During Spring Break, on March 26th, 2013, we visited Busch Gardens Tampa, and began our 2013 Coaster season. While our day was very interesting (park trip report to come soon), one of our main focuses was Gwazi.
Gwazi's Tiger side has been out of operation for over 6 months. Rumor has it that Gwazi has suffered major budget cuts, and was forced to keep only one side in operation. This is extremely sad for the Wooden Coaster as there is no care for it. The Tiger sides trains have been stripped and there is a loading bridge over the track, for handicap and Quick Que riders to enter. The Tiger sides entrance has even been removed. It seems that Busch Gardens Tampa is trying to create Gwazi has only one side, and not two, to make the general public forget the true ride experience.
Now, what will the future for Gwazi be? No one knows the exact answer to that.
In all honestly, I think Busch Gardens does not know exactly what they will do with Gwazi, but they will need to come to an answer soon. When they first opened the Coaster, they wanted it to be a huge hit and one if the most popular rides in the park. Over time, it failed to live up to the parks, and the general public's greatest expectations. I'm not saying Gwazi is a terrible Coaster. It is a good Wooden Coaster, but not the best. If I had a choice to ride any Coaster at the park, I would hands down pick SkeiKra, Cheetah Hunt, Scorpion, Kumba, or Montu over Gwazi. A few years ago the park tried to improve the Coaster by adding Millennium Flyer trains to make the Coaster smoother. That certainly helped, but the Coaster didn't click with the general public. For now, they want to keep one side in operation, and see how that works for the Coaster. If they are successful, they will keep Gwazi like that. However, the park can not keep Gwazi like that forever.
An action will need to be done, but Gwazis future does not look to bright. Gwazi receiving budget cuts is scary in the first place. BGT will never make budget cuts to their major Coasters, like SheiKra or Cheetah Hunt. If there treating the Coaster like this, they will never pay money to improve it again, like add Topper Track.
If BGT will not improve it, Gwazi may be removed from the park. I was talking to an employee at the park, and she said the there are rumors that the park will remove Gwazi and put in a new Coaster in it's place... I was shocked to think that, as it will be a terrible idea. However, after much thought, I think it can be a good idea. Gwazi has a huge footprint, even bigger than the monster SheiKra. If Gwazi is removed, there will be a ton of new room to add a new section to the park and a nice new (steel) Coaster.
This picture shows the huge footprint of Gwazi, compared to other Coasters, like SheiKra and Scorpion. It also shows the employee center, located in the center of the park.
If Gwazi was removed, and the center was relocated, BGT would have a lot of new area to expand.
(Picture provided by Google Earth)
So IF Gwazi will get removed, when will it be? Personally I think it will be removed during the 2014 season or later, after the new Drop Tower (Desert Dive) is added to the park. I think the reason why the new Drop Tower has been delayed for quite so time was that the park was deciding what to do first: possibly remove Gwazi, or add the Drop Tower. I think they mad a good choice with adding the Drop Tower for the early 2014 season, and not making an action on Gwazi.
What do you think the future of Gwazi be? Remove it or restore it? I hope for restoring it, but if the park would want to remove it, they could always remove just one side. (How awesome would it be if the park removes the Tiger side, send it to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and resorting it? Then BGT will have room to add in a new ride or attractions. But that will never happen.)
What would you like to see happen to Gwazi, and do you care for it?
Photos of Gwazi: Taken by us (Coaster Of The Day)
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