Busch Gardens Africa unveils plans for 'Jungala,' with new animal exhibits and rides2007-09-06
By Ashley Stuchlik: Ending almost a year of speculation, Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa, Florida, announced today its newest addition. Located in the area formerly known as Congo, Jungala will incorporate exotic landscaping with some of the world’s most endangered animals.
An artist's rendering of the new Bengal Tiger habitat.
Set in a 4-acre village, guests will see Bengal Tigers, Orangutans, Gibbons and Flying Foxes. The Bengal Tiger habitat has been upgraded from its former area. Unlike before, visitors will be able to get up close and personal with the tigers through a multi-level viewing area. The underwater window will allow for viewing of the eleven tigers through high impact glass. There will also be an air conditioned cave-like area for watching and a suspension bridge which will also provide more viewing vantage points. A special feature of this area will be the “tiger tug-of-war.” Guests will be invited to hang on to one end of a rope on one side of a glass partition while a tiger demonstrates its strength on the other end.
Construction progesses on the tiger area.
Another feature of Jungala is the return of the orangutans. Their habitat was previously located by the Stanleyville train station, but with the addition of Sheikra, they temporarily had no visible home. All of this will change with a huge permanent exhibit area catered to their particular interests and needs. Three 30-foot-tall tree top viewing platforms will allow for the six orangutans to caravan high above guests heads while traversing from one area of the habitat to the other. Glenn Young, Vice President of Zoological Operations, said there will even be orangutans engaging in painting sessions complete with canvas and colorful paint, which will surely be an interesting sight.
A few new animal species will be incorporated into Jungala. White-cheeked crested gibbons, flying foxes and tomistomas (of the crocodile family) will all be permanent residents at Busch Gardens.
With any new addition to the park, there are always new rides and play areas. Jungala has some of both. While maybe not as heart pounding as the Kumba or Montu rollercoasters, two rides are planned that will add unique views of the jungle village. Jungle Flyers is a tree top zip line ride which offers three separate flight paths. Riders will enjoy an out and back ride across the path in a hang glider-like seat. The Wild Surge is a 4-story tower ride which will launch fourteen riders out of a 35 foot tall mountainside waterfall. Tree Top Trails will be a new 3-story play area with bridges, climbing nets, crawl tubes and a maze.
Artist's rendering of Jungle Flyers and the Wild Surge.
For dining options, Jungla is offering two new restaurants. The old Vivi Restaurant will be completely refurbished and opened under the new name of Bengal Bistro. A new restaurant area is also planned called Orang Café. Also, stilt-walkers and costumed village animals will routinely be out and about on the village pathways providing entertainment.
As for an opening date, Dan Brown, Vice President and General Manager of Busch Gardens, stated that spring 2008 is the planned opening for the area. He also said that the original Congo area opened over 30 years ago, back in 1976, and a new animal friendly, family oriented area is a welcome addition. Young, mentioned earlier, said that Jungala is the result of over two years of careful planning between zoologists, engineers, and park planners.
The official announcement, which was also broadcast live online, was held in Gwazi Pavilion. The pavilion was elaborately decorated like a jungle, with tree branches along the ceiling, a river complete with fish, and a rocky “waterfall” behind the stage. Zoologists were standing in the seating area each holding a different species of animal, welcoming questions and some even allowed you to pet the animal.
Following the announcement, we were allowed access to a hard hat tour of the new area. My tour guide was Glenn Young and his excitement over Jungala was evident. One could tell that he is very eager to have the project completed so guests can begin to enjoy it and the animals can move into their new homes.
I feel that Jungala will add a new element to Busch Gardens Africa. This area will attract all different age groups who will find something new and interesting to explore or see. Being a coaster enthusiast, I was a little dismayed to hear that there are no plans at this time to incorporate a new coaster into this area, but being a theme park enthusiast, I am very interested to see how this all comes together and what the final project area will look like. The jungle village of Jungala seems to be a unique yet thrilling area that is unlike anything ever constructed at a theme park before.
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