Busch Gardens Tampa
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(8/20/14) Fire up the Lasers and Fry Some Zombie Brains! (MORE...)
(8/20/14) Howl-O-Scream Update (MORE...)
(8/17/14) Falcon's Fury Now Soft Open (MORE...)
(8/14/15) Falcon's Fury Soft Opening / Howl-O-Scream 2014 Lineup
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Gwazi - ONE SIDE ONLY until FURTHER NOTICE
Hippos of the Nile - NOW CLOSED through August 22, 2014
Gwazi Gliders - August 25 through August 29, 2014
Tidal Wave - Sept. 2 through Sept. 19, 2014
Rosita's Fly A Way - Sept. 22 through Sept. 26, 2014
Skyride - Sept. 29 through October 24, 2014
Stanleyville Falls - Nov. 3 through Nov. 21, 2014
Scorpion - Dec. 8 through Dec. 12, 2014
Big Bird’s Whirly Birdie - Dec. 15 through Dec. 19, 2014
General Park News - (7/10/14) Busch Gardens Tampa will open a new live stage show called Opening Night Critters this summer in the Pantopia Theater. The show features rescued domestic and exotic animals (dogs, cats, birds, a horse and kangaroo just to name a few). Watch the video below for a sneak preview of the new show.
(7/3/14) Busch Gardens Tampa is putting on a series of Saturday-night concerts this summer, though I have to admit, I haven’t heard of most of these. The list includes Pentatonix (July 19), Zion y Lennox (July 26), Cher Lloyd (Aug 2), Taking Back Sunday (Aug 9) and The All-American Rejects (Aug 16).
(6/16/14) Great news for BGT guests came in this weekend. No… we don’t have an opening date for Falcon’s Fury yet, but I’m told that Rhino Rally is open for guests once again. I’d expect to see it stay open until early to mid August, when the local schools go back and things start to slow down at the park.
(6/3/14) Pass and Fun Card members for Busch Gardens Tampa can take advantage of a special celebration event just for you called Sidewalk Safari Nights, a two weekend member appreciation event on Friday / Saturday June 13-14 and 20-21 from 7:30pm to 11:00pm.
Pass Members can ride their favorite coasters at night and get up close looks at many of the park’s animal ambassadors. Plus a special look inside Iceploration, Burn the Floor: Untapped and more. For all the details you can contact the park at 1-888-800-5447.
(5/22/14) The SeaWorld Parks have launched all new version’s of their official park smartphone Apps (Discovery Guides) earlier this year, and the improvements just keep on coming. I’m told that the ability to purchase QuickQueue to cut to the front of the line will soon be coming to the app itself, which means you can upgrade your experience from within the actual line you are trying to skip.
Other new additions include GPS enabled park maps, real-time updates of park show schedules and special events, current ride-wait times, the ability to receive broadcasted park notifications and special offers, and soon will also give you the ability to order your food online from select locations so you don’t have to wait in line to order.
You can download the official Discovery Guide apps for the SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place parks for free in both: Apple (App Store) and Android (Google Play) flavors.
(5/20/14) Both Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando have raised their ticket prices this week. Admission to Busch Gardens Tampa is now $95 for both adults and children, though there are many discount offers available online if you buy in advance. Admission into SeaWorld Orlando is $95 for adults and $90 for children (3-9). Parking is $17, and $22 for preferred parking.
(5/14/14) Adventure Islands will feature more fun during this year’s Island Nights event all summer long (June 12 - Aug. 9) every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 5-9pm. New this year will be the Island Nights Food Truck (featuring tacos, quesadillas, nachos and more), Kid’s Zone at Mango Joe’s Beach with a DJ, and a Glow-in-the-Dark Grand Finale at 8:30pm.
(5/1/14) Good news for Rhino Rally fans this week. I’ve heard from a couple of sources that Rhino Rally drivers have been assembled in the park to reopen the attraction. A group of them, in Rhino Rally driver shirts, were spotted inside the Twisted Tails Pretzel shop during a Pantopia preview last week, who informed our source that they would be reopening in May. I can only assume we will see it open again my Memorial Day weekend, if not soft open sometime before then. It has also been noted that there are also job postings up in the park to hire on new drivers as well.
(4/15/14) Who remembers the old Skytower Tree of Lights that used to shine every Christmas season at SeaWorld Orlando? I know my Southern California readers know about the similar giant light tree put up by SeaWorld San Diego every winter, still to this very day.
We can expect to see a similar Tree of Lights display will return to Florida later this year most likely, but at Busch Gardens Tampa, where it will be attached to Falcon’s Fury. The park submitted an application to the FAA to do just this, which you can read here.
Howl-O-Scream 2014 - (8/21/14) Busch Gardens Tampa has another new offering for Howl-O-Scream this year and it is a good one. Introducing Zombie Containment Unit 15. Three years after the undead invasion, a containment failure has occurred in Zombie Containment Unit 15. The Zombies are escaping and in search of human flesh. Guests will be armed with a ZED… Zombie Eradication Device, and tasked to hold off the undead mob in this interactive experience. Even better, this is included with standard park admission and no reservations are required.
