Welcome back to another “Ranked” article here on Laughing Place. This time we’re taking a road trip to Tampa, FL for a look specifically at the coasters of Busch Gardens. The park currently offers 9 roller coasters (soon to be 10), however I have not been on Air Grover, the children’s coaster. Suffice to say, it’s pretty likely it would be in ninth place for me anyway.
The other coaster in the park is the sort of infamous Iron Gwazi. Originally supposed to open in 2020, this re-tracked and upgraded version of the park’s original Gwazi wooden coaster ended up being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When Busch Gardens reopened in summer 2020, Iron Gwazi wasn’t open, and it didn’t open in 2021 either. The park recently announced that the impressive new hybrid coaster will open in March 2022.
On that note, let’s dive into the countdown!
8. Sand Serpent
Photo from BGTSafari.com
Last place on my list is Sand Serpent, a simple wild mouse coaster that actually came to Busch Gardens from its sister park in Williamsburg. While a fun ride (identical to Goofy’s Sky School at Disney California Adventure), it’s definitely the most cookie cutter of the bunch.
Scorpion is the park’s oldest roller coaster, opening way back in 1980, but honestly, this thing really holds up. Thanks to the lap bar restraints and smooth track profiling for the time, Scorpion still rides pretty well, offering up a somewhat intense loop. A classic that I’m happy to see stick around for as long as possible.
6. Cobra’s Curse
If this was a countdown of the most unique coasters, then I think Cobra’s Curse would have to top it off. The experience starts out with a pretty impressive queue by Busch Gardens’ standards, that is very reminiscent of Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride at the Universal parks. The ride itself begins with a vertical lift hill that brings you face to face with the giant Cobra statue. You then begin a three part ride, the first part being forwards, the second backwards, and the third spinning. All of that put together makes for a unique, fun and well themed roller coaster.
The newest attraction at Busch Gardens Tampa (at least until Iron Gwazi opens) is Tigris, a really fun and surprisingly forceful launched coaster. Tigris is a shuttle coaster, one that goes backwards and forwards on the same track, allowing it to fit in a smaller footprint than a lot of other coasters. Three launches get you up to speed, two forwards and one backwards, and they provide a pretty forceful start to the ride. Once you get to the tippy top of the coaster, the hang-time and air-time are pretty spectacular. A fun addition to the park’s line-up.
SheiKra is definitely a one trick pony, but the trick that it offers is an incredible one. Taking riders 200 feet in the air before stalling them looking down towards the ground, where you’re about to go over a 90 degree drop is honestly terrifying every single time. The first time I rode this, I was so scared, as I’m sure most people who ride are. The adrenaline does kick in though, and you get ejected down that first drop, before swooping up through an inversion to do it all over again, this time with a smaller drop. The kinetic energy of the splashdown drop at the end of the ride is not only fun while riding, but also for passers by.
Probably the first large scale looping coaster in the state of Florida was the almost 30 year old Kumbaa. An absolute old-school Bolliger and Mabillard (B&M) coaster that still packs an impressive punch to this day. I would say that Kumbaa is probably the most intense coaster in the park, as the force of the inversions and helixes is felt in your feet every time. It’s a really picturesque coaster too, as you can see in the photo above. Kumbaa is the African word for roar, and that is definitely on display here, as you can hear the loud and impressive roar of the coaster even from far away.
My favorite of Busch Gardens’ three B&M coasters is Montu, their inverted model. Out of the quite a few installations of this type of ride that I’ve been on, I’d have to say Montu is my favorite. With a lot of the drops and inversions built into Egyptian themed trenches, it provides for a really good, low to the ground thrill. On that note, a lot of the inversions are really whippy, especially if you’re in the back. So you really get pulled into them. Montu is another older coaster (25 years old this year) that still holds up exceptionally well.
1. Cheetah Hunt
Cheetah Hunt is just pure fun and adrenaline, and while not the most intense ride in the park, it’s the one that never fails to put a smile on my face. The ride features three different launches and a meandering layout that goes over the park’s Skyway, zig-zagging through waterfalls and alongside the Serengeti Plains. It’s a long ride that is immensely satisfying. There’s also something about the sound of the launches, which almost sounds like a Cheetah’s roar. Cheetah Hunt is the most fun and my personal favorite coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa.
I hope you all enjoyed this ranking of the major coasters at Busch Gardens Tampa. Please come back soon for another ranking article!
Luke is a fan of all things theme parks and self-proclaimed #1 fan of Joffrey’s Coffee, who lives in Cypress, CA