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Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt Coaster

Preview of the Cheetah Hunt Coaster Debuting in 2011 at Busch Gardens Tampa


Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt coaster

Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt coaster will use magnetic launch technology to mimic a sprinting cheetah on the prowl.

Busch Gardens Tampa, 2010. Used with permission.
Updated December 29, 2012
When you think of cheetahs, you think of graceful, sleek animals that are fast--really, really fast, right? Cheetah Hunt, the new roller coaster coming to Busch Gardens Tampa in spring 2011 looks like it will be sleek, smooth, and, yup, fast.

Cheetah Hunt is one of the top roller coasters in Florida. See which other rides made the list.

Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt Coaster Stats

See Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt

You'll Be the Cheetah on a Hunt

The new coaster will incorporate three launches along its sprawling 4,429-foot course. The first one will blast riders out of the station from 0 to 30 mph in mere seconds. Before they can catch their breath, a second magnetic launch will catapult them up a 102-foot tower to briefly survey the Serengeti Plain that lies ahead. Cheetah Hunt's tower, which will be prominently featured on Busch Gardens' midway, will be adorned with colorful flags and other African-themed accessories. The trains will then dive down 130 feet into a trench beneath the ground.

After the first drop, Cheetah Hunt will stay relatively low to the ground and race across the park's Serengeti Plain (home to many of Busch Gardens' free-roaming large animals) rather than navigating a series of hills like most coasters. With its quick twists, short dives, mostly straight course, and fast pace, which will seem all the faster by remaining close to the ground and tearing past the scenery, the rider experience looks to be exhilarating--and not unlike a bolting cheetah.

The cheetah analogy is obvious--and inspired, but Busch Gardens may have goofed a bit with the name for its new ride. Some (many?) may misinterpret "Cheetah Hunt" to mean that passengers will be on the hunt for cheetahs. The park's intended theme, however, is that riders will themselves become cheetahs racing across the plain in pursuit of their prey. Sister park SeaWorld Orlando developed a similar you-are-the-animal theme for its wonderful flying coaster, Manta. Humans hunting for cheetahs is surely not the message that an animal park closely tied to preservation and conservation efforts would want to impart.

After a turnaround, Cheetah Hunt will get its third magnetic launch burst to send it dashing back to the station. Along the way, it will zoom past a waterfall, dive into another trench, execute a series of quick left-right banks, and soar over a hill that would appear to deliver a healthy dose of floating airtime (like a cheetah bounding into the air?).

In addition to the coaster, Busch Gardens' new attraction will include Cheetah Run, an exhibit featuring actual cheetahs. Guests will be able to peer into the habitat, peruse some interactive kiosks to learn more about cheetahs, and, periodically, be able to see handlers leading the animals on sprints.

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