Busch Gardens Tampa
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(7/29/20) Busch Gardens Tampa Adds More Special Events To Weekends (MORE...)
(7/17/20) Busch Gardens Tampa To Host Summer Nights (MORE...)
(6/16/20) RMC Files $3.5+ Million Iron Gwazi Construction Lien (MORE...)
(6/2/20) Busch Gardens Tampa Sets Date To Reopen, and Limited Weekly Park Schedule (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Nothing is known at this point in time...
General Park News - (7/29/20) Busch Gardens Tampa has announced the launch of new experiences at the park to take place each weekend through to August 16, 2020. This includes a new physically distant photo op with Big Bird at the Gwazi Pavilion July 31 - Aug 9. Also new is the ‘Wildly Amazing! An Inside Look at Animal Care” show at the Stanleyville Theater twice a day on weekends Aug. 15 - Aug. 23. Don’t forget the previously announced return of Summer Nights every Friday, Saturday and Sunday now through Aug. 16 with a new Laser and Fireworks show at 9pm each night.
(7/17/20) “Summer Nights” is returning to Busch Gardens Tampa on every Friday through Sunday night from July 17 through to August 16, 2020. These extended nights at the park will feature an all new laser and fireworks finale, special seasonal food items, plus it is always fun to ride the coasters in the dark.
(6/2/20) Busch Gardens Tampa will reopen to guests on June 11, however until further notice the park will stay closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Currently the park’s schedule shows them closed on those two days each week through to the end of August.
(5/29/20) According to ThrillGeek Hillsborough County has approved Busch Gardens Tampa’s plans to reopen the theme park. These plans must now be approved by the Tampa Mayor and then the state Governor, but resistance isn’t expected as right now I believe Busch Gardens is the only major theme park in the state who currently does not yet have a confirmed date to reopen.
Face Masks will be mandatory for staff and guests along with temperature screenings for all before being allowed to enter the park.
(5/25/20) With most of the attractions in Orlando as well as Legoland in Winter Haven making plans to reopen, fans of Busch Gardens Tampa have been wondering just when their own local park may be planning to reopen. While the park leaders have not made any kind of timeline statement, it was indicated by an exec that once approval was given by the governor they would need 2 to 4 weeks to prep and reopen the parks.
Looking at the park’s online calendar, perhaps we now have a target to shoot for as it currently shows the park with daily operational hours starting on June 5th along with the Adventure Island waterpark. This would place it about 2 weeks out from when the various park chains were said to have made presentations to the reopening task force in Orlando about how and when they would like to reopen. With that in mind, don’t make any plans to visit on June 5th just yet, but keep your eyes and ears open as I think we will hear some kind of statement from the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens parks in the coming days about their plans to reopen. (Note: SeaWorld Orlando also shows operational hours starting on June 5)
(3/28/20) SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment confirmed late yesterday that they would not be reopening their parks on April 1, 2020. They do not state when they they believe they will reopen the parks, but I’d assume they would try to follow the model of the other theme parks in each market. Right now in Florida, the other parks seem poised to stay closed until April 18 or 19th before they determine if the time is right to reopen in about 3 more weeks. In California, Disney and Universal say the same thing, but Cedar Fair, the parent company behind Knott’s Berry Farm said they were not planning to reopen until mid-May. Either way, take that for what you will, though I’m sure it will come down to how the conditions are in each region at that time.
On a sad side note, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment also sent word to 90% of their employees late yesterday afternoon that they were putting “temporary furloughs” into effect for almost all positions. Unlike in many cases where this is done for a “temporary leave”, those unfortunately affected by this will also see their heatlhcare benefits also terminated on March 31, 2020, giving everyone just a couple of days to get their affairs in order and pick up any needed prescriptions or refills to get them through these troubling times.
While some say that this is necessary for the employees to be able to file for unemployment benefits, it is a sad reflection of the company that they are doing this while their direct competitors (Disney and Universal) have been very up-front about the fact that they are still paying their team-members and keeping health benefits active through the closure dates that have been announced so far.
You can see a copy of the letter SeaWorld Parks is sending to their staff in the Tweet below, where it also clearly says that this is not a guarantee of future employment, so no one’s position is guaranteed once the parks do reopen, though many will be called back into work.
