What Happened to Python at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay? A sad history.

“Are you ready to challenge the Python and live?”

Part of the infamous, somewhat truthful tagline for Busch Garden’s forgotten roller coaster, Python, brewed from the mysterious death of a 39 year old who died shortly after experiencing this reptilian attraction.

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Python Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Entrance in Congo Section Photo: Theme Park Review
Python Entrance in Congo Section of Busch Gardens
Photo: Theme Park Review

History of Python at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Python was Busch Garden’s first roller coaster built by the Arrow Development Company.

This ride opened on July 1st 1976, making it one of the earlier pioneers for the corkscrew thrill ride feature of its time.

Python Roller Coaster on Lift Busch Gardens Tampa Bay 1977
Photo Courtesy of Florida Memory

Its claim to fame was being known as the stomach-churning, double-corkscrew coaster made of steel with a chain lifting hill.

Python Roller Coaster Tampa Busch Gardens
Photo Courtesy of Florida Memory

This was an incredible feat at the time this attraction was built. Especially since the amusement park culture was starting to take over in America.

Busch Gardens Dark Continent Classic Logo in front of Park Gate
Busch Gardens Dark Continent Classic Logo in front of Park Gate Photo Cred: Florida Memory

Python was located in the old Congo section of the African-inspired theme park in 1976.

The deep foliage that covered Python was fitting to the Dark Continent theme that Busch Gardens was once famously known for.

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Congo Area Attractions Opened During the Life of the Python Roller Coaster

Busch Gardens Congo River Rapids
One Brave soul riding through icey cold waters on a January day.

This area of Busch Gardens Tampa housed some of the most popular rides of the park at that time such as:

  • Congo River Rapids
  • Ubanga Banga Bumper Cars
  • Congo Train Station
  • Kumba
  • Python
Busch Gardens Tiger Sanctuary
Tiger Area in Congo. Photo Cred: Florida Memory

Closure of Python Busch Gardens Tampa Roller Coaster

In 2003 the slithering roller coaster was repainted to bring it back to life and to restore the once feared roller coaster to its former glory.

Black and white photo of Python Busch Gardens Tampa Roller Coaster 1976
Python Roller Coaster Busch Gardens 1976 Photo Cred: Florida Memory

However, it would later be closed on Halloween of 2006, giving it one last time to paralyze its victims through the iconic corkscrews.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Jungala Tree Top Trails
New Jungala area of where Python once stood.

During November of 2006 the area in which Python roller coaster was located was soon destroyed to make room for the vibrant Jungala section residing there today.

Busch Gardens Tampa Python Roller Coaster Stats and Facts

  • Type: Steel
  • Location: Busch Gardens Tampa, Florida
  • Manufacturer: Arrow Development
  • Height/Drop: 70 ft.
  • Height Restriction: 4’0”
  • Max Speed: 50 mph
  • Length: 1250 ft.
  • Number of Inversions: 2
  • Max Riders Per Hour: 480
  • Duration of Ride: 1:10
  • Number of Trains: 2 trains with 6 cars per train
  • Color Scheme: Yellow and Black
  • Opened in 1976 and closed in 2006

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My Final Thoughts on Python at Busch Gardens

Python will always be a very special thrill ride to me.

After all, it was where I was initiated into the crazy world of roller coasters and where my passion to try the fastest, most terrifying rides began.

Python Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Yellow Arrow Development
Python Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Overlooking Tiger Area Photo Cred: Florida Memory

It would launch my thirst for anything exhilarating and dangerous during my youthful theme park years.

Python Roller Coaster
Python Roller Coaster 1977 (Photo Courtesy of Florida Memory)

And I truly won’t forget the many school field trips and family summer vacations that would land me at Busch Gardens.

You never truly know just how much of an impact a theme park has on you until you’re older. The memories linger way after the people who experienced it with you have transitioned to a life beyond this world.

Python was not only my first experience of a roller coaster, but also the first of many Florida theme park enthusiasts.

Old Busch Gardens Map with Tidal Wave Lory Landing and Python roller coaster.
Old Busch Gardens Map: Florida Life and Leisure

I hope we all will remember this great ride which lived during the golden years of the Florida amusement park boom.

Theme Park History of the Python Busch Gardens Tampa Roller Coaster
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Did you ever ride this Python at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay? If so, what was your favorite part of the ride? Let me know in the comments section below.

If you enjoyed this article, then you’ll love these:

Go ahead and read the top Busch Gardens Tampa Must Do’s here or if you’re more of a podcast person, then you can listen here.

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!


(Original Article Date: July 2, 2015/Updated on May 16, 2022)

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4 thoughts on “What Happened to Python at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay? A sad history.”

  1. Great Work, I also have a special place in my heart for Python, being the sibing to my first coaster, the Loch Ness Monster.

    This Arrow Classic I rode for the first time in Summer of 2006. I rode it several times that summer day in July, and sadly it would be my last ride on Python, unknown to me at the time.
    In Oct. I was shocked to learn it was slated for demolition, no simply closure, and relocation, but scrap.
    What an important landmark, it should have held once of those ACE markers like Loch Ness.

    • Hi Chris!

      I totally feel you on your love for Python. It was definitely the sibling to Loch Ness Monster which I never had the chance to experience. I’m sad that Busch Gardens decided to demolish, but kept Scorpion (AND added Jungala) instead. Python was my very first roller coaster EVER and I too was sad and shock to see it leaving the park.


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