Falcon's Fury to drop in Spring 2014 at Busch Gardens Tampa, as SeaWorld announces 50th anniversary celebrations

June 11, 2013, 8:44 AM · Busch Gardens Tampa this morning announced its new attraction for Spring 2014: Falcon's Fury, a 335-foot drop ride with a unique element -- you'll drop face-first, instead of in a traditional seated position.

Falcon's Fury
Concept art from Busch Gardens. And, no, falcons won't be flying around you as you drop.

The idea is that you're diving toward the Earth like a bird of prey. Here's a promotional video from the park, with more details about the ride:

In addition, Busch Gardens' sister parks over at SeaWorld today announced a "Sea of Surprises" promotion for the chain's 50th anniversary. (SeaWorld's original park, SeaWorld San Diego, opened in 1964.) The promotion starts in March 2014 and will run for 18 months, through the end of summer 2015.

From SeaWorld:

Starting March 21, 2014, we invite guests to join us as we celebrate with new interactive experiences, new shows and daily entertainment, more up-close animal encounters throughout the park, and a Surprise Squad treating guests with prizes every day.

The promotions will run at all three SeaWorld parks -- San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio.

Replies (20)

June 11, 2013 at 9:06 AM · so glad i'm going next year now Harry potter,dwarfs mine train and sea world's 50th celebration now this can't wait :)
June 11, 2013 at 8:50 AM · The rumors have been flying around for years on Screamscape. Now, I'm glad it's being built.
June 11, 2013 at 8:55 AM · Interesting concept,seems thrilling. But hope the company building it isn't the same that built the drop tower at BGW. That tower has had issues since day one.
June 11, 2013 at 9:25 AM · Oh man, I would ride the crap out of that.
June 11, 2013 at 9:40 AM · Falcon's Fury worries me a bit. Not only does it list a 60 MPH speed on a 335-foot high attraction (that height would sugesst an 80+ MPH freefall), but the sketches also seem to show a drop tower with a 24-person per-cycle capacity. That's extremely low for a ride that is likely to have a 3-5 minute cycle time.

Moser did really screw BGW with Mach Tower, but the ride is working really good this year (longer freefall) after nearly 2 years of mechanical issues. It's hard to tell from the sketches, but my guess would be that this will be an Intamin installation that is a modification of Acrophobia. Hopefully, whoever is manufacturing this ride learned a thing or two from the issues that Acrophibia sufferred through.

2014 is going to be quite a year in central Florida. I'm glad I'm waiting to take another big trip there until next year.

June 11, 2013 at 10:12 AM · We asked earlier with Jim Dean as to the number of riders at a time and were told 32. --Outpost Orlando
June 11, 2013 at 10:22 AM · Every year in central Florida is good. It's theme park & resort hotel heaven. We're going to do a long trip every 6 months starting this fall. One year is too long of a wait.
June 11, 2013 at 10:42 AM · I am not usually impressed with drop towers (since Tower of Terror set a standard that has never been met or surpassed) but this new twist on a tired theme really intrigues me.

I am with the rest of you, 2014 is going to be a great (and expensive) year for theme park travelers to Florida!

June 11, 2013 at 11:01 AM · How cool! Falcons will fly around us during the drop! And penguins will walk around us in the parking lot ;^)
June 11, 2013 at 12:20 PM · When I heard that BGT might get a drop tower, I was less than excited, especially since it would be shorter than Lex Luthor at Magic Mountain. But, like many others, I find that the new seating position definitely makes this sound exciting. Color me impressed.

Now, who can make a drop tower where you tilt 90 degrees and have your BACK face the ground?

June 11, 2013 at 12:41 PM · 2014- Harry Potter, Mine Train, Sea World celeabrating 50 years. now this....2014 will be a heck of a year!

I just went to Sea World Orlando and plan to do again next year. Same with BGT except I didnt go this year.

June 11, 2013 at 2:26 PM · Wow so the discussion that was going around came this will be awesome!
June 11, 2013 at 5:36 PM · Will there be a new exhibit with falcons in it right next to this ride?
June 11, 2013 at 6:50 PM · I hope this is an S&S ride. I remember them having a similar concept at IAAPA last year. Intimin and Moser seemed to have a lot of problems with their drop rides (Drop Zone, Mach Tower).
June 11, 2013 at 10:13 PM · Thankfully this is not an S&S product which are easy to figure out because of their tower construction design. This new drop tower is coming from the king of this type of ride- Intamin.

Russell- This is not an 80+ mph ride. You're making that assumption based on roller coasters. The tower height is 335-feet, but important information is missing like the height the carriage rises to and the elevation at which the brakes begin. The uncontrolled freefall descent will be well less than 300-feet. The stated 335-foot height includes the mechanical crow's nest at the top of the tower. Also, the carriage begins from a complete stop where most roller coasters begin their descent with some momentum from the lift.

Kings Dominion holds the descent record at 272-feet and the carriage reaches a maximum speed of 72 mph.

