Specific Type: Wing Coaster
Dollywood is a very well-known park, but only has 5 coasters running around the park. How does this happen? Because Dollywood is one of those parks that strives for quality over quantity. Way back in 1978, the park opened its first coaster, Blazing Fury. This ride was more like a dark-ride than a coaster, but its theming and sudden drops at the end of its course puts it above more of the genre. The ride was also a clone of Fire in the Hole at Dollywood’s sister park in Branson, Missouri, Silver Dollar City.
Twelve years later, the park finally opened its second coaster, the relocated River King Mine Train from Six Flags St. Louis. It was renamed to Thunder Express, and was built right next to Blazing Fury. The ride only lasted until 1998, and was relocated to Magic Springs and Crystal Falls were it has operated as Big Bad John to this day.
Dollywood’s first real coaster opened in 1999, right after the park sold Thunder Express. Tennessee Tornado was a very unique looping coaster from Arrow Dynamics, and was the second to last custom looping coaster that Arrow built. Its uniqueness was caused by its compatibility to the terrain, which made the ride seem smaller than it actually was. The height of the ride was 163’, but its drop was only at 128’. Tennessee Tornado was an instant success, and paved the way for future installments.
Dollywood added three more coasters in the first decade of the new millennium. The first was Thunderhead, one of the most twisted wooden coasters built in the world. Next was the miniature VeggieTales Sideshow Spin. Last was Mystery Mine, a heavily themed Euro Fighter by Gerstlaur. All of these coasters helped put Dollywood on the map. But nobody knew what was coming next.
In early 2011, Dollywood leaked that a new steel coaster would be built, with a top height of 11’. Enthusiasts immediately thought to coasters like Nemesis at Alton Towers or Black Mamba at Phantasialand, very small inverted coasters that used the terrain to its advantage. Half of the blessing came when B&M track showed up in a lot near Thunderhead. But it was not an inverted coaster. Later, someone got a picture of the shipping crates, with the acronym WI on the label. This confirmed that Dollywood would be building a B&M Wingcoaster. But would it deliver with only a height of 11’?
It eventually was realized that the 11’ height was a hoax. The real height was announced, along with all of the other statistics. The height was 210’, with a drop of 135’ (similar to Tennessee Tornado). The top speed would be 61 MPH over a course of 3127’ and a duration time of two minutes and twenty-two seconds. Also, there would be four inversions, a loop, zero-g roll, an Immelmann, and a final wing over.
And on top of that, the name was announced: Wild Eagle. The ride was well-received by enthusiasts, much more than the other B&M Wingcoasters for 2012: X-Flight at Six Flags Great America and Swarm at Thorpe Park.
The ride starts off with a quick left-hand turn out of the station, immediately up into the 210’ lift built into the terrain. Once at the apex, riders get a big glimpse of what they are about to experience. Then they fly down the 135’ drop and straight into a vertical loop. With a slight turn to the left at the bottom of the loop, riders soar into a zero-g roll. Without taking a breath, Wild Eagle zooms up into an immelmann. Riders barely have time to think as they are thrown back towards the lift in a wing over. The inversions are done, but the intensity sure isn’t, as the train speeds over a small bunny hop and turns to the left under the lift. After dipping below the bunny hop and a final turn to the right, riders finally get a chance to recover in the final brake run.
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