Video: Hybrid roller coaster Iron Gwazi opens next month at Busch Gardens Tampa

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

How did Busch Gardens Tampa Bay partner with Rocky Mountain Construction, RMC, to design and open Iron Gwazi, a new hybrid roller coaster opening March 11? Busch Gardens invited Funworld to explore how the new ride came together.

See the video from IAAPA Funworld.

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Rick_UK's avatar

When are you thinking you'll get to Tampa for this, Jeff ?

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Jeff's avatar

I dunno. I can't express in words how much I hate that I-4 drive, even though I enjoy the park.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

So take the Orlando/Tampa shuttle. Let someone else drive.

But then again, what do I know?

Jeff's avatar

And add how much time in transportation?

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

I give up. How much time?

But then again, what do I know?

Jeff's avatar

More than I have time for because I'm ****ing busy and important.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

So let your Tesla drive for you while you play video games.

I'm unimportant enough to have taken a last minute PTO day today to head down to the second day of passholder previews.

It was my first trip to BGT in almost six years, and the park was definitely in better shape than it was then. Obviously the giant abandoned wooden coaster in the front center of the park is now the marquee attraction. And the placement of Tigris where the SBNO water ride had been located is great. There seemed to be quite a bit of fresh paint through the park and employees were Orlando friendly. Ride ops were the best I have ever seen at the park!

There are still plenty of random blocked off and permanently closed areas and former exhibits scatted throughout the park that take away from the overall atmosphere. The giant Lory Landing aviary is closed, and the relatively new Jungala is a mess of SBNO kids rides and paths. And for a park of its size I still find myself struggling to spend more than a few hours there without being ready to go. It didn't help that Montu and Sheikra are both down for extended refurbishments at the same time. (Montu is getting new paint, and the tan supports are now Six Flags Batman bright yellow). The flume was also down for refurb. The food selections were nowhere near as good as they once were. The old Festhaus is now just burgers and chicken fingers. The old Crown Colony House seemed to be the same.

As for the reason I bought a pass and made the trek - Iron Gwazi is fantastic. Naturally my first instinct is to compare it to Steel Vengeance. They are actually very different rides. Steel Vengeance is all about finding every possible way to give the best giggly "I'm going to eject you from this ride" airtime. Iron Gwazi has a very similar feel on the first drop and second hill. After that it's a speed ride. The insane and painful airtime is replaced with non stop speed turns and the stall out inversion that is waaaay faster than the similar element on Velociocoaster. And when you have a chance to catch your breath on Steel Vengeance before the second half as you level out on the midcourse, Iron Gwazi is already hitting the final brakes. I'm not sure how the two compare on ride time, but IG feels *way* shorter (but not in a bad way).

Having a one-two punch of Iron Gwazi and Cheetah Hunt will get me to trek down I-4 from time to time. It's not quite the same as the one-two punch of Steel Vengeance and Maverick. But it's the most excited I have been about living close enough to day trip BGT since I moved to FL. For once the biggest deterrent to going isn't the crappy operations and shoddy looking park, but rather the Champions Gate stretch of I-4.

Oh and one more thing. Falcons Fury still scares the s**t out of me.

Nice review Brett. Personally, I know just looking at them I will prefer Iron Gwazi, but that is simply because I don't care for SV primarily just because of the ending sequence which I absolutely can't stand. The fact that IG removes all that 'clutter' and finishes with stronger elements, I'm all for. Plus, a stall is the best element on RMC's so that's a +1 right there.

I was curious, so did that fancy little side-by-side to compare the ride time (at start of drop) between IG and SV. You were close on your estimate, IG finishes when SV is just about to enter back in the structure post-MCBR after that little S-hop dive.

I think what I like about Steel Vengeance is that I feel like it's as close as we have ever gotten to one of the legendary Harry Traver coasters. The first time I rode it in 2018 it genuinely took my breath away and was unlike anything I had ever ridden. While the finale definitely feels like it's there just to get the "total seconds of airtime" record, it's still one of two rides (the other being X2) that makes me genuinely go "what the **** just happened?"

