Kumba @ Busch Gardens Africa | World’s Best Looping Coaster? Strap in for a ride on the best steel looper on the planet. I’ve reviewed the rest of my top ten, for my 300th post I figured it’d be fitting if I reviewed my favorite roller coaster. These days there’s nothing special about a roller coaster with seven loops. The way Kumba at Busch Gardens Africa (Tampa, FL) integrates its twisted layout with the lush tropical terrain makes it a world-class roller coaster and my favorite of the 100-plus that I’ve ridden. Welcome to the Jungle Tucked away back beyond the tiger pits, deep in Busch Gardens Africa’s Congo section lies Kumba. You’re welcomed to this corner of the park by Kumba’s roar, the sound the yellow trains make as they traverse the twisted teal steel. Fittingly, Kumba means ‘roar’ in an African Congo language. After boarding the comfortable trains, you exit right out of the station.The trains starts its ascent and you can’t help but notice the enormous tear drop-shaped loop that you pass through as you climb. Tension builds as you reach the crest and the train dips a bit as it leaves the chain lift. Next, the train takes a swooping 13-story drop to the ground below. The train roars to top speed along the ground, setting you up for the first of your seven inversion trip. The train rockets back toward the sky into the once record breaking vertical loop. If you take the time to look upward you can see the lift hill that you’re flying over. The Dive Loop & Zero-G Roll The underrated dive loop really shines on Kumba. The seldom mentioned positive g-forces as you exit this loop and return to the ground are brief, but forceful. Next, you rise back up and into steel coaster bliss. The zero-g roll (or camelback as B&M calls it) is a buttery smooth maneuver where the train makes a fighter jet like spin. As it’s name suggests there’s a moment of weightlessness. This is arguably one of the most popular or types of loops out there and here it’s executed for probably one of the first times ever, flawlessly. After the roll, the train drops back to the earth and rides along a straight section of track in a ravine. A Cobra Roll With a Purpose The cobra roll is another run of the mill inversion by today’s standards, but was beautifully executed on Kumba. It consists of two nearly back-to-back inversions and is typically feels a little thrown in to up the loop count. On Kumba, the cobra roll wraps around a path bridge. Spectators are frozen in their tracks as they look up and marvel at the beast that just roared overhead twisting in the air and then disappearing back into the jungle. Interlocking Corkscrews & a Dark Finale By now, most coasters would be over. You’ve already been spun upside-down five times, but thankfully Kumba’s not through with you. You have just a moment to catch your breath as you enter a mid-course brake run. Next, the train dives into a set of corkscrews (or flat spin as B&M calls them). Instead of the typical way of executing two back-to-back corkscrews resulting in a bit of dizziness and disorientation (not that’s there’s anything wrong with that), the train enters a transitional curve. Then you roar through the second corkscrew which is final inversion on your trip. The train dives below a walking path and then flies right by the station giving perspective riders a glimpse at their future. Kumba finishes strong with a brief, but dark and rocky tunnel and a upward helix with some surprising g-forces. Kumba: A Piece of History In 1993, this was Bolliger & Mabillard’s first foray into seated steel loopers. Oddly, they had created a number of stand-up coasters before venturing into other types. Busch ordered two steel loopers, one for Busch Gardens Europe and one for Busch Gardens Africa. B&M declined the Williamsburg project and Busch pursued Drachen Fire with Arrow. B&M would go onto create countless thrill rides and crowd-pleasers, many of which use inversions first seen on Kumba. Hulk at IOA, Medusa at Great Adventure. But in my opinion, they haven’t topped Kumba’s perfect pacing, beautiful tropical atmosphere, inventive layout that interacts with the track and surroundings. For the fun, re-ridable, and thrilling adventure that Kumba offers, its my favorite roller coaster. According to the latest Internet Coaster Poll it still fares pretty well for a 15 year old coaster. I highly recommend it the next time you’re in the Tampa area. Final Rating 10.0 (Superior) Check out this professional onride video of Kumba at Busch Gardens Africa:Note – This video was filmed by professionals with permission from the park. For safety reasons, please DO NOT take a camera on a roller coaster. Kumba is rated ‘IN’ for Intense. It’s a 4 out of 5 on my Thrill Scale for of its loops and speed. What’s Your Take? What’s your favorite roller coaster and why? What do you think of Kumba? Leave a comment below. Images 1, 3, & 5 courtesy of CoasterImage. 