After waiting a few months for the hubbub to die down, I visited Busch Gardens to try out their new roller coaster: Tigris. Advertised as “Florida’s Tallest Launch Coaster“, I couldn’t wait to try it out.
I’ve always loved roller coasters and living near world class amusement parks is one of my favorite perks about living in Tampa Bay. The luxury of having an annual pass: you can go to Busch Gardens and only ride one ride without feeling guilty that you’re not seeing more attractions.
I picked a Saturday Morning in July, trying to avoid our daily afternoon thunderstorms and attempting to do outside things before the heat index became too oppressive.
Tigris: First Impressions
They built Tigris in the back corner of the park that used to house Tanganyika Tidal Wave and, for us oldies, the African Queen Boat Ride before that!
We made a beeline for Tigris with the intent of riding it and heading home to get out of the heat. Shei Kra, one of our favorite coasters in the park, tempted us, but we managed to pass it without stopping!
The wait clocks displayed 40 minutes: encouraging! The stream of tourists walking away and the lack of movement on the ride: discouraging.
They had paused the ride for undetermined reasons. The attendants weren’t responsive to questions. We decided to grab lunch: chicken tenders and cheese fries. Maybe not the best idea, as you will see.
Tigris: Watching and Waiting
As we finished lunch, we could hear Tigris roaring again and people walking back towards it. When we got there, the wait had increased to 70 minutes.
We dutifully settled in for our wait. As native Floridians, we are also veteran theme park goers and we know all the tricks.
- Bring a drink.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible.
- Play group phone games. (Heads Up is a particular favorite if you don’t mind being obnoxious.)
- People watch!
Tigris stands 150 feet tall and consists of two twisting loops of orange steel resembling a Mobius strip. It’s a launch coaster that goes forwards and backwards. You spend the first few seconds rolling up and down, getting launched faster and faster before you get fully inverted.
Most importantly, once you’re inside the shed, right before you get on the coaster itself, you get a first-hand view of the screaming riders! I’ve never been on a ride before where the cars are going by you at full speed: 62 mph!
Finally, after the full 70-minute wait, we got to ride. Important note: you should really empty your pockets and leave everything in the cubby-holes on the other side of the waiting area.
If you want to skip the line, Busch Gardens’ version of fast pass, Quick Queue, starts at $79.99/guest as of this writing.
The 3 cars have 3 rows with 2 riders each allowing 18 people to ride at a time. The snug seating has more intense shoulder restraints than other coasters, probably because the ride basically consists of two really fast loop-de-loops.
Once you’re strapped in you get to experience 40-ish seconds of acceleration, twisting and looping. It’s a lot of fun and definitely a different experience than any other coaster I’ve been on. For me, it’s less like a roller coaster and more like the ultimate swinging ship ride on steroids, like the currently unused Phoenix, also at Busch Gardens.
Unfortunately for me, the combination of getting more motion sick as I get older and the heavy meal beforehand tinged the ride with some unpleasant vertigo and a headache. I’ve noticed that nowadays, I can only ride 1 or 2 coasters a day.
For me, I still like Shei Kra and Cheetah Hunt more than Tigris. It’s a good ride, but I probably won’t go out of my way to ride it, since I prefer those other two coasters to spend my coaster quota on.
I definitely recommend riding Tigris if you haven’t been on it, but I’d avoid eating anything heavy beforehand! It’s unlike anything I’ve ever been on and I don’t think any other attractions in Florida have anything like it.
I’ll ride it again in the future, but it’s not top tier for me. It’s along the lines of Cobra’s Curse and Congo River Rapids. Fun if you’re in the mood, but not something to plan a trip around.