near the third launch in Rhino Rally Canyon.


I can't wait to see what the station looks like when completed!


Some kind of additional theming work going on here.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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Considering this area has been basically off limits for the last few years, it is great to see some life in the old monorail station again.


Something learned from the event: This was not Intamin's first project at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. They delivered Congo River Rapids, and assisted Busch Gardens in converting their monorail to an all-electric system.


The front end of the station.


And here is the start of the first launch!


Why is this area going to be known as The Crossroads? According to Mark Rose, it serves as the crossroads to Egypt, the Edge of Africa and Morocco, taking influence from all areas to form a unique realm blended between the three.


A look at Launch 2 from the station.


It's time to go somewhere really special!


But first, I give you launch fins!


And another look at what will become Cheetah Rock!


To get to the special area, we had to go down some steep stairs... Clearly off the beaten path, right?




*GASP* We are in the maintenance bay!


It looks like you could hold all five trains in here (or at least four)!


A look out of the other side reveals the transfer track.


It looks so fresh!


Just to say I could...


*jaw drops*


I don't know how else to say it. It all just looks so right!


I can't wait to see people getting launched along this track!


Detail work in Trench 1 is still under way.


Anti-rollbacks are in place!


I doubt I'll ever get this kind of view again... *sigh*




I do this only because I love you all.


This just looks so great!




I'm touching Cheetah Hunt, because I still can!


Have I mentioned how close they let us get to the ride?


I love how well my camera works... Just throwing that out there.


Looks like I've found my new profile picture!


Cherishing the view...


Over towards the Edge of Africa, this will be the last segment of track to be completed.


So the over/under thing explained? The original version of the animated POV didn't properly represent the height of the Sky Ride's cables. The ride was always supposed to go over. Marketing decided that rather than change the video, they would keep the "over" part a secret until the ride was completed, to keep at least some part of the ride's layout as a surprise. True story.


This just in: Cheetah Hunt will now hop over the left shoulder of this young man, pop out of his right shoulder, and the enter his neck flap. End of ride.


It's going to go over, guys. Hear that everyone? OVER!


This will eventually be the moat separating Cheetah Hunt and Cheetah Run. Yep. The Crossroad's BA factor just cranked up another ten notches. It's got a moat!


I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!


Busch Gardens is really pulling out all of the stops with this expansion!


Work on the entrance to the realm that will be The Crossroads is still under way.


But it is definitely moving quickly!


In a matter of weeks, the area has begun to transform, taking on a character of its own as theming is slowly unveiled.


Another look at the station entrance and station for Cheetah Hunt.


I'd say this section of the building holds a Moroccan influence. It'll be up to guests to discern which realm has influence each part of The Crossroads' lush environment.


Nothing much has changed on this side.


Or here...


I'll be honest with you... I've always wanted a copy of Maverick in Florida. Now, I don't need one!


Cheetah Hunt really has changed the landscape of the park!


Work should resume on the dive out of the tower element very soon!


In related news, Cheetah Chase is still known as Cheetah Chase. No changes have been made yet to indicate the ride's supposed new name as Sand Serpent.


In unrelated news, Montu is currently closed.


And to close, a panoramic of the Nairobi Gate's skyline with Cheetah Hunt and Cheetah Run in the background.

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Thanks, Adam, for all of the fantastic pictures. What a pleasure it was to see how incredibly much work is being done to the "crossroads." I can't wait to experience this one. Busch Gardens does such a great job incorporating coasters into the theme, just look at Sheikra! Once again, Thanks, your pictures are AWESOME!

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Thanks for the awesome report and photos! Has anything been said yet about what type of restraints this ride will have?


Any idea what's going on with Montu? Looks to be a lengthy closure with benches across and no employee in sight. A friend who was there over the weekend said it was closed so I'm curious if it's been closed all this time?

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Simply amazing. I especially love the shots taken under the figure-8. BGT is doing an even better job than I thought they would, and that's a pretty high bar to beat. Looks like I'm going to Tampa when I go to Florida next year.

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Wow, up close and behind the scenes look great. This coaster looks fantastic and when the theaming is finished the whole area should look spectacular. So is it too early to say best new coaster of 2011... or will the track reworking of Intimidator 305 allow it to win 2 years in a row, LOL

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Any idea what's going on with Montu? Looks to be a lengthy closure with benches across and no employee in sight. A friend who was there over the weekend said it was closed so I'm curious if it's been closed all this time?


According to pictures, it looks like they are doing work on its trenches.


On topic, this ride look awesome even more now.

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Wow, beautiful photos Adam! Thanks for posting, the ride sure is coming together nicely, looks like you definitely enjoyed the tour. I personally can't wait to visit BG again and ride it, maybe this fall sometime. And isn't the moat's purpose, correct me if I'm wrong, to act as a physical barrier for the animals in areas that give said animals free range to roam. I thought I remember hearing about those at BG once. Anybody else know anything about that?

And if all goes according to plan should we see testing within a month?

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