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Dollywood Wild Eagle

Preview of the New Wing Coaster Opening in 2012

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Dollywood Wild Eagle

This ride is for the birds. Wild Eagle, a wing coaster, is set to take flight at Dollywood in March 2012.

Dollywood, 2011. Used with permission.
Updated November 23, 2011
Dollywood has long been known for its country music shows, its focus on the culture of the Smoky Mountains, and, of course, its celebration of the life and times of its namesake and local-girl-done-good, Dolly Parton. Over the last few years, however, it's also been gaining a reputation for its collection of roller coasters. And in 2012, its reputation will be boosted with the introduction of Wild Eagle, a wing coaster. It is one of a bunch of new, impressive roller coasters opening in 2012.

Wild Eagle Coaster Stats

Fly Like an Eagle

Coasters are all about speed and thrills, but at some level, they also act as flight facilitators. Playing off of our fascination with and longing for human flight, thrill machines send us airborne to soar above midways. While many coaster riders might strike the traditional hands-up-in-the-air pose to maximize a sense of recklessness (and the adrenaline rush that brings) or to catch as much airtime as possible, it's also likely that they are trying, if even on a subconscious level, to get into superhero-flight mode.

Flying coasters, such as Manta at SeaWorld Orlando explicitly seek to create the sensation of flight. Wing coasters, however, offer a different variation on the airborne theme. Instead of seats placed in their typical location above the track, Wild Eagle's seats will be cantilevered to the left and right sides of the track. Riders aboard the "wings" of the train, will be relatively free as a bird, with nothing above or below them.

The ultra-wide trains will have two seats to the left of the chassis and two seats to the right. The outermost seats (which will surely be the more coveted ones) will be especially unencumbered as they will only be attached to the train on one side. The wing-style seating will allow riders to experience Wild Eagle's elements from an interesting perspective and with an unusually high degree of freedom. Among the features to be incorporated into the ride course will be a heartline roll, an airtime-inducing camelback hill, and an inclined Immelmann roll.

Dollywood is marketing its park as "the only place in the entire country where folks can [experience] a coaster like this." That's not quite right. Wild Eagle is scheduled to open in March 2012. For a few weeks it will be the only U.S. park with a wing coaster. But Six Flags Great America, near Chicago, will be opening its own wing coaster, X-Flight, later in the spring. While they will be essentially similar, Dollywood's ride will be taller, longer, and faster.

With an announced price tag of $20 million, Dollywood says that Wild Eagle will represent its largest capital investment. It will surely give the park, its fans, and Ms. Parton something to sing about for 2012 and beyond.

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