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Let's walk through Busch Gardens' Pantopia for a Falcon's Fury construction update

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Published: February 5, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Falcon's Fury, the towering behemoth in the middle of Busch Gardens Tampa's soon-to-be opened Pantopia promises to be a massive thrill ride.

Wednesday morning, officials from the theme park led a media tour through the construction areas of the land, formerly known as Timbuktu. While the mythos created around the new area was impressive, as were the dining and shopping plans, the giant, 335-foot yellow and blue tower dominated the landscape and the conversation.

Falcon's Fury, under construction

Although the ride vehicle was not yet installed, the attraction will feature an octagonal structure, with each side consisting of four seats for a total of 32 riders. The vehicle will be whisked skyward, and each passenger will be approximately 300 feet off the ground - the equivalent of a full-length NFL field. Once the vehicle reaches its maximum altitude, the seats will shift forward, leaving the riders staring straight down at the ground - similar to the ride experience of Manta at SeaWorld Orlando. A random clock will keep the passengers suspended for several seconds before the vehicle is released in a free fall with speeds reaching 60 miles per hour and lasting approximately five-six seconds. As the brakes engage, the vehicle will shift back to a normal seating alignment to cause a whopping 3.5 Gs.

"This is the nation's tallest free-standing drop tower," said Jeff Hornick, Busch Gardens Tampa's director of design and engineering and project manager for the Falcon's Fury and the Pantopia land renovation. "That's 335-feet tall. Now, to put that in perspective, look out in the background there, and we've got SheiKra. SheiKra is 200-feet tall and the add the Cheetah Hunt wind catcher tower on top of that. That's 102 feet tall. Then on top of that you put the Air Grover roller coaster. This is taller than all of those combined. So anybody that's been on SheiKra before, you know you get some great views and vistas. This one is going to kick it up a notch."

Falcon's Fury will be the signature ride of Pantopia. Many of the former structures that comprised Timbuktu will remain in place, although a drastic color-themed make over is underway. Bright, vibrant colors will differentiate distinct areas within Pantopia, from the blues of a frozen snack stand to the fire-tinged reds of an outdoor grill.

Pantopia
Concept art from Busch Gardens of the new "Pantopia" land that will be the home to Falcon's Fury, and replace Timbuktu

Each location within Pantopia will have a story associated with it, from the pretzel bakery to the tile adorning the walls. The newly created mythology will be available for guests to purchase and read to make subsequent visits to the land a deeper experience. From the newly designed canopy for the carousel to the keys and jewels that will adorn the walls to the new animal show in Pantopia's theater, guests will be treated to an exotic adventure that park executives hope will live up to the name Pantopia.

"We looked at a bunch of different names, and we knew what this place was about," said Brian Morrow, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment's corporate director of theming. "We knew the story of the land, and we came up with Pantopia which is a mix of Pan - the word for earth and the continents - and Utopia. So it's really a place of bliss and unification."

Pantopia and Falcon's Fury are expected to open in late spring or early summer.

Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on February 5, 2014 at 8:52 PM
Let's welcome Bob to the front page of Theme Park Insider! Thank you for that update, Bob.
From Duncan Henny on February 6, 2014 at 12:24 AM
Great article Bob
From David Brown on February 6, 2014 at 3:29 AM
Pantopia - Pandora...

Strange to have two new lands with such similar names!

From Nick McKaig on February 6, 2014 at 6:45 AM
I think it is really great that Busch Gardens Tampa is finally making updates to this part of the park. Timbuktu has always been very drab with a lot of desert colors (sand) and not a lot of anything else. It's time for this part of the park to get some much-needed attention, and also to get a strong centerpiece like Falcon's Fury to bring people to this part of the park.

This has always been one of the more dispensable experiences that could be skipped on a busy day, but not now with this awesome ride!

From Tracy Bates on February 6, 2014 at 11:36 AM
I still think Timbuktu was a far better name for a section of the park than Pantopia.

I guess they can't trademark Timbuktu, though.

From James Rao on February 6, 2014 at 1:33 PM
Falcon's Fury looks to be a really interesting take on the drop tower. Personally I think the Tower of Terror obsoleted these kinds of attractions, but this version breathes new life into an obsolete concept. I am really looking forward to this attraction and am seriously considering adding BGT to the itinerary for my next Florida trip (2015? 2016?). It looks like an excellent park.

Thanks for sharing, Bob.

From 98.162.245.45 on February 6, 2014 at 5:11 PM
James - if you've never been to Busch Gardens Tampa, by all means go on your next Florida trip. For one, it's only a hour away from Orlando. Reason number two- Outside of Universal, they have four of the best roller coasters in Florida if not the upper tier of coasters in the U.S. I hear they have animals there too, but I've never seen them.
From James Rao on February 7, 2014 at 4:01 AM
I spent a few years living in Virginia and I frequented BGW quite a bit. So whenever I have vacationed in Florida I never felt compelled to make the extra arrangements for BGT. We'll see if I can make it happen on my next visit.

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