The king of hybrid coasters: Iron Gwazi roars to life in first rides

Thrill ride opens to public March 11

TAMPA, Fla. – It’s the roller coaster on every thrill-seeker’s bucket list this year, and for good reason, too.

Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers incredible heights, high-speed thrills and heart-pumping moments that you won’t find anywhere else in the Sunshine State.

Beginning March 11, riders will get the opportunity to fly along the purple track and experience the ultimate attraction.

On Wednesday, the theme park allowed a select number of media out to be among the first to experience the attraction.

[See on-ride video in media player above.]

The new ride is the tallest hybrid coaster in North America, and it is the world’s steepest and fastest. The coaster gets the hybrid title by having both wood and steel elements.

As guests slowly glide up a 206-foot-tall peak, they get incredible views of the theme park, and if they’re lucky, the Tampa skyline.

Before you know it, the coaster plunges into a 91-degree drop reaching top speeds of 76 mph. During the ride, guests experience a dozen airtime moments, including three inversions, as the crocodile-inspired coaster races along more than 4,075 feet of steel track.

Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (McReynolds)

Before there was Iron Gwazi, many coaster fans remember the wooden roller coaster called Gwazi, which opened in 1999 at the theme park.

Designed by Great Coasters International, Inc., Gwazi opened as the largest and fastest double wooden roller coaster, featuring 1.25 million feet of twisting lumber. For two decades, the roller coaster entertained guests before eventually closing for good in 2015.

Planning for the all-new Iron Gwazi began in 2018, the new coaster was manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction. The theme park said elements of the former Gwazi coaster are integrated into the new ride, including a reimagined track layout.

Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (McReynolds)

Iron Gwazi was originally scheduled to open in 2020 but faced a number of delays due to the pandemic. For more than a year it has been silent as fans waited for the official opening date.

Iron Gwazi will be the 10th roller coaster to join Busch Gardens’ lineup of highly rated roller coasters and thrill rides, including Tigris, Florida’s tallest inversion, SheiKra, a 200-foot, 90-degree drop coaster, and Montu, recognized as one of the top 10 coasters in the country. With a 48-inch height requirement, Iron Gwazi is sure to be an exciting attraction that thrill-seeking families can take on together.

Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (McReynolds)

Starting Feb. 13, Busch Gardens pass members can enjoy early access on Iron Gwazi with exclusive preview ride times.

Click here to learn more about the new ride.

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About the Author:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.