For three solid years, coaster fans would dream and wonder what would become of Gwazi at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida. After it’s closure in 2015, it stood dormant for an extended period before any type of plan was released to the public. In early 2019, a limited amount of information was released putting the final nail in the coffin for the iconic dueling wooden coaster that fans had either loved or hated: Gwazi would be reborn as a new Rocky Mountain Construction I-Box coaster.
On September 12th, Busch Gardens released the remaining details of this new massive roller coaster slated to open in the Spring of 2020. Iron Gwazi will be themed upon the Slender Snouted Crocodile with unique purple I-Box track. Their new hybrid coaster will break height records in North America and stand at 206 feet. It will also break world records for being the fastest and steepest hybrid coaster. Iron Gwazi will reach speeds of 76 miles per hour and hold a beyond-vertical drop at 91 degrees.
During the announcement, Stewart Clark, President of Busch Gardens, described that Iron Gwazi is “the most power coaster in the park and will highlight one of the most powerful animals we have to showcase, the Crocodile.” He further explained that keeping the Gwazi name was important for the park, “We wanted to keep that name and pay tribute to it, but obviously, this ride is much more than Gwazi…this ride has evolved to become a top ride anywhere in the world.”
Iron Gwazi is much more than just a normal conversion of a standing wooden coaster. While touring the construction site, much of the original Gwazi structure has been completely dismantled and mostly all new supports were seen. Andrew Schaffer, Director of Design and Engineering for Busch Gardens, provided some insight on how much of the original Gwazi remained, “If you count the station and the footers, only about 20 to 25 percent of the original Gwazi will remain.” He later explained that every single footer from the original Gwazi will be reused, but many more footers had to be added due to the size of Iron Gwazi. Currently, there is only a single, small section of the wooden supports standing leftover from the iconic dueling coaster, mostly all the coaster will be brand new once completed.
Iron Gwazi is currently under construction at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida and is set to open to the public sometime in the Spring of 2020