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 Newer Comments » malcolm May 28, 2009 kumba is also my favorite roller coaster of the all time. its the fact of the ride blending with the environment that makes it so much better than what it is.almost 16 years old and this coaster is giving the new coasters a huge task to complete forever live kumba! Reply Cole May 29, 2009 TCC IS THIS YOUR FAVORITE COASTER? Reply The Coaster Critic May 30, 2009 Yep. You said it Malcolm. I recently rode Kraken at SeaWorld Orlando which is similar, but I give the edge to Kumbaa because of it's integration into the environment that you're speaking of. Yes Cole. Although I've ridden better roller coasters, Kumba is my personal favorite. Just like people may have a movie that they love, but realize that there are better movies out there. Like Happy Gilmore's one of my personal favorite movies, but I know it's not the best movie of all time. Reply malcolm June 9, 2009 speaking of kraken how did you enjoy that? that's my favorite floorless coaster Reply bunky666 June 13, 2009 Kraken is easily my favorite floorless. I've only been on three or four, but that thing was intense, HUGE, and terrain-filled. My riding partner was screaming like a little girl (he HAD warned me about that, but it still cracked me up–no pun intended–when he reached a pitch that only dogs should have been able to hear). Sea World seems to have excellent judgment in picking coasters from the two that I've seen. Reply Ryan April 23, 2011 It isn't a floorless Reply Orlando in 5 days:D August 18, 2012 it is. bunky666 June 13, 2009 Kumba was FANTASTIC. It got a little rough towards the middle to end portion of the ride, but I really was looking forward to it, and it didn't disappoint. I rode it three times back to back in different spots in the train. I also love how you get kind of turned around back in the direction you came for the drop. B&M does curving drops frequently with their loopers, but rarely do they do a 180 curve like that. It shocks the hell out of you. Plus, the terrain is excellent, which is something I've never experienced until I rode this one, then on Montu as well. There are some stellar rides at BGTB. Reply malcolm July 2, 2009 BGT has an almost perfect collection of coasters Reply Matthew July 2, 2009 The only thing they need is a good woody and they have a perfect park! Reply Mike August 18, 2012 Is there anything wrong with Gwazi? Personally its one of my favourites in the park 😀 Reply MarvelMaker July 17, 2009 Wow, in the first half of the ride before the brake run, the ride is very similar to Bizarro at Great Adventure. Reply Alex February 14, 2012 That's because Bizarro's (and many other coasters) layout was inspired by Kumba. Reply malcolm July 23, 2009 i have been hearing that kumba is of the most overrated coasters in the world.kumba is the first B&M looping coaster if im correct which is 15 years old. kumba had at the time were first of its kind inversions like the diving loop, corba roll, and zero g roll and it got so much praise that other parks wanted those inversions in their coasters as well. kumba (and dragon khan, Spain) started all of theses looping and floorless coasters,that's why so many of them look alike, just like bizarro up there so can't you say that kumba is that overrated i mean the only thing that you can say that sucks is the small helix at the end but kumba is the father of all of the looping B&M's Reply James April 23, 2011 The truth is, it IS overrated. Even if it is unique, it doesn't deserve it's top spot in the Golden ticket awards. The layout is identical to mostly all of the B&M loopers out there. And yes, I have ridden it, and while I did enjoy it, I still prefer Dragon Khan and Superman Krypton Coaster at Six Flags FT and Port Adventura. Both are in a different league to Kumba. Reply Matthew July 23, 2009 Kumba was a nice coaster for the park. The helix didnt have as much g force as i thought it would have had so i agree with you there. But this ride was a nice coaster for the park too have. Reply landan August 15, 2009 i rode this right after i finshed SheiKra…i didn't expect what was coming at all because i thought this would be a little bit less intense than SheiKra. I WAS WRONG. the ride was absoloutely amazing. 5/5 stars. Reply QB3 August 29, 2009 ive only ridden medusa but its one of my favoritesand kumba looks realy good. i can imagine it being under creadited but not over. Reply JaMeS October 2, 2009 the ppl at Busch should just an almost identical clone over there. and one of the trains needs to go Bye-Bye! Reply JaMeS October 2, 2009 can u do a kraken review plz? Reply Judy P in Pgh October 23, 2009 Very accurate description, Joel. I nrode it 10 times today just to double check! I liked the back row, right seat the best. It's pretty intense there coming out of the last tunnel. Great way to end a great day. Reply Judy P in Pgh November 8, 2009 Friday, Oct. 23, found me at Busch Gardens in Tampa. I started with several walk-on rides on Sheikra (5 total) and decided I liked it better than Griffon. Kumba ended up being my favorite (10 rides, all walk-ons), with the preferred seat being back right. I took walk-on single rides on everything else (skipped Rhino Rally due to the 40-minute wait). Montu was good enough for a second ride, but the slowness of the crew convinced me to head off to Gwazi. Tiger was closed, but Lion was open. Lion beat the CRAP out of me! It beat me up so badly that I just couldn't believe it, so I rode it again. Guess what … I was right the first time. I hate to say this, but I'd ride Son of Beast or Mean Streak any day before I'd get back on Gwazi Lion. As for Tiger … well … I guess I'd have to give it a try. The park closed at 6 p.m. in order to get ready for their evening Halloween festivities. With the low daytime attendance, though, there was plenty of time to ride everything I wanted. OK, so maybe I could have handled another 20 rides on Kumba. Now, if only it had floorless trains. I can dream, can't I? Reply Tom December 15, 2009 Could you do a kumba vs. kraken roller coaster showdown? Reply JaMeS December 16, 2009 if u want to give ur friends a little shock, tell them to reach out and touch the grass after the tunnel. make sure they're on the right end! Reply Gordy the 12-Year Ol July 10, 2010 Wow, I might actually have to try that next time I go to BGT. Reply Quil December 17, 2009 you can actualy do that? 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