Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa – Early Reviews & a VideoCheetah Hunt - Busch Gardens Tampa - Roller Coaster
My pick for the most anticipated roller coaster of 2011 opened this past weekend. The opening wasn’t as smooth as Busch would have wanted and I’m not referring to how it tracked.

According to Tampa Bay Online, Cheetah Hunt was down from 9:30 AM until about 2 PM on opening day due to a sensor malfunction. Thankfully, the issue was resolved and the Cheetah was rocketing riders across the Serengetti throughout the rest of the day. I was eager to find out what some of the early reactions and reviews would be. Here’s a sample of reviews from around the coaster web with a particular focus on some local flavor.

Adrenaline Junkies vs. Theme Park Realists: The Eternal Battle Rages On – BGTNations Forums
A long-running argument is being played out once again as enthusiasts react to Cheetah Hunt’s opening. There are those who feel let down because it wasn’t an intense white-knuckle adrenaline rush.  And there are those enthusiasts that consider it a good addition to fill the gap between the kiddie rides/less intense rides like Scorpion and the larger rides like Montu and SheiKra. Reviews here on Florida Thrills Net described it as  “faster than it looks”, “good airtime”, “good hang-time” (during inversion). Other reviewers Busch Gardens Tampa - Cheetah Hunthere said “it does not deliver speed” and mentioned “many sections of track that are straight and boring.” Check out BGTNation’s full coverage.

Behind the Thrills Experiences a Break Down
Rachel and Erik from Behind the Thrills posted a myriad of photos and two on-ride videos from Media Day. They received two rides taped by the Cheetah Cam because during one of their rides, the coaster stalled before the final launch section. Rachel said:

“…it was a fun ride. While it wasn’t the most thrilling coaster I’ve ever been on, it was exciting and thrilling all at the same time.”

Check out their first video below and more Cheetah Hunt videos and photos.

And here’s an official POV video of Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa:

Note – These videos were filmed by professionals with permission from the park. For safety reasons, please DO NOT take a camera on a roller coaster.

My Take
I’m not sure what to say about the extreme vs. fun controversy. The launches looked sort of intense in the animated videos, but it make sense that it’s more of an exciting (not intense) roller coaster. Generally, the most intense rides aren’t so heavily themed and the most themed rides aren’t so intense. If the launches were more intense you’d fly by all those themed areas and you wouldn’t have a chance to see the park from those new vantage points.

I’d love people to compare and contrast Cheetah Hunt to Cedar Point’s Maverick. I haven’t been on either, but I’d imagine that they’re the most easily comparable rides as they’re both Intamin multi-launchers.

What’s Your Take?
Are you one of the lucky ones that has ridden Cheetah Hunt? Let us know what you thought. Vote in the poll below and leave a comment or mini review. Image 1 courtesy of TampaBayOnline, Image 2 courtesy of Behind the Thrills [poll id=”37″]

About The Author

Founder of My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

42 Responses

  1. RAS

    In non-technical descriptions; Maverick is wilder, faster, more unpredictable – makes me laugh every time (about 25 times and counting). Cheetah Hunt is like gliding; smooth and pleasantly exhilarating. The 2nd and 3rd launches offer a nice contrast to each other – the 2nd taking you straight up to the figure 8 and the 3rd to a nice air-time hump (the 1st launch = somewhat uneventful).

  2. Guilherme

    Good rollercoaster, but not exceptional, though. It´s a very nice themed ride, but it is not expect too much intensity. The drop is kind of fun, and getting to the top of the main tower delivers a great airtime.

  3. Diane skinner

    Maybe I'm just "old" but this ride was brutal. Way too fast, I closed my eyes for much of the time. Everything was a blur when they were open. It was violent and unpleasant. Just my opinion.

  4. cameron

    From what people are saying, at least the wait is much shorter than Maverick! I had a platinum pass at Cedar Point last year and I still had to wait almost an hour, even though I entered the park an hour earlier than the general admission holders… UGH. I'm also anticipating Cheetah Hunt to be not so harsh and extreme in the turns. This is Busch Gardens, they're known to make fun, well themed, quality rides, not record breaking. This is a great, well made ride overall in my opinion.

  5. Jonathan

    Ok, so here is my take on Busch Gardens’ (relatively new) Cheetah Hunt.

    Restraints: Nothing wrong with these. They are less restrictive than B+M’s on Montu, Kumba, and Sheikra, which makes for an enjoyable experience plus more room to get the full effect of airtime. Even when almost completely pulled down the restraints have enough room so as move or fix your position. They are also made of a soft rubber that doesn’t hurt nearly as much, if at all, than say, SFOG’s Ninja.

    Ride: First launch out of the station happens in almost no time, and surprises many guests in the second car (due to the duel loading like Sheikra, one train must wait until the other finishes the block to be launched). This leads into a tilted turn, taken at such a slow speed that you slide to the left of the train. A small dip into the trench leads into the big launch. The actual launch only takes a little less than 2 seconds, the first is spent just coasting through the trench, and the last few before the tower sustain 60 mph. Next comes the tower, which takes you up at almost a vertical angle. In the front, when you launch up the tower you get a nice pop of airtime, however in the back, you almost feel like you are being dragged up the tower. The slow crest is very unique as it is like the top of a vertical lift hill except there is no chain and it is much swifter. The figure eight is a good chance to admire the park, but the views aren’t as spectacular as Sheikra’s. Take the opportunity to wave to the people below. Now going down the 130 ft. drop into the trench is where your picture is taken, but the drop itself it nothing to write home about in the front row. In the back however, you make up for the lost airtime as you get about the same amount going down the hill. It is like a floater drop, which is another amazing thing about the ride. Then the straight section in the trench (boring) leads to the highlight, the skyride jump. It is cooler on the skyride to have the coaster jump over you because on the coaster, you don’t really notice. A dive under a park path into a 3rd trench leads into (in my opinion) the REAL highlight of the ride, the barrel roll. The looser restraints let you FALL OUT of you seats for a second, there are no forces trying to get you to stay in your seat. This inversion is amazing, it tops Dare Devil Dive’s barrel roll, which says a lot. A short break run lets you catch your breath (or readjust your seat position) and then comes a downwards U-Turn into a straight section of track over water (The river flows in the opposite direction from the ways you are going, giving you the illusion of a faster speed). Then a nice, long trick-track barely missing waterfalls and rock cliffs (great terrain coaster moment). Compared to Verbolten, the supports are 95% covered in water, so you feel much closer to the water.Then the third launch gives you the juice to conquer a parabola, boasting amazing airtime (3 full seconds). Then low to the ground twisties (think mini I 305) and a trench to the finish line.

    Final thoughts: In short CH is a great ride with all the features to be expected in a coaster. Airtime, acceleration, twisties, and trenches, plus good terrain coaster elements that put this coaster over the top. One of the smoothest coasters I have ever ridden. It just leaves you wanting another run. The only thing it is missing is a good finale/ending. This just takes an S-curve into the breaks, unlike Sheikra’s helix or Montu’s corkscrew. Overall, an excellent ride that BGT shouldn’t be ashamed of.

    Final Rating: 9.5/10


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