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Story of Pantopia revealed as construction continues for Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens

by Banks Lee

Falcon's Fury - Pantopia at Busch Gardens Tampa

Busch Gardens Tampa is well underway in bringing a new land to life. Pantopia will feature rides and attractions, new dining options, entertainment, shopping, a renovated indoor theater and more.

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Located in the heart of Busch Gardens, the centerpiece of Pantopia is Falcon’s Fury, North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower. The one-of-a-kind ride stands at 335 feet and takes riders soaring straight down. Like its bird of prey namesake, at the ride’s highest point, riders will pivot 90 degrees in midair to a face-down position. An instant later (in a various, random amount of seconds) they’ll plunge 60 mph straight down.

Here’s the tale of Pantopia, as told by Busch Gardens:

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Step Inside Pantopia

Pantopia at Busch Gardens Tampa 3

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Your arrival in Pantopia is through the Key Gate. In a time long forgotten, a strange and mystical Key Master dropped from the sky at this very spot. If you look carefully, you can still see the remnants of his hot air balloon. Once inside, the doors of Pantopia tell the history of the travelers that have come before and who are currently residing in this land. Travelers to Pantopia can explore these doors and learn the history of the residents.

As you make your way through the Transportation Plaza, its caretaker has created kinetic sculptures from the tuk tuks, trucks, planes, bikes and wagons other travelers have left behind. Discover Botanica nestled amongst Pantopia’s surroundings. This oasis of botanical sculptures captures the flowing patterns of animal feathers, fur and scales, representing all the elements of Busch Garden’s newest land.

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Finally, make your way to The Sitting Place, a modern-day watering hole where lights and lanterns line the trees that shade garden revelers looking to rest a while. Discovered by an Italian carpenter who specialized in carving woodland animals into unique chairs and stools, The Sitting Place was once an oasis where animals and humans gathered.

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The Treasures of Pantopia

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The Painted Camel Bazaar is run by a family of merchants and offers wandering travelers all the treasures of Pantopia. This marketplace houses a collection of colorful awnings and found objects, including apparel, souvenirs, jewelry, toys and plush items, not to mention some Falcon’s Fury merchandise. The original proprietor traveled alongside the shop’s signature monkey, creating an image that was captured for all posterity by a sculptor who once wandered through these crossroads.

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From frozen delights and exotic versions of fan favorites to an outdoor grill, dining options are found throughout Pantopia. Explorer Frosty Krystallos crashed his plane into an old shed a few years back. Satisfied with his new home, he simply rebuilt the shed as Lynx Frozen Treats, painting it with icy blues and whites. Now he crafts snow cones, smoothies and other treats for any hot, thirsty traveler who happens by.

Dining options continue with the Dragon Fire Grill. Inspired by the legends of the Komodo dragon, the Dragon Fire Grill showcases ribs, sausages and kabobs that tame the appetites of hungry travelers. Then, step inside the large dining area of Pantopia and sample some of Mama Marac’s most popular recipes, including baby back ribs or chicken fettuccini Alfredo. Wanderers will also find specialty salads, sandwiches, desserts and a complete kid’s menu.

PANTOPIA at Busch Gardens Tampa

The tale continues with Twisted Tails Pretzels. An artisan baker once came to the crossroads of Pantopia and never left. He adopted and cared for two lemurs that were often seen sitting back-to-back with their tails entwined. Inspired by the shape of the lemur’s tales, the baker started making the “pretzel.” Stop in for fresh-rolled pretzels and breads, featuring pretzel sandwiches, pizzas, pretzel dogs and an expanded assortment of craft beers, as well as other beverages and snacks.

The scent of fresh Kettle Corn will fill Pantopia daily. Be sure to explore this structure decorated with a mosaic of plates and bowls and topped by an assortment of sticks and shiny mirrors, silverware and coins. Drop in and enjoy a display station where kettle corn and other flavored popcorns are popped fresh daily. While you’re there, pick up other guest favorites like turkey legs, potato twisters or chicken strips, or quench your thirst with plenty of beverages.

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Take the Dive in Pantopia

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The centerpiece of Pantopia, Falcon’s Fury is the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America, standing at 335 feet. At the ride’s highest point there is an element of surprise. Like its bird of prey namesake, riders pivot 90 degrees in midair to a face-down dive position. An instant later they’ll plunge 60 mph straight down with speed and power like they’ve likely never experienced before.

After you feel the fury, the excitement continues as riders feel the “sting” of The Scorpion’s terrifying 60-foot drop and 360-degree loop. As long as anyone can remember, a band of salvage artists have made a yearly pilgrimage to Pantopia to add their findings to the scorpion sculpture that stretches across the entrance to its namesake coaster.

Fashioned from an old sailing ship by a retired captain with dreams of flight, the Phoenix soars through the sky with its red, shimmering wings spread wide. This giant pendulum of a ride swings and turns several full loops, creating speed changes, rocking motions and relative weightlessness for passengers.

Slow things down with the Grand Caravan Carousel. Courtesy of a Bedouin leader, guests to Pantopia will see layered tapestries and tenting as they whirl around and around on a festive caravan carousel.

Pantopia at Busch Gardens Tampa

Finally, the entire family can enjoy Opening Night Critters, a theatrical “tail” that features both domestic and exotic animals in the newly-renovated Pantopia Theater. A couple of stage hands find themselves in the spotlight as the human stars in an all-animal production. They quickly discover that working with these animals isn’t as easy as they had originally thought. Try as they might, they can’t get their costars to cooperate and when nearly all hope is lost, their kindness and compassion is rewarded when everything falls into place for a furry and feathered finale.

For more information on Pantopia and Falcon’s Fury, visit FalconsFury.com. Check out our Feb. 6, 2014 episode of Orlando Attractions Magazine: The Show below for a construction tour of Pantopia.

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