Cobra’s Curse is a Mack Rides roller coaster at Busch Gardens, opened in June 2016. The family-style steel coaster features three different on-ride experiences – a section facing forward, one facing backward, and then a free spin section.
Official Open Date: June 17, 2016
Height: 70 feet
Length: 2,165 feet
Max Speed: 40 mph
Cobra’s Curse has the most detailed queue and storyline of any of the park’s attractions. The queue is also the only in the park which is predominately indoors and air-conditioned. The story begins outside the attraction, where guests can see the large stone body of the Snake King wrapping away from the lift tower and around the front of the gift shop and queue building, to where it has been “raised” above the entrance.
The story of the Snake King goes back 2,000 years when villagers demolished the temple of the powerful being. Today, it’s an archeological dig site where crews have awoken the Snake King and unleashed his curse again. Those crews are from the fictitious Viper International Survey and Excavation (VISE). The VISE name and logo can be seen around the Cobra’s Curse site, including on the back of some of the trains, and also nearby in the Egypt section of the park in various theming elements.
Guests entering the main queue go through a short switchback outside, under scaffolding from the dig site, and into a hallway where workers’ tools and messages can be seen about their finds. From there it’s back outside, where the majority of the switchbacks are located, beneath the workers’ camp perched above. Back indoors, guests pass through the excavated tomb, with hieroglyphs along the walls telling the story of the Snake King. The first room holds a variety of “antiquities” uncovered by the archaeologists, and the live snake exhibit.
The exhibit features several species of some of the world’s most feared snakes, but they are safely behind a glass window measuring seven feet by eight feet.
From there, guests pass through another darkened hallway before entering another large chamber. Inside that room, one wall seemingly comes to life through the use of projection mapping. One last hallway awaits guests before the station, where a safety video plays overhead with rider information.
In the station, guests are grouped before being directed onto the moving walkway and into the cars.
Cobra’s Curse participates in Quick Queue, with the entrance located just to the left of the main entrance for the ride. The Quick Queue line bypasses a majority of the interior scenes, including the snake habitat and projection mapping room.
Riders must be at least 48 inches tall to ride alone, or at least 42 inches with a parent or guardian. Cobra’s Curse has a theoretical capacity of about 1,000 guests per hour.
While rumors had been circulating about the possibility of a new family-style attraction coming to the Egypt area based on publicly filed plans, the first actual signs of work began in early March 2015 with several construction markers popping up along the train line in that section of the park. Benches and signage from the smoking area in Egypt (the former railway station) were removed in mid-March.
The first confirmation of the new attraction came on March 17, 2015, with signage outside of the Serengeti Railway station confirming it would be closed due to work related to a new 2016 addition.
— Bill @ Touring Central Florida (@androckb) March 17, 2015
As of March 19, 2015, construction walls blocked guest access to a portion of Egypt and Edge of Africa around the railway crossing and former station.
— Bill @ Touring Central Florida (@androckb) March 19, 2015
Work on relocating the rail lines began the last week of March 2015, with track and ties being ripped up from the area of the Cheetah Hunt brake run through the grade crossing by the former Egypt station. Barrier fences on the southern edge of the Serengeti Plain were also erected to keep wildlife a safe distance from the construction site.
— Bill @ Touring Central Florida (@androckb) March 28, 2015
By the first week of April 2015, demolition of the Edge of Africa area behind construction walls north of the rail line and former Egypt station was complete, leaving behind large piles of dirt and debris.
— Bill @ Touring Central Florida (@androckb) April 4, 2015
In mid-April, crews began driving pilings for one of the trenches for the new 2016 attraction. Some creative additions to the construction walls around the site were also made, showing cut-out figures of both animals and guests peering over the walls to get a glimpse of progress on the project.
Towards the end of April 2015, several footers were in the process of being constructed for the yet unannounced 2016 attraction.
By the beginning of May, several large wooden crates were delivered to the construction site bearing the Mack Rides logo.
The park sent out invites to media outlets on May 12, 2015, for an event on May 28 to share more details on the coming 2016 attraction.
From May 8 through May 18, three separate snake-themed names were filed for trademark by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment (parent company of Busch Gardens Tampa) for use of an amusement park ride. Those included Cobra’s Curse, Strikewinder, and Reptitan. It was not unusual for the company to file applications for several trademarked names for the same attraction, using just one and abandoning the others.
Work on the railway realignment was completed in mid-May, with the Serengeti Express reopening to guests on May 21, 2015. The new alignment took guests directly through the construction site for the new attraction, with temporary fences on either side of the route blocking most of the ground-level views.
