Home to many roller coasters, thrill rides, and even animals, Busch Gardens Tampa is one of country’s premiere theme parks. However, in order to have the best experience, make sure you have a plan of attack to minimize wait times, and maximize your time at the park.
In this article, I list which rides get the longest lines, shortest lines, and when to hit each ride. Follow this ride order to help improve your experience at the park! Quick note: this order is intended for those arriving at or close to park opening, if you arrive later, lines will be longer, though I will include some tips for late arrivals to the park.
*This post will be updated when Iron Gwazi opens in spring 2022
Morning Ride Order
Immediately after entering, book it to Cheetah Hunt or Cobra’s Curse. These two family-thrill attractions receive the longest lines in the park, and are must-do attractions so get on them early. It doesn’t really matter which of the two you go to first, just make sure both have been ridden ASAP.
Really enjoyed Cheetah Hunt or Cobra’s Curse, this is the time to re-ride. As much as you may be tempted to explore the rest of the park, if you can’t get enough of these coasters, ride them again, or pick one to ride again, since the lines will become very long for these two attractions as the day proceeds.
Time for Tigris
If thrill rides are your thing, don’t miss out on Tigris, the park’s triple-launched shuttle coaster. Opening in 2019, this is park’s newest roller coaster until Iron Gwazi, so it has a popularity boost just from its “new” factor. The ride can only operate with one, three-car train, so the capacity is more limited compared to other rides in the park.
Pantopia or Sheikra
If you care about riding Sand Serpent (which you may not if you want to do the park’s thrill rides), go to Pantopia, the section of the park featuring Sand Serpent, Falcon’s Fury, and Scorpion. Then come back to ride Sheikra. If you want to skip Sand Serpent, which I would recommend for thrill-seekers, head to Sheikra. Located close to Tigris, featuring a 200ft+ height and 90° drops, Sheikra is a must-do for thrill seekers. This ride should have a manageable wait if you ride it early, but may become one of the longest in the park as the day progresses. Now that you’ve ridden Sheikra, go to Pantopia.
Sand Serpent receives very long waits, so ride it early if it’s a ride you don’t want to miss. If you already made the trek to Pantopia, you may as well hit Falcon’s Fury and Scorpion, two attractions that will likely have short(er) waits in the morning, and get long waits as the day progresses.
Montu is one of the park’s most intense and thrilling roller coasters, featuring 7 inversions and hanging (or “inverted”) seating, meaning you ride under the track. If you are riding this at or around lunch time, after doing Sheikra and the rides in Pantopia, there may still be a significant line. If you’re visiting on a busy day without Quick Queue, it may not be possible to avoid waiting in at least a few long lines. Montu tends to get waits not as long as some of the previously-mentioned rides, though you should still try to ride this as soon as you can.
Save Kumba and Stanley Falls Flume
Kumba is one of the park’s signature attractions, but often has a shorter line than the other roller coasters. This is because the ride is located way in the back of the park and runs with up to three 36 passenger trains. This is a great ride to save for when the lines on the park’s other attractions become too long. Another great attraction, for both thrill-seekers and families, is the Stanley Falls Flume. This is a water ride, and you can get wet, so factor that into your personal plan, but if you don’t mind a splash, this is a great midday or afternoon attraction, since it tends to have shorter lines with its high capacity.
Afternoon/Evening Ride Order
Whether you’re getting to the park for a night trip or are waiting for those midday crowds to lessen, nighttime can be very effective for getting on more rides.
What do the last 2 hours of park operation
Most rides in the park will have manageable waits less than two hours from park close. This is a great time to ride Montu, Tigris, Scorpion, and Falcon’s Fury. I would recommend saving Cheetah Hunt and Cobra’s Curse to the last 45 minutes of operation since they will have longer lines generally. If any ride still has a long wait during the last 2 hours of park operation, I recommend returning in an hour – you’ll likely see a decrease in the line.
What to do last?
Busch Gardens Tampa, from experience, does not close off entrances to queue lines until the time the park closes. That means that they will keep running rides even after park close if you are in line. However, I would recommend getting in line 15 minutes before park close, maybe 10 minutes before. Any less would be cutting it very close, and there’s a chance that the employee at the entrance to the queue decides to call it an early night.
So what should you ride last? I’d recommend riding the rides that get the longest lines during the day, and was hard to re-ride after hitting first-thing. So, Cheetah Hunt or Cobra’s Curse are great attraction to do at night. If when the park closes is after sundown, Cheetah Hunt is a must-do. There are no lights along the ride’s course, so it’s pitch black and a very unique experience.
What to do when the lines get too long?
Consider reading my article Maximizing Your Trip to Busch Gardens Tampa providing some tips for activities to do when the rides for the rides get too long. I also have an article breaking down Quick Queue, Busch Tampa’s skip-the-line system.
When the lines get long, there are a few rides that are great to hit during the hours when most lines get too long. Stanley Falls, Skyride, Kumba, and (sometimes) Falcon’s Fury are some rides that tend to have shorter lines. The midday period is great for checking out the animals and enjoying the safari. One great way to do this is by taking the safari train, which tends to have minimal lines and amazing views!
Ride order for families/kids (less thrill rides)
There are 5 coasters at Busch Tampa that I would consider suitable for families. 3 (in Cheetah Hunt and Cobra’s Curse and Scorpion) are fairly thrilling, and are not suitable for very young kids, but are great transition rides into the park’s high thrill attractions. The other 2; Sand Serpent and Air Grover are two less-thrilling attractions, the later being the smallest of the bunch and is the only
kid’s coaster in the park.
Ride Order with Quick Queue
If you have normal Quick Queue (not unlimited QQ), you should still try and arrive at opening, and follow this general ride guide. This would allow you ride attractions more than the once-permitted on the QQ if you use the normal lines when they are short in the morning. Basically, if you have QQ, save it to when the lines get longer, or use it immediately for rides you’d likely only want to ride once.
If you have Quick Queue Unlimited (allowing for unlimited rides on the included attractions), you really don’t need to follow this guide. Since you can just wait a minimal amount any time, as many times as you want, following this guide is likely not necessary.
To visit Busch Gardens Tampa’s official website, click here.