Busch Gardens to open new ride in 2016

A summer 2012 fireworks show over Busch Gardens in Tampa. [Times files (2012)]
A summer 2012 fireworks show over Busch Gardens in Tampa. [Times files (2012)]
Published Feb. 13, 2015

TAMPA — Busch Gardens will open a new ride in the Egypt-themed part of the park in 2016, according to officials.

Spokesman Travis Claytor confirmed the news, but quickly killed the buzz of theme-park nerds everywhere by adding: "We have not finalized the details on what the attraction will be."

An environmental resource permit was filed with the Tampa Bay regional water authority known as Swiftmud, touching off buzz that this could be a water-themed ride.

Claytor was mum on that. However, it does appear that the building currently housing the King Tut's Tomb walk-through is being considerably expanded.

If you really want to get technical — and have fun speculating — the Swiftmud permit involves the removal of more than 28,000 square feet of existing concrete paving and the expansion of "the existing museum building" by almost 12,000 square feet. It also appears that a section of the Serengeti Railway will be moved.

A permit filed with the city of Tampa is for "site clearing," so no real clues there.

No matter: Theme-park blogs and insiders were all in a tizzy anyway. The Amusement Industry News + Notes website took the positioning of maintenance stairs coming out of a building on the Swiftmud map to mean a possible "lift hill" — in other words, a ride with a drop.

"This is one of those projects where the rumor mill is churning like crazy," said Robb Alvey of the popular Theme Park Review website. He has heard several different theories, including "a family-style spinning coaster that's indoor-outdoor" and "a hi-tech indoor dark ride like Transformers or Spider-Man (at Universal Orlando)." Alvey's best guess is something that appeals to all ages yet still has some bite: "They kind of need something like that."

As for what might be leaving Busch Gardens — besides, presumably, Tut's Tomb — spokeman Claytor did quell the fears of roller coaster freaks: Montu, the inverted thriller currently in the Egypt section of the park, will not be harmed to make room.

"We have no plans to remove any roller coasters," Claytor said.

That's good news, considering that on Feb. 1 Busch Gardens shuttered Gwazi, a dual-track wooden roller coaster. There are no details yet on what will replace that ride.

The last significant addition to the park was 2014's Falcon's Fury, the 335-foot not-for-the-squeamish drop tower that suffered massive delays before opening in September.

Contact Sean Daly at Follow @seandalypoplife.