On May 27, 2015, the park teased on social media that additional construction walls had gone up in the Egypt section of the park ahead of the media event scheduled for the following day.
Cobra’s Curse was officially announced on May 28, 2015. The media event for Cobra’s Curse reveal was held on the construction site just outside of the former Tut’s Tomb building. Invited guests were guided through the former attraction’s area, with nearly all of the old props and set pieces already removed. Several pieces of concept art for the new attraction were on display. A few actors performing as archeologists were also there to guide media through the building and out to the announcement site.
From the original press release:
Busch Gardens Tampa puts a spin on family thrills in 2016 with a brand new family thrill ride – Cobra’s Curse. This spin coaster is the only one of its kind in the world, featuring a vertical lift and taking riders on a whirlwind adventure of exciting explorations.
Located in the Egypt area of the park, explorers will come face-to-face with an 80-foot snake icon, trek over the park’s Serengeti Plain and discover the mysteries of an Egyptian archeological excavation.
“This isn’t your ordinary spin coaster. In true Busch Gardens style, we’re putting a twist on this attraction and taking riders on an unforgettable and exciting journey,” said Busch Gardens Park President Jim Dean.
“The addition of a family spin coaster complements the selection of thrill rides Busch Gardens offers, and we know it’s an attraction that guests from across the globe will enjoy,” Dean added. “We continue to find new and exciting ways to offer thrills for the entire family, and we know Cobra’s Curse will even further solidify Busch Gardens as Florida’s Thrill Leader.”
A video was released with the announcement:
In that teaser video, many hieroglyphs are shown throughout, but one that’s highlighted for just a moment (at the 33-second mark) is a cartouche representing Ay, the successor to Tut. This may have been an intentional nod to the former pharaoh’s attraction as it was also being replaced by Cobra’s Curse.
Several specifics about Cobra’s Curse were also shared during the media event. Riders 42 inches and over would enter the queue and wind their way through the former Tut’s Tomb building which would be air-conditioned, a first for any of the park’s roller coasters. At the station, guests would enter one of eight custom-designed two-car trains, which would hold a total of eight passengers, four in each car. An elevator-style lift would raise the cars up to 70 feet where guests would have a close encounter with the huge cobra sculpture before traveling through the 2,100-foot course at speeds up to about 40 miles per hour.
The specially designed cars would go through the course in three different positions, including a section facing forward, a section traveling backward, and finally, a free spin section where the weight and position of the guests in each car would determine how much spinning occurred. A maximum capacity of 1,000 guests per hour was projected.
An on-ride photo op was also planned, with guests being able to see and purchase their image and other souvenirs in the exit gift shop, which was planned to take over much of the former Golden Scarab shop space that was attached to Tut’s Tomb.
Along with the media event, construction walls were further pushed out into the main pathway in Egypt surrounding the former Tut’s Tomb building. Those walls then received a wrap with a coded message in hieroglyphs teasing the coming attraction.
In early June, the park shared an image showing demolition work in the Egypt area through their social media channels:
Demolition continued to be the focus through June 2015. Concrete pathways throughout the construction area were ripped up, and most remaining trees and theming elements around the former Tut’s Tomb building were removed. The lower outdoor terrace of Crown Colony Cafe was also demolished during this time.
The first full construction update provided by the park was released on their blog on July 14, 2015. The post described recent progress, which mostly entailed demolition inside of the former Tut’s Tomb attraction and around the site where Cobra’s Curse would be constructed in the coming months on the 2.5-acre site.
Rain dominated the weather in much of July and into the first few days of August 2015. Despite the foul weather, crews did continue demolition work, including on the south side of the site where the walls had been pushed into Egypt. The concrete pathways and much of the theming elements between the former Tut’s Tomb building and the restrooms located near Montu had been removed.
Once things started to dry up in early August, crews pumped out the remaining rainwater that had pooled in several low spots on the site. By the second weekend of the month, a large pit had been dug near the center of the site, and foundation forms were set in place.
In the second construction update from the park on August 14, 2015, it was shared that demolition on the site had been completed and work had moved to install underground utilities and pouring the concrete foundation for the 95-foot tall vertical lift tower. The square foundation is 20 feet deep and 40 feet wide, taking 25 trucks to bring in the 6,750 cubic yards of concrete poured into the forms strengthened with steel rebar. It was also noted the first batch of ride steelwork had been started in Germany and would make the 4,800-mile journey to the park in the fall.
