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Is Iron Gwazi Better than VelociCoaster? April 1 Trip Report


Matt SR
Staff member
Social Media Team
I received last minute notice that a staffer had to back out of a work trip to Orlando. And so it was with 2 days notice I found myself on a flight out to Orlando for a two day trip, which (luckily) extended into a weekend trip to visit Busch Gardens and SeaWorld. The trip was extended thanks in part to storm delays, which we'll get to later - but let's get into it!

Busch Gardens Tampa - Day 1

Was so excited to FINALLY make it to BGT! It's just a park that never made it in the cards; every trip to Orlando too short, or scheduling just never exactly working. BGT really is a coaster dream come true, with so many classic, pin-up B&M coasters dotted throughout.

Iron Gwazi

Ride Experience

One thing that truly jumped out to me was how Iron Gwazi is a “sampling” of many RMC coasters brought together. Throughout our rides, there were many: “Oh hey! That’s the drop from Iron Rattler!” or “that overbanked turn felt very Storm Chase-y!”. I mention this not necessarily in a First Movers Advantage moment, where Iron Gwazi’s layout feel duplicative or redux of other RMC creations – moreso just impressive that in just over a decade, RMC’s repertoire has truly flourished in terms of variety and deviation of element and inversion design.

But, we do have to talk about Iron Gwazi’s pacing. Ultimately, the layout is a story of two halves. The opening series of drops, overbanked turns, and inversions is truly masterful, among the best across the entire industry, and truly sets a massively driving pace. Yet from the wave turn exit onward (Oh hey! This turn feels like Steel Vengeance’s turnaround!), the layout noticeably shifts to a flurry of airtime hills and turns (granted, a stall dive too). Bear in mind, these are RMC hills and turns, which eat other coaster manufacturer’s designs for lunch – but there a noticeable shift in the pacing and delivery compared to the first half. Call it a frontloading of elements, but ultimately something that stood out to me compared to other RMC layouts that spread out course elements a bit more evenly across their layout.

I’ll hold the ultimately verdict on Iron Gwazi for later in the post but suffice it to say this is one of RMC’s greatest creations yet, and speaks to how they continue to maximize the retrofit opportunities afforded with big-footprint woodies.
  • Overall love how the station and space has been adapted to Iron Gwazi. The original placement of Gwazi, upfront and center in the park could not be any more opportune for Iron Gwazi!
  • Force wise, Iron Gwazi hits hard, maybe a bit too hard. I have marathoned RMCs with the best of them, and have to say Iron Gwazi took a heavier toll on my shins than others. Even left noticeable marks from the restraints! Not original-Skyrush-restraint levels of hurt, but definitely left me more tender than not.
  • Interesting the design really only tracks one side of Gwazi, versus Storm Chaser that used a more 50/50 split of Twisted Twin layout. Ultimately boils down to what worked best for the layout, but humorous that in it’s new life, one-ish side of Gwazi was sufficient for tracing a new coaster.
After a few laps on Iron Gwazi, we decided to move on and return after the ride had warmed up a bit more.



Ride Experience

I still remember Sheikra’s opening as genuine “how the heck did they do that!?” from building a hyper Dive Machine (mind blowing at the time), water splashdown, and general large-footprint theme for the entire coaster. So it was a blast getting to see it all in-person, albeit a bit weird to have such a large footprint of a coaster in a seemingly inconspicuous part of the park.

It was great to see Sheikra giving just as good a ride as it’s counterparts. While I give the edge to Griffon a bit for best Dive Machine, and yes the OG OTSRs still beat the vest restraints on Valravn – this coaster variety is just “pure fun” to me. Short, sweet, and lots of massive, sweeping elements.


Premier Sky Rockets are really weird to me. I want to not like them – I really do. They are weird, small capacity, and shouldn’t be a popular hit with parks. And yet, probably some of the most underrated coasters in the business in my opinion, due in part to the stellar forces they throw out.

Ride Experience

Now, I don’t know if it was because I was two beers in at this point, or we were running an empty train, but MY GOD were we hauling! The launch was quick and snappy, and hurtled us up what felt faster than Tempesto. It really was a hilariously fun and terrifying ride.