One more side note for anyone interested. While one might assume that the 10% of the work force staying on the books would likely be made up mostly of upper management and animal care staff, apparently this is not entirely accurate. Screamscape has been informed that the staff staying is mostly made up of those with salaried positions, and even full-time hourly animal care and zookeeper staff are being furloughed. To pick up the slack needed to care for the park’s animal populations, it seems many salaried staff members with office jobs may be quickly turned into apprentice animal caretakers for the next few weeks.
(3/13/20) SeaWorld Entertainment has announced that the company is now going to close all of their theme parks (SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Sesame Place, Aquatica, Discovery Cove, etc) starting March 16 through to the end of the month. Click here to find out more or who to contact for specific questions.
(2/19/20) A quick update on the mandatory locker situation at Busch Gardens Tampa. The new procedures are already in effect, and the former storage areas in the stations are now covered up with white plastic covers. According to a reader, people who go through the queue and try to put their minor items like hats or glasses on the ground are being told they can’t do this and are forced to leave items with a non-riders, rent a locker, or leave and not ride. At Tigris they are said to be handing out loaner “fanny packs” to wear to store your glasses unless you have a strap on them.
The good news is that Busch Gardens Tampa is offering an “All Day Locker” pass for $8 that you can use on each of the rides throughout the park, all day long. This is good to hear as it is a more sensible solution to the issue, rather than asking people to pay $2 for a one time use for each and every major ride they want to go on throughout the day.
(2/17/20) Busch Gardens Tampa reports that they will host their first ever Mardi Gras event over the weekend of Feb. 22 - 23, 2020. The park will feature a variety of special New Orleans inspired food (shrink po’boys, jambalaya) and beverages (Hurricanes anyone?), along with plenty of live entertainment at the Moroccan Palace. I would consider this somewhat of a test event to see how it plays out to the local crowd to determine if they want to build it into something bigger in the future.
Speaking of changes and test-runs… I’m hearing that a more unpleasant test of sorts is slated to take place at Busch Gardens Tampa during the month long run of the Food & Wine Festival (Feb. 29 through Apr. 26). If the rumors are true, you may want to travel to the park very lightly during this time period as all the rides that previously had little storage areas to hold your loose items while you rode (we’re talking mainly about the coasters) will be closing those spaces off for the duration of the test and telling all guests that they must use a locker to store their loose items. While this isn’t uncommon in the local market, as Universal Orlando famously sends guests riding their bigger coasters like Hulk through a metal detector to ensure loose items are not kept in pockets, Universal also provides free lockers to use for this purpose for the duration of time you are in line for these coasters. Busch Gardens Tampa appears to be taking a page of the Six Flags playbook here, and will be sending all guests with loose items to use extra cost lockers for storage during this test.
There is no word on just how strict they are going to be about loose items going on the coasters, though apparently they have already been very strict about the policy on Tigris, so look for this to spread. While you can expect the park to say that this is in the name of safety, or to speed up loading times, the unfortunate side effect of this kind of inconvenience is always seen as a senseless “cash grab” by the guests. Another aspect of the problem is that typically the lockers have always been there as an option for guests wanting to protect their valuables, but could care less about renting a locker for their drink bottles or stuffed prizes they may have won at the midway games. So keep this in mind when visiting, travel light, skip those souvenir drink bottles and maybe put off all purchases until you are ready to leave for the day.
(2/8/20) Busch Gardens Tampa has posted a concert list for this year’s Food & Wine Festival event at the park which begins on February 29 and runs on weekends through to April 26, featuring all kinds of special food, wine and craft beers throughout the park.
Feb. 29 - Collective Soul
Mar. 1 - The Commodores
Mar. 7 - Chase Bryant & Danielle Bradbery
Mar. 8 - Rachel Platten
Mar. 14 - Ezra Ray Hart
Mar. 15 - Three Dog Night
Mar. 21 - Locash
Mar. 22 - Fitz & The Tantrums
Mar. 28 - Home Free
Mar. 29 - Taking Back Sunday
Apr. 4 - Third Eye Blind
Apr. 5 - KC & The Sunshine Band
Apr. 11 - 38 Special
Apr. 12 - Micah Tyler & Austin French
Apr. 18 - Lee Brice
Apr. 19 - Clint Black
Apr. 25 - El Gran Combo
Apr. 26 - Toad the Wet Sprocket & The Verve Pipe
(1/31/20) Screamscape was invited down to Busch Gardens Tampa and Adventure Island to take part in a hart-hat tour of the construction sites for Iron Gwazi and Solar Vortex. Scroll on down to check out them both!