In the middle of August, more and more supplies for new footers arrived and the construction walls around the site expanded just a bit further as the narrow path and the restrooms near Montu were closed.
The entire Egypt section of the park was closed the last week of August and first week of September 2015 as part of the Cobra’s Curse project. The outline of the foundation of the extension onto the former Tut’s Tomb was dug out at this time, and more footers for the coaster’s supports were started.
The park shared a picture showing track pieces arriving on the storage lot north of Adventure Island on September 22, 2015:
A third construction update from the park was posted to their blog on October 9, 2015. It detailed recent work on the site, including the installation of the first steel ride supports the previous week and the first of 70 track segments on the 9th. A total of 14 shipping containers of ride steel had been delivered for the project. Other work completed before the update included foundation work for the station and lift tower, two trenches dug out, and a number of support foundations poured and awaiting steel columns in the weeks ahead.
Ten days later, the park released a time-lapse video of those first track sections being installed:
The park also provided construction updates via YouTube, including this one released November 2, 2015, which revealed the official logo:
At the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) annual expo in Orlando, Busch Gardens unveiled a model of Cobra’s Curse on November 17, 2015. The model showed the entire layout and many of the theming details that guests would see when it opened. It would later be displayed at several locations inside the park for guests to view during the ride’s construction.
The fourth construction update on the park’s blog was posted on November 20, 2015. By that point, a total of 34 shipping containers of ride parts had arrived at the park, and about a third of the track had been assembled, including the brake run where the cars turn backward and the traditional lift hill. The first and second trenches were complete, and walls were up for the station and maintenance building.
The park released a 360-degree video on their YouTube channel on December 10, 2015, giving great views at several spots around the construction site:
Following the holiday season, all of Egypt was once again closed beginning January 4, 2016, as part of the project. By the first week of the new year, about half of the track had been installed. Work was also progressing on the station and maintenance tracks, and new footers were being added on the north side of the railroad tracks.
The park posted its fifth construction update on January 12, 2016. Work over the holidays included roof trusses being installed over the station and maintenance building, and much more of the track including the highly banked turn over the new guest pathway being built.
Three days later on January 15, the park announced the cars for Cobra’s Curse had arrived at the park, sharing an image of them in a warehouse wrapped in plastic.
By the third week of January 2016, the stairs that would be attached to the vertical lift element for maintenance use and emergency evacuations were erected. The trench under the railroad bridge built earlier in 2015 was dug out again and also being worked on.
As a hint of what was to come, two sets of boxes and signs warning guests to “Beware of Snakes” were hung on the construction walls blocking access to the Egypt section of the park. Braver guests who ignored the warning to keep their hands out of the holes in the box may have received a bit of a surprise.
Near the end of January, major components for the vertical lift tower were installed.
A hard hat tour for invited media was held on February 17, 2016. During the event, attendees were taken onto the construction site to get pictures and video of the progress made to that point.
The ride vehicle for Cobra’s Curse was also revealed and was placed on display in the Egypt section of the park. A video was released by the park shortly after:
Also on February 17, the park released details on the queue for Cobra’s Curse, including how guests would be able to get within inches of a themed enclosure featuring some of the world’s most notorious snake species. From the release:
“The snake exhibit at Cobra’s Curse will allow us to combine the best of what Busch Gardens has to offer – animals and thrill rides,” says Jeff Andrews, Vice President, Zoological Operations at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. “This exhibit will give our guests an unforgettable experience while continuing the conversation around conservation and education by highlighting the species and their important role in the wild, which is our top priority.”
The release stated the 400-cubic-foot Cobra’s Curse Snake Exhibit would include Jameson’s mambas, Angolan pythons, rhinoceros vipers, and gaboon vipers. Along with thematic elements relating to the ride, the multi-level exhibit was also designed with various enrichment components.
By late February 2016, the two highest points of the new attraction were topped off – the 70-foot vertical lift hill, and the 80-foot tall Snake King icon. The giant snake icon weighs 30,000 pounds and is made up of nine stackable pieces hoisted into place by a crane. It features four-foot-long fangs and three-foot-wide eyes. Its internal steel spine holds up the outer shell comprised of carved foam and fiberglass.
The final track piece, weighing 4,475 pounds, was put into place on Saturday, March 19, 2016. That weekend crews were busy across the site, installing the roof over the station and working on finishing necessary work to allow the testing phase to begin. Theming was also underway on the exterior of the queue building.
A detailed video was released by the park on March 22, 2016, giving an update on construction progress, more information on some of the ride’s elements, and some computer-generated footage of what Cobra’s Curse would look like when operating.
