Gwazi, the popular wooden roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa, in Tampa, Florida, made its final runs on Sunday, February 1, 2015. Busch Gardens silenced the roller coaster's wheels after a day that yielded a mix of excited screams and bone-jarring rattling on the coaster.
Gwazi roared to life on June 18, 1999. Great Coasters International built the $10 million ride and named it for a fabled beast with a tiger's head and a lion's body. The thrill ride originally featured two individual, but intertwined, tracks — one named for the Lion, and the other the Tiger.
Over the years, Busch Gardens modified the behemoth. In 2011, the ride was retrofitted with new trains that were intended to smooth the riding experience. The following year, the Tiger side was retired and one of its two blue-colored trains was relocated to the yellow-themed Lion track.
Ever since the Tiger track closed in late 2012, rumors had been circulating throughout the thrill ride community that Gwazi was heading toward the end of its run. Despite the enthusiasm many people had for Gwazi, it scored low on guests' satisfaction scores. The ride was about as bumpy as it was fast.
A Busch Gardens spokesperson said Gwazi is closing for several reasons, not the least being the complaints of riders who grew weary of the rough ride. Also cited as factors were the reduced number of guests who rode the coaster and the operational costs.
It's not yet clear what will happen to Gwazi now that it has stopped running.