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Photo Update: Timbuktu transforming into Pantopia at Busch Gardens Tampa

by Banks Lee

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By Kirstin Wright

The first week in February brought about new details for Busch Gardens’ new land, Pantopia. I was anxious to get over to the park to check out Timbuktu’s transformation.

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Taking a cue from other Orlando-area parks, Busch Gardens now has a suitcase full of park maps in Portuguese and Spanish.

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I usually grab a map to begin every visit to the park, but this was the first time I noticed the placeholder for Falcon’s Fury in the middle of Timbuktu. I’m not sure how long it’s been there, but the promotion for the ride has definitey amped up.

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Another example of this promotion is seen in the window of one of the gift shops near the front of the park.

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Visitors have been able to see Falcon’s Fury from all around the park for awhile, but this was my first time seeing the ride at its towering 335 feet. It’s been fun to watch this attraction grow, and the transformation of Timbuktu into Pantopia will be interesting to watch as well, especially given the storyline details that have been revealed recently about the new land.

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The vibrant colors are the first thing you’ll notice about this new land. The archway into Timbuktu has been painted with fiery oranges, reds and yellows.

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The construction walls block the majority of the purple and blue buildings that are adjacent to the new ride, but you can see the lively atmosphere that will become Pantopia.

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On the other side of Timbuktu, a couple of workers were painting the top of the new carousel covering.

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The Timbuktu Theater also has some new splashes of color. This will be the home of the new Opening Night Critters show. This show will replace the current show that features various animals, Critter Castaways.

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Because Critter Castaways will be closing sometime this month, I decided that I should check out the show one last time. It’s never been a favorite of mine, but the animals (many of which are dogs and cats) are enjoyable to watch. I’m looking forward to seeing how this show will be changed for its move to Pantopia.

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Don’t forget that Busch Gardens’ Bands, Brew and BBQ festival is taking place now through March 9. Even if you’re not interested in the music or food, take a stroll through Gwazi Park. It’s always fun to see the coasters from a vantage point available only a few times a year.

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More Falcon’s Fury promotion is found opposite the stage. A clever photo-op allows visitors to “hold-up” the tower in Pisa fashion. The entire wall behind that area is covered in a Falcon’s Fury banner that lists some of the park’s other ride heights and how they compare to Falcon’s Fury. Seeing this horizontally as the real structure looms in the distance is interesting… and terrifying.

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KWrightPicSince her first trip to Walt Disney World when she was just two months old, Kirstin has been hooked on visiting theme parks all around Central Florida. She enjoys writing and photographing every aspect of the parks; the rides, the food and the shows. She can be reached at [email protected].

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