This month we got a backstage tour of Cobra’s Curse, a roller coaster scheduled to open this summer at Busch Gardens in Tampa. The coaster itself is completed and test cars are running along the track, but work on the queue and the setting is still going on.
An opening date has not been set, but it is likely to be early summer, one of the key new attractions opening at Florida’s theme parks in the next few months. Check out the photos for the work in progress.
The setting is an “archaeological excavation” in the park’s Egypt section, on the site where the walk-through King Tut attraction used to be, said Mark Rose, Busch Gardens’ vice president of design and engineering, who led the tour.
In fact, some of the old building and artifacts will be used for the queue, giving the park its first air-conditioned ride queue. Decorated with Egyptian-style drawings, it will also hold a vivarium — a sort of aquarium for reptiles — holding pythons and vipers, Rose said. Video mapping projected on the walls will tell the story of the snake.
The coaster was manufactured by MACK Rides.
The centerpiece of the coaster is an 80-foot tall statue of the Snake King, which, according to the story line, the people working at the excavation site have propped upright using pulleys and struts. The statue is made of a steel spine and a shell of carved foam and fiberglass and is bedecked with enormous jewels. It represents only part of the snake that was uncovered, though. Other pieces of the snake statue are part of the setting.
The area immediately around the ride will have lockers, food stalls, carnival games, a souvenir shop and what Rose claims are “the best restrooms in the theme park industry.” The bathrooms’ stall doors have Egyptian-looking art. Certain mirrors, if you press a button at the base, will add a nemes crown to your reflection — the striped head cloth worn by pharaohs.
The park’s Serengeti Railway had to be rerouted to accommodate the new roller coaster, but that part of the work took only about two months and the train is running again — right past Cobra’s Curse.