Busch Gardens Tampa’s newest coaster, Cheetah Hunt, opened to the public on Friday, May 27, 2011. Unfortunately on opening day the new ride suffered from severe down time, being down most of the day. Cheetah Hunt was designed by Intiman AG, its track is 4,429 feet long (the longest coaster in Florida), and sits on a 13 acre foot print. Guests will launch at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, speed thru 3 separate launches, soar up a 102-foot wind catcher tower, fly thru 4 trenches, speed over the Skyride, nearly miss a rushing waterfall, glide over a canyon, and flip thru a heartline roll. The ride is over 90 seconds of heart pumping thrills and excitement.
I had a chance to ride Cheetah Hunt on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, and now that I have given you a brief summary of the ride and the facts, here is my take:
As I pulled into the parking lot I could clearly make out the 102-foot wind catcher tower looming in the distance. I was speechless. The sun was shining off the bright yellow supports and the green track seemed to lure me in. As early morning test runs were underway and a car sped up the tower I was amazed. Everything around me faded away, and my excitement began to over flow. Checking my phone to see what the time was, I saw that the park did not open for another thirty minutes. After buying our tickets I sat at a bench that positioned me directly in front of the coaster. It seemed like it was mocking me. As the crowd began to pick up I decided to head to the gate so I could get to the ride first. The security guards at the gate lowered the rope, and the people around me took off. Unfortunately, I was not as fast as the others and was not the first person to ride, in fact I waited about 30 minutes to get my ride.
Now I am sure you are thinking “Get on with it already, I want to read about the ride,” well what I say to that is, “I had to wait to ride, you can wait while I ramble on.” But I understand, I will now talk about the ride.
As I boarded the train, I noticed the restraints and thought to myself, “Oh great, I am going to bang my head all over these things,” surprisingly, I was wrong. The ride was just as graceful as a cheetah. Pulling into the first launch, I braced myself for the speed of a cheetah; instead it felt like my dog pulling me in a wagon. While the first launch was week, the second took my breath away. The train sped up to the wind catcher tower like a speeding cheetah (nice reference, I know). Once the train got to the top of the wind catcher tower, it lost a lot of speed, and was slowly navigating its way around the tower. But once it came to the drop off the tower, the train picked up a tremendous amount of speed. The train flew thru a trench, over the Skyride, and thru the heartline roll. At that point it was time for the water section. The train swooped down narrowly missing a waterfall and twisted its way over the rocky canyon. At that point it was time for the final launch up and over the parabola hill. The air time on this hill was satisfactory, I definitely expected more coming out of a launch, but still it was good air time. After the hill we sped thru one last trench and hit the brakes.
All in all, I greatly enjoyed the ride. I did not think it was the “New Breed of Speed,” but I did think it was a great new coaster for Busch Gardens Tampa, and my favorite there (yes, I liked it more than Kumba). I would give this ride 7 out of 10. While the ride is not lacking speed, it did not live up to the hype it received. I did greatly enjoy this ride and it was very smooth, as well as thrilling.