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Mark your calendars, Busch Gardens announces the opening date for Iron Gwazi

TAMPA, Fla. — After delaying its newest ride because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has finally set a date for Iron Gwazi.


What You Need To Know

  • Iron Gwazi to open at Busch Gardens in March 2022

  • The coaster is the 10th at the theme park

  • The 76 mph coaster is one of the tallest in the U.S. at 206 feet

  • The ride features a plunge from over 200 feet into a 91-degree drop

The wooden/steel hybrid coaster, manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction, will open at the theme park in March 2022, Busch Gardens revealed Monday.

Iron Gwazi, built using part of the existing wooden structure from the park's old Gwazi coaster, will offer new thrills. For one, it will be the fastest and steepest coaster of its kind in the world, reaching a top speed of 76 mph and sending riders plunging from over 200 feet into a 91-degree drop. At 206 feet, it's also one of the tallest in the U.S.

That's not all. The coaster will feature a dozen airtime moments and three inversions.

Iron Gwazi joins Busch Gardens' already robust lineup of coasters, becoming the park's 10th.

Anticipation has been building for the ride since it was first announced. It was originally scheduled to open in spring 2020 but those plans were put on hold when SeaWorld Entertainment temporarily shuttered its parks—including Busch Gardens—in response to the pandemic. As a result of the closure, construction on the projects was paused. A couple of months after the parks reopened in June, SeaWorld revealed it would push its unopened attractions to 2021.

“Iron Gwazi has been highly anticipated by roller coaster enthusiasts around the world since we first announced this new legend,” Busch Gardens president Neal Thurman said in a statement. “Due to the unprecedented challenges over the last two years, Iron Gwazi was delayed, and we recognize the delay has disappointed our fans.  We appreciate the patience our guests have shown.” 

SeaWorld's Orlando park also has a new coaster that has yet to open — Ice Breaker. The Arctic-themed multi-launch coaster features a 93-foot-tall beyond virtual 100-degree spike. The ride will open in February 2022, SeaWorld announced Monday. 

Sours: https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/news/2021/08/23/busch-gardens-announces-the-opening-date-for-iron-gwazi

Iron Gwazi

Hybrid roller coaster in Tampa, Florida, U.S.

Iron Gwazi, formerly Gwazi, is an upcoming steel roller coaster under construction at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay amusement park in Tampa, Florida. Originally built as a wooden dueling roller coaster with two separate tracks, Gwazi first opened to the public on June 18, 1999. It was constructed by Great Coasters International (GCI) and was named after a fabled creature with a head of a tiger and a body of a lion. Accordingly, the two sides of the roller coaster's track were named Lion and Tiger. The ride reached a height of 105.4 feet (32.1 m) and featured a maximum speed of 51 mph (82 km/h).

Following rising maintenance costs and declining ridership, Gwazi was closed indefinitely in 2015. In 2019, plans to makeover the ride into a steel-tracked Iron Gwazi was officially announced, with Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) hired to retrofit the existing layout with I-Box track. A large portion of Gwazi's structure will be reutilized, with the track changing to steel but the frame remaining wooden. It is being marketed as the tallest hybrid roller coaster in North America, as well as the steepest and fastest of its kind in the world. Originally intended to debut in 2020, its opening has been delayed several times to March 2022.

History[edit]

Gwazi[edit]

In October 1995, the Busch Brewery closed and was subsequently demolished, freeing up land in the middle of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.[2][3] The idea for building a wooden roller coaster came from the park wanting to differentiate itself from the Orlando theme park market's use in newer ride technology and rising interest of older-style attractions.[4]

The inspiration for a wooden roller coaster came from Mark Rose, then vice-president of the park's planning and design, as he toured several amusement parks with family.[4][5] The tour of theme parks took a 17-day period with Rose informally selecting five roller coasters towards a prospective designer for a new Busch Gardens attraction. Out of the roller coasters, Rose selected builder Great Coasters International (GCI) for Busch Garden's project based on their Hersheypark's roller coaster, Wildcat. The selection was confirmed in the latter by Busch Entertainment (since renamed SeaWorld Entertainment) officials who signed Great Coasters International.[4][6] The name for the roller coaster was later conceived with the assistance of Washington University in St. Louis.[4]

