We are back with another Busch Gardens Tampa update! We have lots of news and photos for you, so let’s get started!
Falcon’s Fury & Pantopia Hard Hat Tour
MiceChat was invited by Busch Gardens for a behind the scenes look at Falcon’s Fury and the conversion of Timbuktu to Pantopia. The tour was led by three of the main engineers for the new ride and land makeover.
First up was Mark Rose, Busch Gardens Tampa’s VP of design and engineering.
Our first stop was outside the current Desert Grill restaurant, which will be transformed into the Feast Hall. We were told the menu will pretty much be the same as it is now (baby back ribs, pasta, sausages). Next door will be the all-new Dragon Fire Grill, which will be inspired by tales of the komodo dragon. The new eatery will feature ribs, sausages, and kebobs.
Next stop was the former Sultan’s Arcade, which will become another brand new food location, Twisted Tails Pretzels. The story behind Twisted Tails is an artisan baker once came to Pantopia and never left. He adopted a pair of lemurs, who were often seen sitting back-to-back with their tails twisted together (hence the name Twisted Tails). The location will serve hand-rolled pretzels, pretzel dogs, pretzel sandwiches, and pizza, as well as a variety of craft beers and other beverages.
Up next was the Timbuktu Theater, which will be renamed the Pantopia Theatre. As some may remember, the original Timbuktu Theater was host to a popular dolphin show for many years. In 2003, the theater was converted to a 4D theater. It is now being totally renovated again and will play host to a new critter show called “Opening Night Critters”. The premise of this new show is that a couple of stage hands haphazardly find themselves in the spotlight as the human stars in an all-animal production. They quickly discover that working with these animals isn’t as easy as they had originally thought. Try as they might, they cannot get their co-stars to cooperate. When nearly all hope is lost, their kindness and compassion are rewarded when everything falls into place for a fun-filled, furry and feathered finale.
Our final stop with Mark Rose was to announce another new food location. This one should prove quite popular…Kettle Corn!
The next portion of the tour was led by Brian Morrow, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s corporate director of theming. Brian explained some of the backstory of Pantopia as well as of some of the characters guests will encounter when they visit this new land. First off, what is the meaning of “Pantopia”? According to Brian Morrow, “It’s a mix of pan, the word for earth continent and utopia (the legendary ‘perfect place’). So it’s really a place of bliss and unification.”
Guests will arrive to Pantopia by passing though the Key Gate. Here, guests meet the mysterious Key Master, who dropped from the sky one day at that very spot. If you look close enough, you might spot the remnants of his hot air balloon!
Once through the Key Gate, guests encounter the legendary doors to Pantopia, which tell the rich history of travelers who have visited Pantopia (past and present). Guests will be encouraged to explore the doors and learn the history of Pantopia’s residents.
Guests will then make their way though the Transportation Plaza, where its caretaker has created a myriad of kinetic sculptures from all sorts of materials (trucks, planes, bicycles, tuk tuks, and wagons of other travelers who have passed through have left behind). Guests will also encounter Botanica (a lush oasis of botanical sculptures) and The Sitting Place (a modern-day watering hole).
The main shop in Pantopia will be the Painted Camel Bazaar, which is run by a fun-loving family of merchants. The marketplace will host a collection of merchandise including apparel, jewelry, toys, and of course, plenty of Falcon’s Fury themed merchandise.
The final portion of the tour was led by Jeff Hornick, Busch Gardens Tampa’s director of design and engineering. Jeff’s portion of the tour focused on the Falcon’s Fury ride. At 335 feet, this will be tallest free-standing drop tower in North America. For perspective, the SheikRa roller coaster is 200 feet tall. Add Cheetah Hunt’s 180 foot figure 8 tower on top of that and you’ll get an idea how massive this is! As mentioned in prior updates, Falcon’s Fury is turning the drop tower genre on its head. Once guests are hoisted up nearly 300 feet, their ride seats are then be rotated to a 90 degree angle looking straight down. But that’s not all…Jeff announced another trick up the sleeves of the designers. In addition to the rotating seats, guests will be held at the top of the tower anywhere from 1 to 5 seconds before they are sent plummeting back to earth. The drop sequence will be a completely randomized random program, so guests will never know how long they will be held up there.
Falcon’s Fury and Pantopia will have a late spring/earlySummer 2014 opening. Once Busch Gardens announces the official opening date, we will be sure to share it with you. We’re very excited about the new ride and everything Pantopia will have to offer.
February Pass Member Deal
During the month of February, Pass Members can enjoy 2 entrees and 2 desserts for $20 at the Desert Grill, Zagora Café, Crown Colony Café (the downstairs portion) and Bengal Bistro restaurants. No pre-registration is required – all you need to do is show your pass at check out to receive the savings.
Motor City Groove
A new show recently started at the Desert Grill called Motor City Groove and serves as a tribute to that great Motown sound many have come to cherish over the years. The show features six main singers (3 male, 3 female), dancers and a live band. Guests hear songs by artists ranging from The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, The Jackson 5, The Temptations, and more! This is a great show that is not to be missed!
New Tram Wraps
The parking lot trams have been receiving new wraps, which looks great! The new wraps are bright, colorful, and make the trams look brand new again!
Around The Park
Finally, let’s wrap things up with some photos around this beautiful park that is just an hour from Orlando.
Thank you for reading. We certainly appreciate your kind support of our Busch Gardens articles.