On command, dozens of high schoolers in the audience screamed for five seconds. • They had been asked to do so by Jeff Hornick, director of design and engineering at Busch Gardens. Five seconds is the length of time it would take them to plunge from the top of Falcon's Fury, the theme park's newest addition. The room vibrated with ear-splitting noise.
Students involved with their high school journalism programs were invited to tour the construction site of Falcon's Fury, opening in May, and to meet with the creative minds behind some of the rides on Feb. 28. Falcon's Fury is part of Pantopia, which is taking over the area formerly known as Timbuktu.
Pantopia is "a mythical place," said Mark Rose, Busch Gardens' vice president of design and engineering. It's meant to be a place where adventurers end up after their travels.
The ride, which stands more than 300 feet, will shoot guests into the air and plummet them back to the ground like its namesake, the falcon, hunting prey.
"You can see downtown Tampa … you can see St. Petersburg, Tropicana Field," said Hornick, who has stood at the top of Falcon's Fury. "Once we get you up to the top, we'll tilt you 90 degrees so that you're looking straight down at the ground. You'll never know when we're going to drop you."
Falcon's Fury was designed to be "North America's tallest freestanding drop tower," according to Hornick. He said the design team considers Fury to be the "craziest, biggest, baddest ride" imaginable.
Watch for the winning report
Part of Busch Gardens' High School Journalism Day is a contest for best story about the experience. The Falcon's Fury and Pantopia Contest asks participating students to submit the print stories and video reports they produced from the day, and after they are judged, tb-two* will print and post a link to the winning entries in an upcoming issue.
that's what we said
What was the best part of Journalism Day at Busch Gardens, and will you ride Falcon's Fury when it opens?
Caulin Donaldson Osceola Fundamental High senior
On Journalism Day: Whether it's making promos or commercials for Busch Gardens or doing news reports on upcoming events, the day made me very optimistic about my future.
On Falcon's Fury: I'm a huge fan of being 335 feet up in the air and being dropped face first to the ground, so Falcon's Fury is the best ride for me! I'm so going to ride it.
Alexis Pastore Gaither High junior
On Journalism Day: Not everyone gets a behind-the-scenes tour of a new attraction. You must be thankful for every new opportunity that comes your way.
On Falcon's Fury: The overall concept of the tower is what intrigues me the most. It's the only one that turns you 90 degrees downward, and is the highest drop tower in all of America! However that scares me, but then again you can't let your fear hold you back, and you must embrace a huge accomplishment like the creation of Falcon's Fury.
Jonathan Hickson Gaither High senior
On Journalism Day: Attending Busch Gardens' Journalism Day allowed me to see the tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into the creation of new rides and attractions. The park executives are incredibly hard-working people (who) really create a phenomenal final product.
On Falcon's Fury: Falcon's Fury is going to be hugely popular because of the unique approach taken in the design of the ride. I can't wait until it opens so I can fall with the fury of a falcon!