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Busch Gardens Tampa confirms closure of Rhino Rally water section

Rhino Rally image

Busch Gardens Tampa has confirmed that the water section of its popular Rhino Rally attraction has been closed for good, as the park prepares to install a new rollercoaster for the 2011 season.

The closure was confirmed to the BGTGuide website, which had inquired after the ride's river section was drained over the weekend. Leaked plans show that part of the new coaster will occupy the area vacated by Rhino Rally, which will remain open in a shortened format.

Rhino Rally, which opened in 2001, sees guests boarding trucks before heading out on a "safari" which takes in some of the park's many exotic animals. The water section formed the climax to the ride, with the trucks stopping on a bridge which broke away and floated downriver with riders still on-board. Following its removal, trucks will now simply turn in the opposite direction and head directly back to the ride's entrance - though there are rumors that the land-based portion will be extended at some stage to compensate for this.

The loss of the river section will be greeted with dismay by some fans, with it being the only Vekoma Raging River Safari attraction ever built. It also offered a unique feature to distinguish Rhino Rally from the similar Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom, which opened 3 years earlier. However, the closure should enable Busch Gardens Tampa to reduce its maintenance costs, both from the frequent breakdowns of the water section and from the wear and tear it caused to Rhino Rally's fleet of safari trucks.

Busch Gardens Tampa's coaster is expected to cover a sprawling area, covering most of the existing Edge of Africa land. In preparation for its construction, the park has already begun re-routing the Serengeti Express train and will close the Skyride cable cars on June 1 for the remainder of 2010.

The new coaster is expected to focus on high speed and acceleration, and could feature as many as 3 launched sections. For full details, see TPT's round-up of rumors following the recent leak of construction plans relating to the ride.

You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions through Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section, and by signing up for our weekly newsletter.


There are 4 comments.

I rode the ride before and after the water section closed. It is really lame now. The water portion made the entire ride and the wait in line worth while. It was fun to surprise new guests to this part of the ride. I find it hard to believe BG needed to save on construction costs for a new coaster when they charge almost $80 a head to get in plus $12 parking. They could of easily designed it to go around. I hope the new ride is worth it. Sadly to say, the one a Disney is now better.

Unfortunately I have to agree - Kilimanjaro Safaris is now a superior ride that is both longer and offers better views of animals. Rhino Rally is still an OK ride without the water section, but that was really was the only thing that distinguished it from the Disney version.

I think the 2011 coaster is probably just an excuse to remove the river section. The major reason is probably the frequent breakdowns and the wear-and-tear that it caused on the ride's vehicles.

Just rode the new, shortened version of Rhino Rally today.

What a disappointment. The whole river / bridge part is what made this ride special. Without it, it's just a very short run of the mill, just -like-every-other-safari-ride ride.

Boo.

That's a shame. I hope Busch Gardens will at least consider extending it once they have finished work on the 2011 coaster.

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