Cobra’s Curse Latest in String of Innovations at Busch Gardens

Isabel Hanewicz and Natalia Ayoub

Cobras Curse cropped MOD - PNGInnovation is not an unfamiliar topic to Busch Gardens. Since its opening in 1959, the park has competed for-and held- its place as one of the preeminent theme parks in Florida through rides that remind residents a trip to a theme park doesn’t require driving 60 miles to Orlando.

In 2005, it was SheiKra, the first dive coaster constructed in North America. Then, in 2009, it was Falcon’s Fury, the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America. Now, in 2016, Busch Gardens looks to the opening of Cobra’s Curse as its next big innovation.

“Cobra’s Curse [is] a great complement to all the other roller coasters we have here at Busch Gardens,” said Jeff Hornick, Director of Design and Engineering for Cobra’s Curse. “Busch Gardens is the thrill capital of Florida.”

Planning for Cobra’s Curse started about five years ago, said Hornick, who noted the park took care to ensure the ride would have a more universal, family-friendly appeal. Every aspect of the ride demonstrates the meticulous planning put in to not only the coaster itself, but also the ride experience as a whole. While they wait to board, guests will stand in an air-conditioned queue line, complete with snakes (hover over photo below). To learn more about the curse itself, guests can “translate” hieroglyphs to understand the coaster’s backstory. Non-riders can even stand along with riders in the queue line and exit before the riders board.

“We want to make sure that we get all of the views, all of the interactions and the ride experience perfect for our guests, so on opening day, we know everybody’s going to rush to the front gates [and] they’re going to enjoy themselves,” Hornick said.

To start the ride, guests will be lifted vertically, much like an elevator, and come face-to-face with an 80-foot snake icon, which ride designers had shipped in pieces from Germany.

Busch Gardens Tampa

Once they take the plunge and ride over Sergenti Plain, guests will discover yet another quirk about the ride: Cobra’s Curse is a spin coaster, the first of its kind in the world. For a third of the ride, riders will be going forward, for another third, backwards, and for the final third, a “spinning finale”, where gravity and guests’ weight will determine the coaster’s spin.

“We’ve ridden many spinning coasters around the world to try to find what the best ride experience was going to be,” said Andrew Schaffer, Project Manager of Design and Engineering. “We think we’ve taken a little bit from a lot of different rides to try to make this one better than any of those.”