Specific Type: Steel, Wild Mouse
In early 1996, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, now known as Busch Gardens Williamsburg, installed a new compact wild mouse coaster from Mack with the intention of keeping the attraction only that season, and then shipping it off to another park. It was named Izzy, themed to a mascot for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Being the Virginia theme park's only family-geared coaster, however, and bringing back memories of the park's Wildcat and Glissade compact steel twisters that had operated nearby a decade prior, Izzy proved so popular that Busch Gardens Williamsburg scrapped plans for relocation after the '96 season, and gave the ride the new name Wilde Maus to fit the theme of the German village that it happened to reside in. So the mouse stuck around the next season, even as the world's tallest inverted coaster Alpengeist went up right next door and the 210-foot Apollo's Chariot two years later, thrilling riders of all ages with its 1,217 feet of twisting track with hairpin curves and quick dips. A good seven years later, the end of the track finally came for Wilde Maus, with BGW planning a permanent replacement for the compact coaster in 2004. But sister park Busch Gardens Tampa, home to major rides like Montu and Gwazi, was in the same situation that the Williamsburg park had been in eight years before, lacking any type of family-geared coaster, so the green track and yellow supports came down in Virginia and went right back up again some 700 miles south in Florida as blue track and orange supports, and the coaster prepared to reopen as Cheetah Chase. Located in BGT's Timbuktu section in place of a flat ride that had operated as Crazy Camel, Cheetah Chase reopened in early 2004 and can now prove a hit once more as a coaster for the whole family.
In 2011, Busch Gardens Tampa opened Cheetah Hunt, a new multi-launch, LSM coaster designed by Intamin. The problem was that it would be the second coaster in the park with cheetah in its name, and could cause confusion for some guests. Henceforth, Cheetah Chasewas renamed to Sand Serpent so no confusion arose between the two rides.
Four riders sit two by two and pull down lap bars in Sand Serpent’s station before they can begin their wild ride. Out of the boarding area, the track makes a tight L-turn heading left and leading right to the lift hill. The chain pulls the car up to a decent height of forty-six feet where it sends the carload dipping into a second left turn to start to get things going. From there, the coaster rolls along its first straightaway leading into a hairpin U-turn to give the ride the traditional wild mouse 'whip' sensation. Over another straightaway and Sand Serpent riders are sent through another hard turn towards the lift in the opposite direction, then braking slightly and on towards the third hairpin turnaround. Riders are taken around the next sharp curve and a fourth straightaway, getting them set for another hairpin to the right, followed by the same sequence of elements repeated twice more. The major run of hairpins complete, the track makes a 270-degree turnaround descending as it goes and feeding into a straightaway before the car hits a small hill onto a block-braking area parallel to the lift hill. Two 90-degree left-handers, and then passengers are sent down the ride's first and largest drop - a 25-foot plunge - that pulls right up into a climb under the blue track above for Sand Serpent's first far turnaround. Down another drop parallel to the lift, then the track rises gradually into a 90-degree hairpin into some trim brakes. Ninety more degrees to the left, and then the ride dips, hops, and heads down an inclined brake run and around one last L-turn to the station.
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