In June of 1999, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay introduced a new king of the wild to the African-themed park - Gwazi. As the African legend goes, the two sides of a half-tiger, half-lion beast called Gwazi battle against themselves to see which cat ultimately dominates. Busch Gardens took the legend of Gwazi and decided to interpret it into a king of wild rides. The wooden coaster creators at Great Coasters International were called to the Tampa Bay, Florida scene to bring the legend to life and did so with one of the most twisting, turning, cyclonic wooden coaster creations the world had ever seen. As with the legend, Gwazi is one two rides in one as one of the few dueling coasters in existence, with riders on the trains of two separate tracks - appropriately named Lion and Tiger - flying by each other at combined speed of 100 miles per hour as they duel along. The two separate 3,400-foot track layouts of the coaster consist of six synchronized fly-by elements and intertwining curves - making for a total of 6,800 feet of coaster track and two minutes and thirty seconds of coaster thrills.
The ride ran incident free until 2006, when a 52 year old resident of Palm Springs, California, died during one of the rides cycles. The cause of the person’s death was provoked by the individual’s high blood pressure.
From the ride’s opening in 1999 up until 2010, Gwazi ran four trains from the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. This type of rolling stock was not totally compatible to the twisting nature of the ride, which provoked roughness nearly on all points of the course. So, Busch Gardens turned to Great Coasters International for new Millennium Flyer’s, a more articulated type of train. The trains were a huge success; they not only decreased the roughness, but also gave the ride two pairs of some of the most beautiful rolling stock for a wooden coaster.
The two sides of Gwazi begin by leaving their station and traveling around 180-degree curves to the lift hills. The lion and tiger climb up to 90-foot lift peaks and round curves before descending down the first plunges. At the bottom, passengers onboard the two sides find themselves speeding straight towards each other at the ride's maximum 50 mile-per-hour speeds. With only feet to spare, the two trains bank in opposing curves and take on 180-degree Fan Curves in opposite directions and then go head-to-head again in a second ferocious fly-by. After each rounding 315-degree banked Carousel Curves, the Tiger and Lion tracks wrap around each other and then begin separate courses. The two courses meander in separate directions around the outskirts ofGwazi's territory, but then head towards each other once again and perform another fly-by over the station area. The wooden tracks curve through right and left-hand banked Carousel Curves and head under the lift hill structures to begin a final fly-by track. Entering the final brake runs, Lion and Tiger curve around back into the station.
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