Iron Gwazi, Busch Gardens’ latest high-profile coaster, officially opened at a special ceremony at the Tampa Bay theme park on Thursday night (March 10, 2022) with a flurry of fireworks and riders’ drop-hill screams that pierced the darkness.
The pyrotechnics were definitely a fitting curtain-raiser for this latest example of big-time ride thrills, as it is the world’s fastest and steepest hybrid (wood and steel combined) coaster, and it lives up to its reputation and then some.
Iron Gwazi has been more than three years in the making, with a year’s delay caused by the pandemic, but it will be worth the wait for coaster fans.
It was first announced on March 1, 2019, in conjunction with Rocky Mountain Construction, replacing the original “dueling” wooden coaster Gwazi, which featured two tracks for the Gwazi Lion and Gwazi Tiger.
That ride had closed on February 1, 2015, and its future remained largely a mystery until the 2019 announcement of a complete rebuild.
The newcomer has a top speed of 76mph, features a 91-degree initial drop from a high point of 206 feet, boasts 12 thrilling airtime moments and three inversions, and travels along more than 4,000 feet of track for a total ride time of just under two minutes.
And it is sure to be a huge draw for adrenaline junkies worldwide with its outrageously steep initial drop that feels like falling off the edge of the world, seriously fast pace that is genuinely breathtaking, and series of fast-turning maneuvers that provide all the airtime.
Speed is definitely the lasting impression of this hybrid colossus, as it whips along the track with major intent while still providing a completely smooth ride. Unlike its predecessor, there is none of the brain-scrambling rattling that the original was known for, thanks to the all-new steel track.
Iron Gwazi is also the ninth full-size coaster in the Africa-themed park, in addition to drop-tower ride Falcon’s Fury, two water rides, and children’s coaster Air Grover.
Find out more about Iron Gwazi at BuschGardens.com.