Busch Gardens Tampa
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(12/9/13) Falcon’s Fury Rises (MORE...)
(12/5/13) Behind the Thrills has a huge ChristmasTown report from Busch Gardens Tampa with tons of pics and videos to see this week.
(12/4/13) A few bits of BGT gossip have come my way this week. It seems the park is running a special promotion for passholders at the moment (MORE...)
(12/3/13) The second tower section has been added to Falcon’s Fury. (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Gwazi - ONE SIDE ONLY until FURTHER NOTICE
Bush Flyers - NOW CLOSED until 2014
Desert Runners - NOW CLOSED until 2014
Kiddie Train - NOW CLOSED until 2014
Rhino Rally - NOW CLOSED until ????
Jungle Flyers - NOW CLOSED through 12/19/13
Tidal Wave - NOW CLOSED through 12/24/13
General Park News - (12/5/13) Behind the Thrills has a huge ChristmasTown report from Busch Gardens Tampa with tons of pics and videos to see this week.
(12/2/13) ChristmasTown has begin at Busch Gardens Tampa and they’ve send us several promotional photos of this year’s event to share this week. There are lots of new features at ChristmasTown this year, including SnowWorld, the music at Holiday Hills, Elmo’s Christmas Wish, Misletoe Memories and much more. Christmas Town is open 18 select nights from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Nov. 29 through Dec. 23. For more information, visit ChristmasTown.com.
(12/4/13) A few bits of BGT gossip have come my way this week. It seems the park is running a special promotion for passholders at the moment, offering them free coffee in the park just by showing off your pass, though I’m not sure how long it will remain in effect. (UPDATE: The Free coffee may have only been for November and may have stopped)
The latest buzz on the new live show coming to take over the former 4D theater is that it may host some kind of live action bird show.
Tidal Wave… while the ride has been closed for some maintenance issues as of late, the scheduled long term closure (October to December) is said to be primarily a budget issue, as the ride isn’t popular anyway in the colder months of the year. However I have heard from one person claiming that it was seen up and running for guests lately. This may have been a last second swap-out with Congo River Rapids, which had some unexpected downtime issues as well lately that needed need to be fixed.
Madagascar Live is now running a Christmas version of the show, but alas… only on Saturdays and Sundays. The show is open however on Christmas Town nights and is expected to be open daily the week after Christmas.
Finally… a warning. Guests riding Kumba may notice some clearing of trees out by the employee parking lot. It’s not for a new ride or attraction, but rather for a needed expansion of the employee parking lot.
(11/19/13) While nothing is firm regarding the fate of Rhino Rally, it seems there is a chance it may reopen in Summer 2014 after all. Problem is, I’m hearing that the truck fleet is in need of some major repair work, if not outright replacement. If they don’t get the budget for the repair work, it may not reopen after all in 2014.
(11/14/13) Has Rhino Rally closed for good? While Rhino Rally closed once again at the end of the busy summer season, it was expected that Rhino Rally would reopen once again sometime between Spring Break 2014 and Summer 2014 when the crowds arrived. This may not be the case any longer, as the latest word from Screamscape sources claims that the attraction is now likely closed for good and the immediate area will be used to expand the park’s elephant enclosure to allow for a breeding program.
(11/4/13) BGTFans took a sneak peek at the new Santa’s Christmas Workshop store at Busch Gardens Tampa this week. You can check it out yourself here.
(10/30/13) On November 20-21, a special event will take place at Busch Gardens Tampa, “Fisher Price presents LIVE FROM LITTLE PEOPLE PLACE” where the characters from the decades old “Little People” line of Fisher Price toys will be in the park and put on a new stage show for two days. During this special event children up to age 9 can come and enjoy the Fisher Price show along with the rest of Busch Gardens Tampa completely FREE. Showtimes are 11am, 1pm and 4pm each day. Click here for the official details.
(10/10/13) BGTFans reports that in October park passholders will be able to sample free beer in the park once again. The offer is only good in the Crown Colony Pub on the second floor of the Crown Colony House and only between 11am and 4pm. Show your pass and receive up to two 10 oz pours of the four beers available: Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra or Yuengling.
