Florida 03/22 – Busch Gardens Tampa

Day 5

Busch Gardens Tampa is located over an hour from Orlando, even longer when you get lost looking for a Quiznos, so today public transportation was thankfully once again off the cards.

The park was one I’d been dreaming of visiting for years, strangely though, almost immediately, Busch Gardens Tampa was nothing like I’d imagined.

In my head I pictured us driving into some massive car park, with cars as far as the eye could see, a grand entrance plaza waiting for us at end of the sea of cars. But no, you park in a sketchy looking car park at the side of a busy road and then take a road train, via almost the ride area of Montu to the park entrance, which wasn’t all that grand at all.

I mean none of that really matters, but I thought it was quite interesting.

After a security check and a walk through the park’s rather cramped and barren entrance area, things did begin to make sense though, well kind of.

There’s Iron Gwazi, that’s what we’re here for, but I didn’t know it was right at the front of the park, that will make marathoning it easier later!

Iron Gwazi

Well then, how strong do I want to start this?

Iron Gwazi is the best RMC I’ve ridden (out of 13, including Steel Vengeance) and is 7th in my top 25 (out of 1,157 coasters Worldwide).

Yeah I think that sets the scene quite well.

Before I dive in too deep I need to mention that I really like the styling of the ride, the logo, the crocodile theme, the station exterior, the train and the slightly faded purple track it all just works so well in my opinion. I also massively enjoy the name for being both impactful and hilarious on multiple levels.

Now onto the ride experience itself.

In short, it’s incredible, paced perfectly, is admittedly a little short, but God damn is it intense.

Iron Gwazi is easily the most intense RMC that I’ve ridden and it’s for that reason, combined with the outstanding pacing that makes it my favourite RMC. There are no wasted moments and every single element hits harder than those found on other RMCs.

Join me on a virtual ride through and I’ll try to explain the insanity.

You start with a 206 foot drop, which is awesome, but not much different than the drops found on Steel Vengeance or Zadra.

What is different though is the immense amounts of positive Gs Iron Gwazi pulls at the bottom of the drop and up into the next element. I was greying out nearly every time and not getting my vision back until we crested the top of the outwards banked airtime hill, which provides intense ejector airtime.

Then you are sent hurtling back down through the structure. This is a good time to mention that unlike most other RMCs, Iron Gwazi feels fast, wild and out of control from the bottom of the first drop to the brakes. It really uses its 76mph top speed to its advantage and it’s amazing to experience.

Next up we pull out of the ride structure into an upwards banked right hand turn full of positive Gs before we are thrown left into Gwazi’s famous deathroll element. This barrel roll downdrop is so fast, so intense and so perfectly executed.

Before you even have time to work out what has just happened you enter an overbanked turnaround and are now hurtling towards an element that’s almost as good as the deathroll.

On the ground it looks like any other waveturn, but my God the lunatics at RMC have finally figured out how to make these more than just a “wow we are going sideways” gimmick. Iron Gwazi’s example is insane, launching you clean out of your seat as you fly sideways, it really is a sensation that’s almost impossible to prepare for.

No time to comprehend that insanity we are now hurtling towards the true airtime section of Iron Gwazi and only Twisted Timbers can rival the airtime intensity that’s coming up.

A hill that doesn’t look like it should have airtime tries to eject you into space, then you go through a baby waveturn (which still pops you out of your seat), before hitting a zero G stall.

Then it’s a vicious twisted airtime hill, followed almost immediately by a double down that might just be the most intense moment of airtime on any RMC, please don’t throw apples at me Twisted Timbers.

One more brutal airtime hill sends you flying into the brakes, where I’m still conflicted if the ride should or shouldn’t end. On one hand I’d love for the coaster to continue, but on the other would pressing on bring down the overal intensity and pacing of the coaster? I guess we will never know.

That’s Iron Gwazi, that’s my favourite RMC, that’s my favourite new coaster of 2022, that’s the best coaster in Florida (spoilers) and that’s the best coaster by far at Busch Gardens Tampa.

Oh wait yeah, there are other coasters at Bush Gardens Tampa, let’s go check those out…

Air Grover

Starting of course with the kiddie coaster, one of the many areas of the park where you can see Iron Gwazi and question why you aren’t currently riding it.


Maybe I’m just 17 years too late but I really expected SheiKra to have much more of an atmosphere around it. Instead we just walked through a tatty empty queueline, strolled straight into a mostly empty and uncovered station and in no time at all were riding what was probably once one of the most important coasters ever.

I’ve never been a big fan of dive coasters and SheiKra is no exception to that rule, I will however give it points for being 17 years old and still glass smooth.


I’ll give no points whatsoever to Tigris though, my 4th Sky Rocket 2, which is 4 too many if you ask me.

