Battle of the Coasters! Iron Gwazi vs. Steel Vengeance: Which is the BEST?

Challenge of the Day: Iron Gwazi vs Steel Vengeance!

In today’s episode of battle of the coasters, I am pitting two coasters of high quality up against one another.

In one corner, we have Iron Gwazi, a crown jewel of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay that has a storied history.

Up next in the other, we have Steel Vengeance, a big draw to visitors of the famous Cedar Point amusement park.

Both roller coasters started off as treasured wooden coasters for their respective parks.

But eventually, would be touched by the gracious and talented hands over at Rocky Mountain Construction, or RMC.

In time, both would be seen as rejuvenated and revitalized as coasters to be respected in their category.

But between the pair of them, which one stands the best wooden turned steel-hybrid coaster?

Iron Gwazi versus Steel Vengeance Side By Side Comparison
Iron Gwazi vs. Steel Vengeance Side-By-Side Comparison

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Ride History

Let’s go through the history of both roller coasters to help you understand why they were changed over to the RMC treatment.

Steel Vengeance History

Steel Vengeance, like many coasters of the era, started off mainly as a wooden coaster.

It originally debuted as “Mean Streak” in May 1991. It was deemed the tallest wooden coaster in the world with the longest drop at the time.

Mean Streak to Steel Vengeance

Cedar Point would go on to announce in 1990 that a new roller coaster would be built for the 1991 Cedar Point summer season celebration.

The roller coaster was officially named Mean Streak in October 1990. The construction had commenced two months prior in late August 1990.

Construction will well into the spring of 1991 with Mean Streak opening on May 11, 1991.

Mean Streak would go on to be located in the Frontiertown section of the park right behind train station.

Cedar Point Ohio Amusement Park Steel Vengeance roller coaster view from street. Keep reading to see who wins in the Iron Gwazi vs Steel Vengeance battle!

Mean Streak was like one of those twelve roller coasters made by the Dinn Corporation before they went out of business in 1992. This would eventually end up costing $7.5 million to build.

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But hey, after putting in over 25 years of hard work, it was revealed that Mean Streak would be giving its final rides to the public on September 16, 2016.

After it shut down, word on the street was that the roller coaster was getting a makeover from Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC), a company famous for their awesome wooden coaster renovations.

When did Steel Vengeance open at Cedar Point?

Steel Vengeance would soon be completed and opened to the public on May 5, 2018.

A minor crash between two trains forced Steel Vengeance to remain closed for most of its opening day. As you could imagine, opening day visitors weren’t pleased.

The coaster resumed was back on track with only a single train while RMC investigated the issue and made necessary changes. 

Steel Vengeance would get back on track with just one train while RMC looked into the issue and makes the needed changes.

The regular two-train operation kicked back in on June 1, 2018, and coaster fans everywhere were stoked! But wait, there’s more to the story!

Following an incident on Twisted Timbers at Kings Dominion, where a phone hit a rider in the face during the ride, the story goes that Cedar Point issued a temporary ban on cell phones when entering the ride’s queue beginning in August 2018.

Cedar Point Steel Vengeance Lockers

This was mostly because Twisted Timbers was also an RMC creation, just like Steel Vengeance.

The ban would then get lifted the next season after Cedar Point put in zipper pouches on the trains to keep your stuff safe.

Cedar Point Steel Vengeance Roller Coaster Entrance area and drop. Keep reading to see who wins in the Iron Gwazi vs Steel Vengeance battle!

Metal detectors were set up in the line to make sure everyone’s loose stuff went into those pouches.

The pouches would go on to be removed in 2020 following the pandemic, and the ban was returned.

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Iron Gwazi History

Because guests were really getting into the old-fashioned vibe instead of modern steel attractions, Busch Gardens Tampa decided to go with a wooden coaster to set themselves apart from the competition.

Gwazi Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens in 2012 Copyright ThemeParkHipster
Former Gwazi Roller Coaster (2012)

Busch Gardens decided to team up with Great Coaster International to build the roller coaster because of their previous work on the Wildcat at Hersheypark, which has since been revamped by RMC and is now called Wildcats Revenge.

