Zambezi Zinger’s Return: Review of Worlds of Fun’s 2023 Wooden Coaster

From the year that Worlds of Fun opened in 1973 to the time of its departure in 1997, fans flocked to the Africa section of the park to catch a ride on the legendary Zambezi Zinger. Complete with its bobsled style seating, iconic spiral lift hill and a jarring underground tunnel, Zambezi Zinger delighted park guests during its time at Worlds of Fun. After the 1997 season, Zinger was removed and shipped to Colombia, where it continues to operate to this day at Parque Del Café. Even after its departure, the legend lived on at Worlds of Fun. In August of 2022, Worlds of Fun announced that the coaster would return in an all-new way for the park’s 50th anniversary, both paying homage to the original version of the coaster and bringing a brand-new coaster experience to Worlds of Fun.

Photo courtesy of Worlds of Fun

Standing at 74 feet tall and reaching a top speed of 45 miles per hour, the new Zambezi Zinger was designed by Great Coasters International (GCI) and Skyline Attractions.

Photo courtesy of Worlds of Fun

The ride features GCI’s new Infinity Flyer trains, as well as their steel Titan Track on the reimagined spiral lift hill and nearby curve, while the rest of the layout is made of GCI’s traditional wood track. As the coaster traverses its 2,428 feet of track, guests are taken on a tour of the African Serengeti for a ride time of about 2 minutes.

Guests entering the Africa section of the park approach the Adventure Safari Tours building, prompting riders to “discover the legend of the Zinger” as they walk through the ride entrance.

The queue is well-themed with an assortment of crates, posters, and other props that enhance the ‘safari’ feel as guests make their way towards the base camp/station. Upon entering the station, guests board one of the 8 rows of the jeep-styled trains seating 2 across and pull down their lap bar.

At dispatch, the coaster turns left immediately into the spiral lift hill, offering riders a unique experience right off the bat as the train slowly ascends towards the top of the spiral lift. Once there, the coaster plummets down the first drop and sends guests off on their tour of the African Sarengeti!

The new Zambezi Zinger really delivers on offering an experience that mimics the style and layout of its predecessor, but adds a new level of thrill to its design. The coaster spends most of its layout, especially its second half, hugging the terrain as close to the ground as it possibly can, much like the original did, and occasionally mixing in a small airtime hill. The new Zinger also features a dark tunnel similar to the original, however, the tunnel is now at the mid-course point in the ride rather than at the end. The newest aspect of the ride (and the part that I think of as the most fun) is that it features quick, snappy transitions that only seem to amp up as the coaster traverses its layout. These quick transitions, along with the low-to-the-ground track, make the second half of the coaster feel like it’s flying all the way up until the final brake run.

Photo courtesy of Worlds of Fun

With all that said, the new coaster isn’t perfect. With the exception of the areas that feature Titan Track, Zinger rides a bit rougher than I expected from a new GCI. Although, I didn’t feel like the roughness detracted from the overall experience. Another thing worth mentioning is that throughout the layout of the ride, there are animal statues near the track to enhance the coaster’s theming. I was really excited for this, as I recall seeing a zebra along the layout from the queue, but during my rides, I barely noticed the animals beside the track or missed them entirely.

After several rides on the coaster, I found that the back row offers the most airtime and the most intensity as the train flies through its whippy transitions. It’s also fun to watch the rest of the train in front of you climb the spiral lift. When compared to the rest of the coaster lineup at Worlds of Fun, I would rank Zambezi Zinger third behind Prowler and Mamba. It will definitely become a must-ride for all of my Worlds of Fun visits in the future.

Photo courtesy of Worlds of Fun

Overall, the new Zambezi Zinger does a great job of taking a nostalgic piece of Worlds of Fun’s history and making it new. Not only did it end the park’s 14-year coaster drought, but it brought back a beloved attraction in time for the park’s 50th-anniversary celebration. As a coaster enthusiast, I think the ride is fun and fast-paced, but my favorite part of my first ride on the new Zambezi Zinger was that I got to experience it with my parents, who rode the original coaster when it was new in the 70s. It’s this blend of old and new that makes Zambezi Zinger a great addition to Worlds of Fun.

Zambezi Zinger On-Ride POV Video

Watch the official Zambezi Zinger on-ride POV video below:

About the Author:

Dani Lasher is a teacher and an aspiring web developer from Wichita, Kansas. Intrigued by watching Disneyland’s rides on TV as a child, she became a coaster enthusiast at a young age. She enjoys visiting her nearby parks, Silver Dollar City and Worlds of Fun, as well as dragging her friends and family to theme parks all across the United States.


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3 Responses

  1. Denise says:

    Well written! Brings the coaster to life!!

  2. Stephen Peck says:

    Maybe if we’re really nice to the Zinger we could get Orient Express back sometime soon ?

  3. Danay Michelle Clemens says:

    I feel that the zambini zinger is a great ride but the last three terms on the ride is very rough on the body .

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