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Getaway: hot ticket

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 17, 2001

Diana's dresses and other star attire

Four years after her death, Princess Diana's dresses are still thrilling the crowds. Tampa businesswoman Maureen Rorech Dunkel bought 14 of the dresses at a charity auction just weeks before the princess' untimely death. After a world tour to raise money for local charities, seven of the frocks -- including the ink-blue silk velvet Diana wore for her famous twirl with John Travolta -- are back in Tampa. The exhibit, also including dresses owned by Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Cher, will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, in Centro Ybor, next to GameWorks on the north side of Eighth Avenue in Tampa. General admission is $10, $8 for seniors. Metropolitan Ministries and the Boys and Girls Club will benefit.

Next best thing to a safari

On Friday Busch Gardens opens the most expensive ride ever built at the 355-acre Tampa park, its Rhino Rally. The ride, estimated to cost more than $20-million, is a staged road race among British Land Rovers through the African veldt and covers 16 acres of bad roads, mud wallows and rock walls capped by a surprise flash flood.

The vehicles get riders close to the rhinos, elephants, cape buffalo and other species that populate the veldt, including zebras, warthogs and antelopes. The drivers inevitably take a wrong turn and the Land Rovers get "washed away," finally arriving safely back at the dock after going under a waterfall.

The official ribbon-cutting of the ride is scheduled for May 24, but Busch officials said the ride should be open full-time beginning Friday. The park has been offering sporadic previews throughout the spring. Rhino Rally is included in the standard park admission of $51.18 a day for adults.

For more information, call Busch Gardens toll-free at 1-800-372-1797 or check www.buschgardens.com.

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