By Susan and Simon Veness
When Busch Gardens drops a big announcement, they really drop a big announcement! Ensuring they’ll live up to their title as ‘the thrill ride park,’ Busch Gardens is adding a true tower of terror with a new drop-style attraction, Falcon’s Fury. This beast will be visible from downtown Tampa, but the only thing riders will see is the ground.
Falcon’s Fury is the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America at 335 feet tall with a 300 foot drop and, while it starts on ground level, when riders reach the top of the tower their seats tilt a full 90-degrees before freefalling at 60mph for 5 heart-pounding seconds.
After making a dramatic sky-dive style entry, Busch Gardens’ President Jim Dean opened the announcement with a question: “Have you ever considered what it feels like to fly?” That was the inspiration for Falcon’s Fury, imitating the posture of a falcon as it goes in for the kill.
A short video brought message home: “Remember those dreams where you fall from the sky and fear grips your entire body? Get ready. That dream is about to become reality.” Imagine rising high above the park, accompanied by the wind and your rising heartbeat. “Up here,” the narrator assured us, “it’s pure silence.”
We spoke to Jim Dean after the presentation, who filled in some of the details. “This will be 32 passengers per ride,” he told us. “We are well under way already and very excited about it; it’s only going to add to our array of great rides. This will be like sky-diving, and it’s the only face-down drop tower in the world.”
Who came up with the idea? “It was a team effort,” he said. “We’re always looking to fulfill our guests’ expectations, and thrill rides are something we do really well. What could be more exciting than a face-down drop from 300 feet?”
How did they decide what the next attraction would be? “We certainly want to maintain our balance with our shows, animal habitats and our rides, and we felt a new ride was helping to keep that balance,” Dean said. “We always want to be a thrill-ride leader. We did have to talk to all the appropriate authorities to have a ride that is this tall.” And yes, there will be an aeroplane beacon on top. With a ride this intense, there will also be a height restriction of 54 inches.
So how high is 300 feet, exactly? One Busch Gardens representative told us, “If you take the highest drop hill on SheiKra and put Cheetah Hunt’s highest tower on top of it, then put Air Grover on top of that, you’re almost as tall as Falcon’s Fury.”
The ride certainly won’t be for everyone, but in keeping with Busch Gardens’ focus on providing exceptional spectator appeal (witness all the guests staring open-mouthed at SheiKra’s big drop and the Cheetah Hunt tower), we expect there will still be plenty for ‘non-flyers’ to enjoy.