Busch Gardens Set To Close Gwazi… Forever
Gwazi the dual track wooden coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa has had a rough ride the past several years, literally. The coaster opened to rave reviews in 1999 as one of the largest and fastest dual wooden coasters in the country. After it got “broke in” it then became known for one of the roughest woodies in the world.
Screamscape is reporting that the coaster will close permanently in 2015. We followed up and according to a park employee the coaster will indeed be giving it’s last rides on or around February 1st, 2015.
The coaster tracks were built similar to the near miss style of Dragon Challenge at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. The two trains called Lion and Tiger, would give the psychological impression that they were going to collide, but that was just a fun illusion. Other than being rough, the trains were completely safe the entire ride.
The coaster got rougher with the philadelphia toboggan company trains as years passed by. In 2012 the coaster was re-tracked and fitted with new Millennium Flyer trains, which gave a marginally smoother ride. Guests still complained the coaster was rough and the park said the upkeep was high, so the park decided to close the Tiger side permanently. There’s no word if both trains will operate as a final farewell, but Lion will still be running as normal until the ride closes for good.
There has been no official word of a replacement coaster yet, but rumors have been out there that there would be a revamp of the track with Rocky Mountain Coasters to convert it into a hybrid coaster. We did see the RMC team at the park while we were visiting during IAAPA, but they also could have been there just for leisure…
Busch Gardens Virginia opened a multi-launching steel coaster called Verbolten in 2012 and is in the process of building another new coaster now. The two parks usually take turns building new coasters, so Tampa should be next up for a new one in 2015/2016.