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Tampa’s Adventure Island to close Key West Rapids, open new ride

The water park next to Busch Gardens plans to replace the inner-tube attraction in 2020. Its last day of operation is Oct. 1.
Key West Rapids, a waterside at Tampa water park Adventure Island since 1995, will close after Oct. 1.
Key West Rapids, a waterside at Tampa water park Adventure Island since 1995, will close after Oct. 1. [ ANTHONY ALLRED | Tampa Bay Times (2011) ]
Published Aug. 29, 2019|Updated Aug. 29, 2019

Busch Gardens has announced that a new attraction is coming to Adventure Island, its adjacent water park in Tampa. The ride will replace Key West Rapids, which visitors can ride one last time on Oct. 1.

Guests climb into an inner tube to shoot down the 700-foot Key West Rapids waterslide, which takes them down a course that includes three terraces of water. But on Wednesday, Adventure Island shared a video on Facebook and Twitter notifying fans that the ride will close to make way for “something new.”

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Key West Rapids, which occupies the southwest corner of the park, opened in 1995. One or two people can ride in an inner tube on the waterslide.

Busch Gardens and Adventure Island President Stewart Clark said in a statement that the change is part of the company’s strategy to add new experiences.

“While 2019 has been a landmark year for Busch Gardens with the addition of Florida’s tallest launch coaster, Tigris, we look forward to the exciting developments coming in 2020 to both of our Tampa parks," Clark said. "Our fans can look forward to more information coming soon regarding new attractions at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island.”

Adventure Island had an uptick in attendance last year, according to the most recent estimate from the Themed Entertainment Association. The park reported 669,000 visitors in 2018, up from 631,000 in 2017. According to the TEA, Adventure Island also ranked seventh out of the top 20 water parks in North America.

RELATED: We rode Tigris, the new Busch Gardens coaster. This is what it’s like.


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