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Domenik Jost

Cheetah Hunt and Cheetah Run debut at Busch Gardens Tampa

Published: May 27, 2011 at 7:01 AM

Today the day is finally here that Cheetaka… ah I mean Cheetah Hunt opens at Busch Gardens Tampa. Contrary to what “leaked” name that was floating around the social media several months back, the name of the attraction actually ended up being Cheetah Hunt and was designed to simulate a Cheetah on the hunt. Yesterday Busch Gardens gave the media the opportunity to come experience the new ride and the new exhibit, Cheetah Run.

So my day started at the Nairobi Gate entrance. This is the first time I got a glimpse at the new attraction which is overlooking the new Cheetah Run exhibit.

Right after walking into the park from the Nairobi Gate entrance you can see the Cheetah Run exhibit on the right side. In the exhibit 7 of the 14 Cheetahs are walking or running around at any given time. After walking past the exhibit, straight across from the Crown Colony Café is where the entrance of the new ride is found. Right next door in the same building is also the new Skyride entranced.

The queue line is nothing special and looks very much like what we have become familiar with to find of the attraction queues at SeaWorld/Busch Gardens parks. In the queue line you will find several plaques with facts about the ride and the Cheetahs, which inspired the ride. After waiting for several other riders to go first, it was finally my turn to ride the “new breed of speed”.

The ride was great, the coaster was smooth, the views were terrific, and the launches were amazing. The first part of the ride you get propelled out of the station into the first bank and onto the second launcher that send you high up onto the 102-foot Windcatcher Tower. From up here you get a great view of the entire park and the new Cheetah Run exhibit. Next we went down the first big drop into a tunnel (be sure to smile for the picture) and go out of it uphill and bank over the Skyride. Those going by on the Skyride will definitely get a great up close view of the ride as it zooms by. After the ride goes over the Skyride we go through yet another tunnel and into the only inversion of the ride. Following the only brake area in the middle of the ride we go through the location of the old water element of Rhino Rally weaving around the rocks and only inches from the water. Then there is one last launch over a hill that gives you yet another chance at some decent airtime and another turn that you don’t expect to be as sharp as it truthfully is.

I just have one issue with the ride and that is the restraint system. I personally am 6’2” and know there’s plenty of other people my height or taller. Well, be warned, your ride will not be the most comfortable and definitely don’t count in airtime. I had to pull my restraint down further than I would have liked to the point of starting to become slightly uncomfortable. The restraints seem like they were not designed for tall people and they made this more of a “family coaster” since the height limit is 2 inches less than Sheikra and Montu. I personally would have liked to see them not take away those 2 inches and rather kept them on for us taller folks to enjoy the ride better. But looking past the restraint problem, I do have to say Busch Gardens has done it again. They have built yet another world class coaster and integrated it an amazing animal exhibit. In the gift show you can purchase your ride pictures and/or ride video through convenient touch panels, all sorts of Cheetah Hunt gear, and you can even adopt your very own Cheetah.

Following my ride I got to interview Busch Gardens Tampa Park President Jim Dean with a select few of the questions some of you asked on the discussion board .

Next up I got to take a better look at the new Cheetah Run exhibit. The exhibit is built to resemble the ruins of an ancient temple and includes 220-foot path where Busch Gardens’ animal care experts will conduct sprints with the Cheetahs to stimulate their natural instincts and demonstrate their speed. Guests are able to view the Cheetahs along the entire length of the run area as well as up close along one of several glass panel viewing areas located on each end of the run.

The Cheetahs do come up close to the glass panel making for a very special moment, and it is just amazing seeing them run up the entire length of the exhibit during one of the “runs” the animal care experts conduct throughout the day.

You may also run into the youngest one of the 14 Cheetahs that call Busch Gardens home. When ‘Kasi’, the baby Cheetah, comes out, everything stops, who cares about the ride when there’s this most adorable little Cheetah is out playing around with his Labrador buddy ‘Mtani’ in the exhibit. Just check out this adorable picture of the ‘Kasi’.

For your enjoyment here is 6 minutes of raw video of Kasi the baby Cheetah.

You can find more theme park video on Theme Park Insider's YouTube Channel.

Replies (6)

Dominick D

Published: May 27, 2011 at 7:25 AM

They are so cute! But man, Kasi's growing.
Joshua Counsil

Published: May 27, 2011 at 8:13 AM

Great report, Domenick. Seems slower than I expected, but also incredibly smooth. Hopefully, the coaster is as exciting as Kasi is adorable.
Ryan S

Published: May 27, 2011 at 10:35 AM

if you look at 1:59 in the on ride video, you can see the word "break" substituted for "brake."
Domenik Jost

Published: May 27, 2011 at 11:06 AM

hah Ryan, good catch. it was late day. Thank YouTube for annotations.
Ray Schroeder

Published: May 27, 2011 at 12:20 PM

I'll have to make a side trip to Tampa on my next Disney trip to check it out. As long as it doesn't cut into my Casino time ;).
Russell Meyer

Published: May 28, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Nice work Domenik. It doesn't look like I'll be able to make it to Tampa this year, but we'll have to see how similar Busch Gardens Williamsburg's 2012 coaster is to is to Cheetah Hunt.

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