Drop tower going up at Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens Tampa is building a 335-foot drop tower, Falcon’s Fury, scheduled to open next spring. The ride, inspired by the hunting dive of a falcon, will pivot riders 90 degrees in midair to a face-down dive position, then send them plummeting at 60 mph.
The ride is under construction in the Timbuktu area of the park. The Sandstorm ride was permanently closed to make room for it, and Busch Flyers, Desert Runners and Kiddie Train are temporarily closed.
SeaWorld Parks celebrating 50th anniversary
SeaWorld Parks next year will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first of its parks, in San Diego, which opened in March 1964. SeaWorld last week announced plans for the celebration, which will be at all three SeaWorld parks, in San Diego, Orlando (1973) and San Antonio (1988).
Highlights will include more surprise close-up encounters with animal ambassadors roaming the grounds, a “surprise squad” that will hand out prizes daily, and a display of giant sea life sculptures created from ocean debris. The 18-month celebration, called “Sea of Surprises,” will start March 21, 2014.
SeaWorld, Busch Gardens raise ticket prices
SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, sister parks that are part of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, have raised ticket prices. Universal and Disney parks also raised the price of admission in the last few weeks.
The SeaWorld increase to $92 for a one-day ticket is the third since July 2012, a total of 12 percent. The latest round applies only to one-day passes and “Fun Cards,” the promotional tickets that allow Florida and Georgia residents to pay for one day and gain admission for the year. Prices of multi-day, multi-park and annual passes will not change.
One-day tickets to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay increased from $85 to $89, a jump of 4.7 percent.
European airlines charging more fees
The era of passenger fees — charges for checked bags, seat upgrades and onboard food — began to take hold in the United States when airlines tried to offset their losses from surging fuel prices in 2008. Now, with Europe in the grip of the longest recession in decades, the trend of charging passengers for such extras is taking off with the full-service airlines across the pond.
Taken together, 53 of the world’s major airlines collected $27.1 billion in passenger fees and other charges in 2012, up 19 percent compared to 2011 by 50 airlines, according to a new report by IdeaWorks, an airline consulting firm. A bigger share of those fees are coming from major European airlines, which have struggled with Europe’s economic slump and stiff competition from low-cost airlines that have reaped hefty revenues from passenger fees for years.