Busch Gardens Tampa gets a Sky Rocket for 2019

September 12, 2018, 11:42 AM · The SeaWorld theme park chain announced its third installation of a Premier Rides Sky Rocket II roller coaster, with Tigris coming to Busch Gardens Tampa in 2019.

The ride will be Florida's tallest launch coaster when it opens next spring. It follows this year's debut of Electric Eel at SeaWorld San Diego and 2015's installation of Tempesto at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

The Sky Rocket features three launches — two forward and one backward — reaching a top speed of 62 mph on a 150-foot tall circuit. The top of the loop features a heartline roll that seems glacially slow compared with the launches, providing a thrilling inversion with what should be an impressive park view...

Assuming, of course, that you keep your eyes open while hanging upside down 150 feet in the air.

Here's my on-ride video from Electric Eel, followed by Russell Meyer's on Tempesto, if you'd like an idea of what a ride on Tigris will be like:

As you probably guessed from the ride's name, it will have a tiger theme, as Busch Gardens Tampa explained in its press release.

The Tigris queue will include educational content about the plight of tigers in the wild and what conservationists – including the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund – are doing to help save them. In addition, the purchase of any merchandise in the Tigris gift shop will help make a difference, with 5% of the sales price donated to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund to protect tigers and their habitat.

In addition, the park teased that it will build another thrill ride for 2020, in the Gwazi area of the park. Anyone want to take a guess on what that will be? ;^)

Replies (12)

September 12, 2018 at 12:12 PM

The Sky Rocket II installations are far enough apart for this to make sense but having ridden two, I can't get all that excited about riding a third. However, it will be interesting to see whether this one operates with OTS restraints like Tempesto and Electric Eel or with a lap bar like Phobia Phear at Lake Compounce (the lap bar made Phobia Phear more enjoyable than Tempesto).

September 12, 2018 at 12:43 PM

I'm guessing that this will also have the "comfort collars" since it's the same park chain installing this as Tempesto and Electric Eel.

Obviously the big news here is the hint at an RMC overhaul for Gwazi. The fact that they're dropping hints now suggests to me that RMC trucks and equipment will be showing up very soon. The big question will be whether they maintain the dueling experience or if they go with the moebius layout they used on Twisted Colossus.

September 12, 2018 at 1:13 PM

A backward launch, rolls, inversions, hanging upside down..... what's wrong with a gentle boat ride through an idyllic array of fauna? I am going to have to tell Mrs Plum and the Little Plums I will sit on a bench and watch the bags.

Regarding Gwazi's replacement, can we have a gentle boat ride through an idyllic array of fauna please?

September 12, 2018 at 2:14 PM

BGT has a very nice gentle train ride through the Serengeti Plain as well as a slow-moving sky ride over some of the same animal habitats.

There's always Na'Vi River Journey and its screen-projected and animatronic creatures, assuming you don't mind standing in line for over an hour for a 3-minute boat ride.

September 12, 2018 at 2:12 PM

Good calls Russell. Thank you!

September 12, 2018 at 4:46 PM

Its crazy to think in the past few years Central Florida has gotten a B&M Hyper, a 300 foot tall face down Intamin drop tower, a GCI, a Gravity Group, and now a Skyrocket and RMC. Oh and those little Avatar, Star Wars, Guardians, and Potter additions.

There is no question about it Florida is the silicon valley of theme parks and the gap is getting even wider. This is great news for the state, there is no other place that can offer the huge breadth of attractions that little pocket of the country has to offer.

September 13, 2018 at 4:05 AM

While these rides are fun for what they are, I'll never agree that they're a good fit for a major park like BGT. Capacity is just too low and the ride is a bit too small to attract guests, especially when placed next to a giant B&M. Unlike BGW and SWSD where these made a little sense, it's an especially perplexing ride at BGT since they've already got Cheetah Hunt (for launches), Cobra's Curse (for backwards action), and several B&Ms (for tall inversions). Why here instead of SWO or SWSA where the ride would fill a missing spot in the lineup?

I am however extremely curious to see what RMC is able to do with Gwazi. In my opinion, SFDK's Joker is one of their less exciting creations, but if they keep the dueling aspect intact I could easily see RMC Gwazi becoming a top coaster. I probably will hold off until 2021/2022 before making a return trip to Florida just to catch as much new stuff as possible, but hopefully these new additions will encourage vacationers to go outside the Disney/Universal bubble and check out Florida's best non-Universal theme park.

September 12, 2018 at 5:30 PM

/\ My guess is they got a good deal on the ride for buying three. Plus its important for them to get a new coaster next year to try and have some sort of marketing to get some of the millions of people visiting for Star Wars Land.

Its a shame they couldn't get it together for Gwazi to open next year as that probably would've drawn a lot more people who are coming for Star Wars.

September 12, 2018 at 6:26 PM

My hope is that the giga rumored to be going into BGT will end up at SWO in 2021/2022. With KI seemingly getting a B&M 300+ for 2020 it makes sense for them not to build 2 in the same year ... maybe ??
As for Gwazi ... as I mentioned in another post my concern is for the integrity of that wooden structure after being burned and baked in the FL sun ever since the old ride shut down. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been treated for many a year, but RMC must be confident they can do something worthwhile so we will wait and see.
I still rue the day 4 or 5 years ago when the application to build a pure roller coaster park at the top of I-drive (back of Tangelo Park) was turned down because the TP residents claimed it would be too noisy. Bummer. And Skyplex also seems to have drifted into obscurity.
Any coaster in Florida is a great addition in my books. If Tigris opens before the summer rush I’ll give it a try. If it follows the same path as IF then it will be this time next year before I ride it.

September 13, 2018 at 5:36 AM

18 riders per 55 second ride cycle. Even with insanely fast ops, this thing will struggle to put 500 people through in an hour. And we all know there will be enough problems in loading/unloading that they won't hit 60 second dispatches on a regular basis. 90-120 min wait for a 55 second ride … ouch.

September 13, 2018 at 7:27 AM

@jeremygary - I thought the same thing about Tempesto, and if you look at my original review from media day, that's my one big complaint about the coaster in addition to the trains being quite tricky to get in and out of due to the "comfort collar" and the tight rows because Premier upped the capacity from their original model. However, BGW has had pretty good success running Tempesto at a decent capacity with lines that rarely extend beyond 30-40 minutes 3 years after its debut. I do think they could do even better by having a single rider line, but that's a minor complaint.

@AJ - I agree, if you view Tigris as a roller coaster. I took the same approach and had the same opinion regarding Tempesto, but after visiting BGW dozens of times since it debuted, my stance has changed. While Tigris will be a roller coaster in ride type, the way it operates and the way guests should perceive it is as a big flat ride. The capacity and operation will be very similar to Falcon's Fury or other popular and high demand flat rides around the country. If you view Tigris as a flat ride, and not a roller coaster, it changes the perspective and expectations for the attraction. If you ignore the fact that Tigris will be included at RCDB, it will probably be one of the best flat rides in the park.

September 13, 2018 at 11:06 AM

It's certainly true from my experience that BGW has been running Tempesto with maximum efficiency. However, one must take into account the fact that Tempesto is next door to Apollo's Chariot, a much more popular ride. On my last visit 2 years ago there was a long queue for AC whereas it took me less than 10 minutes to get on Tempesto. I agree with AJ, however, that Tigris would be a better fit for a different SW park. The park that would benefit the most is SWSA.

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