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Goodbye, Gwazi! Busch Gardens to close dueling wooden roller coaster

Murray Maltz and Dara Strauss of Toronto hold on tight as they take a ride on Gwazi in June 1999, the month the wooden roller coaster opened. Busch Gardens has announced plans to shut down the coaster, though no official date was given.
Published Dec. 24, 2014

Goodbye, Gwazi! Busch Gardens Tampa has confirmed plans to close its iconic double wooden roller coaster.

The first dueling wooden coaster in Florida and the largest of its kind in the Southeast, Gwazi was built in 1999, offering a top speed of 50 mph over 6,800 feet of track. (Some might say it's also a chiropractor's dream: Gwazi, which has the twin tracks Lion and Tiger, can rattle your vertebrae pretty good.)

A spokesperson said there was no official date for the final ride. The coaster-intense Busch Gardens, owned by beleaguered parent company SeaWorld Entertainment, suffered delays over this past summer in opening its latest thrill ride, the Falcon's Fury drop tower.

There are no details about what will take the place of the high-maintenance Gwazi.

Fans reacted on social media, expressing sadness over the news but hope for what may replace Gwazi.

"Nooooo now what ride will I force people to ride when I want to see them cry?" JJ Martin of Clearwater wrote on Facebook.

Georgia Tirado-Febo of Tampa wrote, "Awww I remember working at BG and being the first to ride it. Goodbye Gwazi!"

Many people commented about how rough Gwazi's wooden twists and turns could be.

Tracie Petroski of Tampa wrote: "That was an uncomfortable ride. But still had to ride it. RIP."

Contact Sean Daly at sdaly@tampabay.com. Follow @seandalypoplife.

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