Cheetah Run and Cheetah Hunt Open at Busch Gardens Tampa

I went to Busch Gardens Tampa last night to take another look at Cheetah Run and Cheetah Hunt ahead of the official opening this Memorial Day. A lot has changed since my last visit and it certainly all looks very impressive. Gone are the construction walls, the bulldozers and the construction noise and now it’s a pretty tranquil venue only punctuated by shrieks and shrills from the passing roller coaster, Cheetah Hunt.

As you enter the new area, the first thing that strikes you is the 1.5 acre area known as Cheetah Run. On your right, as you walk in from the main park entrance, is a glass wall where you’ll get your first look at the magnificent animal that is the cheetah. Fourteen cats occupy the area and they will often be seen lounging around or playing with each other as well as doing scheduled sprints down a 250-foot track.

The habitat faces the mammoth, twisting roller coaster, and it was noticeable how quiet it is on its track… in fact it’s only the shrieks from riders and the “whoosh” sound as it goes by at some 60 mph that makes you notice it’s there.  Of course, this makes you wonder how the cheetahs react but they seem completely nonplussed by it all and have obviously been trained well by park keepers who have played recordings of ambient theme park noise to get them used to things.

Naturally, there will always be some critics to the new attraction, not least of all because the cheetahs are penned in but the fact remains that they are an endangered species with just 12,400 left in the wild. Busch Gardens, as always, aims to educate people with a conservation message and the habitat will also  include interactive screens containing facts about the cheetah.

Cheetah Hunt. meanwhile, is a  4G steel roller coaster and a very worthy addition to the roller-coaster lineup at Busch Gardens. It is Florida’s first triple-launch coaster and it uses state-of-the-art technology to deliver three adrenaline-fueled surges of speed all inspired by the world’s fastest land animal.

With a ride time of more than 90 seconds from first launch to final brake, Cheetah Hunt’s 4,429 feet of steel track holds the record as Busch Gardens’ longest coaster, and its 13-acre footprint makes it the most expansive thrill-ride in the park’s history. Its series of magnetically controlled surges fling passengers up and under and through several of the theme park’s other environments. One of these pushes takes riders on a long straight that is aimed directly at a steep upward hill at 60 mph. The vehicle then goes up that incline and goes into a figure-eight motion at the top, where riders are given a great view of Busch Gardens, most notably the Gwazi wooden coaster that is otherwise hard to see from other vantage points in the park.

Other highlights of the ride are a loop over and around the Skyride wire and gondolas … an unusual, exciting and disorienting maneuver … that circles near a water hazard and finally into a low-riding series of curves that have a ski slalom feel to them.

Overall, Cheetah Hunt runs very smoothly and there’s only one inversion that might trouble some riders. It’s a refreshing change because its sister coasters Montu, Kumba and Gwazi can jar your body, mind and soul! great for the young…not so great for the older brigade!

From a safety aspect, riders enjoy the open air feeling and gliding motion effect as the over-the-head harness isn’t too padded around the head area. Overall the coaster isn’t too extreme but it does offer a lot of fun and it’s sure to be popular with riders for years to come. Make sure you check it out when you next visit Busch Gardens Tampa.

Here’s some video and more pictures are available  at… make sure you click the “LIKE” button.

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