We were able to get as close as possible to the ride itself without actually riding last week during a special preview event (the official opening date has just been confirmed as June 17), and we can confirm this looks like a truly fun and family-orientated experience.
While sister park SeaWorld has just opened hyper-coaster Mako (and you can read all about that from last week’s blog), Busch Gardens has another family-orientated experience in mind with its new coaster, albeit still with plenty of thrill potential!
We arrived at the park before opening last Friday to see the ride in full ‘test’ mode, and were greeted by Gerard Hoeppner, the park’s vice-president of marketing. He told us: “Cobra’s Curse really does put a new ‘spin’ on family thrills as this is a first-of-its-kind experience.
“You’ll come face-to-fang with a 70-foot snake icon, with 4-foot fangs that glow in the dark, and we also have another new element, a fully air-conditioned, immersive queue that tells the story of the Snake King. Inside the queue are four species of snakes, including three of the most feared vipers in the world. And then you get to the ride itself.”
And what a ride it promises to be. The initial lift-hill is a novel vertical elevator that puts riders at the top of the structure – and the “face-to-fang” moment Gerard mentioned. The track then dips outward, and down, at a 70-degree angle. The top speed is only 40mph, but it will feel a bit faster in the open ‘mine car’ design of the ride vehicle.
There are several significant banks and turns, over and around the Egypt area – as the ride is brilliantly constructed and integrated within the existing infrastructure – before it crests another rise, allowing the two cars to revolve and go backwards into the next section. As if that isn’t novel enough, both cars then begin to spin independently on their axis, allowing for a whole variety of different experiences.
At several points the cars will face each other, giving riders the chance to see the effect on their fellow park guests, and, depending on the load and weight of each car, they will either spin more noticeably or glide into each turn.
It should add up to a truly exciting – but not too formidable – experience that appeals to most people who make the 3ft 6in height restriction, while just watching the ride in action is quite a thrill.
And for those who have a fear of snakes, fear not! You can bypass the themed enclosure, which cannot be seen from the main queue, but is in a small cove-like area that is an extension of the queue. That said, it would be a shame to miss this fantastic exhibit, but the bypass is there if you need it.
Jeff Hornick, senior director of theme park development for the SeaWorld parks, walked us around the ride, through the queue area and onto the loading platform. He explained: “This is the most story-driven ride we have in the park. It uncovers the curse of the Snake King, and the ride is unlike anything in the world. We call it a family spin coaster but it is really much more than that. From the lift-hill to the snake icon, this is a unique experience, and we can’t wait to give our guests the full experience on June 17.”
Having seen Cobra’s Curse up close, we can only echo Jeff’s sentiments – and we can’t wait to ride it!
If you have questions about Orlando’s theme parks – or anything else about the wonders of Florida – be sure to go online and ask Susan and Simon on the ATD forums.
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