Pack your bags! In March, Tampa’s Busch Gardens theme park will introduce thrill seekers to the fastest, tallest, and steepest hybrid roller coaster in the world, Iron Gwazi. The ride, which is being built by Rocky Mountain Construction, will reach a height of 206 feet with a 91-degree drop, propelling riders to a top speed of 76 mph.
Previously, Zadra at Energylandia in Zator, Poland held the record for fastest hybrid roller coaster in the world with a 204-foot elevation, reaching speeds of 71 mph.
As a hybrid roller coaster, Iron Gwazi will be constructed out of a combination of steel (the track) and wood (the supporting structure). Rocky Mountain Construction is using some of the framework from the ride that previously occupied the space, Gwazi, a dual-track, wooden roller coaster that closed in February 2015 due to poor attendance.
The name Gwazi comes from a fabled creature that had the head of a tiger and the body of a lion. When the original Gwazi roller coaster was operating, the tiger represented one of the ride’s dual tracks, the lion the other. But with the introduction of Iron Gwazi, Busch Gardens executives decided to scrap the dual-track idea.
Construction on Iron Gwazi began in March 2019 with track work completed on March 8, 2020 and testing starting on March 9. The ride was scheduled to debut later that month, but the official opening was pushed due to COVID. It’s estimated that the roller coaster cost approximately $9 million to build.
In terms of thrills, Iron Gwazi hits its 91-degree drop within the first minute of the ride, followed by three inversions and a dozen airtime moments. The ride is a must-try for any roller coaster fanatics.