Florida 04/22 – Legoland Florida + Busch Gardens Tampa
It ended up being for the best that Legoland was just a inconvenience, a stepping stone, and +3 on route to more rides on Iron Gwazi, because my God, the park was more than a step down from every park that had come before it on the trip, in literally every category possible.
It was a bit of a blast from the past too though, because the park, today at least, ticked all the boxes of Merlin when they were at their very worst in the UK, something they have thankfully moved on from, this side of the Atlantic at least.
The entrance plaza wasn’t too busy when we arrived just before opening, this was most likely due to the forecast wet weather this morning. Looks like we will be able to breeze in, get the creds and breeze out again man, if only we knew…
First up we headed to Dragon because it made most sense geographically.
We walked all the way through the open and empty queueline, into the station building, before a panicked staff member told us that they weren’t ready yet and they couldn’t say how long it would be.
They looked like they were doing last minute station checks and it woudn’t take long, but it wasn’t worth waiting when other rides would be walk on, we will come back soon.
The Lego Movie: Masters of Flight
So we headed to the nearby flying theatre, which was operating, and being operated terribly.
Despite the queue being short we waited far too long to make it inside the show building, and when we did we discovered the reason, the loading of the ride was laughably slow, to the point that even those around us were wondering what was going on.
As for the ride itself…
Well, it was leagues behind Legoland Windsor’s Flight of the Sky Lion, both in terms of media and implementation, but I’ve certainly ridden more insulting flying theatres. This was fine, but I wouldn’t want to exist through those operations to have another go.
We walked back to Dragon, which now had a member of staff standing at the entrance, “Dragon isn’t ready yet”, “do you know how long it might be?”, “no”.
So we made our way to the park’s wooden coaster, Coastersaurus.
It was actually raining now, and after seeing how the rest of the park was running we were worried that operations had been suspended, but no, they were just painfully slow.
Coastersaurus sucked. Yes I know it’s designed as a child’s first woodie, but I can think of several children sized woodies that kick Coastersaurus’ ass.
We walked back to Dragon, the staff member was still standing at the entrance.
So we headed to Flying School at the very back of the park.
The rain meant most people were now heading to indoor attractions or cafes meaning there was almost no one else at this end of the park.
Thankfully operations weren’t too bad here, but it would be truly impressive if you could make loading 8 people take 10 minutes.
Not so thankfully, this layout of the Vekoma Suspended Family Coaster, combined with the stupid and unnecessary over the shoulder restraints led to a rather unpleasant experience.
We weren’t the only ones who thought this either. There was a father hyping up his son while we waited too long at the air gates, and while we travelled up the lift hill. But by the time we arrived back in the station, ears bruised, he had nothing left to say.
If this is what flying is like, count me out.
We walked back to Dragon, where we asked again, “do you know when it might open?”, their response was the expected, “no, I wouldn’t want to say”, then something about a piece of theming not working. Right.
So we headed to the worst Miniland I’ve ever seen in order to kill yet more time.
The whole thing was under some tatty looking tent canopy, was small in size and had almost nothing interesting to look at or interact with.
We walked back to Dragon, where several other guests were now camping out, looking unimpressed that it still wasn’t open. They now had 2 members of staff there, to control the disgruntled masses, they still weren’t offering anything useful though.
Lost Kingdom Adventure
So we went to ride the park’s shooting dark ride, Lost Kingdom Adventure.
I’m almost certain it’s a clone of the not very good Laser Raiders from Windsor, and as expected, it wasn’t very good.
We walked back to Dragon, where they now had entertainers trying to calm the masses (all 6 of them), and the ride still wasn’t open.
So we headed to Ninjago, to ask if we could film it for the Dark Ride Database.
As soon as we hit the back of the short queue, 10 or so people from boarding, the ride broke down, and it appeared the staff had no clue how to react to it.
An announcement was made only to those on the ride, which pretty much read like, we don’t know what to do, stay seated ya’ll, while they left those in the queueline completely in the dark about what was happening, time to leave…
We walked back to Dragon, the situation was unchanged.
