Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Blast From The Past - Cheetah at Wild Adventures

Founded in 1996 by Kent Buescher, Wild Adventures opened as a small petting zoo on a plot of farm land outside of Valdosta Georgia. Buescher began adding rides in 1998 and over the years the park has experienced several rapid growth spurts. Many roller coasters and flat rides were added. And, the park's largest expansion, the Splash Island water park, was added in 2003.

In 2004, Buescher founded Adventure Parks Group and purchased Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida. Wild Adventures was put on the back burner, as the company concentrated on the Florida park. In September of 2006, Adventure Parks Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and both parks continued operating during the bankruptcy reorganization.

In 2007, Wild Adventures was sold to Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation. The park currently features approximately 59 rides and attractions, including eight roller coasters, hundreds of exotic animals, shows, Splash Island water park and numerous concerts from country, pop, rock, Christian, to oldies superstars.

Designed by Chad Miller and Larry Bill, and built by Randy Larrick, Jeff Mason and the CCI crew, the park's largest coaster, Cheetah debuted on June 16, 2001.The ride opened with then relatively unknown rolling stock, newly designed trains from Gerstlauer Amusement Rides GmbH.

The Custom Coaster International hybrid coaster (steel structure with wooden track) is located in the African Pridelands section of the park. At 2680 feet long, with a 90 foot drop, Cheetah reached speeds up to 52 MPH.

During the 2009/2010 off season Cheetah received a $1.3 Million overhaul, with the figure-eight being re-tracked, various other rough spots being smoothed out.

We experienced Cheetah for the first time on New Years Eve of 2001. And, rode it again in 2002 and 2008. The park kicked off it's 15th season (on March 12th) and both Wild Adventure and Cheetah are both rolling quite smoothly! We hope to get back to the park this season to experience the "new" Cheetah!


Two said...

Nice feature, but the trains were not replaced with Millennium Flyers. Cheetah is still operating with Gerstlauer trains.

Jarsh said...

Cheetah still uses the old G trains it started with. They are not using the MF trains from Ozark Wildcat. Those trains are being sent to Dollywood for usage as a third train (or parts) for Thunderhead.

stebe said...

The trains weren't replaced with OzCat's MF's, WA was only storing them for the time being. One or both of those MF's eventually went to DW for parts. I believe Cheetah got new PTC's, but don't quote me on that.

Scott and Carol said...

Thanks to all my proof readers, the story has been edited.

I guess the demise of those G trains was just in my dreams,