(9/16/13) Over the last few days I’ve been sent a few guest reports claiming that the Congo River Rapids has been closed, with signs saying it was for annual maintenance, though it is not scheduled to do so until later in the year. It was also interesting to note that they also reported that the Skyride was still open. The official website has relisted the Skyride’s closure for Sept. 17 to Nov. 10.
(9/3/13) JohnnyUpsidedown decided to take the special roller coaster tour offered at Busch Gardens Tampa and created a great trip report about it this week.
(8/19/13) With Summer winding down, BGT is also busy working on plans for this year’s Christmas Town event. According to the latest rumors the former 4D theater may be put to use for a new Christmas themed live show, and there may also be a special Christmas themed version of the Madagascar character show as well. Snow World is rumored to be moved to a new larger location to allow for a Chocolate Town attraction to go into the old spot. Santa’s House is said to be expanded this year and look for the event to possibly extend into the Jungala area as well.
In other news, BGTFans talks about how future cutbacks at Busch Gardens Tampa may affect things in the coming months. Check it out.
(8/2/13) Consider me kind of shocked… but SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa guests can now buy a special weekday (Monday through Friday) admission into the parks for just $50. The new deal starts this week and will continue through to December 20th. If you visit on a weekend, you have to pay the normal $92 ticket price and you’ll still pay the full price if you just visit the park directly, even on a weekend. To get the special $50 ticket offer you have to buy in advance through the park’s official websites or you can call 888-800-5447.
(7/15/13) BGTFans reports that the replacement show coming to the Timbuktu Theater to replace Pirates 4D will be a new live performance show that may also include live animals of some kind.
(7/14/13) I’m told that Busch Gardens Tampa closed down the park’s 4D theater for good a few days ago, making the Williamsburg park the last one in the chain to still show off the old Pirates 4D film. Word has it that the theater may be converted into a new live show performance venue of some kind in early 2014. Stay tuned!
2014 - Falcon’s Fury / Pantopia - (12/9/13) Several more towers sections have now been hoisted into place on Falcon’s Fury. Make the jump over to BGTFans to see the latest pictures.
nstruction of the new Falcon’s Fury, the land of Timbuktu will be no more. Instead the land will be transformed and updated to become known as “Pantopia”.
(12/3/13) The second tower section has been added to Falcon’s Fury. You can see pictures over at BGTFans.
(11/29/13) A new construction update of Falcon’s Fury can be found over at BGT Fans this week as the park prepared to raise the second tower section into place.
(11/26/13) Busch Garden Tampa has announced that as part of the co
Yes… I know… it sounds more like a new flavored water drink than something that belongs in a theme park, but after the whole “Cheetah Hunt” name fiasco, I’m not going to bother trying to fight it.
Anyway, Pantopia “will boast elaborately-jeweled theming and feature thrilling rides and attractions, sensational new food and beverage options, exciting entertainment, shopping, a renovated indoor theater and more.“
Pantopia “will celebrate the spirit of animals, welcome adventurers from the four corners of the earth, explore ancient lore and display fantastic architecture,” says Busch Gardens Park President Jim Dean. “Guests will find multiple portals and doorways and learn about the legends that have drawn journeyers from around the world to Pantopia. Plus, family favorites like the Scorpion, Phoenix, Bush Flyers, Desert Runners and the Kiddie Train will return.”
A new webisode for Falcon’s Fury has also been posted, so check it out below.
(11/19/13) Falcon’s Fury has now gone vertical and you can see the first tower section piece now in place over at BGTFans. While we’re on the subject of Fancon’s Fury the local news posted a few more details about the ride experience itself. The tower will feature a total of 32 seats sectioned into groups of four. The tower wont spin on the way up and you’ll rise to the top in the normal upright seated posture. Once at the top the seats will tilt forward, placing riders into a face-down prone position looking down at the ground far before. You’ll hang that way for a few long seconds before you are released and drop… but half-way down the seats will tilt back again to the upright position just before it hits the magnetic brake zone. They estimate that the freefall sensation will last between 5 to 6 seconds.
