Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens: Ultimate Roller Coaster Thrill!

Are you ready to conquer Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens?

When it comes to giant steel roller coasters that scare the bejeezus out of you, Busch Gardens, Tampa has no rival.

It seems like the theme park has no shortage of inspiration for creating these ginormous steel monsters.

One such inspiration being the fastest animal on the planet– the cheetah.

Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens is a high thrill roller coaster, not made for the faint-hearted.

As its name suggests, the ride features high-speed inversions and ridiculously great acceleration.

Inspired by the cheetah’s ability to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (miles per hour) in a mere three seconds, the three-minute ride contains three stomach-lurching launches with lightning-fast acceleration. 

Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens during Christmas

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Why You’ll Love the Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa

Busch Gardens Tampa has done its best to imitate the cheetah’s movements, going so far as to adapt the scenery around the ride so you can really feel like a cheetah after its prey.

Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah hunt roller coaster next to train tracks

People who have been on the ride say that these numerous launches, the ever-changing scenery, and the cool river segment make for one awesome ride.

Cheetah taking off running

However, to truly experience the Cheetah Hunt in all its glory, we must first prepare.

So buckle up ThemeParkHipster, I am going to tell you everything there is to know about Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa!

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History of Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens wasn’t always the home of the adrenaline junkies. It actually started out as an additional decoration to the nearby brewery.

View showing gondola skyride at the Busch Gardens amusement park in Tampa Florida next to Anheuser Busch
View showing gondola skyride at the Busch Gardens amusement park in Tampa Florida next to Anheuser Busch. Photo Credit: Florida Memory

Over time, it became the roller coaster capital of Florida and is now an enormous theme park with different sections and various themes.

Near the Edge of Africa section, Busch Gardens unveiled Cheetah Hunt back in 2011. The idea of it, however, was born a few years earlier.

Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt roller coaster green track Things to do at Busch Gardens Tampa.

And it was inspired by (surprise, surprise!) the Return of the Jedi. Yep, didn’t expect that either.

Busch Gardens Tampa Travel Planner and Itinerary Guide

More specifically, it was the bike chase scenes that reminded Mark Rose, the Vice President of Design and Engineering of the cheetah’s power, speed, and agility.

Inspired by this, he proceeded to create a replica of the Nairobi area of Africa.

Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster
Busch Gardens Cheetah Hunt

The scenery around the ride changes from a vast green Savannah to the high vantage points of treetops, rocky gorges, and finally a river.

Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt Crossing over bridge

Busch Gardens put out a teaser campaign in 2010 where people had to guess the theme of this ride with the help of the hints given.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Cheetah Hunt Tiger Topiary

Those who guessed certain words correctly would get access to more pictures and information about the ride.

Read: Groupon Busch Gardens: Money-Saving Travel Deals You MUST Get !

Cheetah Hunt Named Top Ride of 2011

The ride was also placed at the top of the 10 Most Exciting New Theme Park Attractions of 2011 by Theme Park Tourist.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay outside entrance showing tiger topiary and cheetah hunt
Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster

It can be safely assumed that this contributed to the enormous turn-out on opening day.

There was a half an hour wait just to enter the park and a further three-hour wait to get on the ride.

Busch Gardens Tampa summer nights with Cheetah Hunt roller coaster in the Background.

Now, that’s an enthusiastic crowd for you.

Since its opening, Cheetah Hunt has been doing quite well for itself. It still remains one of the most unique and exciting rides that Busch Gardens has to offer.

Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster during Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Even in the face of newer attractions cropping up nearby like Tigris and the fan-favorite Montu, it still holds its own.

Read: All You Ever Need to Know About Cobra’s Curse at Busch Gardens

What to Expect on Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster

After you have braved the sweltering heat and the long queue, strap yourself in tightly.

Christmas Town Village at Busch Gardens Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster

This ride is going to be worth all the wait. Cheetah Hunt is one of Busch Gardens’ most loved attractions.

How Long is Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens?

At 4,429 feet long, the  attraction is the longest ride that Busch Gardens, Tampa has to offer.

All along the ride, the scenery is constantly changing from grasslands to rocky gorges and treetops.

Busch Gardens Tampa cheetah hunt behind west African black crown crane
Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens

But you won’t see any of this from the landing. In fact, you will probably be waiting for the car to slowly lurch up the lift hill.

Well, you are in for a surprise because, on this ride, there is no lift hill! 

Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival Topiary dog next to cheetah hunt roller coaster

In imitation of the cheetah’s amazing, mind-boggling acceleration, the ride goes from zero to sixty miles per hour in less than three seconds.

Recommended: 25 Fun and Free Things to Do in Tampa, Florida TODAY!

What’s the Speed of Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens?

With three intense launches, you can expect to reach a speed of up to 60 miles per hour on the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster.

Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Canva

So for those unaware of this quick launch, this would be quite a startling discovery and a danger to the most recent meal sitting in their tummy.

That launch is only the first one though. There are two more to go. After this, you will be whirled around in a series of fast twists and turns that mimic the cheetah’s agility and speed.

Close up view of skyrail at the Busch Gardens theme park in Tampa Florida
Closed Busch Gardens Monorail where Cheetah Hunt is currently located. Photo Credit: Florida Memory

Honestly, I felt like I was going in all four directions at the same time. There was a point where I could not for the life of me tell you which way we had started from.

Christmas Town Decoration in Tampa Life Size Toy Solider near Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster

That was probably the point at which the car was racing along the tracks upside down.

The car goes as fast uphill as it does downhill, and so does not give you even a second to catch your breath before the next drop.

