Sheikra is one of the best rides I have ridden at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay. It was one of the first vertical roller coasters to be built in North America. As you know the other one is “Goliath” at Six Flags in Georgia as the second tallest in the southeast. This is most probably another one of my favorite rides! The only problem I found with the Goliath was that you don’t feel safe and secure inside the train, reason being they only have lap bars, Where as the Sheikra has an overhead locking bar. The ride opened in May 2005 and it was converted to a floorless roller coaster two years later, on June 16th, 2007. If you have ever wondered why it was called the Sheikra, well then it got its name from the Asian African hawk that is known to dive straight down for its prey!
I remember every minute of my awesome trip to Busch Gardens and I especially remember this ride very well! After riders leave the station, they ascent a 47-degree 200-foot lift hill. The train then makes a U-turn and approaches the holding brake, which suspends the train for about 3–5 seconds on the precipice of the sheer 90-degree drop before releasing it to tumble down and into an immelmann loop. After the Immelmann, the train takes an upward turn into the mid-course brake run before the next drop, which is at 81 degrees. The train then navigates a wide turnaround and swoops down into a water brake-splashdown area before heading up through a final helix into the brake run.
It was Bolliger and Mabillard’s first vertical drop they ever made in the United States and the first roller coaster with a true 90 degree vertical drop! This was only made possible using special spring loaded wheels to ensure the trains stable fixture to the track during its plummet down the vertical drop. It is also the first vertical drop ride to have an inversion, which is the immelmann loop.
When Sheikra opened on June 15th, 2007, the park invited many media outlets and special VIP’s to the opening event, mostly lucky radio winners who were allowed to be the first to ride the coaster. Not only did they get to ride it first but there was a special party thrown for the media and VIP’s to welcome the new version of the ride to Busch Gardens!
The day after on June 16th, the ride opened to the public at 9am. Within the hour the queue line was full, causing ride employees to set up a temporary queue out of the barricades outside the main queue line.
Believe me, the ride is that good and definitely worth the trip!
Current Coaster Name: SheiKra Current Park Name: Busch Gardens Tampa Previous Ride Name(s): N/A Location: Tampa Bay, Florida Status: Operating Links: http://buschgardens.com/bgt/ Cost: $13,500,000
Type: Steel Dive Machine Opened: May 21, 2005 Designer: Bolliger & Mabillard Features: 1 Underground Tunnel, Floorless Trains, Vertical Drop Height: 200 feet Max Drop: 200 ft Max Speed: 70 mph (110 km/h) Length: 3,188 ft Acceleration: N/A Inversions: 1 Duration: 3.00 Trains: N/A Capacity: N/A