Honestly, Iron Gwazi could be closed on this trip for all I care. The spinning rumors of Kumba’s demise are quite heart wrenching for this millennial coaster enthusiast – Kumba is the coaster of the 90s. The one that truly put B&M on the map, the one that everyone tried to mime on RCT, the one that made it clear how inversions, elements, and landscaping could be woven as one. Was honestly quite chuffed riding the lift hill up, a little emotional of a moment to get to ride a true legend!

Ride Experience

It is amazing how much of Kumba’s element design is still on-point 30 years on. The inversions were tight, transitions snappy and flowing, and speed completely delivering throughout. I’ll be honest, it was quite funny to have such a shallow lift hill, relative to the steeper inclines we have now gotten used to.

All-in, this is a genuinely perfect coaster. The notion of removing such a specimen is gutwrenching.



Lol, Schwarzkopf loopers live on.

Sand Serpent

Also, Lol.

Cheetah Hunt

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Another one I was genuinely intrigued to ride. At it’s opening, this was truly heralded as the “Maverick killer”… by some, in the coaster enthusiast community. You see, it was, and remains, a little of an enigmatic coaster.

Ride Experience

Meant to harness the “blitz” characteristics of it’s Intamin design – the layout is supposed to be snappy, meandering, and interwoven amongst animal exhibit. Yet I couldn’t help but notice each and every S-bend in the layout as longer, swooping transitions that don’t exactly “hit” like other blitz coasters. And dear god, I forgot how horrid the original Intamin OTSR restraints are on these trains before we started flipping over to belts.

Cobra’s Curse

Had zero clue what to expect her, but was pleasantly surprised by a charming, novel spinning coaster settled tightly, yet neatly next to Montu.

Ride Experience

Surprisingly more forceful than I expected – the layout provides a number of great, sweeping turns, and takes advantage of the coaster’s spinning nicely. I’ll be honest; it would be great if more of these spinners got out into the world, especially as added variety to standard wild mouse designs.



Boy howdy, they still don’t build them like they used to. After riding Alpengeist, I swore that was surely the best B&M invert ever built – riding Montu had me stare that decision right back in the face.

Ride Experience

The layout is arguable perfection, as it taps nearly ever inversion in the B&M arsenal, while managing and maintaining speed throughout. It isn’t a “pedal to the metal” speed, nor peaks of hangtime/slow crawl – but a great, consistent pace that delivers airtime and positive g in correct proportion.

Another thing that stood out to me was the blending of inversions made them not feel too heavy-handed. 7 inversion coasters can, frankly, get repetitive, as they are working to squeeze each and ever inversion in, resulting in a certain tumble dryer feeling, where the rider is just hurtling in a constant 360 degree revolution. But Montu’s subtle touches and leveraging of landscaping simply excel – I mean honestly, why did we stop building into the ground so much, adding the fun variance of small tunnels?

Ultimatley, Montu has usurped the throne from Alpengeist as favorite B&M – simply put, all of these 1990s B&M Inverts are masterful creations, and quite possibly the best collection of coaster design of any given decade. I still remember when Banshee opened, and we heralded it as a “return” to the large-inversion counts of yore – but going back and actually riding those coaster simply shows a loss of finesse for how to comfortably and compellingly get these layouts right.

All-in was so glad to finally make it to Busch Gardens. While the park is still a widely, weird layout as a quasi zoo, you can’t help but applaud Busch’s effort to bolster it’s amusement ride variety.

Onto the next day, where we paid visit to SeaWorld Orlando ahead of a fateful storm:

SeaWorld Orlando - Day 2

Using a year-round ticket I had purchase last fall gave great excuse to popping back into SeaWorld. Mostly, was keen to finally get on Manta, and see the new painting livery on Kraken. A quick tour of how things went.

Ice Breaker


Ride Experience
Not that bad! Packs in a lot more punch than expected, definitely more than a "family coaster" design. The swing launch has some fun, unanticipated pops of airtime, with the top hat and subsequent elements delivering some pretty serious g-force.


Ride Experience

Man! It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a good B&M Flyer. While not the big power of Tatsu, was very impressed with Manta’s still forceful elements, and weaving of layout. I especially underestimated how low-ground landscaping and terrain plays into the coasters design!


Ride Experience

Look, I’ll be honest that I’m lost at the heaps of praise Mako still receives. It remains a great B&M Hyper, but I still gripe about the steeper profiling to the airtime hills that makes airtime feel uneven in pacing and delivery. Will always gladly ride it, but friendly reminder that it’s a distant 3rd in Florida coaster design.