That said, Iron Gwazi is much more friendly with rerides. It was a near walkon yesterday, and there was no slightly woozy "I need to take a break" feeling that can happen after a few rides on Steel Vengeance. And it barely hit 60 degrees in Tampa yesterday and that thing was hauling. I'm not even close to being ready for another swamp ass season, I can only imagine how that thing will run come April and May when the weather heats up.

On another note, it's the only new ride preview I have ever been to where there were already rust spots on the antirollbacks :P

delan's avatar

Jeff said:

I dunno. I can't express in words how much I hate that I-4 drive, even though I enjoy the park.

UGGGGGHHH. Its the unexplained clustrfk around Haines City that gets me every time. I don't know how a 1.5 hour drive can turn into 3.5 hours for no reason.

Schwarzkopf76's avatar

I've tried and tried to like RMC, but they're just not for me. I love getting tossed around a coaster car, but getting jerked like a rag-doll-in-a-dogs-mouth-while-being-superlocked-from-the-hips-down just isn't my thing (is this train moving too fast!?) But whatever, people seem to love them and they run well.

Personally, I loved Gwazi as it was. Rough for sure, but a great design from GCI with a couple twisting double-up, double-down sequences if I remember correctly. One thing I definitely enjoy about RMC coasters is watching them. Even though I don't care to ride more than a couple times, it's fun to watch people freak out. Iron Gwazi is quite the site, and great choice in colors too.

I hate the leg restraints on RMCs. They negatively affect my enjoyment of their coasters.

OG Gwazi was great in the beginning. It was smooth(ish), fast, and the dueling effect had some great visuals.

Then they stopped dueling the two sides and over the years the ride became unrideable in terms of roughness. The new trains didn't help, and then the park permanently decommissioned the Tiger side. It was obvious the Florida climate was not kind to the ride, and the park put in very little effort.

Raven-Phile's avatar

The RMC trains can feel completely restrictive, but man, I love their rides.

I'm convinced that if anyone were to be able to bring back the Crystal Beach Cyclone, it would be them, and it would be awesome. I really love the "smaller" ones. They pack one hell of a punch.

ApolloAndy's avatar

I love me a good RMC, but one thing I realize I miss from the Intamin hyper boom is the sense of speed. I thought repeated, intense air would be perfect, but S:RoS and MF still hold an important place in my top 10 because you spend some amount of time just going fast and not entering or coming out of some ridiculous outward banked flippy airtime thing.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Tommytheduck's avatar

Yup, and that's why, hundreds of rides later vs tens, I still prefer MF over Stephan. I also predict that I'll like Iron Gwazi over Steel Vengeance too, but for some reason I'm not allowed to say that here, heh heh.

Agreed 1000%. A ride like Millennium Force and many others I can ramble off are far more 'balanced' attractions and I'd take those over any RMC I've ridden (at this point includes Goliath, Vengeance, Joker, Storm Chaser, Twisted Colossus, Wicked Cyclone... Might be forgetting one more I can't recall). I'll be at Fiesta Texas in a few weeks and am literally kind of dreading my ride on Wonder Woman because it looks hella-uncomfortable and the entire thing looks like a big collection of what I dislike about RMC's, if I'm being honest. So we shall see...

I mean, I really like what RMC does in small doses. My favorite out of the bunch is the one people consider the 'weakest' (Goliath at SFGam) due to the large elements and doesn't include the abrupt, jackhammering airtime and crazy forces one after another.

I will be curious how Iron Gwazi and Iron Rattler compare, but I assume the same as the others. People gave B&M a hard time for following the same 'formula' for many years, but uh.... RMC does the same, just at an uncomfortable pace and throwing repetitive barrel rolls all over the place.

RMC has a new designer on board now, yes? (First ride being Aire Force One?). I will be curious if they improve the dynamics of the ride with the new installations...

Last edited by SteveWoA,

I would say don’t be afraid of that single-rail. We rode the one in California and from the ground it looked excruciating. But in the riding it was smooth, not jarring, and a ton of fun.
I like RMC’s, and I have 7 or so under my belt. However, I’d have to agree rides like Steel Vengeance can take their toll, especially in the re-rides. I think my favorite has to be Lightning Rod, but it’s intense as well.

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