(12/19/19) Busch Gardens Tampa has sent out a list of future events coming to the park, starting with a New Year’s Eve Celebration on Dec. 31st where the festivities of Christmas Town will actually be continuing nightly through January 6th. If you visit on NYE however the park will have a DJ and live band performances starting at 10pm and ending with a fireworks display at midnight.
Three Kings Day will take place on January 6th where the three wise men will perform with song-filled storytelling, plus an assortment of tasty food dishes to be found in the park that day.
Real Music, Real Masters will return to the park from Jan. 7 through to Mar. 15th (Tuesdays - Saturdays) with an assortment of musical performances in the climate-controlled Stanleyville Theater
Jan. 7-12 / Leonard, Coleman, and Blunt: Former Lead Singers of the Temptations, Platters and Drifters
Jan. 14-19 / The Diamonds
Jan. 21-26 / BJ Thomas
Jan. 28-Feb. 2 / Piano Men: Sir Elton John and Billy Joel Tribute
Feb. 4-9 / Classic Stones Live: The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Tribute Show
Feb. 11-16 / Simply Queen: The Most Incredible Live Tribute to Queen
Feb. 18-23 / Let’s Hang On: America’s No. 1 Frankie Valli Tribute Show
Feb. 25-March 1 / Eaglemania: The World’s Greatest Eagles Tribute Band
March 3-8 / Cirque Vertigo Featuring the Wallenda Duo
March 10-15 / ONES: Beatles’ #1 Hits
Mardi Gras Weekend - Feb. 22-23 - Music, limited-time food, special cocktails and more
Food & Wine Festival - Feb. 29 - Apr. 26 (Saturday and Sundays) - The 6th Annual Food & Wine Fest features craft brews, cocktails, a large selections of wines, tons of special food options and a series of musical guest concerts.
2020 - Iron Gwazi - (6/16/20) It might be a little longer until Iron Gwazi opens at Busch Gardens Tampa. Much like the story we ran the other day about how there is a $3+ million construction lien lawsuit filed against SeaWorld San Diego for non-payment for work on their Emperor coaster, we’ve been sent confirmation that RMC / Rocky Mountain Amusements, Inc has now filed their own lien against Busch Gardens Tampa for the unpaid sum of “$3,536,854.39 excluding interest, attorney fees, and costs” for the “Iron Gwazi” Hybrid Coaster Project.
While I’m no legal expert, I believe the filing of this construction lien would prevent the park from opening the ride, as RMC isn’t about to sign off that the ride is complete and ready to go until they get paid. I’m also curious if we will hear yet another similar story soon from the local news in Williamsburg and Orlando regarding those park’s Pantheon and IceBreaker coasters.
(3/26/20) Busch Gardens Tampa was taunting (or would it be trolling?) coaster lovers in the Tampa area, as a new billboard was put up this week with the clear message that Iron Gwazi is “NOW OPEN”. (see below)
Apparently the mistake was quickly discovered and the billboard was covered by a new graphic promoting a two-park Fun Card pass deal later on Thursday. Well played BGT… well played.
In all seriousness, it is very likely that the park intended to have Iron Gwazi open this week, and the billboard order was placed long before anyone ever dreamed that the park could possibly close due to the virus threat... but here we are. At least the local fans can look forward to a very short wait for Gwazi to open once we get on the other side of this.
(3/10/20) What a day for the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens parks, as the company not only posted a video of Emperor testing in San Diego, but also rocked the internet with some jaw-dropping amazing footage of Iron Gwazi seriously hauling ass on the first day of test runs at Busch Gardens Tampa yesterday. (Watch the video below)
You will see that the proof is in the pudding as they say, and this is exactly the reason why I named Iron Gwazi as the #1 New Extreme Coaster of 2020 in my list for BlooLoop. If it rides as good as it looks, I think that Iron Gwazi will easily be the best new coaster of the year.