41 Responses « Older Comments JaMeS December 17, 2009 yeah, if u are on the right side, and don't have stub arms Reply Gordy the 12-Year Ol July 10, 2010 Yes, Kumba. My very first Sit-Down Looper (I had rode 2 Schwartzkopfs before this.), and I thought it would just be like any other looper. WRONG. The way it interacts with the enviroment was like nothing I had ever saw. Lots of cool Headchoppers as well. I only got to ride it once (Even though it was a walk-on), but I still remember the experience very vividly. And yes, long live the beast! Reply Dave July 21, 2010 Part of the appeal of Kumba is the roaring, kind of the same affect as a wooden coaster, but on steel. Also, recent rumor has a new coaster under construction at busch Gardens tampa, maybe an intamin? It looks long, low to the ground, and will have 3 launches. Has anyone heard anything? Reply tony August 23, 2010 Kumba's front two rows give the smoothest set of G-forces of any coaster I have been on. As Judy P implies the back seats give a more intense ride but I think at the expense of a smooth one. Reply James April 23, 2011 Isn't a 10 a little generous – I mean, there are so many better loopers out there. And even if it is an outstanding looper, a perfect 10 is going a bit far Reply The Coaster Critic April 25, 2011 In my opinion a 10 isn't generous, it's accurate! 🙂 It's my top seated looper for sure, so I don't agree that there are any, much less many better seated (not including inverted) loopers. At least that I've ridden. There are a number of new loopers I haven't had a chance to ride like Maverick, Fahrenheit, & soon Cheetah Hunt. I'd love to see if they measure up. Reply Matt August 25, 2011 Yeah you should really ride maverick and fahrenheit. Ive never ridden Kumba, it looks good though. It looks definitely better than fahrenheit in environment. (fahrenheit's environment is horrible), but fahrenheit is still good with layout and that 97 degree drop is awesome, plus the vertical lift. Fahrenheit also has a surprise at the end- an excellent pop of air. But Maverick I think would be better than Kumba or any other looper. It only has 2 inversions, but it has 2 launches, some good airtime, 90+ degree turns, a 95 degree drop and a good western theme and environment. Maverick is my 4th favorite coaster. David Lyon April 23, 2011 Even though I love Kumba, I just can't just help thinking that it is just an underdog to my personal favourite Superman Krypton Coaster at Six Flags. I'll need to revisit Texas to give Superman another blast, and see if it still is top dog in my books. Reply The Coaster Critic April 25, 2011 I just rode Superman Krypton Coaster and they're both great loopers. I still give the edge to Kumba. I just love the way it uses the terrain in that part of Busch Gardens. I'll have a full Superman review up soon. Great use of the cliffs on that ride. Reply Leanne July 14, 2011 Kumba is amazing!! I'm from England and went to Orlando for vacation in 2000. I rode The Incredible Hulk coaster (Island of Adventure), Kumba, Montu (Both in Busch Gardens), Kraken (Seaworld) and many more. I have to say that although The Incredible Hulk coaster was spectacular – I have to also give the edge to Kumba =) Reply B&M Fanboy August 28, 2011 You should also go try Dragon khan. It's like kumba except with an extra loop Reply Guilherme October 18, 2011 Kumba is nice. I like things with more speed, but the number of inversions is excellent(7). I think it's not the best roller coaster in Busch Gardens, and even the second. I think that SheiKra and Montu are better (even in theming). But i like it. I live in Brazil, and here, we don't have great coaster like these one. 🙁 Reply Noora April 9, 2012 One of my favs… though its old, but it wowed me. Reply Dillon April 16, 2012 it's quite a shame that these fantastic older B&M (my favorite manufacturer) coasters are starting to cause head banging 🙁 Reply Andy July 15, 2012 Kumba is grat but I bangef my head quite a bit. I also got pulled forward in the cobra loop ALOT. Maybe because I'm light and 11 years old. Reply « Older Comments Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.