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Busch Gardens Tampa – Congo: Congo River Rapids

 

Rating: * * * * *
Type: Water ride
Time: About 3 minutes
Short Take: The best of the water rides

It doesn’t have the steep drops of the flume rides in Stanleyville, but for me Congo River Rapids provides the most enjoyable overall water ride experience in Busch Gardens.

Here you climb aboard 12-seater circular rafts that are then set adrift to float freely along a rapids-filled stretch of river. The raft twists, turns, and spins as it bumps off the sides and various cunningly placed obstacles in the stream. In addition to the raging waters, which periodically slosh into the raft, the course is punctuated with waterfalls and waterspouts, all of which have the potential to drench you to the skin.

The most insidious threat of all comes from your fellow park visitors, who are encouraged to spray you with water cannon (at 25 cents a shot) from the pedestrian walkway that skirts the ride.

Despite all the white water, the raft proceeds at a relatively stately pace and the “river” drops only several feet over its quarter-mile course. The real excitement is generated by the ever-present threat of a soaking. How wet you get is only somewhat a matter of chance.

It seems that the wetness quotient has been increased since the ride first opened. Time was that some people emerged virtually unscathed, while others got soaked. Now it seems that almost everyone get thoroughly doused. On a hot Florida afternoon, that seems to be just the ticket, which makes this my favorite water ride and explains the five-star rating.

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