As we approached Busch Gardens Tampa for the behind-the-walls construction tour of the upcoming Iron Gwazi, we couldn’t help but notice the newly-formed, intimidating lift hill in the sky, seemingly dwarfing the neighboring Sheikra. The skyline at Busch Gardens has certainly changed for the better. Iron Gwazi, which is set to open Spring 2020, is easily one of the most anticipated attractions of the year – not only in Central Florida but nationwide; and the team at Busch Gardens is fully aware of the hype.
Manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC), Iron Gwazi will be North America’s tallest hybrid coaster and the fastest and steepest hybrid coaster in the world; reaching 206 feet tall, featuring a 91-degree drop and reach top speeds of 76 mph. The journey will include 3 inversions and 12 airtime moments as it races along more than 4,075 feet of purple steel track, and features RMC’s patented I-Box Track technology.
Andrew Schaffer, Director of Design and Engineering at Busch Gardens Tampa and Project Manager for Iron Gwazi, had nothing but praise for RMC, stating how easy it has been to work for them. In comparison to other coaster manufacturers – RMC designs, engineers, and installs the track. If there is a piece of the track that isn’t correctly made or isn’t fitting as anticipated, RMC quickly resolves the issue and has a replacement track to go within hours.
Schaffer states that Gwazi’s dual-track has almost been like a blessing in disguise for Iron Gwazi’s re-tracking, allowing them to combine elements from both tracks to create one, new exciting linear experience.
Even though Iron Gwazi was finally announced in early 2019, the coaster has been in development for over 3 years before settling on the eventual RMC re-track. Park president Stewart Clark joked that it was tough to always walk by Gwazi after it closed in 2015 and not have a plan for it.
“Nothing was off the table”, said Schaffer, teasing they even considered a complete demolition.
Creative teams did their research and visited parks across the U.S. to ride other RMC coasters, including Steel Vengeance and Twisted Colossus, and tried to bring a “Best-of” collection to the experience of Iron Gwazi.
The coaster is still on track for its Spring 2020 opening, but no official opening date has been set. The team seems pretty excited about Iron Gwazi and is giddy for it to open, and rightfully so. The coaster looks ready to deliver a kind of thrill that Florida hasn’t experienced.