Cheetah Hunt is a linear synchronous motor launch coaster with an unusual twist.  Unlike the other LSM/LIM coasters I’ve ridden – Maverick and Volcano, The Blast Coaster – which are stationary on a launch track prior to the launch, Cheetah Hunt seems to be actually in motion at the time of the launches, at least for the second and third.   I could be mistaken about this but that was my perception and the fact that there are no brake runs before the second and third launches tends to support my theory.  Anyway, the ride begins with a launch out of the station at a modest speed and shortly thereafter launches the riders to the maximum speed of 60mph, just before a 102-foot hill.   The third launch takes place toward the end of the ride.   In the meantime, riders are taken through overbanked turns and helixes, and dropped into a subterranean trench. 

 Among the best moments of the ride, apart from the launches, are those in which the train makes abrupt changes of direction and those in which it seems dangerously close to the ground.  The ride features only one inversion, a heartline roll, but the heartline roll is enough to really knock you for a loop, sorry about the mixed metaphor.  And 4 g’s ain’t bad, baby.   There’s an interesting figure-8 layout at the top of the ride, displayed in one of the photographs.   I knew nothing about this coaster before riding it so had no idea that it was a launch coaster.    Was I ever surprised!   The sudden, unexpected acceleration makes for a thrilling ride.  I thought that this coaster was nicely themed, and the sudden bursts of speed very much in character with cheetah on the hunt.  Cheetah Hunt is a lot of fun, one of the most entertaining coasters I’ve ridden.  It’s easy to see why the ride is so popular and the queue to get on it is so long.  4  out of 5 stars.   Photograph by Martin Lewison, with kind permission of the author.  (As you can see, my own photographs are less than optimal because they were taken at dusk and in one I accidentally caught an unsuspecting passerby in the foreground.)   For more information about rides at Busch Gardens Tampa, visit seaworldparks.com/buschgardens-tampa/

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