Florida’s tallest launch roller coaster, Tigris, has made its grand debut, and it’s unlike anything Busch Gardens has ever seen before. That’s saying a lot about a theme park that excels in providing world-class coaster experiences, but it’s true that this newest offering is a real one-of-a-kind.
First, it has a launch take-off that barrels riders straight up a steep incline, but cars only reach the half way point before plummeting backwards through the boarding area and straight up an incline on the other side, like a tiger in attack mode who suddenly decides to make a hasty retreat.
At the half-way point on the backward incline, the ride vehicle slows down, then it shoots forward again with enough velocity to launch straight up the entire 150 feet of the first incline, and crest the top before doing a lazy inverted heartline roll (like a tight barrel roll), plunging into a massive corkscrew drop, then into a loop, then back up the first incline to the half-way point and finally, backwards into the loading station again.
So how does Tigris achieve these feats? Through a triple launch system, with the first launch catapulting riders out of the loading station, then launching them into the backward climb, then launching forward again using the added drop momentum of the backward incline to rocket cars back up the first hill and over the top into the heartline roll.
The ride is as breathtaking as it sounds, with serious air time throughout the entire heartline roll and a face-down view going into the corkscrew drop. It’s real seat-of-the-pants stuff, not for the faint of heart, but coaster aficionados are going to love it.
As dynamic as it is—and it IS dynamic, make no mistake about it!—Tigris is also one of the smoothest coasters you’ll ever ride. There is no brain rattling here, and no jarring stop-start during the launch sequences, just a silky glide along glassy track that makes this powerful tiger purr like a kitten.
The kitten does have claws, though. The obvious ride restrictions apply (no expectant mothers, no guests with high blood pressure, back or neck problems, diabetes, heart problems, sensitivity to strobes or any other health condition that may be aggravated by the ride), and the minimum height requirement is 54 inches (137cm). Not sure if you’ll be comfortable in the seats or using the shoulder restraints and lap bar? There’s a test seat out front you can try on for size.
As you wind your way through the queue you’ll come across signs with fascinating tiger facts to amuse you, and the final leg of the queue is covered, which is a big plus on a hot day. Once you reach the boarding area you’ll be asked to put any loose items into a bum bag, which you can wear during your ride. If you have larger items, such as backpacks or sunhats, paid-for lockers are available across the walkway, and you’ll be required to store those items as well.
Stewart Clark, Busch Gardens’ Park President, was on hand during our media preview, and he told us what the opening of Tigris means to the park. “Tigris really helps solidify our position as one of the world’s thrill ride leaders, and definitely Florida’s thrill ride leader. We’ve been around for sixty years. We’re celebrating this great birthday this year, and we always look for something to entertain everyone in the family, whether you’re a thrill ride lover [or] whether you’re really into animals and the zoological presence, we feel strongly we’ve got something for everyone here. Our mission is pretty simple: it’s to create those amazing memories you’ll carry with you the rest of your life.”
Andrew Schaffer, Director of Design and Engineering, knows all the nitty-gritty of the ride, and agrees it’s a fantastic addition to the park. He also dropped a little teaser into the mix. “This is our ninth roller coaster in Busch Gardens Tampa. This is another thrill attraction—the roller coaster we opened before was more of a family attraction—so now we’ve got a thrill ride back into our portfolio. The ninth one, and next year will be number ten.”
Tigris definitely changes the skyline in Busch Gardens, and one of the best spots in the park to get a photo of that wicked heartline roll is from the steps between SheikRa and the walkway leading to Lory Landing. It can be difficult getting good shots of the attraction from close-up, as there is a net in place to catch all those loose items people were convinced wouldn’t fall out of their pockets.
There is, of course, a gift shop next to the attraction, and you’ll find some cute and cuddly items you’ll likely want to take home with you. As an added bonus, 5% of all purchases in the Tigris gift shop go toward the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.
Cara Martel, Zoological Supervisor, emphasised Busch Gardens’ dedication to conservation and environmental considerations. “Wildlife conservation is an important initiative here in the park, no matter what it is we’re doing, whether it’s with our animals, with our camps, or even with our roller coasters. Tigris is our brand new addition to the park, and it represents not only tigers, but the predator experience you can really feel. From the little screech owls here in the park to our tigers, they all play an important role in our eco-system. So we support tiger conservation, we support wildlife habitats, and [we support] conservation education. All of those different categories play a very important role.”
As Busch Gardens takes care of animal welfare behind the scenes, its guests reap the benefits of world-class attractions themed for the animals the park is helping. And while this brand new ‘predator’ will make people scream, they’ll be screams of the very best kind!
Are you ready to take on the tiger? We’d love to hear your thoughts about the newest attraction at Busch Gardens, or any of Orlando’s theme parks, on Attraction Tickets Direct’s discussion forums!
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