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Sunday, Oct 22, 2017
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Busch Gardens working on something really big

TAMPA - Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is building something big - perhaps a roller coaster or a ride with a coaster element - but it isn't ready to dish details just yet. That didn't stop visitors from speculating online over the weekend. They posted photos of a construction barrier and shared speculation about what could be under construction behind it. Last month, a visitor posted a YouTube construction video that paints a pretty strong case that something is up. Tampa construction permits also indicate a new coaster may be in the theme park's future.
The online consensus is that the theme park is ready to build a coaster. It would be the first coaster for the park since SheiKra opened in 2005. Spokeswoman Jill Revelle said the park has no announcements, but she acknowledged the new construction barriers. She wouldn't say why, but said there would likely be a news release in the fall. Documents filed with the city of Tampa's Construction Services Center offered a bit more detail. The department's Dave Jennings said Busch Gardens completed support pads for a coaster in October. He said it was for a second floor for a new coaster ride. "They haven't applied for a permit for the coaster itself, only for the outlying building areas and loading zones for one," Jennings said. The theme park applied a year ago, to construct four buildings near an old sky ride loading platform maintenance area, he said. When Busch Gardens added new rides in the past, it usually unveils smaller animal attractions or entertainment elements in the years following a major ride's debut. Since SheiKra opened, the theme park added the interactive animal exhibit Jungala in 2008 and Sesame Street Safari of Fun, a preschool entertainment area that opened this year.

Reporter Shannon Behnken can be reached at (813) 259-7804.

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