Record Falcon's Fury to launch Thursday in Busch Gardens

Special to the HeraldApril 28, 2014 

Busch Gardens engineer Mark Rose emphasizes the diversity Pantopia will bring to Busch Gardens. He shows the planned appearance and complex architecture of the new Pantopia restaurant. PHOTO PROVIDED

Busch Gardens will reveal its latest thrill ride, Falcon's Fury, and new section of the park, Pantopia, just in time for the summer.

With the latest addition in production for the past four years, promises have been made to make the new experience unlike any other.

Falcon's Fury will rise Thursday as North America's tallest free-standing drop tower.

Measuring 335 feet, Falcon's Fury will provide its riders a total of 6 seconds worth of free fall at 60 mph. The height of the ride is more than the peaks of other Busch Garden attractions Cheetah Hunt, Sheikra and Air Groover combined.

The Falcon's Fury cart seats 32 riders around the circular column, and the time before each drop is random so riders experience a different surprise each time they ride.

"This ride is the closest thing to skydiving one will experience without having to jump out of a plane," said

Busch Gardens engineer Jeff Hornick.

The ride is designed to imitate a falcon attacking its prey. Riders are pivoted 90 degrees straight down before descending toward the ground where footprints of the mighty bird's victims can be seen.

In order to produce such a thrilling ride, Busch Gardens officials worked with people from across the world. Engineers from Slovakia, Switzerland and Spain contributed in the design and construction process.

"This tower was actually designed to bend in the wind. You want it to move because you do not want it to snap. Since the steel is so thick and always in the sun, it is bending away from it," Hornick said.

Falcon's Fury is taking the place of Sand Storm in a new land in Busch Gardens called Pantopia, which will replace Timbuktu and offer everything from a place to grab a quick bite to eat and buy new merchandise, as well as a live animal theater.

"I always thought Timbuktu was one of our most perfect realms in terms of big shows and big rides, but this (Pantopia) is going to regenerate the park for another two decades," Engineer Mark Rose said.

The Pantopia realm is influenced by diversity found all over the world, blending different cultures into one area. Pantopia will have a mixture of vibrant and lively tones.

"There were a number of influences, adventures when we were discovering the world and the people that came from all over," Rose said.

For example, Painted Camel Bazaar will present items from across the world to customers, including Moroccan lamps and camel saddles.

The theater was completely reconstructed, and seating was elevated 8 feet to make sure each guest would be able to view the live animal show. The restaurant menu is being revamped and decorations will better suit the new sections theme, officials said.

Two students were able to see the construction process for Pantopia as well as Falcon's Fury.

Pantopia and Falcon's Fury were precisely planned and everyone that contributed to their creation is eager for the opening day and the future success.

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