Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

Roller Coaster Review: Cheetah Hunt

by Eric Stewart on Jun.13, 2011, under Life

  • Location: Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa
  • Type: Steel launched

Well over a year ago I did a post reviewing all of the roller coasters I could remember riding.  I took a break from regular visits to Busch Gardens Tampa, but recently purchased a new two-year passport.

While the park really hasn’t undergone a drastic change, it sure seemed that way initially.  The newest coaster at the park, very recently opened, is Cheetah Hunt, which is of course right next to a new cheetah exhibit.  To make room for the coaster and the exhibit, the Clydesdale horses have been apparently removed and the Rhino Rally ride has been significantly shortened (a ride that used to have hour waits even on slow days, now had a less than 15 minute wait on a busy summer day).  The Elan gazelles have also been removed.  However, there is a new cut-through from the Africa section of the park (near the lions/hyenas) that comes out right near the Nairobi train station (a welcome change for me as, previously, it was a long walk around the park).

Worth it?  Well, maybe.  It’s a long ride at around 4430 ft and 3 minutes, 30 seconds.  It has one inversion (no loop – kind of a barrel roll/corkscrew) and three electromagnetically powered launches.  It is designed to give one the feel of moving like a cheetah hunting prey, switching back and forth, moving fast (up to 60 mph) and changing directions rapidly.  It is a great combination of theme and thrill.

For me, the initial launch was quite a surprise.  I ended up bracing my feet for the rest of the ride.  The ride goes under and over the Skyride at different points and seems to cover a large portion of the park, particularly when compared to other coasters at the park.

So, it’s worth the ride and I’m glad I waited the hour or so in line to ride it at least once.  However, with wait times bouncing between 90 – 120 minutes during the summer, you’ll want to get there at opening and get in line quick, or wait until the fall/winter season.

Oh, and why does Montu still rank higher for me?  I just like dangling my feet on the inverted coaster and the ride (at least in the first two or three rows) is incredibly smooth.


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