Last Friday I stopped over at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay to put that Year Round Quick Queue that I wrote about to good use. Besides being a relatively quiet day around the park now that spring break season is winding down, it was also a special day for one of the park’s roller coasters!
Flashback for a moment to 1992 when the park that used to be owned by beer giant Anheuser-Busch announced that a new roller coaster would be built that would become the tallest, fastest and longest in the Sunshine State. 3,978 feet of track, 143 feet tall, seven inversions and a top speed of 60 miles per hour.
The beast would be named Kumba!
Kumba opened to the public on April 20, 1993, and back then was full of thrills and unique elements that are common on coasters built today. There’s no mistaking what roller coaster at Busch Gardens is Kumba, all you need to do is listen! “Kumba” translates to “roar” in Kongo and she certainly does. To eliminate noise that is generated from coaster trains speeding along the hollow track, designers fill the track with sand. In the case of Kumba, the roar is part of the theming – and it’s quite loud.
I’ve ridden Kumba quite a few times and she’s got that old-school coaster feel to her from the moment you step into the train and begin the climb. I won’t say she’s the smoothest of rides in the park but the twists, turns, and moments of zero-gravity she still delivers thrills.
So to mark the 25th birthday of the old girl, I took to the back row and off we went! For the next three minutes, we sped along the track, zipped through twists and turns, were lifted off our seats and screamed with excitement (or fear)! When we returned to the station, there wasn’t any birthday cake… no balloons… no “Happy Birthday” banner… just another line of folks waiting to step aboard this classic.
Take a ride with me in this 4K HD video I took from the front row of Kumba and get ready to roar!