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Opening of new Busch Gardens ride delayed

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Published:   |   Updated: April 18, 2014 at 06:07 PM

TAMPA — Busch Gardens Tampa on Friday backed off from its previously announced May 1 opening of Falcon’s Fury, a thrill ride featuring a five-second, 60 mph vertical drop, after canceling Tuesday’s Media Day event because of “ongoing construction requirements.”

A Busch Gardens Tampa spokesman provided no indication of when the ride might open to the public.

“We just don’t know right now,” Media Relations Manager, Marketing Travis Claytor said. ““We will have a better idea of the timeline as we move forward.”

The 335-foot-tall ride that has been under construction since July 2013 will become the tallest freestanding drop tower at a North American attraction, although there are taller drop towers integrated with other rides or buildings.

“There is no specific challenge that has caused a delay in opening Falcon’s Fury,” Claytor said in an email.

“Ride construction has been ongoing for nearly a year for this one-of-a-kind attraction, and we have faced a variety of challenges that are unique to a groundbreaking ride such as Falcon’s Fury,” he said.

“The Design and Engineering team has worked quickly and safely to resolve these challenges, and we are looking forward to welcoming the world to ride this one-of-a-kind attraction in the near future.”

Delays, while not the norm, are not uncommon when opening a new attraction, said Paul Ruben, North American Editor of the industry journal Park World. “It’s more important that they get it right than get it fast,” Ruben said. “If it opens before school summer vacations start, it will have little effect on their attendance.”

Falcon’s Fury is the centerpiece of a new Busch Gardens Tampa attraction area called Pantopia, a term that became popular on Facebook to mean a perpetual state of 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.

Falcon’s Fury pivots its riders in midair to a face-down dive position, like its bird of prey namesake, before plunging them straight down and then swiveling them to an upright position at a stop that is 3.5 times the force of gravity.

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California has a 400-foot drop and the Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey will have a 415-foot drop when it opens Memorial Day weekend.

tjackovics@tampatrib.com

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