After weeks of releasing clues and tidbits of images of the ride, Dollywood finally made an official announcement regarding their new attraction for 2012. Last night, during the grand Boomsday event held every year, Dolly announced that the park would be receiving the Wild Eagle roller coaster in 2012, a $20 million B&M Wing Coaster featuring numerous twists and inversions.
Back as far as late-March of this year, speculation began circulating that the park was planning something big for 2012, possibly a large coaster, when several plans were submitted that required several buildings to be relocated and a large excavation site. By mid-May, survey markers were beginning to show up on the hill in the middle of the park, visible from the SkyZip attraction. Excavation of the hill and clearing of trees continued over the next few weeks, with even a few footers popping up. Finally, in mid-June, coaster-geeks got their first real clue about the coaster, when some B&M track was spotted on I-71 in Kentucky heading in the direction of Dollywood. Shortly after, the track and supports began piling up in various places around the park, and the only speculation left was what kind of coaster it might be.
Everyone can rest at east now, and many can say “I told you so” now that Dolly has confirmed what most were beginning to think: Dollywood is getting a Wing Rider/Coaster for 2012. Still a relatively new design for B&M, the Wing Coaster features seats only on the “wings” of the coaster, with no seating over the track, and nothing below rider’s feet. Wild Eagle will rise a total of 210 feet into the sky, sitting on the highest peak in the park, with loading in the Wilderness Pass area. From here, the ride will drop down a traditional style hill, hitting a top speed of 61 mph, before traversing through a vertical loop, zero-g roll, immelman, large flatspin, camelback/bunny hill, and a spiraling figure-eight twist element, all along 3,127 feet of track.
Because of the ride’s location near a large hill, the first drop will only stand 135 feet high, but that point is 210 feet above the station, which should give the ride a feeling of speeding up as it goes further down the hill through its inversions. The trains will consist of seven cars which carry four passengers each, for a total of 28-passengers, and vehicles will feature a bald eagle with “piercing eyes and broad wings outstretched for flight.”
According to the park’s press release, Wild Eagle will be the largest single capital investment in the parks 26-year history. The park decided to go with an Eagle theme not only because it fit the ride so well, but to honor our nation’s symbol, and to celebrate the efforts that have been made to increase the Eagle population to the point they are no longer an endangered species. Dollywood is the homeland for the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) and one of their largest benefactors.
Wild Eagle joins a lineup of highly acclaimed coasters at Dollywood, ranging from Thunderhead, rated as one of the world’s best coasters, to Mystery Mine, the highly-themed, slightly quirky Euro-fighter coaster, and Tennessee Tornado, the “short-but-sweet” Arrow looping coaster.