New Busch coaster's first riders are dummies - KCTV5

New Busch coaster's first riders are dummies

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By Josh Green

The first full test-runs of Tampa Bay's newest roller coaster started this week. Now, engineers at Busch Gardens are sending water-filled dummies around the track of the Cheetah Hunt coaster before humans ride it for the first time.

"They don't get sick," Mark Rose, vice president for design and engineering for Busch Gardens, said of the dummies. "They can ride around the clock. They'll sit there 24 hours a day without needing a break."

Rose said that the dummies will go around the track 3,000 times before the coaster is ready for park guests.

"The dummies just add the weight, and that's really their key role," he said. "We're making sure the biodynamics on the ride is what we expected."

Earlier this week, the engineering staff started a variety of testing. There are hundreds of motors, sensors and other parts on the ride that must be checked over and over again.

"Our goal is to have guests ride this ride, have it very thrilling, have them scream the whole way, get off and go, 'Wow! I want to do that again!' " Rose said. "If they get off and go, 'Ouch, I don't want to do that again,' then we failed."

Cheetah Hunt is unique at Busch Gardens because the coaster uses electromagnetic fields to propel the cars down the 4,429 foot-long track.

"All of those are in midstream, so we're not stopping you, hooking you into a chain, dragging you to the top and sending you over," Rose said.

The ride is the longest in the park but, with top speeds at 60 mph, it won't be the fastest. Kumba and Montu are a bit faster, but park administrators say Cheetah Hunt's continuous speed makes it unique.

"They're going to be launched out of a seated position to 38 miles an hour," Rose said.

Two other launches follow: one up to 60 mph and another at 40 mph.

"I think it's neat how it just keeps launching every time," said 15-year-old coaster enthusiast Cole Cicala, of Pennsylvania, as he watched the testing. "Even before (construction) we've been following the websites about it."

Cheetah Hunt and its companion Cheetah Run, featuring an animal exhibit, open to the public May 27, which is Memorial Day weekend.

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