>>>SheiKra Construction Diary

The First Word

  It was February 2004. Robert Viands, a member of the coaster community, wrote an e-mail to Busch Gardens asking if they were going to add a new attraction any time soon. An employee of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay responded, "Once more we want to thank you for contacting us. I spoke with our General Manager, and he informed me to enlighten you with some good news. You are going to be an extremely happy guest by 2005. The magnitude of this project in Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is definitely a first for roller coasters aficionados." A few days later, a news article appeared on MSNBC giving details about a dive machine. It said that the ride would be in Stanleyville, have an inversion, and feature a water splash. However, in the article, Busch Gardens denies any truth to the rumor.

  In March, we here at BGTGuide posted an interview with a Busch Gardens manager (we still can't post his real name) involved in this rumored new roller coaster in Stanleyville. He confirmed that a dive machine was being built and a new restaurant was being built. He also mentioned that the train tracks in Stanleyville would have to be moved.

 
 

Why are the tracks gone?

  Confirmation of a new roller coaster for the Stanleyville section of the park picked up speed when the park diverted the Serengeti Express away from Stanleyville. Removal of the tracks also began. At this point, it definitely looked like the rumors were true, but no one could quite be sure until a huge new development came up.

Photographs: Train Tracks 1, Train Tracks 2, Train Tracks 3

 
  Thank You Public Records!*

  The day was April 26th, 2004. On that day, a man named Josh Caudill, posted on the Florida Thrills Forums the following information:

"(1)Permit Information
Desc: Construct “FND” for Coaster HS7B
FCC:P 921 Foundation / Slab Value $400,000.00 Footage: 6,000 #Bldgs: 1

(2)Permit Information
Desc: Construct 2-STY Coaster Bldg. (Bldg#20) HS7B
FCC:P 800 Unclass CML BDG Value $703,870.50 Footage: 15,137
#Bldgs: 1

(3)Permit Information
Desc: Construct 1 STY Restaurant Bldg (Bldg #10) HS7B
FCC:P 800 Unclass CML Bldg Value $671,692.50 Footage: 14,445 #Bldgs: 1

(4)Permit Information
Desc: Construct addition to Gift shop (Bldg #30) HS7B
FCC:P 808 Comml Addn Value $41,325.00 Footage: 870"

This information was a summary of the building permits for a new coaster, it's station, a new restaurant, and a gift shop. Later that day, we here at BGTGuide posted the actual permits. What a joyous day it was. We finally had actual confirmation that a new coaster was going to be built in Stanleyville. Widespread speculation began about what the actual ride was going to be. Most believed it was going to be a dive machine, but what would it be like? What elements would it contain? Speculation would go on for months. We also found out officially about the new Stanleyville Smokehouse to be built in the same area as the roller coaster.

Permit Images

 
 

 
  The Land Clears

  In late April/early May, the first land clearing in Stanleyville began. A path was laid around the perimeter of the construction site, which was then surrounded by a construction wall. Any buildings within the perimeter were demolished and many trees were removed. Still no word from Busch Gardens, but everyone was just happy to know a new coaster was being built. Many people thought that it was going to be a diving machine, but they also believed that it was going to be a one trick pony, and hence were also hoping for something different.

Photographs: April/May

 
  "Concrete" Construction

  In June and July, most of the land clearing had ended and concrete pouring began. Foundation work, pipe laying, and the pouring of some footers for the coaster and new Smokehouse. Also during July, the first recognition from Busch Gardens about the new coaster appeared in the form of Tiki mask hints. They offered valuable information, such as the coaster is going to be tall, fast, be based on a bird, and that it was going to be red and blue.

The Tiki Mask Hints


 
  Digging A Hole

  During August, construction really picked up. Supplies and construction materials for the roller coaster and Smokehouse began to arrive in massive loads. On the construction side, a large trench, most likely a tunnel for the roller coaster, went into the ground. Numerous other footers littered the site in preparation for the Smokehouse to rise. Finally, in September, vertical construction began on the new Stanleyville Smokehouse. It progressed rapidly through September and October with most of the outer brick work being completed.

Photographs: August 1, August, 2, September, October 1, October 2

 
  It's Big and Red and Blue*

  One day, on a field close to Adventure Island, large pieces of red and blue steel began to arrive. Red? Bright red. The official color is actually flame red. Now, everything but the name and ride layout was known to the public. How did we know what the ride actually was? The track for Bolliger and Mabillard dive machines is wider than the track for their other roller coasters, such as Montu or Kumba. Also, the transport track had two wheels, just like the two other dive machines in the world.

Track Photos: Update 1, Update 2, Update 3

 
  SheiKra is Born*

  Wednesday, October 27th, 2004 is the day when SheiKra, an African hawk, was announced to the world. We finally knew what the ride was going to do and boy were most people shocked. SheiKra was to climb two hundred feet into the sky, drop two hundred feet straight down, go through a massive Immelman inversion, navigate a carousel turn, hit a block brake, have a second vertical drop at one hundred thirty-eight feet through a stone tower and an underground tunnel, followed by a turnaround into a water splash before the ride stopped at the brakes. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay had definitely gotten the attention of every roller coaster fan in the world. One element the park did eliminate was a in-line twist after the turnaround and before the water splash. How crazy would that have been? The countdown to May had begun.

Media Day Photos: Part 1, Part 2

 
  Track and Supports Rise

  Early in November 2004, vertical construction on SheiKra began. The first supports and track rose for the turnaround before the water splash. This part of the coaster goes over the Smokehouse, which was set to open in December, and needed to be completed first as to not harm the Smokehouse or guests dining in it.

Vertical Construction Photos: Update 1, Update 2

 
  The Rise Begins*

  The massive and steep lift hill of SheiKra began construction around December 19th, 2004. The track for the station and turn to the lift had already been completed. With the start of the lift hill, you could start to see that the ride is really going to be compact in a pretty small area of land.

Lift and Station Updates: Update 1, Update 2

 
  Get Some BBQ Ribs

  You can say the first phase of Busch Gardens construction 2005 was completed in late December, 2004. The new Smokehouse restaurant became operational and gave guests some great ribs and other barbeque. It also showcased the excellent new theming Stanleyville is now going to offer.

 
  A Wild Ride (so far at least)

  Right now, we are basically at the half way point to SheiKra opening and so far it has been an insane ride. We have covered every tiny development, broken the big story (the permits), been ripped off by a major newspaper, posted over five hundred photographs, and it isn't even over yet! The next five/six months will definitely be crazy and the hype will only build. Just imagine when the first video of the ride testing goes up...What a great feeling that will be. See you sometime in May.

 
  *Major Milestone in the construction of the roller coaster