In early June 1998, it was reported that Busch Gardens Tampa Bay were considering an on-site expansion for a resort to rival Florida amusement parks, along with a projected $10 million attraction slated for a 1999 opening.[7][8] On June 16, 1998, owner of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Busch Entertainment filed a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the name "Gwazi."[9] Groundbreaking began on July 15, 1998,[10] coinciding with Busch Gardens formally announcing Gwazi.[11][12] The dueling roller coasters were collectively announced as the park's fifth roller coaster, with each track being themed to a lion and tiger respectively.[13][14] In addition, it was announced publicly Great Coasters International would be building the roller coaster.[10][15] Construction of the roller coaster's several hills were photographed in The Tampa Tribune during November 1998.[16] Gwazi was reported to have been re-designed "several times" over the months of construction.[6] By late-May 1999, test runs began for the roller coaster.[5]

To promote the opening of Gwazi, park officials sold "first ride" tickets for a preview event, which was held on June 17, 1999, where 3,500 tickets were sold out of 5,700 to pass-holders. In addition, around 500 guests from the American Coaster Enthusiasts were in attendance.[17][18] Construction of the roller coaster's theming and removing of excess wood were still being completed during the preview event.[18] Gwazi opened on June 18, 1999, as Florida's first dueling wooden roller coaster.[19] In 1999, Florida was home to two dueling roller coasters: the Dueling Dragons inverted roller coaster (later known as Dragon Challenge), at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure and Gwazi; the two roller coasters opened a month apart.[20][21] Gwazi was the first wooden roller coaster to open at any Busch Entertainment parks.[10][22]

A view of the original Gwazi's entrance and lion lift hill in 2006

Despite continued maintenance, Gwazi developed a reputation for delivering a rough ride. The Lion side of the roller coaster was re-tracked in 2009 followed by the Tiger side in 2010.[23] The last part of the overhaul included the installation of four GCI designed Millennium Flyer trains to replace the roller coaster's original Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters (PTC) trains.[23][24][25] Even with the re-tracking and new trains, Gwazi remained difficult to maintain and ridership continued to decrease. At the end of the 2012 season the Tiger side of Gwazi closed. Soon after the closing of the Tiger side, a bridge was built across the Tiger's loading platform and one of the Tiger's trains was relocated onto the Lion's track.[20][26]

In December 2014, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay confirmed that Gwazi's Lion track would officially close due to low ride attendance, operating costs, and negative guest feedback.[27][28] After 15 years of operation, the roller coaster's last train was dispatched on February 1, 2015 and Gwazi closed indefinitely.[20][29] Gwazi's trains were reused on other rides at other SeaWorld park locations including InvadR at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Texas Stingray at SeaWorld San Antonio.[30][31][32] In addition, wood planks from the roller coaster were also reused in other SeaWorld Entertainment Parks including SeaWorld Orlando and in Busch Gardens Tampa Bay itself.[33]

Iron Gwazi[edit]

At the time of closure, Mark Rose, now the vice-president of park services for Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, stated although there was no decision for the site, possible attractions were being conversed to replace it.[34] Likewise, a park's spokesperson discussed that Busch Gardens engineers were proposing possible ideas to add new elements, manufacture steel parts, or demolish the structure completely.[35] Within the interim time of three years, rumors sprouted about the possibility of a remodeled roller coaster, new attraction, or an amphitheater replacing the Gwazi structure.[36]

Iron Gwazi under construction in July 2020

During a conference held on September 12, 2018 for the announcement of the parks ninth roller coaster, park officials hinted that there were future construction plans involving Gwazi slated for 2020.[37][38] On the same day, SeaWorld Entertainment filed a trademark for the name "Iron Gwazi".[39] In December 2018, updated construction applications sent to the city of Tampa listed Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) as the ride manufacturer for an upcoming attraction in the Gwazi area.[40][41] On-site preparations and construction were started in late 2018 for the code named attraction "BGT 2020," with a crane being visible from the site in January 2019.[42] The park elaborated that more information about a new attraction was to be announced in March 2019 after the completion of track work for Tigris.[43][44]

