Theme Park Insider readers offer their ratings and reviews for SheiKra, a roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa. (The minimum height to ride is 54 inches.)
Written by Justin Kermgard
Prior to SheiKra, there were only two B&M Diving Machines in operation: Oblivion at Alton Towers in England (which opened March 1998) and the G5 in Taiwan (which opened March 2000). Both coasters featured drops that neared 90 degrees, at heights of about 180 feet and speeds of roughly 68 miles per hour.
Naturally, Busch Gardens wanted to top that. SheiKra would stand at a Florida record coaster height of 200 feet, reach speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour, and boast a maximum vertical angle of 90 degrees.
But BGT wanted to really one-up the competition. So they added a second drop, 138 feet tall at 81 degrees, plummeting underground before taking a banked turn into a splashdown area in a nod to the water theme of Stanleyville.
The advertising campaign says it all: 200 feet up. 90 degrees straight down.
SheiKra's coaster trains are a different design than your standard coaster. Each train has only three rows, but span eight seats across, carrying 24 passengers per train. There are five trains on the coaster and two can be loaded at once. This design increases guest capacity, reportedly accommodating approximately 1,500 guests an hour, barring technical difficulties.
The top of the lift hill grants guests a spectacular view of landmarks including downtown Tampa, Adventure Island and the USF campus before rolling right over the edge and pausing. The train holds for 5 nerve-testing seconds before being released down the vertical drop, zooming along the ground and back up into an Immelman inversion.
Coasting over the break hill, the train barely pauses for the second drop, which takes guests through part of the African jungle ruins, under the splashdown area and over the Zambia Smokehouse.
The underside of the last row of each coaster is outfitted with special pipes. These pipes launch the water in the splashdown up into the air and onto the heads of guests waiting near SheiKra and the Stanleyville train station. Although guests on the ground may get drenched, riders will walk off nearly completely dry. In the winter BGT takes off the round tubes and puts on square tubes so the splash effect is still there but the people below it dont get quite as wet. And if you get there at special times the tunnel and the surrounding area is filled with mist.
If that wasn't enough, now following the success of Griffon at Busch Gardens Europe, the cars have now been made floorless to add even more thrills to this incredible ride!!!
Having been on more roller coasters than I can count, this ride, while short, contains the best drop I have ever experienced on a coaster (X2 is right behind). The straight-down drop combined with the pause at the top creates great suspense, and you're in the back row you really get hurled over the drop and pulled out of your seat. 9/10! - Nick McKaig
Great ride, an absolute must do if you visit busch gardens. - Robert Chandler
Quite simply Sheikra is the best coaster in the state of Florida. - William Clark
I went during the early entry for HalloScream. It was amazing. My one brother & I sat in the front row, my other brother (who hates heights) sat in the back row. When it finished we were allowed to stay seated & go again. What a rush! - Annette Hatch
The only bad things about the ride is that it feels really short, and its 'unique tiered system' insists that the front row isn't anything special, but the ride is FAR more intense in the front. Has one of the best loading capacities I've seen on a coaster due to how many seats it has, and when they run all the trains the line remains alarmingly short. Even on a busy day, we practically walked on all three times we rode (front, center and back rows). - Eric Malone
I love roller coasters, but I almost chickened out on this one... Glad I didn't! It's amazing! 9/10 - Bryce McGibeny
I'm usually not intimidated by roller coasters but this ride got to me. The anticipation of the ride got my adrenaline going really strong...the ride is all about the first drop but holy cow...it's awesome!!! - Mickey Black
Epic! The air-time you get is terrific! - Ben Goldby
I LOVE this ride. The drop is suspensful and great. I can never figure out if I like the dangling sensation in the front or the being whipped over the edge in the back seat better. Either way I alway end up riding this one over and over again. THUMBS UP BG!!! - brian newsome
What a drop ! In fact the only draw back is that once you have passed the drop there's not much left. But being seated at the side of the train in front row and being left there hanging with nothing below your feet is quite an experience ! - Stéphane Gamondes
If you ride this ride in the front it's awosome but if you don't ride the front then it's nothing great - Giovanny Cruz
On our recent visit to Florida this was the only coaster that I had any trepidation about riding. The butterflies in my stomach were doing barrel rolls while we were in the queue. Looking up the lift hill was huge. Once on the ride I was not disappointed; anticipation built up on the lift hill and was multiplied when hanging over the first drop. The drop was fantastic and the rest of the ride superb, the only downside was that it didn't go on longer. Don't miss it, it's awesome!!! - Peter Coulton
This is a great coaster. Take the extra time to get a seat in the front. Hanging over the first drop is absolutely terrifying. Physically and psychologically thrilling. I only wish they would have made it longer and added more elements. It almost seems wrong to waste that much kinetic energy at the end. - Tim Hillman
Perfect coaster, amazing drop. 10/10 - D H
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