Cheetah Hunt Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is an innovative new coaster ride that celebrates the spirit of the cheetah. It opened May 27 and InPark editor/publisher Martin Palicki was there to try out the ride and conduct interviews. Here, Martin talks to Mark Rose, VP Design and Engineering.
More Cheetah Hunt coverage from IPM Digital Edition:
HOW DID YOU SELECT THE THEME FOR THE RIDE?
This has been an idea that we have looked at for a long time, over many years. It started off with my watching Star Wars, the sixth movie, where they are on the planet where the Ewoks are, and those speeders chase each other through the forest, near the trees and under [obstacles]. I always wondered what it would be like to have a coaster that could do that.
We had to have technology like a launch to be able to do that and then we were thinking over what kind of animal we could bring back to the park, and we thought cheetahs sort of mimic that close-to-the-ground speed and agility. Could we marry those two things together? We figured yes, we could do that.
HOW DID YOU SELECT THE RIDE MANUFACTURER?
We interviewed a number of ride manufacturers throughout the world and talked seriously with several of them. We thought Intamin had technology that was pretty well perfected and we liked the feel of those launches on other coasters. We thought it would be a good marriage and I think it has been a good partnership with them.
HOW ARE THE LSM MOTORS COOLED DOWN?
We have ours internally cooled. Underneath the stairs [to the loading station] we have a room that pumps glycol through the stators and there is a 70 ton water chilled chiller out back that is cooling the glycol. It’s not as messy [as external water sprayers].
HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO INTEGRATE THE ATTRACTION INTO THE OLD RHINO RALLY?
That whole close-to-the-ground and going into environments [concept] we thought could do very well there, and we had this canyon, and that this would be a great upgrade from just floating down on a Rover. If we could zoom through here on a coaster that would be really neat. So we decided to do that, and I think it’s been a good upgrade for us…And then when you pull out of it, there’s that third launch, and you’re on your way home.
DO YOU SEE A TREND GOING FORWARD OF PAIRING ANIMAL HABITATS WITH RIDES?
I don’t know if two rides [Manta & Cheetah Hunt] make it a trend or not, but here it made perfect sense to bring the Cheetahs back and mimic them. By putting them parallel to each other we have the coaster going 60 miles per hour, and we have a cheetah that probably would make 50mph right parallel to each other. So guests turn one way and they see a cheetah, and they turn the other way and they see a roller coaster looking like a cheetah.