Tigris should open very soon at Busch Gardens Tampa. The track is complete and cars have arrived. No doubt it won’t be long before test runs begin, first with sandbags, then dummies, then some brave engineers/employees and probably followed by a few sporadic and unannounced “soft” openings for guests. However, did you know that a virtual clone of Tigris already exists, in fact several of them?
Tigris was designed by Premier Rides and is a product they call the “Sky Rocket II”. There are currently 9 installations of the Sky Rocket II including Tigris including one at Busch Gardens Williamsburg called Tempesto which opened in 2015. The first Sky Rocket II to open ed in 2012 and was Superman Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. You can see a video of it below and it’s a bit eerie how it looks like Tigris given how the red and yellow look orange at speed. All 9 installations seem basically identical with the only differences being in color and the cars.
Now we’re not throwing stones at all for using an “off the shelf” design, far from it. Like a used car, it can be “new to me” and its relative lower cost can allow a park to introduce more attractions more frequently. The magic of a ride often isn’t in the specific technical ride elements, but in the theme. Busch Gardens can take a ride like the Sky Rocket II and “make it its own” by overlaying great story with how it relates to the movement of a tiger. According to the Busch Gardens Tampa website:
Tigris will race riders along more than 1,800 feet of steel track designed to mimic the awe-inspiring agility of the world’s largest and most powerful cat –the tiger.
Superman Ultimate Flight was reported to cost $6 million. Who knows if Busch Gardens Tampa paid slightly more or slightly less than that, but at least it’s a ballpark. This is a drop in the bucket compared to other roller coasters like Expedition Everest’s reported $100 million price tag and there are other attractions out there with up to $300 million price tags! An average steel coaster will probably set you back around $20 million, the more custom the more cost. An off the shelf ride may not be completely new/unique, but it’s probably going to have less reliability issues and be way cheaper/faster to build. As a Busch Gardens Tampa frequent guest would I rather have 4 Tigris-like rides than 1 new custom coaster? Absolutely. Would I rather have 16 Tigris-like rides than one Expedition Everest? Yep. Busch Gardens Tampa is getting a high quality new attraction in a fiscally responsible way while keeping their balance sheet healthy and ticket prices reasonable. This is a total win!
Here’s the most recent update video!