There is one extra special element to the puzzle, as uncovered by Central Florida 13 News. The length of the pause at the top will be controlled by a randomizer program in the ride’s computer, so you’ll never know if you’ll drop after 1 second, 5 seconds or longer.
(11/4/13) A reader got a great look at the construction site for Falcon’s Fury this week, giving us a clear look at the hole and deep concrete pillar poured inside. With the nine tower pieces now on site (each up to 20 feet in diameter and weighing up to 95 tons) it wont be long before the 335ft tower rises into the sky. According to Busch Garden, once set in place, Falcon’s Fury will be the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America.
(10/31/13) More large tower sections have arrived in Florida for Falcon’s Fury. Check out the convoy of trucks bringing them to the park here.
(10/29/13) The tower pieces for Falcon’s Fury have started to arrive at Busch Gardens Tampa. A few pictures have been floating around on Twitter and over at Behind the Thrills, and a reader also sent in this one as well.
(9/20/13) TheParks.IT gives us a look at the big square hole that has been dug for Falcon’s Fury.
(9/3/13) A new quick look at the Falcon's Fury drop ride construction site was posted by JohnnyUpsidedown this week. As previously reported, we can expect to see the ground work phase go on for awhile as they need to perform extra work on the site to ensure the long term stability of the drop tower. (They don't want a wobbly tower like the Coney Island Astrotower, right?) I'm told that we will likely not see the hardware for the drop tower start to arrive until after Halloween.
(8/21/13) A new video construction update from the Falcon’s Fury construction site has been posted to CoasterCrew this week.
(8/9/13) BGTFans has posted a photo update from the Falcon’s Fury construction site, where lots of steel has been driven down into the ground.
(7/26/13) BGTFans has posted a small construction update for Falcon’s Fury this week.
(7/15/13) BGTFans has posted a construction update for Falcon’s Fury as large steel beams are being driven down into the earth.
(6/28/13) BGTFans has posted the first construction photos from the future site of Falcon’s Fury as construction equipment is on site and the work has begin to install the fright tower.
(6/12/13) The long rumored drop tower ride project was confirmed at Busch Gardens Tampa a few hours ago... and it may be the most frightening freefall ride on the planet when it opens. Falcon’s Fury will stand 335 feet tall, hoist riders slowly to the top peak where the seats will then tilt 90º forward, essentially laying you flat, face-down staring at the ground far far below you. After a brief pause, you’ll be released and accellerate to 60mph before coming to a sudden and smooth stop inches above the ground, thanks to a set of magnetic brakes.
This sounds utterly terrifying to the point where they want want to sell Depends undergarments in the queue before you ride, or offer a clean pair of underwear at the exit when you are peeled out of your seat. For those who like to check under the hood... this new tower ride creation is an Intamin product. Check out the very cool preview video below.
(5/30/13) From the sounds of things Busch Gardens Tampa may be ready to make the big announcement about that rumored new Drop Tower ride coming to the park. They e-mailed invitations out to the media on Tuesday afternoon stating that, ‘We’re dropping BIG NEWS!” on June 11th in a special presentation at the park. We’ll have someone there to get the news as it is announced.
(4/17/13) More changes have been made to the park’s rehab schedule, especially the dates for the four Tumbuktu attractions. All four of those rides (Sandstorm, Bush Flyers, Desert Runners and the Kiddie Train) are all listed as closing down on June 3rd. However... a more important change is the fact that the Sandstorm is now listed with a December 31st reopening date. So far we have assumed that this meant the other three attractions would be removed from the park entirely, but previously the park was intending to move Sandstorm to a new location instead, as it still is really the only true thrilling flat ride in the entire park.
That said... this does match up to the strange rumor I recieved a couple of weeks ago and was not ready to believe at the time. According to that secret source, the plans for Sandstorm had changed and it too would be removed from the park, and would find a new home up in Sesame Place instead for next season.
