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Busch Gardens sets opening date for Falcon's Fury

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Published:   |   Updated: February 28, 2014 at 03:01 PM

TAMPA — Falcon's Fury, Busch Gardens' newest thrill ride that will feature a five-second, 60-mph vertical drop, will open May 1, officials at the theme park said Friday.

The 335-foot-tall ride that has been under construction since July 2013 will become the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America.

The face-down, gravity-induced drop concludes with riders' seats swiveling to an upright position before a stop at 3 times the force of gravity.

The ride's name is derived from the way falcons hunt, diving head first at speeds greater than 150 mph before striking another bird, stunning or killing the prey in midair, park officials said.

As is customary, Busch Gardens will introduce new surroundings for its new feature ride, an area of nearly 6 acres called Pantopia, a term said to be coined by Facebook users a few years ago indicating a state of perpetual bliss.

Pantopia will have additional rides, and food and beverage outlets, including one serving craft beers. In addition to adding a new look at the park, it will provide activities for those who aren't eager to try Falcon's Fury.

One venue will be the Pantopia Theater, a renovated Timbuktu theater where a popular Busch Gardens attraction featuring rescued cats and dogs will be relocated.

Other theme parks, including Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., have drop towers. What sets the Tampa version apart is rotating the riders so they fall face down, then restoring them to a seated position before they land.

tjackovics@tampatrib.com

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