Riding Sheikra - Busch Gardens

Florida Guide > Other Parks

The sun is shining and we are enjoying another barmy Floridian Day, heading west down Interstate 4 towards Tampa. The kids are looking forward to a day at Busch Gardens and their favorite roller coaster Sheikra. Since they have been tall enough to ride i. e. 4’ 6” this ride has been a clear winner.

At the park entrance we all head left and make our way to the Stanleyville section of the park eagerly anticipating arguably the best thrill ride in Florida. Sheikra was opened in May 2005 and is a floorless, steel, Dive coaster. Speeds reach 70mph during the 972-meter run and it pulls a brilliant 5 G at its most exhilarating. It was built at a cost of circa $13, 500, 000 and is worth every cent.

As you reach the ride entrance you are surrounded by the impressive ride structure. The individual coasters have three rows and when you enter the ride you can make your own choice. The front is definitely the best.

A gentle start as the coaster drifts round to start the climb up the 47 degree 200 feet hill climb. As the coaster gets higher the views over the whole park are superb. The open plains with many African animals are clear to see and the train track that circumnavigates the park stands out quite clearly. Then the coaster comes to a complete stop where it holds for about 4 seconds. On the front row you are tilting forward and all you can focus on is the 90-degree drop in front of you. The coaster then falls at up to 70 MPH and you are pulling the G’s and feel almost weightless as you drop towards the ground. At the last second you swoop round in to an Immelmann loop and climb back up to take the second drop. The second drop, to put it in perspective is almost identical to the Oblivion ride at Alton Towers, which falls at a mere 81-degrees. The ride almost complete now swoops round through a water brake/splashdown area that sends a flume of water over any unsuspecting observer on the ground.

Sheikra was the first vertical drop roller coaster in the United States and the first of it’s kind to include an inversion and a genuine 90-degree vertical drop. At the end of the ride we get the chance to buy either a ride video or a team photo but decide to give this a miss and race round to do the ride all over again. What a Buzz ! ! !

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