(3/15/13) While I still haven’t heard much about the latest plans for a new drop tower at Busch Gardens Tampa, my source tells me that the rumor going around the park will see the tower stand up over 300 feet tall, and may feature tilting seats of some kind when it opens in 2014. We should know more by April when construction is expected to begin.
(3/11/13) I noticed earlier today that BGT had moves some dates around on their Attraction Rehab calender, including moving up the planned closure of Sandstorm, Busch Flyers, Desert Runners and the Kiddie Train from June 19th to now close on April 22nd. Sandstorm’s new reopening date is May 31st given it a nearly 6 week downtime from the previous 7 day rehab schedule, which would possibly be enough time to move it to a new location in the park if that is still the plan. Meanwhile the three kiddie rides nearby will all close at the same time on April 22nd but their reopening date is still listed as December 31st, which is a long long time...
(2/21/13) Busch Gardens posted their list of 2013 Attraction Rehab dates (see above) and I noticed something very interesting that could involve the new rumored drop tower ride. On June 19th, four attractions in Timbuktu are slated to close down, all at once: Sandstorm, Bush Flyers, Desert Runners and the Kiddie Train. While the rehab on the Sandstorm is listed as lasting for one week (June 19 through June 26), the three kiddie rides are all listed as closing from June 19 through to December 31st! As the rehab calender only includes dates within 2013, this says to be that these three rides may be slated for removal on June 19th.
The once planed timeline to move the Sandstorm to a new location near Gwazi has come and gone, and Sandstorm still sits in Timbuktu. I also don’t believe we will see the park able to move the ride to a new location in a week-long window in June 2013 either, so I’ve got to wonder if the site of the proposed Drop Tower ride has been moved over to the combined location where the three kiddie rides sit, just to the south of Phoenix. This location on the edge of Timbuktu would also provide a pretty good view down into the Rhino Rally / Elephant exhibit area next door. One more thought to chew on... if these three kiddie rides are removed, will they be moved to new locations in the park, or just simply retired?
(2/4/13) The word from a few BGT insiders is that the park is still planning on adding a drop tower ride to the park, but they are now not expecting to begin construction on the ride until around July. It is still expected to take over the Sandstorm location, which will be moved to a new site near Gwazi.
(11/15/12) I’m hearing that tilting seats are simply but one of a few different options (aka: gimicks) Busch Gardens Tampa may be looking into in an effort to make their new tower ride concept stick out as something unique from the rest of the pack which is understandable. Of course if they want something really unique, I’d love to see some kind of launched drop tower ride experience where you load in the middle of the tower, that would start off by lowering you down into a dark pit (preferably filled with hungry crocodiles) before launching you up into the sky. I’m not sure how far down they can dig in Florida to make this happen, but it’s worth a shot in my opinion to make such a unique experience.
I’ve also got to update my note comment about S&S’ Tilting Seats. They did install them briefly onto the Volcanic Impact tower ride at Fantasy Island in the UK, but the tilting seats were removed sometime after the first year or so.
(11/14/12) The latest rumor on the proposed Busch Gardens drop tower ride is that the company is looking into new alternative drop tower idea proposals from other manufacturers. If the rumors are true, they may be looking into a new design that once you reach the top of the tower, your seats could tilt forward positioning the riders into a face-down skydiving style pose.
As memory services, Intamin tried their hand at tilting seats several years ago mixed with a stand-up riding posture, but the few rides that opened only tilted riders out a scant 15º and offered the most uncomfortable drop tower ride experience of all time.
Back when Stan Checketts was running S&S Power, he told me he had been working on tilting seats also for their tower ride, and had actually made a set of prototype seats that would tilt 40º which I was allowed to test ride at their Logan, Utah HQ. He wasn’t done there however, he wanted to keep working on them until he could tilt them at least 60º. Unfortunately it seems that these ideas were never finalized. Stan did realize his vision for a fully tilting seat able to rotate riders into facing 90º straight down while they fell from the sky on the S&S Sky Sling ride, but unfortunately there are no more of these left.
