The numbers are awesomely pants-wetting: 335 feet straight up, then straight down, the tallest free-standing drop tower in North America. Ninety-degree tilting seats. A 60-mph plummet. Yep, Falcon's Fury at Busch Gardens, the centerpiece of the Tampa theme park's new Pantopia land, sure sounds like a rush. Now if we could only ride the darn thing. Not to pile on Busch Gardens' considerable woes, but Falcon's Fury was supposed to open weeks ago, on May 1. And yet we're all still waiting. The problems have been described in a vague way — "construction delays" — so it's tough to say when we'll have an opening date. Compounding the stress? This is an extremely crowded summer for new Florida attractions and all that accompanying hype. Now it appears that our Big Three Thrills for 2014 — Falcon's Fury, Disney's Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and even Universal Orlando's second Harry Potter experience — will all open up much, much closer to one another. Well, at least we hope.
Sean Daly, Times staff writer
While we wait for the ride, we'll have to comfort ourselves with a Bacon Pretzel Fury, one of the new food offerings in Pantopia. The area, formerly called Timbuktu, has been redesigned to complement Falcon's Fury. It's a much-needed facelift for one of the oldest sections of the park. It features a new frozen treats spot, kettle corn, kebabs and shops selling goods from around the world.
Busch Gardens will stay open until 9 p.m. June 28 through Aug. 17 to make rides such as Cheetah Hunt and Falcon's Fury (when it eventually opens) a whole new experience in the dark. Kinetix returns for a blast of music and acrobatics every night on the Gwazi Park stage. Included with regular admission.
If you go
Regular admission is $95, $90 for ages 3-9, for a single-day ticket, but a new Weekday Ticket saves $30 if you buy it in advance online and go on a weekday. A Fun Card for $95 provides unlimited admission through Dec. 31. The park is at 3605 Bougainvillea Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-5600. buschgardens.com.