(2/14/20) A new construction update for Iron Gwazi has been posted by Touring Central Florida this week. New changes include the addition of the Iron Gwazi logo on the building, lift hill motors testing and a huge second hill and track have now been set up and rails now in place.
(1/31/20) Special thanks to Busch Gardens Tampa for inviting Screamscape reps on down for a special hard hat tour of the construction sites for Iron Gwazi and Solar Vortex. Be sure to check out both!
(1/25/20) Busch Gardens Tampa has posted a fantastic picture of the first Gwazi train on the tracks! Check it out below!
(1/6/20) Special thanks to Orlando Experience for sending in three fantastic new photos of the Iron Gwazi construction. After seeing Gwazi standing for so many years, seeing this new outlandish and extremely tall lift hill now on site is quite surreal.
(12/5/19) A couple of of new incredible photos showing off Iron Gwazi’s massive new lift hill were sent in by a reader, so check them out.
(11/28/19) Half of the structure for Iron Gwazi’s new massive lift hill and first drop has been topped off this week, as you can see in new photos posted to Touring Central Florida.
(11/20/19) Busch Gardens and RMC unveiled the new lead coaster car design for the new Iron Gwazi at IAAPA this week. Check it out below.
(11/11/19) The latest look at the Iron Gwazi construction site this week shows off the thick structure of the coaster’s brand new lift hill rising into place, as well as work taking place to one of the ride’s new crazy-banked turns. Jump over to TouringCentralFlorida to see the pics.
(10/17/19) Busch Gardens Tampa posted a fun look at the proguess taking place on Iron Gwazi. Check it out below.
(9/20/19) A quick construction update for Iron Gwazi can be seen at Touring Central Florida this week.
(9/13/19) Iron Gwazi will be the name of the new coaster coming to Busch Gardens Tampa in 2020, built off the remains of the old Gwazi coaster, though this one will feature a reptile theme for the mythical Gwazi creature instead of being a big-cat hybrid. Iron Gwazi will be promoted as being North America’s tallest hybrid coaster, as well as the fastest and steepest hybrid in the world.
Iron Gwazi will be 206 feet tall, hit 76 mph, and feature a 91º beyond-vertical first drop with an overall length of 4,075 feet, through three inversions and 12 “airtime features”. Iron Gwazi will also have two train operations and be available to all riders at least 48” tall.
(9/4/19) A new look at the construction taking place to the former Gwazi coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa can be seen at TouringCentralFlorida this week.
(8/21/19) Take a look at this video Busch Gardens Tampa posted for National Roller Coaster Day. While it starts off with POV footage of the park’s coasters, jump ahead to the 3:40 mark to see some preview animation of the new Hybrid coaster coming in 2020 from the ashes of Grazi. Again, this is just a teaser, but it still shows off enough to really get you excited about how this will turn out.
(7/24/19) A fun series of aerial photos following along with the construction progress of the RMC crew working on Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa can be found here on Facebook here. They've got photos going back to a year ago when the ride was still untouched, then showcasing the progress and changes that have taken place over the months so far in 2019 from February to July. From the air is becomes easy to tell which are the new sections of wood put up compared to the old sections left over from Gwazi, due to the wood in the new sections looking so much lighter in color compared to the darker sun-stained old sections.
(7/18/19) A new Gwazi 2020 construction update from Busch Gardens Tampa can be found at Touring Central Florida this week.
(5/27/19) Touring Central Florida has posted a new construction update showing off the progress on Gwazi which is undergoing an RMC hybrid-coaster conversion. Speaking of which, there are now purple ibox rails on site, so now we know what color the new track will be at least.
(3/28/19) Touring Central Florida takes a look at the construction taking place currently on the former Gwazi coaster site this week, as much of the old coaster’s structure is being removed and prepared for modification.
(3/14/19) Touring Central Florida has posted a new photo update from Busch Gardens Tampa this week showing off the construction progress taking place on the park’s former Gwazi wooden coaster.