So the question is… who could Busch be talking with now about their new drop tower plans? Maybe we’ll uncover some hints at this year’s IAAPA show.
(11/13/12) According to the latest rumors, the park’s plans to add a drop tower attraction may have been put on hold indefinitely, possibly due to the issues they’ve had with the drop tower in the Williamsburg park.
(7/20/12) I’m not exactly sure whick park this may be for, but I’ve got a feeling it’s for Tampa. It was noticed this week that SeaWorld Entertainment has just trademarked the name Falcon’s Fury for a new attraction. Could this be a new name for Sandstorm after they relocate it, or perhaps a better name for the new drop tower ride? Anyone know more?
(5/9/12) ParkRumors did a little digging in the Trademark database and discovered a new filing from SeaWorld Entertainment for the name “Desert Dive” for a new ride. They have also purchased the DesertDive.com URL as well. I’m agree with what they’re thinking… that this is the new intended name for the 2013 drop tower ride.
Still… sounds a bit goofy to me. Desert Dive would be a great name for a Egyptian themed flume ride, wouldn’t it? Just seems to be lacking as a drop tower name.
(3/14/12) Screamscape sources tell us that the drop tower project will proceed at the Sandstorm location after all. Dealing with ground issues like this in Florida is something BGT is well used to dealing with, as I’m told there were similar problems that had to be dealt with during the construction of Cheetah Hunt as well.
(3/13/12) Some very interesting news has come in from a reader who visited Busch Gardens over the weekend. While waiting in line to ride Sandstorm they spied a series of small holes (“each about the size of a small dessert plate”) that had been drilled in the ground all around the Sandstorm ride as well as a few holes outside of the ride’s retaining wall between it and the arcade. Digging a little deeper, I’m told they were taking core samples to test the stability of the ground under this area, and the initial results were not quite what they had hoped for. This could cause the proposed Drop Tower ride to be relocated to a new site in the park, or could delay the project by several months (late 2013, early 2014?) are extra site work would be required to stabilize the site to hold the drop tower ride.
(3/6/12) According to a report at Park Rumors, new plans filed by Busch Gardens Tampa show off a new drop tower style ride in place of the Sand Storm ride. If you look at the close-up of the diagram of the ride itself what appears at first to be a square ride pod is really an octagon, which each side holding 4 riders, for a total of 32 per cycle.
If this layout holds true, this is a different layout frolm the circular carousel used by Moser on last year’s Mach Tower at the Willamsburg park, which held 30 riders. The layout also doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen before from Intamin, S&S, Huss, Zamperla, Fabbri or even ABC. So we may be looking at an entirely new animal here.
(1/30/12) Legend from CoasterCrew was visiting BGT over the weekend and managed to grab a photo of survey work in progress at the Sandstorm ride. Looks like the rumors about it being replaced with something new may be coming true. Lets just hope they decide to give Sandstorm a new home somewhere else… maybe by Montu or Kumba, because Sandstorm is really the only good flat ride in the entire park.
(9/21/11) Possibly backing up the rumor of a drop tower coming to the Tampa park, a reader reports that during the grand opening of Cheetah Hunt, they had a moment to speak with “the rides designer (forget his name)”, which I’m guessing may have been Mark Rose. In any case, when they asked him about what was coming next to the park he simply said to watch for what the other parks were getting to figure out what was coming next. Though with the problems the park had putting in Mach Tower in Williamsburg, I’m kind of surprised they would be ready to drop one into Tampa before they’ve had a good bit of time to give the first one a good shakedown. Anyway… this is all still just a rumor at this point, so stay tuned!
2015/2016 - Gigacoaster - Rumor - (10/7/13) According to a local area source members of the ride engineering department from Busch Gardens Tampa were spotted at Canada’s Wonderland over the weekend. While neither park is a stranger big rides, especially B&M coasters, the one big thing that you can find at Canada’s Wonderland and no where else in the world would be Leviathan, a B&M Gigacoaster. Is BGT ready to build the coaster coaster in Central Florida to break the 300 foot height limit? Stay tuned!
