After being delayed nearly two years, Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has an official opening date.
Passholder previews will begin on February 13 ahead of the opening to the general public on March 11. Here’s the calendar explaining the rolling basis on which previews will open up to different levels of passholders:
“The incredible anticipation for Iron Gwazi is shared by both our guests and Ambassadors, and we are beyond excited to open this amazing coaster,” Busch Gardens Tampa Bay park president Neal Thurman said in a statement. “Iron Gwazi diversifies our thrill ride portfolio and is an impressive addition to the Tampa skyline. Combining classic elements of a wooden coaster with a smooth, steel track will provide thrill seekers with an unforgettable experience.”
The hybrid coaster — meaning a steel track on a wood support structure — was created by Rocky Mountain Construction, a beloved coaster manufacturer specializing in conversions of old wooden coasters into hybrids that allow for steeper drops, inversions and more intense airtime moments. Some of its more notable creations include Twisted Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point.
Iron Gwazi uses some of the structure from the Gwazi dueling wooden coaster which last operated in 2015. The new coaster is 206 feet tall with a 91-degree first drop, reaching top speeds of 76 miles per hour along its 4,075 feet of track, which also features two inversions.
The hype for Iron Gwazi has been sustained for longer than the SeaWorld chain initially intended. The coaster train was unveiled at the IAAPA Expo in 2019 and the coaster had begun testing just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down theme parks nationwide. At one point in 2020, Busch Gardens still owed RMC $3.5 million for the ride’s construction.
Even after releasing a point-of-view video of the coaster in November 2020 SeaWorld elected to delay opening Iron Gwazi (and all its other new-for-2020 coasters), first to 2021, and eventually to this year. The delays caused Iron Gwazi to have the unusual distinction of being named in Theme Park Tribune’s most-anticipated new attractions lists for three straight years.