(3/2/19) Busch Gardens Tampa confirmed some details for their plans to transform Gwazi into a new hybrid coaster. According to a short hype video they displayed for the crowds in attendance at the park’s anniversary event the former Gwazi coaster will be reopened as a new “hybrid” coaster creation that will be promosed as being “the world’s steepest” “world’s tallest” and “world’s fastest” hybrid coaster. Another teaser post elsewhere confirms that the work is being done by Rocky Mountain Construction and that the new height of the ride will be over 200 feet tall and offer a series of all new thrill elements as well as some “restored elements” from the former Gwazi layout.
(2/16/19) Busch Gardens Tampa will be hosting a special 60th Celebration Kickoff event at the park on March 1st featuring special food and fun, as well as a fireworks show. The event begins at 7pm with a live performance of “Women Rock” with the Florida Orchestra with the fireworks finale around 8:30pm. However… they also promise that they will make a special announcement about the “all-new attraction, coming in 2020” ahead of the entire show, so arrive early for this special sneak-peek. The field will open at 5:30pm.
Busch Gardens also announced that Pin Trading will begin at the park also on March 1st allowing guests to collect and trade their favorite pins with other guests as well as special ambassadors.
(2/1/19) Touring Central Florida posted new pictures from Busch Gardens Tampa showing workers on site at Gwazi with electric saws in hand, quite literally cutting away at parts of the ride, which would then be hauled away by a large crane.
(1/25/19) A nice collection of photos from Busch Gardens Tampa were posted to Instragram a few hours ago showing off a crane on site at Gwazi removing sections of the ride, along with a great progress shot of Tigris which appears to be about half-way built at this point.
There is also an interesting rumor going around the cyber-webs regarding some fantastic sounding changes RMC has planned for Gwazi. No way to know how true the rumor is yet, but the posts claim the info came from an issue of First Drop Magazine… which unfortunately I can’t locate my latest issue after a remodeling of my office, so I can’t verify that as the source. In any case… the gist is that the two sides may be merged into one big coaster, with a brand new central 200+ foot lift hill to be constructed, and the structures of the existing two lifts will be reprofiled to serve as two large hills instead. True or not, I’d expect Gwazi to hardly even look anything like its former self by the time RMC is done with it. It’s all a matter of just how extreme BGT is willing to let them get with it.
(1/12/19) According to the latest update posted to TouringCentralFlorida workers have begun cutting apart a section of Gwazi behind the Lion side lift hill this week. A crane is on site and is said to be lifting out the sections of the support structure that are being cut away. Given the twisted interwoven structure of Gwazi, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are cutting away sections to create an access path for a crane and other heavy machinery to get in closer to the center of the structure, allowing for easier access to begin the conversion of Gwazi into a new RMC hybrid coaster creation.
(12/23/18) The conversion of Gwazi by RMC into a new beast of a coaster was both teased by the park and leaked out from presentation graphics back in September, but now we have something official. According to several reports the official work permit filed with the city for the Gwazi project that included the demolition of “selected portions” of an existing structure and buildings has now been updated and clearly lists Rocky Mountain Construction as the company doing the work. So there you have it, confirmed at last… and you can make the jump here to see a screen capture of the permit itself.
As for Busch Gardens Tampa itself… I wouldn't count on them being willing to talk about it until after they get Tigris open in 2019.
(9/25/18) For awhile now we've heard that just before the big announcement about Tigris at Busch Gardens Tampa on September 12th, the chain's marketing peeps had a little meeting where they revealed that major rides were on the way to the parks in 2019 and 2020. Fortunately a source was kind enough to send these in to Screamscape.
This one reconfirms what we've all been hearing... that Gwazi is expected to become a new RMC Hybrid coaster for the 2020 season.
(9/12/18) Serious hints were dropped at the announcement for Tigris to confirm that the park is already working on plans to open a huge new attraction for 2020. In fact... the new attraction may look a bit familiar... yet somehow different... as the hints seem to indicate that they have hired Rocky Mountain Construction to transform the former Gwazi dueling wooden coaster into a new RMC Hybrid coaster creation using their iBox track technology. According to the rumor, SeaWorld Parks made a journey or two out west to Six Flags Magic Mountain and just loved what RMC did with that park's Twisted Colossus and wanted to see what they could do with the former Gwazi coasters.