Entrance to Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Skyride

It is exhilarating and overwhelming. You can almost taste the adrenaline on your tongue.

What’s the Height of Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens?

Cheetah Hunt stands 104 feet tall with the roller coaster vehicle dropping deep into a gorge with a 130 foot drop after which you zoom across a river, back to whence you came from.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Cheetah Hunt roller coaster view from the Moroccan Palace

One thing is for sure– it is an experience you won’t easily forget. 

Read: 5 Fun Things to Do in Tampa with CityPASS

5 Tips for Your Trip to Busch Gardens Tampa

Now that you know what to expect on Cheetah Hunt, let’s go through a few tips to make your trip better.

Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster at Night

1. Keep your children away from the cheetah

As you may have inferred from the description above, Cheetah Hunt (although called a family-friendly roller coaster) may be a bit too much for really young kids.

Busch Gardens Tampa Events List with Cheetah Hunt

They are better off with a tamer ride. 

If you or anyone you know has a weak stomach, maybe sit this one out too.

2. Be prepared to stand. And stand. And stand.

Theme parks and queues are quite possibly the most horrible combination in the world. Busch Gardens sadly cannot escape these queues either.

Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt roller coaster view
Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster

And as Cheetah Hunt is one of the crowd’s favorites, it has a much longer queue than the average ride. 

3. The Florida sun takes no prisoners

People have literally passed out while waiting in line for the ride. You know what that means.

Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Put on loads of sunscreen, make sure you have had a good meal before coming to the park, and make sure you stay hydrated throughout the queue.

Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt roller coaster Entrance

The Cheetah Hunt queue has hardly any shade on the most crowded days at Busch Gardens, so chances of sunstroke are higher than usual.

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4. Don’t forget to stow your stuff away

The Cheetah Hunt has one rule: don’t take your personal belongings with you on the ride.

This is for obvious practical reasons: you are going to be riding on a fast roller coaster which will also be turning completely upside down at a certain point.

Cheetah Hunt roller coaster Drop at Busch Gardens Tampa
View of Cheetah Hunt from the Skyride

Busch Gardens has designated lockers for you to keep your things in for the duration of the ride.

5. Keep a couple of dollars on your for water

On the downside, Busch Gardens overlooked the fact that you might need water while waiting in the queue.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Nature’s Kingdom Shop with Cheetah Hunt roller coaster in the Background

While they did have station attendants selling water bottles in the past, they completely forgot that people would have already stowed their money away as ordered.

So keep a few dollars on you just in case you need a drink in the three-hour-long queue.

Read: Christmas at Busch Gardens (Why You Must Visit)

What to Know Before You Go to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Now that you have the best tips for riding this Busch Gardens roller coaster, let’s go through a few of the most commonly asked questions.

Busch Gardens Tampa cheetah hunt mosaic

Is Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens scary?

The answer to that would differ from person-to-person. Most people, however, would answer yes to that question.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay tiger topiary in front of cheetah hunt

While it is nothing compared to the likes of Sheikra, Cheetah Hunt does get your heart racing.

Does Cheetah Hunt go upside down?

Yes. Somewhere in the middle of the ride, the Cheetah Hunt has an inversion loop that flips the car upside down.

Entrance to Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster with closed Sky Ride at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Remember not to leave any loose change in your pockets while riding it!

How big is the drop on Cheetah Hunt?

The tallest drop on the Cheetah Hunt is roughly 130 feet high. 

Cheetah Hunt Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens during Christmas

How fast does Cheetah hunt go at Busch Gardens?

As mentioned earlier, while the Cheetah Hunt averages 60 miles per hour, its unique launches are the real stars of the show.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Christmas Town Cheetah Hunt

The car goes from 0 to 60 miles an hour in less than 3 seconds. This amazing feat is then repeated, not one or two but three times!

How tall is Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens?

As previously mentioned, Cheetah Hunt is 102 feet tall with a drop of 130 feet that goes into a rocky underground gorge. 

Busch Gardens Tampa cheetah hunt animal exhibit
Cheetah Animal Viewing Area

How tall do you have to be to ride Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens?

You have to have a minimum height of 48 inches or 4 feet tall to be able to ride Cheetah Hunt.

Busch Gardens Tampa Cheetah Hunt topiary

This brings us to the last and probably most important question of them all: is Cheetah Hunt,

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Is Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens really worth all the hype?

The answer is very subjective and will differ from person to person.

Busch Gardens Tampa Travel Planner and Itinerary Guide

In my (ahem, professional) opinion, this Busch Gardens roller coaster is a very unique experience and is most definitely worth checking out.

Howl-O-Scream ride Cheetah Hunt Busch Gardens roller coaster at night

The three launch system combined with the mind-blowingly fast acceleration and surprisingly authentic Nairobi scenery makes the ride a masterpiece– a true portrayal of the raw power and speed of the cheetah.

Read: Is Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Scary?

Should You Ride Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens?

My advice is to try it at least once. Who knows, you might like it so much that you may want to ride it a second, third, or fourth time as well!

how scary is cheetah hunt at busch gardens
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Have you ever rode on one of Busch Gardens roller coasters? If so, let us know in the comments section below.

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

UP NEXT: How to do Busch Gardens in Just One Day!

(Original Article Date: October 1, 2020/Updated on February 15, 2024)

Hoop Dee Doo Revue NikkyJ Dinner Show Disney World. Author bio of theme park expert Nikida Metellus.

About the Author

My name is Nikky. I’m a wife, a mother, a pharmacist turned theme park blogger, USA Today 10Best Contributor, and a writer who loves ALL things amusement park related!

Traveling alone to the parks has changed my life and I want to show how you can create your own solo theme park memories.

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