Dollywood opens first U.S. winged coaster

By | March 26, 2012

Wild Eagle, AT Photo/Tim Baldwin

On March 24, Dollywood officially debuted Wild Eagle, North America’s first wing coaster by the Swiss engineering firm, Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M).

At the coaster’s grand opening, Dolly Parton entertained the crowd with song and humor and even made an effort to do a Q&A with the media. Parton says it is important for Dollywood to round out the experiences for families that visit the park, and that young people, along with families enjoy roller coasters, so it was a good addition to the park. However, the legendary entertainer quipped, “You won’t see me riding on it, because then you’d see what a real bald eagle looks like!” The opening of the ride certainly didn’t find a lack of riders, as throngs lined up to participate in this new breed of ride. Passengers returned to the station with big cheers.

The new wing coaster by B&M features vehicles that are cantilevered over both sides of the track. Riders are situated to the sides of the rails. Although a few other companies have had previous endeavors in such positions, B&M’s wing coaster brings the firm’s own engineering finesse to the project.

The ride features a first drop of 135 feet and a track length of 3,127 feet. Among the ride’s four inversions is a gigantic 110-foot loop. The others — an Immelmann, a camelback and a corkscrew barrel roll — all allow the distinct vehicles to strut their stuff, which in the case of this style of coaster is to accentuate the articulation of each of these inversion maneuvers. With seats extended outside the rails, the radius of these rotating inversions is one of the unique selling points to the wing coaster.

Dollywood is now open for the season, but closed on Tuesday’s in the spring. Daily operation begins May 23. For more information, visit the Dollywood website.