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April 24, 2005

Busch Gardens Testing SheiKra In Preparation For May 21 Opening

Tampa, FL -- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has begun testing the park's new roller coaster SheiKra in preparation for its public debut on May 21.

Busch Gardens and the ride's designer Bolliger & Mabillard will test the ride for several weeks to ensure that everything is ready for the opening. The testing will ensure that everything on SheiKra is working properly and hopefully minimize the downtime after the roller coaster opens.

The park expects a large turnout for the opening of SheiKra and has begun marketing the ride across Florida.

SheiKra will be the first of its kind in the United States. This new "dive" coaster features a 200-foot vertical drop at 90 degrees, an Immelmann inversion, a second 138-foot vertical dive into an underground tunnel and a finale that includes a drop into a pond of water.

At 200 feet, SheiKra now takes the crown as Florida's tallest roller coaster. It is also the tallest dive coaster in the world and first to incorporate an inversion and second dive.

With more than half a mile of steel track, SheiKra offers a total ride time of just over three minutes.

A total of 24 passengers can ride SheiKra at once, seating eight across in three rows.

"With its adrenalin-pumping vertical drops, high speed, multiple coaster elements and overall experience, SheiKra is certain to fulfill thrill seekers' expectations and solidify Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's standing as the state's coaster king," said Dan Brown, executive vice president and general manager, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

The new SheiKra evokes the power and speed of an African hawk as it plunges, twists and turns, giving riders a bird's-eye view of adventure unlike any other.

The new roller coaster will serve as the centerpiece of Busch Gardens' newly themed Stanleyville area, which will also include shopping options and the new 500-seat, indoor/outdoor Zambia Smokehouse. The restaurant is situated on the SheiKra's perimeter, allowing guests to be a part of the action while dining.

SheiKra is a product of Swiss-enginnering firm Bolliger & Mabillard. The company has built 59 roller coasters around the world, including both Kumba and Montu at Busch Gardens.

According to Bolliger & Mabillard, there are only two other dive coasters in the world, one in Taiwan and the other in England.

Busch Gardens won't disclose the actual cost, but the park is estimated to have spent about $20 million.

Roller coaster designed by Bolliger & Mabillard generally cost between $6 million to $10 million. That is before the costs the park will incure to assemble and theme the ride.

SheiKra was designed at B&M's offices in Switzerland and the ride was built in Cincinnati.

According to B&M, it took six months to come up with the design for SheiKra. The entire project has taken about four years.

For more information, see Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and SheiKra.

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