Sean: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment (including the Busch Gardens parks) announced quite the line-up of new-for-2020 coasters. The amusement park chain however only opened one so far, in Texas. With the delays in ride openings due to COVID-19, we took the moment to pick the 5 best coasters in the chain, as we’ve ridden them all!
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5. Alpengeist – Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
First up is our beloved near-hyper terrain Inverted Coaster reaching speeds of 67 miles per hour. Standing 195 ft. tall, Alpengeist remains the tallest full-circuit Inverted Coaster since its opening in 1997. Narrowly navigating the park’s beautiful terrain, the ghost of the Alps is in a category of its own with a unique superstructure and massive inversions. Though the ride starts off a lot more intense than it finishes, the overall ride experience can’t be found elsewhere in the world and secures a spot on this list.
4. Mako – SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, Florida)
Perhaps Orlando’s best and favorite coaster is the 200 ft. tall modern B&M Hyper Coaster that we call a “mini-giga” because of its late-era-B&M design quirks. Themed to the fastest shark in the world, Mako rushes by the waters on the edge of SeaWorld Orlando at 73 miles per hour. A forceful first drop is followed by a wild layout of out-of control airtime on some of the best coaster rolling stock around. The finale after the mid-course brake makes for a scenic approach back to the station but is a bit dull, placing it on the 4th spot on this list.
3. Texas Stingray – SeaWorld San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas)
SeaWorld San Antonio truly has a winner on their hands. The new-for-2020 wooden coaster by Great Coasters International does everything just right: from perfect airtime moments including a straight-drop of a 100 ft., to fast paced turns interacting with the terrain, Texas Stingray has it all. Every time the layout could have been in any way predictable, the god-tier GCI threw an unexpected drop or turn at us. Texas Stingray has a beautiful aesthetic, wonderful Millennium Flyer trains (without seat belts) and one kick-ass layout. Can’t miss this coaster on your next trip to Texas.
2. Apollo’s Chariot – Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
Coming in a very strong second place is the first B&M Hyper Coaster ever built: Apollo’s Chariot (and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it is perhaps still the best). Over the course of 20 years, Apollo’s Chariot has proven to be a consistent B&M power house that uses the terrain like no other. With a wide variety of terrain-dictated elements and a setting even more glorious than the airtime itself, Apollo’s Chariot is a classic that has earned its keep.
1. Kumba – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (Tampa, Florida)
Our number one spot goes to the grandfather of all modern-loopers: Kumba. Just 3 years after Viper (Six Flags Magic Mountain) became the wildest looper in the world, Kumba swooped in with a unique layout and all-new elements. Not only is Kumba the first coaster with a dive loop, it’s also the first to offer the style of zero-G-roll, massive vertical loop, interlocking corkscrews, and the large-variety of cobra roll. To top it all off, the 7-inversion beast has one of only 4 (operating) vertical loops that wraps around the lift-hill.
If this wasn’t enough of a reason for its special status on this list, Kumba also offers out-of-control pacing, beautiful integration with surrounding landscaping and infrastructure, and a killer finale that features a tunnel and helix. The historical significance of the nearly-4000 ft. long coaster, combined with the snappy and forceful layout secured its spot on the list. 27 years old and still running like a dream.
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