Busch Gardens Gwazi Roller Coaster Entrance
Photo Courtesy of Flickr: Jeremy Thompson

The tracks for Gwazi were rightfully themed to both a lion and tiger. This ride was inspired by a cool fable and it became the fifth roller coaster at the park.

Gwazi would then go on to be opened in June 1999, almost a year later.

Busch Gardens Gwazi Lion Coaster Track
Photo Courtesy of Flickr: Josh Hallett

Sadly, the roller coaster, just like its wooden counterparts nationwide, got known for being really bumpy and not so comfy.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Iron Gwazi Sitting Area. Keep reading to see who wins in the Iron Gwazi vs Steel Vengeance battle!

In March 2019, Busch Gardens shared the big news about their new hybrid steel and wooden coaster collab with RMC.

It was overly hyped as the steepest, fastest, and tallest hybrid roller coaster in North America!

When did Iron Gwazi open at Busch Gardens?

Iron Gwazi would go on to open to the public on March 11, 2022. You can get the full story here.

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Iron Gwazi vs Steel Vengeance: What to Expect on Each Roller Coaster

Now that you have the history of these amazing roller coasters, let’s go through the ride experience for each one.

Steel Vengeance Ride Experience

When leaving the station, the train will make an 180 degree right turn, pass over two small hills, and go up the 205 foot lift hill.

How fast is Steel Vengeance?

After reaching the top of the hill, the train drops 200 feet at an insane 90-degree angle, reaching max speed of 74 miles per hour (mph).

Steel Vengeance Roller Coaster Cedar Point

Following the drop, the train goes over a little bump, then up a bigger bump that gives riders a fun drop to the right.

The train goes up a 116 ft leftward banked hill, then veers slightly to the right, and over another little airtime hill, before diving into its first inversion, a zero-g roll.

You’ll then go straight ahead, goes under the big hill, and smoothly cruise around a sharp right turn.

This brings us to the next inversion, with a half stall, where you’ll go through the lift hill structure for a second time.

Cedar Point Steel Vengeance Roller Coaster Bendigo Chester Watkins Poster

The train then flings you straight as it goes over a little hump and then speed up a hill. After that, it takes a left turn and heads towards the mid-course brake run.

Following this, the train:

  • Take another sharp left turn
  • Goes upward in a slightly overbanked turn to the left
  • Takes you through another airtime hill and another slightly overbanked left turn.

But its not over yet!

Next up is a quick dip into a high-speed overbanked left turn, flowing right into the third inversion, a zero-g roll. Keep the thrills coming!

You’ll them enter into yet another high-speed overbanked left turn, which will have you experience the fourth inversion and a final zero-g roll.

Cedar Point Steel Vengeance ride entrance
Steel Vengeance

Finally, you end in the last overbanked left turn that takes you into ANOTHER airtime hill. This is then finished off with four more airtime hills, which leads to the LAST brake run back into the station.

Incredible…I know!

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Iron Gwazi Ride Experience

Now when it comes Iron Gwazi, it starts with a sharp left-hand turn, followed by a downward turn leading to the 206 ft lift hill. 

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Iron Gwazi Roller Coaster in Florida Sun. Keep reading to see who wins in the Iron Gwazi vs Steel Vengeance battle!
Iron Gwazi

How fast is Iron Gwazi?

As you begin to hit the top of the hill, the train begins to slows down before going down a 91-degree drop, reaching its top speed of 76 mph (miles per hour).

When you go up the hill, the train begins to tilt the other way and makes a turn to the outside. After that, you’ll then go down in a left turn and up in a right turn.

Once you get to the top of the hill, your train will take you through the famous barrel roll downdrop that you see on all of the Busch Gardens promo items.

This roll is then followed by an overbanked turn right to the left.

Coaster Coffee Co. Iron Gwazi replica at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

The train zooms over the station and swerves into a super long wave turn before straightening out. Then it zips through a bunch of left-curved hills, pulling off a zero-g stall.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Iron Gwazi Roller Coaster. Keep reading to see who wins in the Iron Gwazi vs Steel Vengeance battle!

Finally, as the train chugs along, it smoothly glides you over a little hill on the outskirts and then heads into a bunch of rolling hills sloping upwards to the right.

