New thrill ride to debut at Busch Gardens

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 26, 2014 at 2:19 pm •  Published: March 26, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Thrill ride developers at Busch Gardens acknowledge that the park's newest attraction might not be everyone's idea of a good time.

Falcon's Fury opens on May 1. Riders will be seated upright and whisked to the top of a 335-foot (102-meter) tower, then the seat will pivot 90 degrees so the guest is looking straight down.

That's when the ride plunges in a six-second free fall.

Jeff Hornick, director of design and engineering at Busch Gardens, said riders will reach speeds of up to 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour on the plunge.

"It's a different kind of thrill ride than a roller coaster," said Hornick. "It's really polarizing. You're either really going to want to ride it or not want to ride it at all."

Park officials say it's the tallest, free-standing drop tower in North America and the only one in the world to feature forward tilting seats.

"Drop towers have been popular at theme parks for many years, but what you see with Falcon's Fury is the industry's relentless drive for innovation," said Jeremy Schoolfield, editor-in-chief of Funworld Magazine. "Ride designers are always looking for new twists on classic attractions, and Fury's pivoting seats certainly fit that bill. Putting riders in a facedown position as they drop toward the ground is definitely a new take on this type of ride."

There are taller drop towers in the U.S., but they are integrated with other rides or buildings. Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California has a 400-foot (122-meter) drop and the Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey will have a 415-foot (127-meter) drop when it's constructed later this year. Both of those are attached to other rides. A famous drop tower is the Big Shot, the ride atop the Stratosphere hotel and casino in Las Vegas that catapults riders 160 feet (49 meters) in the air.

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