We were getting a bit fed up now, both in terms of the coaster not opening and costing us Iron Gwazi time, and the frankly useless information the staff members at the ride were giving us.
At Disney, the lady at Frozen told us with a wink and smile that it won’t be long, I’d stick around.
At Universal, the VelociCoaster ride team were playing the “nothing to fear” temporary fault announcement every 2 minutes.
Here though, there was no information, would it take 10 more minutes, we are working on it, or is it closed all day, give us something please.
So we went to guest services and asked a slightly scared but otherwise friendly bloke, who told us, “it’s open guys…”, “WHAT?!”.
We walked back to Dragon, and he was right, it was open, we would be completing the park after all.
Honestly I’m still confused how they managed to add the rather lengthy dark ride section onto the front of a pre-exisiting Vekoma Junior clone, and that instantly makes it the best coaster at the park, not that there is any other competition.
Park complete, but with how well asking that man went before, let’s try him again.
We had purchased our Legoland tickets from a discounted ticket website available to Cedar Fair passholders. We bought them before Peppa Pig opened next door, and despite our best efforts were unable to either refund our Legoland tickets or upgrade them to include Peppa.
Let’s go see the man.
This time he told us we’d need to go see the team at Peppa Pig to see what they could do.
Absolutely nothing, but with an attitude it turns out.
Fair enough, Iron Gwazi.
Busch Gardens Tampa
Back to Busch we went, and this time with nothing to lose and everything an extra it was a much more relaxed experience, further cementing that I like the park, but the Williamsburg one is better.
They don’t have Iron Gwazi though, and they certainly don’t have walk on Iron Gwazi.
Seemingly the rain in the morning had put the Floridian masses off and this led to (for 90% of our half day visit) us being able to stroll straight onto one of the greatest coasters in the World, currently 7th in my top 25 in case you forgot.
I had this massive fear before the trip, that even though we were visiting during the less busy season we’d be struggling to get enough laps in on major coasters to form proper opinions of them, but no, over our 1 and a half days at Busch we got a silly amount of laps on Iron Gwazi.
Opinions remain from the last visit, best RMC I’ve ridden, outstanding.
We broke up our walk on Iron Gwazi’s by re-visiting the park’s other major attractions.
Starting with Montu.
Going in knowing that Montu isn’t an elite tier B&M Invert and that it wasn’t going to blow my mind made my 2nd lap slightly better than my first, but I just wish it was all the things I wanted it to be.
Side note, has it always looked this bad? In my mind Montu was heavily themed, or is that just another thing I wanted it to be and it isn’t?
I blame Heartline fully for this re-ride.
I begrudgingly agreed to join him on a re-ride after he promised me an inside seat, that we’d sit nearer the front and it should be much less rattly and awful there. It wasn’t. To his credit though, he came out of his outside seat and agreed it wasn’t great, correct.
SheiKra was still absolutely forceless, but smooth as butter, I can’t complain too much.
Finally something worth re-riding.
I fell even harder for Cheetah Hunt on this re-visit.
Like I said before, going in knowing exactly what Cheetah Hunt is going for, and embracing that, rewards you with a long ride that’s great fun, with a few intense suprises along the way. Easily the 2nd best coaster at the park, and I’m quite relieved I never visited when it was the best.
While Cobra’s Curse was exactly as I remembered it from last time, it’s still a great little coaster and more worth your time than 2 of the park’s major B&Ms.
Re-rides complete, it was time to settle in with Iron Gwazi for the night, but not before spending far too long attempting to check in for our flight home tomorrow, a task that would end up being completely pointless, spoilers.
The final hour or so of Iron Gwazi time became slightly frustrating with multiple breakdowns and a constant 30 minute queue, which sucked after we had been walking on it all day.
This did lead to us meeting the lovely Rollercoaster David though, who we had a nice chat with, mostly about his very obscure T-shirt, before he offered us the use of his annual pass to buy ourselves an Iron Gwazi one at a massive discount. Thank you once again David, I love getting to represent “God damn” Iron Gwazi at any opportunity.
Thank you for reading, click here for the final part of my trip report, where we visit the very underwhelming Fun Spot Orlando, and then everything goes wrong.