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Busch Gardens takes a flyer on new pendulum ride
Tallest and fastest “Screamin' Swing” to open soon at Tampa park
Ashley Carter, a digital journalist who covers Florida theme parks and attractions for Orlando’s Spectrum News 13, interviewed me and posted a lovely article about my career. Check it out!
To help build anticipation and drive attendance, parks often open their new attractions in the spring just ahead of the peak summer season. This year, however, a surprising number of parks have been debuting rides during the winter. (I’m looking at you, Disneyland, Legoland Florida, and Universal Studios Hollywood.) Let’s add one more park to the-heck-with-convention crowd: Busch Gardens Tampa has announced that Serengeti Flyer will open February 27.
Billed as “the world’s tallest and fastest ride of its kind,” it will send passengers soaring up to 135 feet at a top speed of 68 mph. That’s plenty tall and fast and should be wildly thrilling (not to mention loaded with rib-tickling airtime). But it won’t be the world’s tallest and fastest pendulum ride.
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Manufactured by S&S Worldwide, Serengeti Flyer will, in fact, set new records for what the ride vendor refers to as its “Screamin’ Swing” model. It will use an air launch system to catapult passengers back and forth and will quickly rev up until it hits its maximum height and speed. The Florida ride will include two arms and side-by-side ride vehicles, each with 20 seats for a total of 40 passengers. Guests will soar above the park’s animal-filled Serengeti Plain.
A number of other parks swing screamin’ riders, including sister property, Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Opened in 2019, its Finnegan’s Flyer tops out at 80 feet and 45 mph. The Giant Barn Swing at Silver Dollar City has similar stats.
While Serengeti Flyer will hold the record, perhaps the wackiest Screamin’ Swing is at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Colorado. Located on the top of a mountain (which visitors access by taking a gondola), its Giant Canyon Swing only accommodates four passengers, doesn’t quite hit 50 mph, and maxes out at 112 feet. However–and it’s a big however–the contraption is perched at the edge of a cliff and soars over a canyon some 1,300 feet above the Colorado River. Yowsa!
Other manufacturers build pendulum rides, and they can be found along many midways. Huss Park Attractions of Germany, for example, offers a Giant Frisbee. Up to 50 passengers sit facing outward on a circular platform that spins as it swings back and forth. Delirium, the Giant Frisbee at Kings Island in Ohio, ascends 137 feet and reaches 76 mph at its peak.
Still not big or fast enough for you? Giga Discovery models from the Italian-based company, Zamperla, are similar in look and feel to Huss’ Giant Frisbees, but they max out at a staggering 172 feet and 75 mph. Examples of the mega-bonkers attractions are Joker: Carnival of Chaos at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and CraZanity at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California.
Do you consider yourself an, ahem, swinger? What is your thrill tolerance? Do the stats for Serengeti Flyer make you want to visit Busch Gardens Tampa? Or go running in the opposite direction? Have you been on extreme rides such as CraZanity?