TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay announced Thursday that the highly anticipated “Iron Gwazi” roller coaster will open March 11, using classic elements of its original “Gwazi” attraction.
But what was Gwazi before some of its parts were used to create the new, 206-foot-tall hybrid coaster?
The now-defunct dueling wooden coaster operated from the summer of 1999 to February 2015. It was named after a creature from mythology. A “gwazi” is a creature with the head of a tiger and a body of a lion.
The ride featured over 7,000 feet of combined track and reached speeds of 51 mph, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
According to ultimaterollercoster.com, the ride featured a 90-foot drop from 95-feet for a total ride time of two minutes and 30 seconds. There were six “near-miss” dueling passes along the track. The website estimates Gwazi cost $10 million to build.
With the closure of Gwazi, there are only three wooden roller coasters left in Florida, according to the Roller Coaster database. Those are “Coastersaurus” at Legoland,” White Lightning” at Orlando’s Fun Spot America location and “Mine Blower” at Fun Spot America in Kissimmee.
“While elements of Gwazi, the classic wooden coaster, are integrated into the new ride, all-new thrill components and a reimagined track layout take Iron Gwazi to another level,” Busch Gardens said in a press release.
Iron Gwazi will plunge riders from the 206-foot peak down a 91-degree drop, at top speeds of 76 mph.
Riders will experience a dozen airtime moments, including three inversions, along more than 4,000 feet of steel track.
While Iron Gwazi will open March 11, pass members will have access to ride the coaster on select dates beginning Feb. 11.