2020 - Solar Vortex @ Adventure Island - (2/26/20) Busch Gardens Tampa has confirmed that the new Solar Vortex waterslide will open on March 14th, with a pass member preview taking place on March 13th. Check out the video teaser below because the footage of the “aqualucent elements” in the tube slide sections is stunningly beautiful.
(1/31/20) Special thanks to Busch Gardens Tampa for inviting Screamscape reps on down for a special hard hat tour of the construction sites for Iron Gwazi and Solar Vortex. Be sure to check out both!
(9/13/19) Adventure Island is adding Solar Vortex in Spring 2020, a new multi-passenger raft slide that will stand 55 feet tall and send riders splashing down at 20mph into two tailspin turns and three “AquaLucent” tunnel areas, from WhiteWater.
(7/26/19) A new set of leaked documents for Adventure Island’s Project 90 now give us a look at the new waterslide layout. According to this tweet, they also say it will be from Whitewater West. From the look of the layout this appears as if it may be a Whitewater “Constrictor” style slide that features a pair of extremely tight helix spins that the rafts take at high speed, banking high up on the wall.
(7/24/19) According to a new post at Touring Central Florida, plans for Adventure Island’s “Project 90” have been filed with the local government offices. As usual for Florida, these first plans involve the changes to the local “Water Management” around the site, rather than the attraction itself, but it does confirm that the site involved for Project 90 will take over the Key West Rapids site, just as rumored on Screamscape last week, including the demolition of the existing splashdown pool for Key West Rapids. The splashdown pool appears to be replaced more with a ground-level chute in about the same location, and elsewhere it also confirms the removal of the older slide, while keeping the existing stairs / tower to be repurposed the new attraction.
(7/16/19) According to one reader who visited Adventure Island, they claim to have spotted some survey markings around the retention pond that lies just behind Key West Rapids. No sign of any construction as of yet, though that will likely wait until the busy summer season is over.
(7/12/19) An interesting rumor came in this week regarding the installation of a new waterslide for Adventure Island in 2020. According to this source the park is planning to remove the uninspiring Key West Rapids slide to make room. If you visit the park soon, take a quick look around this site to see if there is any sign of survey markings in the area that would indicate new construction here, or the possible removal of this slide.
2021 - New Ride - Rumor - (3/4/20) I’m told that construction work has started at Busch Gardens Tampa on the former Rhino Rally load/unload site. According to the report sent in, much of the site has been dug up and demolished, with trenches dug in the area presumably to install new underground utilities. From the look of things, they may be working on water lines here, as I’ve been told that the old water reservoir under the section of Cheetah Hunt here has been dry for over a year or more, so perhaps they are working to establish some kind of new water feature here to service the new rumored attraction (S&S Screamin’ Swing) in development as well as get the water flowing under Cheetah Hunt again. The same contractor doing work here was also spotted scouting out some sites to the north of the Rhino Rally area in the Serengeti, again possibly for underground utilities and water supply line work.
(1/14/20) Early plans for what Busch Gardens Tampa is planning for 2021 are being rumored, along with the leaked location pulled from documents filed with the city. What what I’m seeing the park’s 2021 attraction will be installed in the general area where the former Rhino Rally loading station was located.
All we know so far about the new ride is that it wont be a coaster and is expected to be some kind of new flat ride able to toss riders about in the air to make up for the closure of the Phoenix which has never reopened. Making an educated assumption, based on projects installed at other parks in the chain, Busch Gardens Williamsburg actually just installed a ride that perfectly fits the bill last year called Finnegan’s Flyer, an S&S Screamin’ Swing ride. These are typically quick to reload and have a decent capacity when installed with two swinging arms that run at the same time, and is generally a well liked ride by most. The Screamin’ Swing takes the concept of what it feels like to be a small child ahead, and getting pushed higher and higher on a swing set in a playground… except this swing set stands about 100 feet tall and you get pushed back and forth at up to 45mph in each direction. Click here to check out the S&S stat sheet on the Screamin’ Swing if you’ve never seen one in real life.
Now, other than the location, this is just speculation and rumor… so take it with a grain of salt until we learn a little more, because 2021 is still many months away and the park will be busy finishing up Iron Gwazi for 2020 before they begin any serious work on this new project.