Make us your home page
Instagram

As Busch Gardens awaits Falcon's Fury, Pantopia opens

TAMPA — The new, star attraction at Busch Gardens isn't finished yet, but the themed land surrounding it is ready to debut.

Pantopia opens Thursday in the former section of the park called Timbuktu. The new area of shops and restaurants was designed to complement the park's highly anticipated Falcon's Fury, a 335-foot drop tower ride.

The focal point of Pantopia, Falcon's Fury was scheduled to open May 1 but has been delayed to allow for additional testing. No opening date has been set.

"Safety is our primary concern and once the ride has undergone all the ride and safety testing, then we'll open it up to guests,'' said Busch Gardens spokesman Travis Claytor.

Pantopia expands the park's food and retail offerings and gives a much-needed facelift to one of the park's oldest sections. The idea was to give visitors too scared to go on Falcon's Fury new places to dine and shop while the rest of their party waits in line for the ride.

The park repainted the buildings bright red, orange and yellow and added lanterns, mosaic work and other decorative elements. A few structures are new, but the rides and layout are about the same. Busch Gardens hasn't disclosed how much the Pantopia project cost.

Food is a major focus. Executive chef Ron DeBonis said he looked at the hottest culinary trends to bring to Pantopia, which of course means bacon. The Twisted Tails Pretzels, a bakery with fresh-rolled pretzels and craft beer, sells the Bacon Pretzel Fury, a soft pretzel braided with extra thick, dry-aged, cherry wood bacon.

Also new is Lynx Frozen Treats, with snow cones and smoothies, and the Kettle Korn Market, with homemade popcorn, foot-long corn dogs, loaded fries and other carnival-inspired snacks. Outside the Desert Grill is the Dragon Fire Grill, which serves meat on a stick, vegetables and pitas.

The main gift shop, the Painted Camel Bazaar, sells gifts from around the world, many of them made from recycled goods. The park incorporated many salvaged items into the store, including old doors, wood pieces and yard sale finds, said Brian Kilpatrick, vice president of merchandise.

Going into the busy summer season, Busch Gardens is expecting a big boost from Pantopia and the Falcon's Fury, described as the tallest free-standing drop tower in North America. The newly imagined area will be the park's first rebranded land since Sesame Street Safari of Fun opened in 2010.

Pantopia comes as other central Florida theme parks prepare for their own big attractions. Opening soon is Disney's Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom and Harry Potter's Diagon Alley at Universal Studios in Orlando.

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3110.

As Busch Gardens awaits Falcon's Fury, Pantopia opens 04/25/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 2:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Aug. 21-27

    Events

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Watch the team practice for free at Bucs Training Camp on Tuesday-Thursday at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, where you'll also find the crew from HBO's Hard Knocks, the reality show featuring our team. Saturday, the team takes on the Cleveland Browns in a preseason game at …

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) participates in practice during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017.
  2. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91

    Obituaries

    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was …

    In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. [Associated Press]
  3. If you miss out on Retro Futura tour, you'll be needing a little 'Tenderness'

    Blogs

    Closing out Retro Futura Week is a little bit of a cheat. We started the week with the English Beat and we end it with an offshoot of the Beat, the band General Public and their hit …

  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 20

    Events

    The Art of the Brick: An elaborate display of more than 100 pieces of Lego artwork including the life sized sculpture of a man ripping open his chest, a 20-foot-long T. rex skeleton, a giant skull and replicas of famous works including Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night and Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona …

    Eliana Goldberg, 5, of Wesley Chapel looks at a Lego sculpture called "Everlasting" at The Art of the Brick exhibit, which opened Friday in Tampa and runs through Sept. 4. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  5. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]