I've driven about a total 500 miles today to go to Busch Gardens in Tampa. Why? Because there are some *awesome* roller coasters there. Oh, and the guy who came with me is going back to Australia tomorrow and I thought it would be a good send off. Here are the rides and here are the number of times we went on them:
Gwazi (old school wooden type) - 3 times
Kumba - 5 times
Montu - 4 times
Python - once
Scorpion - once
Here are some pictures of the rides someone has taken. I'm really looking forward to the Sheikra ride that will be finished in Spring next year!
About half-way through the day we started feeling a little sick because I suggested closing our eyes during the Montu ride (bad idea). Not to worry, a fairly healthy lunch and a quick ride on the airlift set things straight and we were able to continue on our roller coaster spree. I must admit though I'm actually a little shakey at the moment as I'm typing this even though the last ride I went on was quite a few hours ago. Lots and lots of adrenalin got used up today :-)
Update: How could I mention what rides I went on without giving a small review of each?
Gwazi is the first wooden roller coaster I've been on. This shouldn't be too surprising though - before I came to the US I'd only ever been on one roller coaster and that was "Lethal Weapon: The ride" on the Gold Coast. I was too wussy to go on it again all those years ago. How times change. Anyway, Gwazi was bloody fast and if you had a bad back before going on it you sure as hell would have to check in to the doctor afterwards. It was really, really rough. The first drop is what gets me. The first time I went on the ride I saw that first drop and some part of me started screaming a bit prematurely. I had to say to the people around me "Sorry - I'll try screaming at the right time". It's a heck of a drop. Pretty cool though.
Kumba reminds me of "The Hulk" in that it's big and it's fast. Being right at the front of the roller coaster (we got to do this on all the rides we rode on more than once) is something else as it's pretty freaky at the start just looking straight down before the rest of the carriages come over the rise. Very, very smooth ride at the front but a bit less smooth near the back. Nowhere near as bad as Gwazi though! I still say I prefer the Hulk to this. I think it has to do with the way you get launched out of a tunnel with the Hulk ride, rather than being pulled up and then let down as is done with Kumba (and all the other roller coaster rides at this park for that matter).
Montu is an inverted rollercoaster, and it's probably my favourite roller coaster so far. Really, really sharp turns and high G-forces make this a really cool ride. It broke down for a few minutes when we were being winched up on the 3rd ride. Luckily we were down near the ground still though. I think my fear of heights would have started to take effect otherwise!
Python and Scorpion were more lackluster. Python was just too damn short. Scorpion however was a little bit of a sleeper hit. It doesn't ever take you up that high but the turns are sharp and you come really close to the support structure of the coaster so there is a good sensation of speed. This is one coaster I'd like in my backyard.
So where to next on my rollercoaster quest? Well, I may go back to Islands of Adventure and Busch Gardens every now and then just to get a fix, but I think Cedar Point would be the ultimate destination for any roller coaster fan. This ride has my palms sweating just thinking about it. Top speed: approx 120 MPH (nearly 200 KPH). Acceleration: 0 -> 120 MPH in 4 seconds. Ride height: 420 feet (for people back in Adelaide, that's approximately the same height as the Santos building). Jeepers!