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Sandstorm ride makes final spin at Busch Gardens

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Published:   |   Updated: June 7, 2013 at 01:21 PM
TAMPA -

When Josh Partridge was a child, Busch Gardens' Sandstorm ride was a bit terrifying for him.

“When I was real little, it used to be really scary because you're spinning around,” Partridge said Sunday afternoon of the ride that elevates and whips riders around in a circular motion. “(Now that I'm older) it's kind of cool that you can see different angles of the park.”

Partridge, 27, documented his final ride on the contraption with a small, silver camera harnessed to his chest. Sandstorm, which is inside the Timbuktu portion of the park, opened in December 1979. On Monday, the ride will be closed to the public and will soon be dismantled, making way for something else.

“It's been here at the park since 1979, so a lot of people have grown up with this ride,” Travis Claytor, spokesman for Busch Gardens said. “So we are hearing a little bit of reminiscing, if you will. But we're also hearing a lot people who are excited about the potential for what may come in the future.”

So what is that future? Officials aren't saying.

“But it's going to be exciting,” Claytor said with a grin.

A news conference has been scheduled for June 11 to announce what will take Sandstorm's place. The invitation to that event says they are “dropping big news” hinting at the possibility of a drop tower, similar to the one located at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia.

“I like it, but it's time for something new,” Partridge said.

Three other rides -- Busch Flyers, Desert Runners and Kiddie Train -- which are adjacent to Sandstorm in the northern reaches of the amusement park, will temporarily close as of today.

Elizabeth Howard, 24, wasn't too happy about the news of Sandstorm's demise. Howard, who recently moved to Tampa admitted Sandstorm was a ride she looked forward to experiencing each time she visited Busch Gardens.

“I don't really like roller coasters, so this is one of the only rides that I like here.”

Howard was with her nephews Terrell Riley, 13, Keary Johnson, 6.

Howard's niece, Aleisha Riley, will miss piling on the ride with family.

“I like that we can all get on, even my little brother because he's kind of short and can't get on a lot of roller coasters,” Riley, 16 said. “It's a fun ride. Family-friendly ride.”

Despite his history with Sandstorm, Partridge is excited about the possibility of something new.

“I always like new stuff,” he said.


edaniels@tampatrib.com

(813) 371-1860

Twitter: @EDanielsTBO

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