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay announced Gwazi's replacement as a hybrid roller coaster conversion by Rocky Mountain Construction on March 1, 2019. The roller coaster was touted as being the steepest and fastest hybrid roller coaster, as well as the tallest hybrid roller coaster in North America.[45][46][47] Permits uncovered in March 2019 report that the roller coaster would be around 210 feet tall.[48] Construction on the project site went vertical on August 10, 2019.[49] Busch Gardens Tampa Bay announced the name for the roller coaster, "Iron Gwazi", on September 12, 2019.[50][51] Iron Gwazi was acclaimed to be 206 feet (63 m) with a 91 degree drop, and speeds up to 76 miles per hour (122 kilometres per hour).[52] During the 2019 International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Exposition on November 19, 2019, the trains for Iron Gwazi were revealed by Rocky Mountain Construction.[53][54]

A media construction tour was held on January 30, 2020 to detail the progression of site construction.[55][56][57] Track work for Iron Gwazi was completed on March 8, 2020,[58] and testing began a day later on March 9, 2020.[59][60] However, due to Florida's COVID-19 pandemic, the initial opening date was missed and construction was halted on March 16, 2020 at the testing phase.[61] A lien was filed by Rocky Mountain Construction against SeaWorld in May 2020 for $3.5 million out of $9 million the company says it was still owed for work on Iron Gwazi, delaying further construction.[62] In SeaWorld Entertainment's preliminary second quarterly reports, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all attractions scheduled to open in 2020 were to be postponed to 2021.[63][64] In September 2020, the park updated its website to reflect a new anticipated opening date for Spring 2021.[65] In November 2020, the park released a point-of-view shot of the roller coaster.[66][67]

On August 23, 2021, Busch Gardens announced a new expected opening time frame of March 2022 for Iron Gwazi, pushing the grand opening back a second time.[68]

Characteristics[edit]

Wooden roller coaster[edit]

A view of the original Gwazi from the Skyridein 2006

Gwazi's footprint covered eight-acres of the land once occupied by the Busch Brewery.[10][14] Gwazi was constructed as Great Coasters International's (GCI) third project,[69] and was supplied with six-car Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters (PTC) trains.[26] According to designer Mike Boodley, brand new Millennium Flyer trains were offered, but Busch Gardens was unwilling to take a chance on an unproven train design. Gwazi was the last GCI coaster to open with PTC trains.[23] Both PTC trains and the Millennium Flyer trains featured a lap bar restraint system.[5]

The two tracks of Gwazi were commonly known as Lion and Tiger, with yellow being the primary color of the Lion trains and blue being the primary color of the Tiger trains.[20][26] The theme of Gwazi centered around the struggle between different territorial wildcats, the African lion and Asian tiger. The plaza surrounding the area was similarly themed to each cat, with the Lion side including a desert atmosphere and the Tiger side including landscaping and streams.[10][22][26]

Gwazi's individual wooden tracks reached a length of 3,508 ft or 1,069 m or 7,000 feet (2,100 m) when combined.[26][70] The maximum height of each side was 105.4 ft (32.1 m).[26] When originally constructed, Gwazi used 1,250,000 board feet (2,900 m3) of treated southern yellow pine. The structure used two million bolts, together with 4.4 million nails for the tracks that consisted of 20-foot long, 2-by-12 planks in eight layers.[71] The structure of Gwazi was said to withstand winds of up to 100 mph or 160 km/h without riders.[5]

Steel roller coaster[edit]

Iron Gwazi uses the land once formerly occupied by Gwazi. Andrew Schaffer, the director of design and engineering for the park, stated "it’s definitely not an exact number, but we’ve been telling people about 25% of the original wooden structure has been re-utilized, and 75% of the foundations".[72] Iron Gwazi occupies the same station that once housed Gwazi.[73] The roller coaster is themed to the crocodile, similar to naming of other attractions at the park with animal theming.[72][74] The queue area will provide educational elements about the species and the narrative of the re-imagined roller coaster as it relates to the crocodile's evolution. The color scheme consists of green for the trains and purple for the track to contrast each other.[72]

Ride experience[edit]

The ride experience of both the Lion and Tiger side of Gwazi followed similar paths as dueling roller coasters. Gwazi was touted for having the first six fly-bys on a dueling roller coaster.[75][76] A fly-by is where the two roller coasters pass each other in opposite directions at high speeds, giving the impression that the two will collide.[20] At the time, Gwazi was promoted as the largest and fastest dueling wooden roller coaster in the Southeastern United States.[77] Altogether, one cycle of each ride took around two and a half minutes.[26]

Lion[edit]