???? - Gwazi Status Updates - (9/3/13) According to the latest crazy rumors about Gwazi, I've heard that they only expect to keep Gwazi up and running (or rather the half that is still running) for another couple of seasons before they give up and demolish it. I'm guessing this means that they have a long-term plan in place to build some kind of replacement attraction on or near the site, which means we may not see a new coaster in the park until 2016.
Of course if this means that Gwazi is officially on "life support" until they are ready to replace it, if anything very costly were to come up in the form of maintenance over the next couple of years, we could see the park opt to simply close it down early. So get your last rides in while you can.
(4/8/13) While Busch Gardens has still not been willing to make any comments or answer my questions about the future of Gwazi in the park, one reader claims to have seen what appeared to them to be one of Gwazi’s inactive trains taken apart and the cars mounted to wooden platforms and set alongside one of the park’s backroads, as if they were being shipped out somewhere.
There is an interesting rumor claiming that if Gwazi’s was shut down at some point in the future, the trains (which are only a couple of years old) would be shipped to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. This would be a very intriguing move since that park has no wooden coaster at all, but has long been rumored to be interested in building one on the former site of Drachen Fire, possibly as part of a whole new land themed to Spain, or part of an expansion of the existing German themed Oktoberfest area. For more on what the future of BGW may hold… make the jump over to that page.
As for the future of Gwazi, a reader took the early morning Roller Coaster Experience tour at the park not long ago and during the Gwazi portion of the tour, did ask a few questions about the future of the ride. According to the mechanic who talked to the group at that portion of the tour, the Tiger side is closed permanently. They also told the group that the coaster was expected to be removed in the next year or two to make way for a new “Speed Coaster” that would open in 2015 or 2016.
(3/11/13) While Spring is quickly approaching, no one seems to be sure if Gwazi will be able to return running both the Tiger and Lion sides or not when the busy crowds start to show up for Spring Break. Based on the messy half-disassembled state of the Tiger train on left in the shed, things are not looking good. Plus the second train that was previously on the maintenance track to the left of this one is now entirely missing in action. Anyone know a bit more about what plans are in store for the Gwazi in 2013?
(1/9/13) After doing a little more checking with some people more ‘in the know’, I’m told that Gwazi Tiger is still down due to some much needed trackwork. No one seems to know why this has not been completed yet, nor how much longer it will take until it is done. There was a rumor floating about several months ago indicating that the park might have been wanting to install some Topper Track to try and smooth out some troublesome sections of the ride. I suppose it is possible that they could be waiting on this… but no one seems to know just what the hold up is, only that they expect it to reopen this year.
(1/8/13) Gwazi is still only running with just the Lion side, and according to sources, it may be quite some time until Tiger runs again… if it EVER runs again. I’m told that the sign showing off the wait time for the Tiger side of the queue has now been removed, and the Tiger side is now used as the Quick Queue entrance, with the aid of a bridge that has been construction to allow them to pass over the Tiger track in the station to get over to the Lion side.
According to rumors spreading through the staff, Gwazi’s maintenance budget has been slashed to the point that it can not run both side any longer. Two of Gwazi’s trains have also been reportedly cannibalized for spare parts to keep the other two running. As before, Gwazi is only running one Lion themed train and one Tiger themed train, with the other Tiger train visible and stripped down on the old Tiger maintenance track. So sad…
(11/12/12) I had first heard about this back in September, but I thought I’d give it time to work itself out… but apparently this is not been the case. For whatever reason Gwazi Tiger is said to be closed indefinitely, and we know it has been closed since the end of the busy summer season. Only the Lion side is up and running, and the park is running both Lion and Tiger themed trains on the Lion side of the track.
What isn’t known is if Tiger is closed for a rehab of some kind (are they actually doing any work to it?) or did the park close it down for budget reasons after the summer was over? Anyone out there who can fill us in a bit more on what is going on with Gwazi? I know early in 2012 I did hear a rumor about possibly wanting to test out some Topper Track on Gwazi, but so far the reports seem to indicate that Tiger is just closed and no signs of a major overhaul.