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Top things to do in Tampa Bay this weekend: Busch Gardens coaster Tigris opens, Earth Day

By Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Times Staff Writer

COASTER: Tigris roars

Tigris, Florida's tallest launch coaster, opens at Busch Gardens Friday, further enhancing the Tampa theme park as Florida's coaster king. The compactly built steel thrill ride reaches speeds of 60 mph, with an inverted heartline roll, a big loop and a surge up to its 150-foot peak. From a distance it looks like a tall, flame-colored square knot, but segments of the track are used multiple times during the minute-long ride. As far as thrills, Tigris fits somewhere between the family-friendly Cobra's Curse and the more intense offerings of SheiKra, park president Stewart Clark said earlier this year. You need to be at least 54 inches tall to ride. It is the ninth coaster at Busch Gardens, the most of any in Florida. Park passholders get exclusive ride time the first two weekends in May for one hour starting at 9 a.m. The new ride is the centerpiece of the park's 60th anniversary celebration, which also brings free beer all year and a new pin-trading push similar to the collectible pins that Disney fans buy and trade. $79.99 and up. 10165 McKinley Drive, Tampa. (813) 884-4386.

EARTH DAY: Back to nature

Although Monday is officially Earth Day, first declared in 1970 as a "national teach-in on the environment," this weekend is filled with ways to learn or just embrace Florida's natural environment. Island Earth Days at Honeymoon Island State Park will feature nature exhibits, guided trail walks and live birds on display starting at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. $8 per carload. 1 Causeway Blvd., Dunedin.

Mamma Mia! Pets in the Park Night

For one evening only, pets are welcome to join you at the American Stage in the Park production of Mamma Mia! in Demens Landing Park in St. Petersburg. And for Pets in the Park Night, both you and your pet can dress as your favorite character from the show or don an ABBA-inspired outfit for a chance to win a prize. Dogs free with ticketed owner. $20-$50. 8 p.m. Sunday. 100 First Ave. SE. The show runs through May 12. (727) 823-7529.


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