It's all downhill from here, literally.
Construction workers have installed the tallest piece of Griffon at Busch Gardens Europe. Track pieces number eight and nine (out of 91) of the roller coaster sit about 200 feet above the ground. It took two cranes to lift the 74-thousand pound piece into place and a pair of construction workers to tighten the bolts.
"Installing the highest piece of track is a significant achievement, and it's everything we've envisioned," said Larry Giles, the vice president of design and engineering for Busch Gardens Europe and Water Country USA. "It's a milestone. From blueprint to reality."
Griffon will be the world's first floorless dive coaster. It features a 90-degree, 205 foot drop right at its beginning and a pair of Immelman loops over the rest of the three-minute ride. Riders will reach a top speed of 75 mph and splash through a water break. Griffon was named after the mythical beast said to have the heart of a lion and the soul of an eagle. Riders may need both to withstand the fist-clenching thrills.
Construction workers also placed an evergreen tree at the coaster's highpoint to highlight the event. "Topping off" is a construction site tradition meant to celebrate the highest or last piece of construction. "The evergreen is part of an age old tradition, and it's a sense of pride for us," said Giles.
Giles also is proud of the view from the ground. The top of Griffon and its tree are both easily seen from the roadways near the park. "Now that Griffon is visible from the roadways, we think its position and color scheme are both great additions to the Busch Gardens Europe landscape," he said.
Crews broke ground on the Griffon project back in July. Griffon will likely open to the public in the late spring.