Infinity Falls

Of course we had to ride it! Absolutely love this ride and how far river rapid design has come.



Digging the new paint scheme! While I am cautious on any new, pastel colors that get painted on coaster track, in fear of how quickly they’ll fade (see Mako) – I really like the vibrant color/retro theme, especially with the tentacles that now populate the station.

Oh, and the coaster still rides superbly! 😉

And then the rain came

Around this point, rain started opening up, so we called it a day and prepped to head to the airport for my flight out. But, that’s when the other shoe dropped, that airspace was beginning to close on account of weather, leading to all flights eventually being cancelled.

After some time to get my flight rebooked (was forced to do Monday morning), we were suddenly given an extra day in Orlando. What to do? …

Islands of Adventures - Bonus Day!

I meannnn, might as well, right? :p

Ultimately repeated a similar path to my fall visit, which I’ll link here for a ride-by-ride review.

To not beat around the bush though, let’s zero in on VelociCoaster, especially after having just ridden Iron Gwazi.



Ride Experience Redux

It’s definitely interesting riding a phenomenal roller coaster a second time, especially after some time has passed to digest the experience and settle first-day excitement and jitters. Objectively, just as I shared back in November, VelociCoaster remains one of Intamin’s best creations to date.

Some repeated and new takeaways:
  • The variety packed into this coaster remains astounding. Truly leveraging all the advance of Blitz coaster design, the opening interweaving and serpentine of track is nice juxtaposition with the top hat and larger elements in the second half.
  • VC still feels a bit slower than other coasters, but not a detractor. Perks of a multi-launch I guess, and keeping pace throughout a ride!
  • The Mosasaurus Roll is still one of the most compelling and crazy inversions out there.
Other Rides Ridden:
  • Hagrid’s Motorbikes – Ahhh, still such a crazy, good ride. Was able to ride twice throughout the day, including a great night ride, during which I didn’t realize there are a few, fun and different thematic at play.
  • Harry Potter’s Forbidden Journey – All the effects are back on! Womping Willow, Dragon’s breath, everything are back.
  • Incredible Hulk still keeps on cranking and delivering. Honestly interesting riding it so close to having ridden Kumba, to truly appreciate the original sit-down artform.
Oh and Quick Detour – FunSpot Kissimee and Orlando - Bonus Day!

Some quick blow-by-blow:
  • Mine Blower – So apparently there is one train that rides perfectly fine, and another that carries pent-up Villain and SOB energy. I rode the later, and was genuinely one of the roughest coaster rides of my life.
  • White Lightning – It is still perfect and enduring and everything pure.
Back to Iron Gwazi - Conclusions

So is it the best RMC you’ve ridden?

No. For all that Iron Gwazi is, it is also noticeably shorter than Steel Vengeance (to the tune of 40 seconds). For some, Iron Gwazi’s shorter run is beautiful and simple – a perfectly rational and logical conclusion. My preference though goes to the longer-form RMC – Steel Vengeance still takes the cake for me. And as a result, also remains my #1.

How does it compare to VelociCoaster


This is the true footrace in my mind – Just as my convo on VelociCoaster vs. Steel Vengeance last year; Iron Gwazi and VelociCoaster are two inherently different roller coasters that are exceptional at what they do. VC is a blitz coaster through-and-through with a variety of elements and design. Iron Gwazi too is a variety of RMC elements, but just has pacing and placement a bit off of it’s brethren. Something important to emphasize is I am splitting hairs here – truly any of my top 15 are coasters I would gladly seek out, any day of the week; but to the question of “Is Iron Gwazi the best?” No. And, for “Is Iron Gwazi the best Florida coaster?” Alas, no – I will take VelociCoaster, as it brings a smorgasbord goodness and variety, classic from the first Intamin Blitz coaster I ranked as #1 (Maverick).

Here's to all of the Florida experience - truly outstanding coasters all round!



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Strata Poster
How is it that everyone on the forums managed to visit Florida around the same time (judging from the barrage of Florida trip reports over the past weekend lol)?


Matt SR
Staff member
Social Media Team
How is it that everyone on the forums managed to visit Florida around the same time (judging from the barrage of Florida trip reports over the past weekend lol)?
Hah! Indeed seems like Florida's been in-season. Didn't realize @davidm was overlapping!


Strata Poster
^ ahh was it you tweeting on the CF account from Seaworld that Saturday then? ;)

It rained a lot.