Busch Gardens - SheiKra

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Busch Gardens - SheiKra

Well, this was the first trip to Florida without either of our two boys, and the sole purpose of the trip was to set up our new vacation home from scratch. We had nine days in which to fully furnish the place and sort out the snagging list on a new property. We had organised for deliveries and alarm fitting, connection for phone and cable TV, pool heater etc for most of the days we were in Florida, and had lots of shopping trips arranged, but we had managed to leave our only Sunday free.

We had purchased an annual ticket to Busch Gardens the previous year and it was due to run out before our next trip to Florida with the boys. I am the only one of the family who loves roller coasters and is tall enough to try them all (Joshua, 7 years old, is following in my footsteps, but is not yet tall enough to go on the big ones). The new ride in Busch Gardens – SheiKra – was not finished on our previous trip and I was desperate to try it out.

So we agreed that, despite the snagging list growing daily, deliveries not turning up when planned, and appointments cancelled at the last minute, Sunday morning would be our time to ‘chill out’ and spend some time in Busch Gardens.

SheiKra is officially Florida’s tallest roller coaster and the world’s tallest dive coaster and has two 90 degree vertical drops – one from 200 feet and the second a mere 138 feet drop! Travelling at 70mph, the ride lasts just over 3 minutes and you have to be 54 inches tall to ride.

Sunday turned out to be perfect, weather-wise. Sunny, clear skies, but with a bit of a breeze to keep us from overheating. We arrived just after opening time, caught the tram for the quick journey from the car park to the entrance, a couple of minutes to get through the turnstiles and security, and we were in!

As we headed straight for SheiKra, we had to pass by Gwazi, the wooden roller coaster that looks like a breath of wind will blow it down, so I had to have a quick go on it (it was as good as I remembered from previously). Then on to Stanleyville area, where SheiKra is situated.

As we strolled through the area looking for the entrance, we passed by SheiKra’s underground tunnel and water feature and nearly got totally drenched – we heard a rumble and noticed everyone in our path running away, then suddenly caught on that we were probably not in the right place. We had moved just in time as a huge wave of water rose from the riders’ path and splashed to the ground, soaking any hapless person who did not move quick enough.

I found the entrance and left my other half outside, soaking up the sun. I had been told that the front row was the best, so joined the small queue waiting for the front seats. After waiting just a couple of minutes my wait was over. The climb to the top of the ride built the tension nicely, then at the top the front row dips over the edge – and stops dead. At that moment I really started wondering about the sanity of trying these rides! The view is fabulous from the top, but perched on the edge, looking down and anticipating the drop was both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Then – we dropped – and the feeling was truly awesome, and there was still more to come. We twisted, looped and turned along the track, dropped down another (smaller) vertical section and finally splashed through the water, in and out of the underground tunnel and finally came to a stop. I can honestly say it was the best ride on a coaster I have ever tried.

As I walked back to meet Stuart (my legs were trembling a bit) we passed by the photo screens and saw a photo of me with my hair literally standing on end (you can even buy the video of your actual ride). Checking that Stuart was still OK (he was) I joined the small queue again to check out the ride from one of the rear seats (for comparison purposes you understand). This time the initial drop was not as terrifying, as the seats further back do not hang over the edge before dropping, but it was still a great experience.

We spent another hour or so enjoying Busch Gardens, then headed back to our new home (stopping on the way to purchase some side tables, greenery and a couple of table lamps) to continue with the setting up.

It was a welcome break and SheiKra is a truly awesome ride, and well worth a visit to Busch to try!

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