Take a ride on Florida’s tallest launch coaster
While people have been talking about hugely complicated and sophisticated theme park attractions like the Wizarding World of Happy Potter at Universal or Avatar- or Star Wars-themed lands at Disney World, Busch Gardens has quietly assembled the largest collection of roller coasters in Florida.
Friday, Busch Gardens will open its ninth coaster, a tiger-themed ride that runs backwards and forwards and turns upside down at 60 mph. At 150 feet tall and a top speed of 62 mph, Tigris is neither the fastest nor the highest coaster in Florida — or even at Busch Gardens — but its features are distinctive.
Tigris is a triple-launch roller coaster, meaning it shoots forward — or backward — with a sudden burst of speed three times.
The track forms kind of a sloppy rectangle with a big loop at one end. Its signature feature, called a heartline roll in coaster jargon, is the uneven track across the top of the rectangle. It twists like a ribbon so that the car rolls around it sideways while it’s racing forward.
It’s no kiddie coaster — it was designed to attract thrill seekers. Riders must be at least 54 inches tall. A strong stomach is suggested.
Tigris — which is located by the tiger habitat in Jungala — fits into a portfolio of coasters that range from Air Grover (24 feet high, 26 mph, no inversions) to SheiKra (200 feet high, 70 mph, one inversion). Next year, Busch Gardens will open its first hybrid roller coaster — steel rails built on the wooden foundation of its old Gwazi coaster — with a height exceeding 200 feet.
“We are proud of the legacy we’ve built as we have welcomed millions of thrill-seekers from around the world to the Tampa Bay area,” said Stewart Clark, president of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. “Tigris is the perfect addition to our unrivaled collection of adrenaline-pumping attractions.”