(8/20/14) It’s official… Facebook fans voted to kill the Gardner with Shears. Now time for the final Dead Fall vote to name the resident ghost of Dead Fall, perched on a branch over the estate grounds: Uriah, Zeb or Horace. Click here to vote.
(8/15/14) BGT let the cat out of the bag for their Howl-O-Scream 2014 offerings… and it’s kind of a mixed bag. For starters the theme for this year is “Cursed” and it has a lot to do with a creepy little song/video combo we saw launched online the day before. If you hear the song you are cursed, and to break the curse you have to survive a night at Howl-O-Scream. (see video below!)
The list of ‘NEW’ items this year however is a big lacking I’m afraid… because there will only be one new haunt… the Dead Fall haunt that was already announced, where you will be haunted by the restless spirits inside a Victorian garden and greenhouse who want to drag you kicking and screaming over to their side of the veil.
Also new this year is something called Slash Mobs… an interesting idea as it sounds like Flash Mobs with monsters, hopefully with more killing and screaming and no singing and dancing. Done right, this could be actually very cool as your safe spot could suddenly be overrun with the creatures of the night from all directions at once, herding everyone together like cattle.
Finally they are also promoting the “Cursed Front Gate Experience” as a new item for the year as well, which sounds like a bit of a themed portal / gateway area you’ll pass through as you enter the park.
Beyond that much of what they had last year will return once again.
Returning mazes: Death Water Bayou, The Basement, Circus of Superstition: The Final Act, Blood Asylum, Zombie Mortuary and the upcharge premium thrill… The Experiment, where they promise that the researchers are back with some all new ways to challenge the fear tolerance and mental endurance of their Test Subjects. (aka: YOU!) It will cost you $50 to get into The Experiment and an additional $10 for every additional test subject who goes with you. As for the haunts… as usual, look for some little tweaks and improvements to be made to most of them as they take what they learned from the previous year and try to improve upon it.
Shows: Fiends is back of course with Dr Freakenstein and the ever popular Naughty Nurses. Club Cursed will also be open to those who want to sample the dance club and try out some new “signature potions”: Cursed, Contained and Possessed.
As usual there will be upgrades-a-plenty for those who can’t stand to wait in lines, with Front Line Fear Passes (starting at $45), the Fright Feast (Stuff your face while you watch Fiends plus get 30-minute early access to the haunts for $26) or go big with a VIP Tour Package to get treated like… well… a VIP… with prices starting at $99 a person.
Check out all the latest details at the official Howl-O-Scream website.
(8/13/14) Busch Gardens has launched their second Howl-O-Scream fan vote item on Facebook, asking you to name the Murder Tool to be used to kill the Gardener: A Machete, Hatchet and Shears. The results from the last vote are in as well, Hemlock Hall won. An odd video with what sounds like a buried audio track message has also been posted to YouTube. (see below)
(8/6/14) The first haunt for Howl-O-Scream was revealed on Facebook to use the name Dead Fall, along with a contest to name the estate where the haunt will be located. Choose between Adelaide Acres, Hemlock Hall or Myristica Manor. According to the post, “spirit from the past lurk in this Victorian garden and greenhouse, longing to drag unsuspecting guests into their world.” So creepy plants and ghosts are coming to get you Barbara...
Howl-O-Scream runs on select nights from Sept. 26 - Nov. 1, 2014. Look for future votes to affect other themes of the house in the future, including the name of one of the Dead Fall residents and a murder tool one of the resident spirits fell victim to over the next three weeks.
(7/24/14) Busch Gardens Tampa has posted a special Summer offer to pre-purchase tickets for Howl-O-Scream at a discount rate for a limited time. Click here to see the dates and prices, starting with the Freaky Preview nights on 9/26 and 9/27. They’ve also posted a sneak-peek video at what 2014 has in store for us.
2014 - Falcon’s Fury / Pantopia - (8/17/14) As I predicted, Falcon’s Fury has soft opened to guests. One of our readers was able to take an early ride and sent in a short review and comments on the experience as a whole.
The Queue “seems to be a good balance between area constraints and queue line. Peeps flow around to the appropriate gate in the circle” but may need some more “team member help to get the peeps in order.” You are put in groups of four riders per gate, as there are 4 seats in each section, and there are four shelves for the storage of non-allowed items. (You really don’t want to take anything with you on a ride like this...).
As with any ride like this, the labor budget for staffing will effect the throughput speed, as they go around the check the restraints of every rider. Expect to be “stapled” in during this process... the park isn’t taking any chances with loose restraints and is making sure everyone is locked in tight.
THE LIFT! Once thumbed-up there is a slight tilt inward to the tower then rising at smooth rate. Views are incredible. Kumba, Montu, etc look like toys. Nearing top, the seats turn inward to face-down.
