Triple-launch roller coaster Cheetah Hunt opens at Busch Gardens Tampa

Thousands were treated to Busch Gardens Tampa‘s new roller coaster Cheetah Hunt this past weekend. The new roller coaster is a lengthy 4,400 feet long and it boasts not one, but three separate launches. Cheetah Hunt speeds along the park’s African-themed back drop along the ground, above it, and also below it in a watery canyon. Like some of Busch Gardens Tampa’s other attractions, the ride incorporates its namesake in cheetah viewing area called Cheetah Run. It’s designed to give guests a close encounter with the cheetahs as they show off their legendary speed.

Some early reviews of Cheetah Hunt describe it as a fun family roller coaster that’s a step between the park’s smaller coasters like Scorpion and the park’s signature thrillers like Montu and SheiKra. If that’s an accurate depiction, then it’s likely a wise addition for Busch Gardens Tampa as they’re always competing with Orlando’s many family-oriented theme parks. Central Florida’s only going to get more competitive later this year when the new Legoland Florida opens. Cheetah Hunt was my most anticipated roller coaster opening in 2011 and these videos make me even more eager to get down to Florida. Learn more at CheetahHunt.com.


Busch Gardens Tampa’s Gwazi to reopen with new trains

Gwazi's new trainsAccording to the official SeaWorld Parks blog, Busch Gardens Tampa’s Gwazi will reopen soon with new trains aimed at providing a smoother ride. The dueling wooden roller coaster is named after a mythological African creature with the head of a tiger and the body of a lion. During the ride, the lion and tiger trains perform six fly-bys or near misses where they pass each other at high speeds. Gwazi opened in 1999 and, like many wooden coasters, has become rough over the years. The park has chosen to add new millennium flyer trains to reduce the roughness. More from SeaWorld Parks:

The new trains provide the smoothest way to ride a wooden coaster and are highly regarded for their spacious, cushioned seats and individual row design that resembles wooden roller coaster trains from the early 1900s.

The last few times that I rode Gwazi, it was pretty rough and only one side was running. It’s been a weak spot in an otherwise beautifully-themed and well-run theme park. I’m curious to see how much of a difference the new trains make as theme parks typically re-track wooden coasters to smooth out a rough ride. Hopefully, the millennium flyers will provide a much more enjoyable experience. Gwazi will reopen on January 22nd.