"Floorless" SheiKra Raises the Bar on Thrills as the Bottom Drops Out On America's First Dive CoasterSheiKra's legendary 200-foot, 90-degree vertical dive takes on a different point of view with new, floorless cars
Tampa, FL (January 31, 2007) – Two years ago, Busch Gardens Africa introduced the world to a one-of-a-kind experience: 200 feet up, 90 degrees straight down. And that was just the beginning.
On June 16, the adventure park will reintroduce SheiKra to the world with a new twist: "floorless" cars that allow riders an unobstructed view of the 70 mph rush.
When SheiKra opened in May 2005, it signaled a new era in American roller coasters. As the nation's first dive coaster and only the third in the world, SheiKra raised the bar with first-of-a-kind elements like a true 90-degree drop, an Immelmann loop and a second vertical dive into an underground tunnel. Now, technology has raised that bar even higher, introducing SheiKra's fans to an even greater thrill.
Mechanically, SheiKra's track will remain unchanged, with its combination of drops, inversions and a water feature finale. Psychologically, though, the effect of the floorless cars will be intense: SheiKra's cars will continue to seat eight passengers across, three rows deep, but riders will no longer be able to brace themselves for Florida's No. 1 thrill ride against the floor of the car. With the front rail gone, passengers in the first row, especially, will be completely exposed as they come over the crest of SheiKra's signature 200-foot, 90-degree plunge.
Guests' last day to experience SheiKra in its current form will be Memorial Day, May 28. The following day, America's first dive coaster will close for approximately three weeks for the floorless conversion construction.
The coaster's existing seats and shoulder harnesses will be fitted into new chassis that support only the chairs above and the wheels below. Between each row of seats will be nothing but open air.
The bulk of the changes occur at the loading platform, where retractable floors and handrails will be installed. As each floorless car comes into the station, the floors will raise into position, filling the gaps between the rows so that passengers may board. A pivoting handrail will swing into place in front of the car to assist those boarding the first row.
"Through the years, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has set the standard for thrill rides, and I'm confident guests will agree that the park has raised the bar yet again with floorless SheiKra," said Dan Brown, executive vice president and general manager, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. "SheiKra's enhancement, along with its unprecedented ride features,really reinforce Busch Gardens' standing as Florida's foremost adventure destination."