The freefall descent I suspect will be in the low 200-foot range and the speed will be close to 70 miles-per-hour. The uncontrolled descent is going to be less because of the position of the rider.

Based on the Gyro Drop stats the theoretical capacity of this ride should be approximately 603-780 pph. However, in operation I suspect they'll get about 375-425 pph.

June 12, 2013 at 8:31 AM · I don't care what this thing does. It replaced my favorite flat ride. I'm not happy about that.

How about we get a hyper or giga coaster at BGT in 2015?

June 12, 2013 at 9:38 AM · (going into this comment, just know I'm not a fan of Free Fall rides anyway)

Does Sheikra not do something similar enough to the only element offered really by this Free Fall to make it really worthwhile for them to do something else?

Busch Gardens is better looking and done than most of the thrill parks (Six Flags, Cedar Fair) in the country. But they are starting to miss out on items that families can do together just like those parks.... If you were a family of four.... mom and dad and two kids maybe age 10 and 12 (and maybe the 10 year old is not wanting to ride Sheikra etc. yet.... and even if the 12 year old is a thrill seeker.... maybe the parents are not that hardcore with the thrills)..... what rides do they have that all members of the family can ride together and have a memorable experience that does not separate them at the park? And how many of those are newer rides from the past ten years that would draw re-visits?

June 12, 2013 at 11:46 AM · There's no speculation about the speed, it says right in the video that it's 60 MPH, unless you think they're lying. That would mean that the brakes would start slowing the ride a little over halfway down the ride, which seems like quite a waste of the 335-foot height. Perhaps that's the intention, that it's supposed to be a controlled decent, and not a complete free fall, but to me, you don't build a 335-foot ride to only let it freefall for 150 feet.

I assumed an 80 MPH speed based on King's Dominion's Drop Tower, which as you correctly stated tops out at @72 MPH. If this is an Intamin, as it appears that it is from all accounts, there would be a reasonable expectation that the hardware at the top would be similar to that of KD's tower, meaning that BGT's drop would be @50 feet longer. That would indicate that the top speed would be 80+ MPH if the brakes were placed a proportional distance up the tower compared to KD's tower. That is obviously not the case if the park is indicating a 60 MPH top speed. If I were comparing to a roller coaster (with no brakes at the bottom), the theoretical top speed would probably approach 90-100 MPH. Griffon and Sheikra (@200 foot tall dive machines) both achieve top speeds of 70+ MPH from a standstill drop, which would extrapolate to nearly 100 MPH for a 300 foot straight-down drop, depending on terminal velocity of the equipment and rolling friction.

As far as a capacity, you can see it right in the drawing. There are 6 groups of 4 riders shown (one group is obscured behind the tower structure itself), which is 24 people per cycle. Even the most efficient load/unload cycle wouldn't be able to cycle faster than every 3-5 minutes, which means 288-480 people per hour---pretty pathetic for a park like Busch Gardens Tampa.

June 12, 2013 at 3:54 PM · The video is merely hype and doesn't provide real technical data. Furthermore, this would not be the first time that stats were incorrectly or vaguely stated in a promotional video announcing a new ride.

I have sought some addition information and was provided the following from an industry friend who is not an employee of Busch Gardens, but in the know.

Apparently, the ride vehicle will rise to a height of approximately 296 feet. The video actually states nearly 300-feet. The cycle time will be about 90 seconds. The top speed will be in the 60 mph range. The theoretical capacity is 550 pph.

Also, and this is speculation merely based on his expertise and my knowledge. He agrees with my thoughts that the brakes will begin earlier because the rider will not be in a seated position. I expect this riding position will also increase friction during descent which may in part explain the slower speed.

I don't think capacity is a big issue. The park is slow most of the year. It's a year-round park and attendance is only a little more than 4 million per year.

June 14, 2013 at 8:59 AM · "The video is merely hype and doesn't provide real technical data."

When a promotional video lists numbers, those are technical data. Also, when pre-vis sketches are presented in a presser, they typically hold pretty true to the final look of the attraction. When a park flashes 60 MPH on an attraction announcement promotion video, it's 99.99% likely that the top speed of the attraction will be 60 MPH give or take a few MPH.

I'm also not sure why you seem to think that the position of the riders will significantly change the wind resistance, and thus the top speed of the ride. Now, the position of the riders may alter the considerations the manufacturers have for how fast they want to allow the ride to fall, since the speed would proportionally affect the amount of force applied to the riders and restraints. If the restraints are only rated to 1000 psi, then slowing from 60 to zero over 150 feet may be the maximum amount of decelleration that can be applied with an appropriate safety factor (most likely 10 to 50).

My point is that BGT is building a 335-foot drop tower that's probably only going to have a 130-150 foot freefall and an exaggerated decelleration. Now, if that decelleration is gradual and maintains the 60 MPH for at least a 1/3 of the brake run, it may be cool. However, if you fall for 1 second and then hit the brakes and immediately decellerate to a crawl 50 feet or more from the bottom, it kinda eliminates the need to build something so tall.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Visitors guides

Weekly newsletter