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“Floorless” SheiKra Raises the Bar on Thrills as the Bottom Drops Out On America's First Dive Coaster

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June 15, 2007

Tampa, FL (June 15, 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 reintroduces SheiKra to the world with a new twist: “floorless” cars that allow riders an unobstructed view and a whole new level of adrenaline 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 remains unchanged, with its legendary combination of drops, inversions and a water feature finale. Psychologically, though, the effect of floorless cars is intense: SheiKra’s cars continue to seat eight passengers across, three rows deep, but riders are no longer be able to brace themselves against the floor of the car for Florida’s No. 1 thrill ride. 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.

During the three-week conversion process from original SheiKra to floorless, the coaster’s existing seats and shoulder harnesses were fitted into new chassis that support only the chairs above and the wheels below. Between each row of seats is nothing but open air.

The bulk of the changes occurred at the loading platform, where retractable floors and handrails have been installed. As each floorless car comes into the station, floor panels raise into position, filling the gaps between the rows so that passengers may board. A pivoting handrail swings 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 reinforces Busch Gardens’ standing as Florida’s foremost adventure destination.”

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