After almost two years of leaving coaster fans hanging in suspense, Busch Gardens finally announced that its intense new hybrid coaster Iron Gwazi will open in March of next year.
On Monday, the theme park announced that North America’s tallest hybrid coaster, which will also be the fastest and steepest hybrid coaster in the world, will open “in time for spring break.”
“Iron Gwazi has been highly anticipated by roller coaster enthusiasts around the world since we first announced this new legend. Due to the unprecedented challenges over the last two years, Iron Gwazi was delayed, and we recognize the delay has disappointed our fans,” said Neal Thurman, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Park president, in a written statement. “We appreciate the patience our guests have shown.”
Also announced on Monday is that sister park SeaWorld Orlando will open Ice Breaker in February. Named after the icy Arctic summits, Ice Breaker will feature four launches, both backward and forward, culminating in a reverse launch into the steepest vertical drop in Florida — a 93-foot-tall spike with 100-degree angle.
Iron Gwazi will be the 10th roller coaster to join Busch Gardens’ lineup, including Tigris, Florida’s tallest inversion, SheiKra, a 200-foot, 90-degree drop coaster, and Montu, recognized as one of the top 10 coasters in the country.
The coaster was originally going to premiere in the summer of 2020 and billboards went up around Tampa Bay shortly after track work was completed that March.
The park even tweeted out a point-of-view video of the ride.
But then the pandemic arrived, and the park ceased operations on March 16, 2020. The gates remained shut through June. The park reopened with limited capacity, and Iron Gwazi’s opening was postponed.
SeaWorld Entertainment, the parent company of Busch Gardens struggled for the next year as the amusement park industry attempted to rebound. The company’s most recent earnings report showed that things were looking up, with attendance on the rise and a spike in spending by visitors.
Iron Gwazi is a slick steel coaster built on top of the bones of the old wooden Gwazi coaster at the park, which closed in 2015. It is the tallest hybrid coaster in North America at 206 feet. It is also the world’s fastest hybrid coaster, with the steepest drop on any such ride ever built.
Riders will have to be 48 inches tall to travel its 4,075-foot-long, 110-second course. Among the twists and turns will be 12 moments of airtime, that fluttery lift that takes riders momentarily out of their seats. There will also be three upside-down inversions and a 180-degree stall that will hang riders upside down for a few seconds.
Excitement is high for coaster enthusiasts, noted Coaster 101, a website that covers the ins and outs of coasters in the amusement park industry.
“Compared to the other coasters at Busch Gardens Tampa, this will absolutely be a headline attraction in the park, and quite possibly the most popular. A new coaster like this will be a major draw for attendance at the park, as many previous guests are already familiar with the original wooden coaster,” the site noted.