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Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014
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Falcon’s Fury launch further delayed

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— Thrill-riders eager to jump on Falcon’s Fury and fly toward the ground at 60 miles per hour, well, they’ll just have to take a chill pill.

Busch Gardens released a short statement Wednesday with few details on a further delay to the much-anticipated Falcon’s Fury drop tower, saying only that there has been a “delay in the fabrication of key component parts, making it impossible to complete all the necessary testing on the ride.”

Falcon’s Fury was initially scheduled to open at Busch Gardens on May 1. Just days before that opening, the Tampa theme park announced a delay, citing on-going construction issues. Since that time, testing has continued, but the park has been slow to release any new information.

“The safety of our guests and team members remains Busch Gardens’ top priority and none of these delays involve the safety system,” according to the statement released Wednesday. “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.” Pantopia includes additional rides and food and beverage outlets, including one serving craft beers.

“As of right now, that is the only statement we are making,” said Busch Gardens spokesman Travis Claytor. “I don’t have any other details.”

Any number of issues could delay the opening of a ride like this, said Paul Ruben, North American editor for Park World Online, an amusement industry journal. “The engineering these days, the structural engineering to make sure that it will withstand the forces” can be an issue in some instances, he said, noting that he has no specific information on the issues involved with Falcon’s Fury. The ongoing ride testing, Ruben said, helps the engineers ensure that the rides “work precisely and repeatedly and dependably.”

Claytor said Busch Gardens will provide updates on the Falcon’s Fury 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,” the statement said.

Tower rides like Falcon’s Fury first came on the scene about two decades ago, but this one would be the first to put riders face down and drop them at 60 miles per hour in five seconds, then return the seats to an upright position before landing.

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

yhammett@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7127

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