Beware the Cobra’s Curse

“You are mine. There is no escape from the cobra’s curse.”

If you’ve visited Busch Gardens in the past five days, chances are you’ve heard those words. They play on a loop through loudspeakers set up around the park’s newest roller coaster, Cobra’s Curse, which opened Friday.

The attraction boasts a 70-foot-tall vertical lift that brings you face-to-face with the 80-foot-tall Snake King before the roller coaster train starts moving on the track. The train reaches speeds of up to 40 mph while it drives across the 2,100-foot-long track. 

However, according to the senior director of theme park development and USF graduate, Jeff Hornick, the attraction starts long before you step foot in the car.

“The attraction doesn’t start when you get on the roller coaster, it starts when you first step foot in the queue,” Hornick said. “There is a fully developed backstory behind the ride, and we also have such a great queue experience for our guests.”

Inspired by Egyptian history and lore, the story starts 2,000 years ago when people worshipped the Snake King. However, when he got too powerful and neglected his followers, they got mad and destroyed his idol. It was then when the Snake King decided to curse the world if the head of his idol was ever put back in its rightful place.

While construction started in March of 2015, the concept for Cobra’s Curse was developed three years ago.

“When we had developed Cobra’s Curse, we had just put in Falcon’s Fury, and that is quite a thrill seeker type of attraction. We wanted to put in something at the park that was much more of a

family-friendly, family fun kind of attraction,” Hornick said. “We wanted something that would compliment our seven roller coasters, and with this being our eighth roller coaster, it helps solidify Busch Gardens as the thrill ride leader in Florida, and Cobra’s Curse is all about family fun.”

Reception for the ride seems to be generally positive so far. Trenisse Cox, a sophomore majoring in education who currently works at Busch Gardens, said the ride had been busy with no signs of it slowing down.

“Since the ride just opened we’ve had crazy wait times,”  Cox said. “Some people get mad, some people are anxious to ride it, so it just depends on the person.”

For Hornick and the Busch Gardens’ staff, the ride is a completely new class of roller coaster. 

A press release sent out by Busch Gardens a week before the ride was open to the public described the free-spinning as “a new spin with each ride. Each train spins randomly, with frequency and direction determined by the rider weight distribution.”

“We’ve developed a spinning roller coaster that has forward segments, backward segments and it free spins. No one else has done that before,” Hornick said.