My take on SheiKra at BGT

Associated parks:
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Saturday, May 21, 2005 5:17 PM
The ride looks way more impressive in person than it does in any photos I have seen. But oddly enough, at the same time it looks shorter than it is since the B&M dive machine track is so wide. The seating is extremely comfortable and to me the seats seem a little larger and more reclined than typical B&M seats. All of the rows are raised enough off of the floor to make you feel like you are on a floorless coaster. The back row is the oddest of all 3 – you are so high above the track and so far from the second row that you feel on your own and separated from the other rows. The only downside to being so high off the track is that it almost makes the ride seem slower than it really is. We rode Montu later that day and it seemed to be twice as fast as Sheikra felt.

The climb up the lift is a short climb and definitely comfortable since you are pretty much on your back because the seats are so reclined. The chain is also very loud and you can definitely feel the vibrations in the middle seats. Once at the top and off of the chain, everything suddenly gets eerily quiet. You also get a very impressive view of downtown Tampa and everything surrounding the park, and at this point you definitely know you’re higher than anything else in the area.

The turnaround at the top is not a slow one at all. Before you know it, you’re advancing through the blocks and to the holding brake/chain. It’s definitely weird seeing the Immelman loop so close to you. The front row creeps over the drop to face almost straight down, while the second row has less of a vertical view, and the back row is almost facing straight out at the horizon. Suddenly, the chain lets loose (it almost feels like it propels the car forward) and you fly down the first vertical drop. My first ride was in the front row, and it got my stomach way more than I thought it would. You definitely get massive floating air time the entire way down, and it almost reminded me of X’s first drop minus the flipping of course. Actually, SheiKra’s first drop is right up there in my book with X, Raging Bull, and Millennium Force.

As it got later in the day, there was a big problem with bees all swarming around the top of the first drop. As you held there on the holding brake, there were literally dozens of bees swarming all around your legs and face. It was almost like Fear Factor – being locked into a seat hanging 200 feet in the air looking straight down as a swarm of bees is let loose! I told a friend about it and he said Kraken at Sea World had that problem a lot, since apparently the humming of the motor attracted the bees. Makes sense since all of the bees were swarming around the holding brake and that motor’s buzz/hum can be heard pretty well from the ground. Anyway, back to the coaster…

Climbing high into the Immelman, once at the top there is a whole ton of “floating air time.” Wow was this element designed perfectly; you float flawlessly through the entire element. In certain seats, if you leave yourself a little bit of room between your chest and the restraint, you can float between the seat and the restraint for at least 3-4 seconds while the train rotates through the inversion – definitely one of the best inversions on a coaster, ever. Coming out of the Immelman, it definitely looks like you can hit the block brakes, especially on the right side of the train. The turn up to the block brakes is a lot more intense than it looks. Arriving at the block brakes, depending on if the train has had time to warm up and if there is a full load, you can almost get a slight moment of air time on the left side of the train, but it isn’t anything significant.

Here is where you are first slowed down by magnetic brakes and then eventually by regular friction brakes. Man, those B&M magnetic brakes are FLAWLESS. It is almost exciting to slow down on them. Unfortunately, the block brakes stop the train completely, and even keep you stopped at a stand still for about a second. Totally ruins the pacing of the ride. I have no problem with them braking the train to almost 0mph, but a dead stop for over a second seems a little ridiculous. At least you get a second to enjoy the view, especially in the front row.

Then the brakes let go and before you know it, you get ejected into your restraint as you fly down the second vertical drop and into the building ruins. Unfortunately they had the lights on in the tunnel when we rode. Even without the lights on, a lot of light gets into the tunnel since the building ruins have a lot of holes and the tunnel itself is not that long. It would be really awesome if they filled the tunnel and the building ruins with mist so you couldn’t see down into it – and perhaps they will do that, but on media day that wasn’t the case.

The next turn over the restaurant isn’t all that exciting, and then you swoop down to the water splashdown. The splashdown is not exciting at all when you’re sitting on the train. There isn’t a substantial slow-down of the train as it hits the water, and you don’t get wet at all unless you’re in the last row. I think it depends on how much water is in the pond – at the beginning of the day we got a little spray, in the middle of the day we got almost nothing, but at the end of the day they must have refilled the pond because no matter where you sat in the back row, your legs got wet.

Finally, up a hill and into a not-so-exciting downward helix, and to the brakes. Once again, there is a long stretch of magnetic brakes that is almost exciting since it slows the train down gently and flawlessly.

Overall, the best word to describe SheiKra is flawless (at least as far as how it is engineered). Everything is butter smooth on the ride. The two drops are WAY better than I expected them to be, and definitely kick butt in the back row. And the Immelman is also great. Unfortunately, the splashdown does almost nothing to add to the excitement of the ride (unless you’re a spectator) and the ending helix is pretty uneventful, which lead me to feel like the ride lacks a punch at the end. The train loses momentum really fast, so I am not sure that there is really anything else that it could do, but even a little hop up into the brakes would have completed the ride more. Either way, it was definitely awesome and better than I expected it to be - sure to bring in record numbers for BGT. *** Edited 5/21/2005 9:19:23 PM UTC by Badnitrus***

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Saturday, May 21, 2005 7:45 PM
Glad to hear, Keith. I actually think that the splashdown was more for themeing, than for the on ride experience. Regardless, Gator better get me to SheiKra when I'm down there this fall.
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Saturday, May 21, 2005 10:07 PM
Sounds like an awesome ride! The best part about it is that we finally have a B&M dive in the U.S.

I need to make a stop at BGT sometime...

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Monday, May 23, 2005 1:21 AM
Keith,

Nice TR. That pretty much sums up with what thought of the ride as well. While I only got in two rides, I thought it was enough to really get a nice feel for what the ride does. SheiKra is the smoothest coaster I have ever ridden. No contest. The drops also surprised the hell out of me. Both of my rides were taken in the back row and I actually had a moment of fear come over me as we were waiting to drop.

It was cool hanging out with you at Universal today. See you in a few weeks.

-Sean

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