By mid-April 2016, theming work across the site was well underway and trees and other landscaping features were being planted. Initial testing of the vertical lift and ride system elements in the station were also occurring. By the third week of April at least two trains were on the track, seen in the station and maintenance bay.
A teaser video was released on April 27, 2016, showing a POV on the vertical lift up to the Snake King.
A day later, the park posted their second webisode, with a focus on the queue experience, including the snakes that would be on display in a specially built habitat in the Cobra’s Curse Snake Exhibit.
Continuing their promotion of Cobra’s Curse, a teaser video was released by the park on May 5 giving a glimpse of what the ride would be like for guests.
On May 7, 2016, more construction walls came down around the site, opening up the courtyard between the new gift shop, Cobra Crypt Marketplace, and the Eqypt restrooms. As crews continued theming work and testing the roller coaster, guests could begin to see some of the details throughout the area including the “body” of the Snake King statue winding down around the gift shop and up over the entrance for Cobra’s Curse.
The park released several things on May 11, 2016, including the first full-ride through POV video for Cobra’s Curse. The video featured views from different angles, and also a glimpse at progress around the roller coaster site as construction wrapped up.
Also on May 11, the park sent out invites to outlets for a media day to be held on May 26, 2016, and released details on pass member exclusive ride time on Cobra’s Curse for one hour before the park opened each Saturday and Sunday in June.
The walls around the entrance to Cobra’s Curse were down by the time the park opened on May 17, 2016. Many theming items from signage to hard hats and tools were part of the initial entrance before the queue headed inside the building.
An article in the Tampa Bay Times on May 20, 2016, went into more detail on how animal care staff prepared the snakes for their new home in the Cobra’s Curse Snake Exhibit.
Towards the end of May, the park shared several images over the course of several days on its Twitter account. Each image showed a different hieroglyphic scene from inside the queue of Cobra’s Curse.
On May 23, 2016, the park postponed the media event scheduled for May 26 and the pass member exclusive ride times on weekends in June. Three days later, the park would reschedule the pass member exclusive ride time to weekends in July, allowing those guests access to Cobra’s Curse and the rest of Egypt one hour before the regular park opening each Saturday and Sunday that month.
By Memorial Day Weekend, the park had ambassadors stationed at the entrance of Cobra’s Curse to answer questions for guests, most of whom asked when it was opening. Several pieces of concept art showing the interior queue and station were also on display.
In early June 2016, guests coming through the parking lot toll booths were given a rack card with details on the pass member exclusive ride time scheduled for Cobra’s Curse in July and other benefits of being a Busch Gardens Tampa pass member.
On June 10, the park announced Cobra’s Curse would officially open to guests on Friday, June 17, 2016. The following week was an eventful one as the final preparations were made for the grand opening.
Park employees were able to ride Cobra’s Curse at several points on the weekend of June 11 and 12. Also that weekend, the remaining walls blocking the new pathways around and under the roller coaster were removed, allowing guests their first opportunity to see the ride from a variety of angles.
Guests who visited the park on June 13 had the first opportunity to ride Cobra’s Curse during an unannounced “soft open” period during the day. The roller coaster soft opened again for a time on June 14 before closing for promotional filming later in the afternoon.
Media day for invited outlets was held the day before the grand opening, on June 16.
Cobra’s Curse was featured on an episode of Cake Wars that premiered July 18, 2016, on Food Network. The episode challenged four bakers to create a Cobra’s Curse themed cake, with the winner’s cake to be on display during a party celebrating the roller coaster opening. Brian Morrow, Vice President of Theme Park Experience for the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens parks, was the celebrity judge on the show.
By the beginning of August 2016, a test seat had been installed at the entrance to Cobra’s Curse, allowing guests of size to see if they would be able to ride without waiting in line to find out in the station.
On January 10, 2017, Cobra’s Curse closed for its first major refurbishment, with a scheduled reopening date of February 3. Most of the paths under the structure along with Cobra’s Crypt Marketplace were closed during the work, which included replacing some of the motors on the traditional lift hill. The test seat was also moved to the right side of the entrance, replacing a few of the themed crates.
Images & Video
A 30-second spot created by Click 3X for the park to be used for promotional purposes:
A video teaser of the projection mapping used in a section of the queue released through the park’s social media channels:
The Producers Group, one of the many companies involved in the design and construction of Cobra’s Curse, released a video showing some of the work they did on the project, which included a look behind the scenes and at some concept art for the attraction.
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Last update: December 19, 2020