Lift hill of the Lion track

Upon departing from the station, the train traversed foreword before dipping into a right U-turn to pass the other train parallel. Thereafter the train slightly climbed to the left before ascending the 105.4 ft (32.1 m) lift hill. Once at the top, the train entered a pre-drop to the right before descending the 91.8 ft (28.0 m) drop and reaching its maximum speed of 51 mph (82 km/h) near the bottom where it ran parallel again to the opposing Tiger. The train slightly banked right before ascending into a left-banked turn through the lift hill of the Tiger side, where it exited downward and entered into a right-banked turnaround. The train then banked up into a left turn before traversing downward into the outer-region of the layout in multiple slight banked right turns. Afterwards, the train entered a series of hills running parallel to the opposite train passing by the station before banking to the left into a downward spiral. The train descended slightly before ascending into a slight right turn, quickly transitioning into a left turn and into the brake run. In the completion of the course, the train then made a right turn and then a slight left before re-entering the station.[26][78]

Tiger[edit]

Upon departing from the station, the train traversed into a slight right turn before dipping into a U-turn towards the left to pass the other train parallel. Thereafter the train slightly climbed to the left before ascending the 105.4 ft (32.1 m) lift hill. One at the top, the train entered a pre-drop the to left before descending the 91.8 ft (28.0 m) drop and reaching its maximum speed of 51 mph (82 km/h) near the bottom running parallel to the opposite side's train. The train slightly banked right before ascending into a right-banked turn where it flattened into a drop. Afterwards, the train then ascended into another right banked turn before dipping down and then ascending into a left banked turn. The train then descended the left banked turn, dipping down again before it made a right banked turn towards the outer-region of the layout in multiple slight banked left turns. The train then entered a series of hills, running parallel to the opposite train passing by the station, before entering a right banked downward spiral. The train descended slightly before ascending into a slight baked left turn quickly transitioning to a right turn and into the brake run. In the completion of the course, the train then makes a left turn and then a slight right before re-entering the station.[26][79]

Comparison[edit]

Statistics Gwazi[26]Iron Gwazi[80]
Years 1999–2012 (Tiger)
1999–2015 (Lion)
Manufacturer Great Coasters International Rocky Mountain Construction
Designer Mike Boodley Alan Schilke
Track Wood Steel
Height 105.4 ft or 32.1 m 206 ft or 63 m
Drop 91.8 ft or 28.0 m 206 ft or 63 m
Length 3,508 ft or 1,069 m 4,075 ft or 1,242 m
Speed 51 mph or 82 km/h 76 mph or 122 km/h
Duration 2:30 1:50
Inversions 0 2
Max vertical angle 91.0°
Trains PTC (1999–2011)GCI (2011–2015)Rocky Mountain Construction

Incidents[edit]

Main article: Incidents at SeaWorld parks

In 2006, a 52-year-old Palm Springs, Florida resident collapsed and shortly died after riding Gwazi and being rushed to a local hospital. It was determined that the roller coaster (which was functioning properly) had aggravated an existing condition of high blood pressure.[81][82]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Gwazi received generally positive reviews upon its debut. In a St. Petersburg Times report, guests reaction to the roller coaster was positive with many taking into account its twists and turns, air time, and smoothness.[83] A writer for The Tampa Tribune, Levin Walker, similarly noted that among guests the roller coaster was praised for its speed and initial drop, with some commenting upon the partial rattle accustomed to wooden roller coasters.[84] An editor for Park World, Paul Ruben, stated that Gwazi had "everything a good coaster should have," and adding "it never slows down" which makes it a "good coaster".[83]

The opening of the Gwazi in 1999 coincided with several other major roller coasters debuting in the Florida-theme park market, including that of Dueling Dragons and The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal's Islands of Adventure and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney's MGM Studios.[85][86][87] Likewise, Gwazi was one of several wooden roller coasters that opened in North America during a resurging interests in older-styled attractions.[88] Dueling Dragons and Gwazi were mentioned comparatively because of their similar dueling aspect.[89][90][91]

Awards[edit]

Prior to its closure, Gwazi had received several placements from Amusement Today'sGolden Ticket Awards.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Gwazi
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Busch Gardens announces Iron Gwazi after-hours preview for annual passholders

TAMPA, Fla. — Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will offer annual passholders (called pass members) a chance to preview its new Iron Gwazi coaster next year on top of other perks.


