All aboard the 2020 Hype Train for Iron Gwazi

December 20, 2019, 5:29 PM · Florida long has been the theme park capital of the world... save for one very important part of the theme park industry.

Roller coasters.

Face it, when most people think of Florida theme parks, they typically think of life-sized cartoon characters, dark rides, parades, and nighttime spectacles. Ask people to name great places for roller coasters, and Florida all but disappears from the conversation, as the discussion turns to parks such as Cedar Point and Six Flags.

Can a Florida theme park stake a claim as a leading roller coaster destination, too? In 2020, Busch Gardens Tampa is gonna do its best to try.

Next on the list of our most anticipated attractions for the new year is Busch Gardens' Iron Gwazi, a Rocky Mountain Construction revamp of the former Gwazi dual coasters that just might be the best hybrid coaster experience yet.

Busch Gardens has not released a concept POV for the ride, but the stats alone impress. At 206 feet, Iron Gwazi not will only be the tallest hybrid roller coaster in North America, it will be the fastest and steepest hybrid coaster in the world, with a 91-degree drop and a top speed of 76 miles per hour. Not enough for you? Iron Gwazi will include three inversions and 12 airtime hills on 4,075 feet track.

At the recent IAAPA Expo in Orlando, RMC unveiled the trains for Iron Gwazi, and I spoke with founder Fred Grubb about this latest project.

The new year will bring another solid line-up of new coasters to fans across the country, including Candymonium at Hersheypark, Orion at Kings Island, and Pantheon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. But it's Iron Gwazi that has us most intrigued right now — not just for what might be the most amazing RMC experience yet, but for the audacious suggestion that a Florida theme park might just become home to the world's roller coaster king.

Busch Gardens Tampa tickets For discount tickets to Busch Gardens Tampa, visit our officially authorized Busch Gardens Tampa tickets page.

Previously on "All aboard the 2020 Hype Train":

Replies (6)

December 20, 2019 at 6:00 PM

Last row, please!

December 20, 2019 at 8:59 PM

Will it still has two separate tracks? Since the Gwazi name originates from a fabled creature with the head of a tiger and the body of a lion, I don’t understand the gator logo and imagery.

December 21, 2019 at 6:00 AM

No, just one track.

The structure looks really impressive in person. It dominates the front of the park. And oh, that first drop ...

December 21, 2019 at 2:29 PM

Without a full layout it's a bit hard to judge this one, but a vast majority of RMC's IBox coasters are considered top tier and I have no doubt Iron Gwazi will take the title of Florida's best coaster. I don't know that it will encourage more coaster enthusiasts to visit the state since similar rides can be found in most other regions of the country, but I do hope it convinces more visitors to add a day at Busch Gardens Tampa onto their Florida trip. I likely won't be back to Florida until 2022 or later, but this coaster is certainly one I'm looking forward to when that trip arrives.

December 24, 2019 at 8:39 AM

If I had a trip to Florida planned this summer, I'd be really excited, but the reality is that we probably won't be returning to BGT until 2021 or 2022. I've always thought the coaster collection at BGT was top notch, but it appeals far more to locals than it does to tourists, which is a shame. It also gets overshadowed by Sea World and it's trio of world class coasters that make the hour plus drive west to Tampa a tricky proposition for all but the most dedicated thrill seekers.

It's clear that they needed to do something with Gwazi, but I wonder if they will truly get bang for their buck with this record setting renovation.

December 24, 2019 at 11:55 AM

I think it was the Fall of 1999 when I first rode the dual track woodie, that was the original Gwazi. We moved to Orlando in 2002, and so started my 3 or 4 visits to BGT throughout the year. I would ride Gwazi less and less as I got older !! and the coaster became rougher. It became a bit like Scorpion is now, I ride it maybe once a year. When the Tiger side shut down, I don’t ever remember going on it again.

Although as strange as it seems we were all a little sad when Gwazi shut down for good, and became categorised as SBNO in the RCDB. It was hard to watch it slowly but surely fall into disrepair, especially the station buildings.

But then all the rumours we’d heard over the past few years came true. Gwazi was going to get the RMC treatment. Florida was actually going to have a world class, maybe even world beater, coaster. Let the celebrations begin.

I remember watching Mako being built, and now Ice Breaker, but hats off to the RMC crew for what they are doing to Gwazi. The transformation is incredible, and to say we are all excited for the opening is an understatement. Tigris was, Meh, but Gwazi has the pass member pages lit up and we are all ready to party when it officially opens. Seeing it earlier this month with the lift hill and first drop tracked and complete (plus the Christmas Tree :) … ) it’s still hard to believe Florida is going to be the home of a record breaking RMC. No doubt you’ve all seen the pictures with the new wooden structure and purple track, but trust me it does absolutely no justice to the ride itself. It’s a sight to behold in person, and yes as you can tell …. I’m excited. So much so, I may even stay in Florida for my theme park vacation in 2020. It’s my hopeful retirement year anyway, so I can't go too crazy. Although I’m sure I’ll find a few days spare to drive up to Carowinds … :)

Will Iron Gwazi knock Fury from my #1 spot ?? It’s great to think I’ll be riding both in 2020, so we shall see.

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