Virginia’s Busch Gardens Williamsburg is to open Mach Tower, a new tower ride for the 2011 season. Guest will find the twenty-four story tall drop ride in the German Oktoberfest section. The ride will begin with a spiraling lift to a lofty 240 feet above the park. At the top, riders will be treated to one of the best views in the theme park industry as Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been rated the World’s most beautiful theme park for 21 straight years by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. After a pause, the 30 riders will be sent plummeting at 60 mph back to the ground.
Mach Tower is part of a two year upgrade to the Oktoberfest section. The plans also include a new multiple-launch roller coaster that is scheduled to open in 2012. The coaster will be built on the former site of the Big Bad Wolf. Learn more about Mach Tower at Busch Gardens’ website.
Thousands were treated to Busch Gardens Tampa‘s new roller coaster Cheetah Hunt this past weekend. The new roller coaster is a lengthy 4,400 feet long and it boasts not one, but three separate launches. Cheetah Hunt speeds along the park’s African-themed back drop along the ground, above it, and also below it in a watery canyon. Like some of Busch Gardens Tampa’s other attractions, the ride incorporates its namesake in cheetah viewing area called Cheetah Run. It’s designed to give guests a close encounter with the cheetahs as they show off their legendary speed.
Some early reviews of Cheetah Hunt describe it as a fun family roller coaster that’s a step between the park’s smaller coasters like Scorpion and the park’s signature thrillers like Montu and SheiKra. If that’s an accurate depiction, then it’s likely a wise addition for Busch Gardens Tampa as they’re always competing with Orlando’s many family-oriented theme parks. Central Florida’s only going to get more competitive later this year when the new Legoland Florida opens. Cheetah Hunt was my most anticipated roller coaster opening in 2011 and these videos make me even more eager to get down to Florida. Learn more at CheetahHunt.com.
SeaWorld recently announced plans to build another Aquatica water park. More than just a traditional water park, SeaWorld San Antonio’s new Aquatica Texas will include thrilling water slides, serene rivers, a large sandy beach area, and animal encounters.
Among the new water rides, Stingray Rapids sounds the most interesting. The 5 seat raft ride is described as the only one of its kind in the World. It will feature twists and turns with an underground grotto and where guests will see with tropical fish and stingrays. Another stand out may be Wahalla Wave a family raft ride with a zero-gravity wall providing riders a roller coaster-like sense of weightlessness. Aquatica Texas is scheduled to open in May 2012.
Last month Boomers in Dania Beach, Florida closed their wooden roller coaster known as the Dania Beach Hurricane. The ride could be seen from Interstate 95 just south of Ft. Lauderdale. It could also be seen from the Ft. Lauderdale airport as I found out a few years ago. I thought I was seeing a mirage when I landed there for a connecting flight as I wasn’t aware of the coaster at the time.
While details around the ride’s closing have been scarce, a Sun Sentinel article points to the high cost of maintaining a wooden roller coaster in a warm humid climate. The article stated:
“The high cost of maintenance and insurance, plus low ridership as the ride became rough,” likely contributed to the Dania Beach coaster shutdown on April 26, Doppelt said. “I’d say they couldn’t afford to redo it.”
The company that owns the coaster has cited “business reasons” for the closure, but did not offer details.
When news first broke that the park had closed the Hurricane, enthusiasts hoped that another park would buy the ride. Now it appears that there’s a good chance that the area landmark may soon be no more. According to Screamscape, the Dania Beach Hurricane may be scheduled for demolition as soon as June. Meanwhile, roller coaster enthusiasts at ThemeParkReview and CoasterBuzz have shared their love for the ride. If it is demolished, it sounds like it will be missed.
There are a number of new tower rides debuting this year at amusement parks across the country. One of the tallest is Six Flags St. Louis’ SkyScreamer. At 234 feet tall, the ride lifts guests in chair swings some 23 stories above the park. Then at that lofty height, SkyScreamer spins riders at 43 mph. The ride should offer some great views if you’re brave enough to look down. Acrophobics should steer clear of this one.
A few days ago, SkyScreamer opened. Guests pointed to the ride’s similarity to the old school amusement park staple, known as the swing carousel or wave swinger. Of course SkyScreamer is about ten times taller than those rides.