THE HANG! This will be discussed most. 2 to 5 second random hang feels like minutes. Face down. Weight on the restraint. Just a view of the ground. A definite Holy Crap moment.
THE DROP! After random hang, well... its gravity... face down makes it another Holy Crap scene. The seats go vertical right around where the graphics on the tower end. Smooth in transition and braking.
OVERALL: I had my doubts about this ride but after the first ride I was convinced. Guests will walk away with lasting visuals and, hopefully, a good guest experience.
(8/15/14) There is some good things going on at Busch Gardens Tampa regarding Falcon’s Fury. While the park has yet to set an opening date, or try to reschedule the cancelled media event, they have started testing the ride on employees over the past couple of days and have taken down all the construction walls around it. I’d safe it was a safe bet that they could soft open it to the public in the next couple days, barring any problems, and will probably have their media event sometime later.
(8/12/14) BGTFans has confirmed that select members of the park staff began taking actual test rides on Falcon’s Fury on Monday morning.
(8/8/14) Coaster Crew has posted a new video showing off Falcon’s Fury testing again this week.
(8/5/14) I’ve heard two rumors regarding the possible opening of Falcon’s Fury over the past one. One source claims that the ride isn’t likely to open until the Fall, possibly in time for Howl-O-Scream, while another source claims that it might soft-open to the public as early as August 18th. Anyone know more?
(7/30/14) BGTFans has posted a new video from the park showing off Falcon’s Fury which has once again begun drop testing again. Hopefully this is a sign that an opening may be coming in the next few weeks.
(7/21/14) The latest update to Pixels at the Parks shows that crews appears to have already replaced the huge lift cables on the Falcon’s Fury drop tower this week. An interesting procedure to see happen on a new ride that hasn’t even opened yet.
(7/7/14) BGTFans has posted a new photos update for Falcon’s Fury and the immediate area now that the construction walls have come down. Still no word on when it may be ready to open however.
(7/2/14) While Busch Gardens is still waiting to open their new Falcon’s Fury drop tower, they’ve decided to give it a unique paint job to really stand out. A great video report from the local news goes up close and personal with process of painting the massive tower by hand.
(5/29/14) Busch Gardens Tampa has released an official statement regarding the continuing delay of Falcon’s Fury… which now apparently wont be ready to open until sometime later this summer. Read on:
Busch Gardens’ new thrill ride Falcon’s Fury includes first-of-its kind design elements, systems and parts. Due to a delay in the fabrication of key component parts, neither the manufacturer nor Busch Gardens are able to complete the lengthy testing processes needed to open the ride to the public. The safety of our guests and team members remains Busch Gardens’ top priority and none of these delays involve safety systems. The ride has been safely operated in the initial stages of the testing process, and all other elements of the park’s newest re-imagined land Pantopia are now open to guests. Busch Gardens will provide updates on the ride opening as events warrant. We are committed to delivering world-class thrills and the best possible ride experience, and we look forward to the launch of Falcon’s Fury, North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower, later this summer.
(5/21/14) Screamscape sources in the park this week tell us that Falcon’s Fury is now testing again with the full tilting motion being used, and from the sound of things, they have solved the issues and testing appears to be going smoothly and rapidly. If all goes well, it shouldn’t be much longer until they are ready to open this thing.
(5/20/14) The latest construction update for Falcon’s Fury can be found at BGTFans. They have a video showing off more test drops… but the ride is dropping without tilting the seats at all.
(5/3/14) Falcon’s Fury is apparently still having issues with those silver arms breaking away. Check out this video to see another more clear angle of the problem. (Thanks to JourneyThroughCoasters.com for the video clip!)
(4/29/14) Busch Gardens Tampa has released some new video footage of Falcon’s Fury in action… including a POV of the face-first drop. One thing that Falcon’s Fury has going for it in addition to the height, is the flat Florida landscape that lets you know that the only thing soaring higher than you are the clouds.
(4/26/14) For a few hours the new Twisted Tails Pretzels shop soft-opened at Pantopia to park guests to allow for employee training yesterday, ahead of the official opening this weekend. BGTFans has the complete story, with photos, include the Bacon Pretzel Fury. Also, we see the return of the closed kiddie rides to the area as well, with Bush Flyers and the Kiddie Train now reopen.
(4/22/14) Things are not going well for Falcon’s Fury it seems. The official word came out last week that the media / preview day events have been canceled for the time being and will be rescheduled when the ride is ready. It seems some complications have arisen in the early testing phases of the unique drop tower attraction that will push things back a little bit.
So what’s gone wrong? It seems the tilting seats have some issues to be worked out, because they were designed to rotate back up into an upright-seated posture when the ride hits the brake zone. Unfortunately it seems they are snapping back up far too quickly (and almost violently) and one of them even managed to seem to snap off a silver pneumatic control arm in the process. Check out the video below shot by Pixels at the Parks and jump ahead 40 seconds into the video to watch several test drops where the arm is broken and begins to bang against the tower on the way down.
(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.
2015/2016/2017 - 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.