You’ll then complete your journey with a turnaround into a hill and a left turn into the final brake run.

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Guest Reviews

Now I will go over the reviews from guests and other roller coaster ehnthusiastics about each attraction.

Iron Gwazi Guest Satisfaction

The Iron Gwazi roller coaster has gained overwhelmingly positive reviews by reviewers and enthusiasts upon its debut in 2022.

Iron Gwazi Roller Coaster during Busch Gardens Christmas Town
Iron Gwazi Roller Coaster at Christmastime (Photo Courtesy of SeaWorld Entertainment)

American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) members and Melanin Coaster Network members praised the ride’s speedy maneuvers, smoothness, and ability to be re-rideable.

In general, folks have really loved the roller coaster’s awesome barrel roll drop and the thrilling air time hills, saying it’s a real standout at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Steel Vengeance Guest Satisfaction

Roller Coaster enthusiasts also praise Steel Vengeance highly, being a top tier RMC coaster.

I can attest to seeing many coaster thrill seekers going at breakneck speed at park open to the back of the park to be amongst the first t ride Steel Vengeance.

Because of its location being in the very back of the park, its been called “The best-kept-secret at Cedar Point.”

Awards and Recognition

Now let’s see who wins from the roller coaster critics.

Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival Iron Gwazi entrance at night. Keep reading to see who wins in the Iron Gwazi vs Steel Vengeance battle!

Iron Gwazi

Because the coaster is still fairly new, it hasn’t won alot of awards as of yet.

Currently, it has placed in Golden Ticket Awards “Top Steel Coaster” category twice. It placed 4th in 2022 and 5th in 2023.

Steel Vengeance

Moving right along and bearing in mind that Steel Vengeance has been around a bit longer than Iron Gwazi, its only won a few more awards than its competitor since its own opening.

It has also placed in the “Top Steel Coaster” category of the Golden Ticket Awards, placing 3rd in 2018 and 2019, 2nd in 2022 and 4th in 2023.

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Roller Coaster Stats: Iron Gwazi vs Steel Vengeance

FeaturesIron GwaziSteel Vengeance
Launch/Lift SystemChain Lift HillChain Lift Hill
Height206 feet205 feet
Drop206 feet200 feet
Speed76 miles per hour74 miles per hour
Length4,075 feet5,740 feet
Time1 min and 50 secs2 mins and 30 secs
Trains2 trains with 6 cars3 trains with 6 cars

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Iron Gwazi vs Steel Vengeance: Which is Better?

What a journey we have been on exploring these two fantastic coasters!

Cedar Point Steel Vengeance Roller Coaster Sign

In a way, because these are two wooden coasters, with new life breathed into it by RMC, these coasters are siblings of sorts.

Both are fairly new to the scene and both have hit the scene in question with critical acclaim, some awards and excellent guest satisifaction.

But the question remains: which is better?

Here’s where my Editor, NikkyJ, comes in to help with the decision as she chooses Steel Vengeance.

WINNER: We have agreed that Steel Vengeance has a slight edge over Iron Gwazi based on the sheer intensity that you experience on this ride which is missing from Iron Gwazi.

Although Iron Gwazi looks better on paper, Steel Vengeance is an experience that can’t be interpreted in words and one that you have to enjoy in person to help you make your final decision.

I have ridden several RMC coasters in my day, the latest being Wildcat’s Revenge at Hersheypark.

Hersheypark Wildcat's Revenge Roller Coaster
Wildcat’s Revenge at Hersheypark

I can attest to one thing in regard to these two coasters. And that’s that they both are absolutely worth the waits and worth every second you are riding!

Iron Gwazi vs. Steel Vengeance Which is Better
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Have you ridden one or both of these roller coasters? Let us know in the comments section below which one you think is best!

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

Victoria Wade Disney Writer at ThemeParkHipster

About the Author

Victoria is a professional solo traveler here to make your solo trips as stress free AND enjoyable as possible for you.

She has over 5 years of Disney and Non-Disney travel experience and was featured by POPSUGAR as one of the Top 50 Black Disney Creators you should follow.

She is a Proud Native to Baltimore, Md but always will call Disney World home. You can find her at Disney Tea with V.

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