Today marks the 15th birthday of the Sand Serpent ride at Busch Gardens Tampa! The ride originally debuted on February 28, 2004 and is a wild-mouse coaster. The ride has quite a history including several name changes and a change of zip code.
The ride actually began its life in Busch Gardens Williamsburg as Izzy in 1996. Izzy was the mascot of the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA and the ride proved quite popular. In 1997 it was renamed to the Wild Maus and operated as such until 2003 when it was removed to make room for a dark ride called the Curse of DarKastle (which itself has also been removed and replaced with a special events center). The ride was relocated to Busch Gardens Tampa where it opened as Cheetah Chase and replaced a spinning flat ride called the Crazy Camel. In 2011 the ride was renamed from Cheetah Chase to Sand Serpent to avoid confusion with Cheetah Hunt which was opening that year.
So the specs on a mouse coaster will never blow you away. Sand Serpent is ~45 feet tall covering a little under a quarter mile in just under 2 minutes while reaching a top speed of 28 mph. The drops and turns on this ride are sneaky fast and mouse coasters are great family rides and often a child’s first roller coaster. Make sure you keep an eye out for the PhotoKey camera too.
This is a great example of a theme park company relocating a ride from one of their parks to another. This can actually be a great thing for guests as a ride whose popularity at one park has waned can be reborn for a whole new audience at another park. Like a great used car, it’s new to you and it makes tons of economic sense too. Truly recycling at its best!
Happy Birthday Sand Serpent! and here’s hoping a staff member maybe holds a cupcake with a candle near the ride and lets it blow it out as it passes by!