Friday, May 27, 2011

Cheetah Hunt, Busch Gardens' newest roller coaster, opens today!

Cheetahs will be big this summer with today's opening of Busch Gardens' newest roller coaster, Cheetah Hunt and real cheetah attraction, Cheetah Run. Sure wish I was there today to ride it! I hope I can take my family this summer (and sneak in a ride, because my boys are too little and my husband is not a coaster fan!).

Cheetahs are the fastest land animal, and that's what inspired the new coaster. Cheetah Hunt uses repelling magnets to go up to 60 miles per hour! Riders go up the 102-foot Windcatcher Tower, down into four underground trenches, over Busch Gardens’ Skyride, around a whitewater canyon and through a roll inversion.

The new ride is the longest coaster at Busch Gardens (in Tampa) at 4,429 feet, covering 13 acres. It also has a shorter height requirement (48 inches) than the park's other large coasters. So, it should be a memorable experience for families. Or moms seeking a thrill ride apart from their families. [cough cough]

The other part of the new attraction is Cheetah Run, where 14 cheetahs are at home in a habitat that looks like ancient temple ruins. Several times a day, lures will attract the cheetahs and urge them to sprint, showing off their speed and agility. Large glass windows let park visitors see the cheetahs up close. Wouldn't you love to come face to face with this furry speedster?

More importantly, videos and touch-screen stations teach about the cheetah's drop in population and how Busch Gardens’ partnership with the Cheetah Conservation Fund is helping the cats. So it's not all screams and oohs and ahhs.

If you have little kids like mine, they can ride the Air Grover coaster that's in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun area in Busch Gardens. Kids as short as 38 inches tall can ride with an adult. And before you know it, they'll be lining up to go on Cheetah Run!