Family Travel Theme Parks Busch Gardens’ SheiKra and Griffon Coasters Are a Couple of Dives Roller Coaster Ride Reviews Written by Arthur Levine Facebook Twitter Arthur is a travel writer with more than 25 years of experience. He has been covering theme parks, amusement parks, water parks, and attractions for TripSavvy since 2002. Tripsavvy's Editorial Guidelines Arthur Levine Updated 01/17/19 Share Pin Email Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images North America's first diving coaster and the world's first floorless diving coaster, SheiKra and Griffon, respectively, take riders to the precipice in single, precariously open cars, dangle them for a few heart-skipping seconds, then drop them straight down 200-foot hills. And that's only the beginning of these wild rides. SheiKra is at Busch Gardens Tampa. Griffon is at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Both rides are essentially similar. Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 8 Coaster type: Floorless diving coaster Top speed: 71 mph (Griffon); 70 mph (SheiKra) Height restriction: 54 inches Angle of descent: 90 degrees Drop: 205 feet (Griffon); 200 feet (SheiKra) Ride time: 3 minutes Manufacturer: Bolliger & Mabillard Minimal Cars. Maximum Shiekras, er, Shrieks. SheiKra opened in 2005 in the Stanleyville section of Busch Gardens Tampa. It was a huge hit. It was followed in 2007 by Griffon, a similar coaster, at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The Virginia ride debuted with floorless cars. Busch Gardens modified the cars on the Tampa coaster to make them floorless as well in 2007. Nearly everything about Griffon and SheiKra sets them apart from typical coasters. Instead of a train of cars, the rides uses single cars that contain three extra-wide rows of seats. To accommodate the wide cars, the tubular steel tracks are also unusually wide. The “floorless” cars have no floors—or sides or backs. The cars are essentially seats bolted to chassis. The open designs leave riders especially vulnerable for the ensuing dives. The six end seats offer the most open and unique rides. Because the trains are cantilevered and the end seats extend beyond the track, passengers have nothing above, below, or to one side of them. The outermost seats on the left and the right in the front rows are the primo riding positions. As with other floorless coasters, once passengers are secured and the ride is cleared for takeoff, the loading platforms drop away, and gates in front of the cars swing open with dramatic flourishes. The cars aren’t completely floorless, however. Riders can let their feet dangle or rest them on small bars under each row. Enjoy the View Griffon and SheiKra round a bend, latch on to chain lifts, and chug up their lift hills at surprisingly fast ten-feet-per-second clips. The lifts are high enough to provide spectacular views of both parks and beyond their gates. After climbing the lift hills, they both slowly navigate 180-degree “carousels” and slowly approach the first drops. There are slight jerks as the cars momentarily stop, followed by false starts as they crest the top and hang perilously over the edge. After an agonizing few seconds, the trains drop 90 degrees (that's straight down for the geometry-challenged), reach a bone-rattling 70 mph (for SheiKra) and 71 mph (for Griffon) that feel all the more bracing with the open, floorless cars. The two coasters then soar into huge “Immelman” loops (a diving loop named for a German army pilot who performed acrobatic maneuvers). The trains next slow as they approach another 90-degree dive. The second dive is 138 feet for SheiKra and 130 feet for Griffon. Instead of hanging over the edges, however, the cars drop without hesitation. Griffon enters into a second Immelman loop, while SheiKra roars into a disorienting, fog-filled tunnel. Both rides skid over pools of water and send huge plumes of spray into the sky before they race back to the station. Sorry, no Wimps Allowed Like Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s super-smooth and exhilarating hypercoaster, Apollo's Chariot, and the Tampa park’s inverted coaster, Montu (both of which, along with Griffon and SheiKra, are among our top picks for best coasters), the diving coasters were manufactured by the Swiss ride wizards, Bolliger & Mabillard (also known as B&M). While they are not as smooth as Apollo's Chariot, Griffon and SheiKra are remarkably smooth rides—especially given the cars’ considerable size and heft. There’s really no wiggle room for wimps to gather up the courage and tackle these coasters. They are unapologetic thrill rides that coaster lovers would love and coaster wimps would avoid. Hanging (and hanging) 200 feet in the air certainly adds to the rides’ drama. (That’s why we include them among our picks for the 11 scariest coasters.) But, with their unusual cars, thrilling dives, and water-shooting finales, they provide quite a spectacle for non-riders to behold. The two coasters were upstaged in 2016 by Ohio's Cedar Point, which introduced its own diving coaster, Valravn. It climbs 223 feet, drops 214 feet, and hits 75 mph. It is essentially the same ride as Griffon and SheiKra, just a bit taller and faster. In 2018, Knott’s Berry Farm in California debuted HangTime. Although it was designed and built by a different manufacturer, it also includes a nerve-wracking delay before its first drop, and the park identifies it as a dive coaster. There are more dive coasters in other parts of the world. Busch Gardens says that a Griffon is a mythical beast that’s half lion and half eagle. It’s also a gargoyle that adorns some buildings in France. SheiKra is an African hawk that dives down for its prey. There are no gargoyles or hawks on the rides’ cars, tracks, or stations, however. Neither ride attempts to incorporate or convey any kind of stories; they are essentially just thrilling coasters. But oh, what thrills. Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Share Pin Email Tell us why! Submit The 10 Best Things to Do at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay These 11 Coasters Will Scare You Silly Top 10 Best Steel Roller Coasters in North America Could You Handle Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Coaster? Florida Roller Coaster Smackdown: The 10 Best Rides The 13 Best Rides at Six Flags Great America Cedar Point Takes a Dive With Mighty Valravn Coaster Cedar Point's Valravn Coaster Breaks 10 Records Can You Name Florida's Tallest Rides? Betchya Can't The Coolest Launched Roller Coasters in the Country SeaWorld Orlando’s Mako Is A Coaster with Jaws Could You Handle the World's 10 Fastest Roller Coasters? 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