What You Need To Know

  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is set to open its new Iron Gwazi coaster March 2022

  • Pass members will get access to an exclusive after-hours preview

  • The preview is part of the new "Passport to Thrills" celebration

The coaster is scheduled to debut in March of 2022. As part of what Busch Gardens is calling a “Passport to Thrills Celebration,” pass members will be among the first to ride. The exclusive after-hours event will also include entertainment, refreshments and more.

To qualify for the special preview, pass members must visit the park at least three times between Sept. 6 and Dec. 31 and be an active pass member through March 31, 2022.

Once they qualify, pass members will receive an invite to the Iron Gwazi Passport to Thrills Celebration.

It’s one of the many perks Busch Gardens is offering with its annual passes. In addition to discounts on merchandise and access to seasonal events, passes include benefits such as special monthly offers.

Busch Gardens also revealed its calendar of 2022 events. The lineup includes returning events such as the Food & Wine Festival, Summer Nights, Bier Fest and Howl-O-Scream.

Busch Gardens also announced that its water park, Adventure Island, will now be open year round instead of seasonally. The water park will also announce details about 2022 attractions in “the coming weeks.”

“There’s never been a better time to be a Busch Gardens & Adventure Island annual pass member,” park president Neal Thurman said. “Our annual passes offer our guests more exclusive experiences, world-breaking thrills, unique events and more added benefits for an unbeatable value.”

For more information, visit buschgardens.com/tampa.

Sours: https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/attractions/2021/09/07/busch-gardens-iron-gwazi-after-hours-preview-for-passholders

‘Iron Gwazi,’ Busch Gardens roller coaster to open next year after delays

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has announced it will open its highly-anticipated roller coaster “Iron Gwazi” next year.

The attraction will be open just in time for spring break in Tampa Bay, opening in March 2022.

Iron Gwazi will be North America’s tallest and the world’s fastest and steepest hybrid coaster, plunging riders from a 206 foot-tall peak into a 91-degree drop at a top speed of 76 miles per hour.

When 8 On Your Side spoke to engineer Andrew Schaffer at the beginning of last year during construction, he compared it to one of the park’s nine other roller coasters, SheiKra.

“So we’re a little bit taller than SheiKra,” Schaffer explained. “It’s going to be a lot faster than SheiKra. The actual track length is very similar to SheiKra though, but the experience on this attraction is very much different.”

The opening of the ride was delayed in July of last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic and was at that point, scheduled to open this year.

“Iron Gwazi has been highly anticipated by roller coaster enthusiasts around the world since we first announced this new legend,” said Neal Thurman, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Park President. “Due to the unprecedented challenges over the last two years, Iron Gwazi was delayed, and we recognize the delay has disappointed our fans. We appreciate the patience our guests have shown.”

Busch Gardens’ sister park, SeaWorld Orlando, announced their new roller coaster “Ice Breaker” will be opening in February of next year.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Sours: https://www.wfla.com/dont-miss/iron-gwazi-busch-gardens-roller-coaster-to-open-next-year-after-delays/

Gwazi busch gardens

Busch Gardens' Iron Gwazi to open in March 2022 as country's tallest hybrid coaster

TAMPA, Fla. — Busch Gardens Tampa Bay says its newest coaster Iron Gwazi will open in March 2022 as the country's tallest hybrid coaster.

The opening of the ride was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme park says the grand opening will be in time for spring break.

Iron Gwazi entrance.png

Busch Gardens

“Iron Gwazi has been highly anticipated by roller coaster enthusiasts around the world since we first announced this new legend. Due to the unprecedented challenges over the last two years, Iron Gwazi was delayed, and we recognize the delay has disappointed our fans. We appreciate the patience our guests have shown.” said Neal Thurman, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Park President. “We’re finally able to confirm that we will be delivering on the next-level thrills that our coaster fans crave and expect from Busch Gardens, when we open this incredible coaster this spring.”

RECOMMENDED: SeaWorld opening new rollercoaster with steepest beyond vertical drop in Florida

The ride features a 206-foot-tall peak that plunges into a 91-degree drop, and it reaches top speeds of 76 miles per hour.

Iron Gwazi is the tenth roller coaster to join the theme park's line-up of thrilling rides.

Sours: https://www.abcactionnews.com/lifestyle/taste-and-see/busch-gardens-iron-gwazi-to-open-in-march-2022-as-countrys-tallest-hybrid-coaster
All Roller Coasters At Busch Gardens Tampa 2020 UPDATED! IRON GWAZI POV!

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