Hard hat construction tour of Busch Gardens' Cheetah Hunt coaster

We were recently invited to take a guided hard hat tour of Busch Gardens’ newest attraction. The Cheetah Hunt roller coaster and Cheetah Run animal habitat are set to open at 9 a.m. on May 27, 2011. Let’s see how the construction is coming along.

Let’s start with the video of our tour, led by Vice President of Design and Engineering Mark Rose.

Cheetah Hunt roller coaster hard hat construction tour at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

This is a look at the holding pens for the Cheetahs. Most of the cheetahs are already at the park and are temporarily located near one of the other roller coasters to help get them used to the sounds.

Assistant Curator Tim Smith gives our group an overview of Cheetah Run, the animal habitat part of the attraction. Notice the cool-looking hard hats. Unfortunately for us, we weren’t allowed to keep them. Fortunately for you, they said they’d be giving some of them away to their Facebook and Twitter followers.

Mark Rose stands in front of the most visually appealing part of the coaster track. As he said in the video, this is the part that makes guests take notice. Riders will be shot up the track you see here. The downward part of the track hasn’t been installed yet.

Construction of one of the many trenches the coaster will ride through.

These are examples of some of the designs you’ll see once the attraction is finished.

This was taken from a public bridge the coaster will travel underneath.

One of a couple of statues we saw during our tour. The statues are designed to resemble a piece of driftwood in the shape of a cheetah.

The old monorail building is where you’ll board and exit the ride. This jumble of steel will become a “rock” in the shape of a cheetah.

The future loading area.

Of course you’ll pass by here on your way off the ride. This will be the gift shop.

Workers preparing the track in a maintenance bay.

Although the ride will last about a minute to two minutes, that’s enough time to speed you down through the African grasslands and back. There will be three quick launches along the way.

Not only will the coaster take riders in trenches, below bridges and over buildings, it will also go over the SkyRide buckets. This piece of track is expected to be the last added when they complete the track in the next week. Once the track is complete, one of the first things they’ll do is drag the coaster cars along the whole track.

A look straight up the track that will take riders to the top of the figure eight tower.

What looks like shock absorbers is part of a retractable brake that will only activate if the train doesn’t make it up the climb seen in the last photo. These aren’t expected to be needed, but better safe than sorry.

The 4,429 feet of track seems like a lot more when you’re walking along it. This coaster covers a lot of ground.

Here’s a panoramic view of the main construction area.

Expect the current Cheetah Chase roller coaster to be renamed before Cheetah Hunt opens. The coaster is rumored to be renamed Sand Serpent.

Here’s a point-of-view ride-through rendering:

Cheeta Hunt ride-through rendering - New roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Cheeta Hunt Facts
Launches: Launch 1: 30 mph, Launch 2: 60 mph, Launch 3: 40 mph
Track Length: 4,429 feet – more than three-quarters of a mile
Maximum Speed: 60 mph
Maximum Force: 4G
Height: 102 feet
Ride Duration: Three and a half minutes with loading and unloading, about one minute and 20 seconds of ride time.
Vehicle: five trains, 16 passengers per train
Guest Capacity: 1,370 guests per hour
Height requirement: 48 inches
Manufacturer: Intaride LLC, exclusive U.S. supplier of Intamin rides


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  1. Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a entirely different subject but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Superb choice of colors!