Gwazi, Tampa, Florida, USA | CruiseBe
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activities, fun, roller coaster

Gwazi was a dueling wooden roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Florida. The name Gwazi originates from a fabled creature with the head of a tiger and the body of a lion. Accordingly, the two sides are named "Lion" and "Tiger". Often, the two tracks are called "yellow" and "blue", (yellow being the primary color of the Lion trains and blue being the primary color of the Tiger trains). It included almost 7,016 feet of combined track and reached speeds of 51 miles per hour. Both tracks have similar but nonidentical track layouts.


Gwazi began construction sometime after the closure of the Busch Brewery which closed in 1995. Gwazi soon after opened on June 18, 1999 as Florida's first dueling wooden roller coaster constructed by Great Coasters International (GCI) and operated with Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster's trains starting with six of them. At the time the Dueling Dragons (now Dragon Challenge) at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure and Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay were the only dueling coasters in Florida just opening a month apart.

Due to the Philadelphia Toboggan Company designed trains and other aspects, which have been known to deliver rough rides on GCI designed coasters, Gwazi was known for giving rough rides which was a problem since it first opened. At the beginning of the 2010 season, Gwazi was spotted with what appeared to be Millennium Flyer trains on the track, with water dummies on board. In 2011, the rides Philadelphia Toboggan Company's trains were subsequently removed with Great Coasters International's Millennium Flyer trains in order to make Gwazi smoother from its notorious roughness.

At the end of the summer season during 2012, the Tiger side of Gwazi closed due to budget purposes. Soon after the closing of the Tiger side, a bridge was built across the loading platform and one of the Tiger trains was relocated onto the Lion track. However Busch Gardens later confirmed that Gwazi would officially close on February 1, 2015 in early 2015. After 15 years of operation, the attraction's last train was dispatched around 6:00PM (EST) and Gwazi closed permanently February 1, 2015. Busch Gardens has not confirmed what will go in place of Gwazi yet, and as of its closure, the roller coaster remains SBNO.


In 2006, a 52-year-old from Palm Springs, Florida resident collapsed and died hours after riding Gwazi. It was determined that the ride (which was functioning properly) had aggravated an existing condition of high blood pressure. See Incidents at SeaWorld parks for more info.


Gwazi holds the record for most fly-bys on a dueling roller coaster, with six. A fly-by is where the two roller coasters pass each other in opposite directions at high speeds, giving the psychological impression that the two will collide. At the time, Gwazi was the largest and fastest double wooden roller coaster in the Southeastern United States.


Gwazi has received numerous placements from Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards and Mitch Hawkers Best Roller Coaster Poll being in the top 50 wooden roller coasters from both lists.

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