TAMPA — “Fall, fall, fall, turn, brakes.” That’s how Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Director of Design and Engineering Jeff Hornick describes Falcon’s Fury, a 60 mph, vertical, free-fall ride that will become the nation’s tallest theme park drop tower when it opens this spring.
For good measure, the five- to six-second, face-down, gravity-induced ride concludes with riders’ seats swiveling to an upright position before a 3.5 G stop — three and a half times the force of gravity.
Veteran theme park enthusiast Marc Meagher, a retired South Florida banker who is president of the Florida Coaster Club, can’t wait until Busch Gardens Tampa announces the opening date of Falcon’s Fury.
“It will be like the sensation of a parachute drop,” said Meagher. “It will be something new and I love Busch Gardens already.”
That’s the outcome Busch Gardens executives and engineers have been pursuing for about three years, when they began creating the 335-foot-tall, 12-foot-diameter tower ride.
As is customary, Busch then designed new surroundings for a new feature ride attraction, in this case a nearly 6-acre area to be 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.
“It won’t be called a beer garden,” said Busch Gardens Vice President of Design and Engineering Mark Rose, “but there will be a place to sit and enjoy beers and pretzels that are made on site.”
Like all of the attraction’s areas, a story line holds together a theme that’s intended to educate Busch Gardens visitors about the animals and environment.
“Pantopia is the melting pot of the stories of all the animals at Busch Gardens,” said Brian Morrow, creative director for Busch Gardens parent SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “Pantopia is a made up place, but there will be something for everybody,” not the least of which are activities for people who aren’t eager to try Falcon’s Fury.
One of the new venues will be the Pantopia Theater, a renovated Timbuktu theater where a popular attraction featuring rescued cats and dogs will find a new home at the theme park.
All of the those animals will be cared for if they don’t participate in the new show and are retired, Rose said.