I’d learn later on this trip and on another US trip later in the year that Sky Rockets can be quite good, when they aren’t this layout.


If it counts for anything I really did want to like Kumba, but I can’t, and I’ve got a pretty solid reasoning as to why.

It suffers from the same instant headache issues that Dragon Khan does, but worse. I’m talking the constant rattling and bouncing, but also combined with unavoidable head and restraint contact. You can massively lessen this issue by not taking a wheel seat on Khan but on Kumba it’s every seat.

What makes it even worse for Kumba is, Dragon Khan actually has a decent layout, that has fun moments to break up the inversions, Kumba does not.

So with Khan, take a middle seat, cross your fingers and you’ll most likely get a pretty kick ass ride. But with Kumba no matter where you sit, what you do, you’ll get a headache while being dragged through endless inversions.

Sorry Kumba.


Next we queued longer than we’d queued all day for a poorly operated clone Mack mouse. Which both triggered cred anxiety and Iron Gwazi rerides anxiety.

It wasn’t even a good Wild Mouse either…

Falcon’s Fury

Now let’s go ride something that’s the polar opposite of a Wild Mouse coaster.

Falcon’s Fury is one of only two Intamin Sky Jump drop towers in the World. This model slowly tilts you as you climb the tower, until you are fully laying on your front by the time you reach the top.

As a man who’s absolutely terrified of drop towers this seemed like a bad idea, but I had to give it a go.

I loved it, but not for the drop itself, which honestly was a little weak, I loved it for its gimmick.

Laying face down, facing the ground, 310 feet in the air, with hands so sweaty they keep sliding off the restaint causing even more terror was one hell of an experience.

Cheetah Hunt

From one kick ass Intamin creation to another.

Confession time, I wasn’t the biggest Cheetah Hunt fan after 1 lap, but after a few, after accepting what it’s going for, I really like it.

Cheetah Hunt is a nice long ride, it’s twisty, the launches are fun, there’s a couple of good airtime moments, it’s just a fun time all around. In short, “a good little ride that”.

Cobra’s Curse

Next up it was time to challenge Cobra’s Curse, the park’s Mack spinning coaster, I thought it was pretty great.

The queueline is well themed and tells the ride’s story via a projected preshow every few minutes.

Then the ride itself, while no Cheetah Hunt in terms of family coasters, did still provide a fun experience helped massively by the spinning ride vehicles.


Montu was next, the final of the B&M triple and the penultimate coaster of Busch Gardens Tampa.

I’ll start with the positives, Montu is the best B&M at the park, Montu is the 3rd best coaster at the park.

Unfortunately though, much like its sister coaster Alpengeist, Montu in my opinion failed to live up to its legendary status.

I fully expected Montu to hang with the elite inverts (Nemesis and Pyrenees) but instead, to me at least, it rode like an inverted tour through B&M’s inversion catalogue with not all that much character.

Side note, the park have done Montu real dirty with its recent paint job…

Thanks to Scorpion being more closed than open, and always closed when we needed it, we decided we’d start our Iron Gwazi marathon now and launch if the app showed life from the aging Schwarzkopf.

On route we checked out parts of the zoo.

Cheetah Hunt.

Iron Gwazi.

At some point, in a blur of greying out on the World’s best RMC, eating an amazing banana nut muffin and using the facilities, Scorpion finally opened. And thanks to nothing but excitement from how good Iron Gwazi is, we somehow found the strength to sprint the entire length of the park to Scorpion, I suppose that gives it less time to break down again.


Was it worth the run? Kind of, yeah.

Scorpion was staffed by a couple of truly hilarious operators and the coaster itself offered a smooth as silk and intense ride.

Maybe Gwazi had just softened us up, maybe it was riding it at night, maybe it was all thanks to the operators, but tonight at least I can honestly say that I enjoyed what is essentially a Schwarzkopf Looping Star, a coaster model that did nothing but disappoint at Nagashima Spa Land.

A slightly more leisurely walk took us back to Iron Gwazi, where we stayed until they kicked us out.

Huge shout out to the engineering team at the park who went above and beyond to make sure that everyone in the rather short line got a chance to ride the coaster even after it went down after official park close.

That was Busch Gardens Tampa, and while it wasn’t quite what I expected I had a fantastic time at the park. Iron Gwazi is truly one of the World’s best coasters and the park has some rather awesome supporting rides too.

Thank you for reading, click here for day 6 of my trip report where we visit Universal Studios Islands of Adventure and ride the amazing VelociCoaster.

Cred Hunting 10/22 – Yorkshire, Derbyshire + Nottinghamshire
Rollercoaster Ranking – GCI (2022)

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