The wait is over, Dollywood has announced Wild Eagle! The ride will North America's first Wing Coaster when it opens in March of 2012.
"Perched on the park’s highest peak, Wild Eagle rises 21 stories into the sky. Taking off from the Wilderness Pass area, riders experience the sensation of flight as the coaster’s massive track swoops and soars along a journey that measures 3,127 feet. Wild Eagle reaches a top speed of 61 miles per hour and maneuvers four inversions including a giant loop, a “zero-G” roll, and a giant flat spin."
Dollywood would have a sky that pretty!
"Wild Eagle’s nearly two-and-a-half minute journey includes a plummeting 135-foot first drop. Located 210 feet above the coaster’s loading station, the ride provides spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains terrain below. Each coaster train consists of seven cars which carry four passengers for a total of 28 people per train. Each vehicle features an imposing bald eagle with piercing eyes and broad wings outstretched for flight."
The ride's official fact sheet
"Wild Eagle is the largest single capital investment in Dollywood’s 26-year history at $20 million. The park’s development team is collaborating with Switzerland-based Bolliger & Mabillard, the world’s premier coaster manufacturer.'
Add the scope of the hills the ride is on and this diagram would be even more impressive!
This ride will really complete the park's Wilderness Pass section, which did feel like it could use a strong ride to anchor the area. While I was at the park you could see the massive hillside the park already has cleared for the ride:
From this vantage point, it looks like the ride will have its lift hill heading directly up the hill behind the Sky Zip building, seen above.
Here's an over the construction fence view that I spotted from on a small hill near the site - I believe this would be the start of the station area you can see them working on. This was a few weeks ago, so I'm quite sure that things are even more different now.
Consider that most of the ride's layout will take place up on that mountain! The lift gets you up there, but then you stay up on top for most of the ride, only coming back down on what looks like the brake run. That elevation change alone will make this ride a sight to behold.
© 2011 Dollywood
© 2011 Dollywood
For those of you who are familiar with the layout of the park, how the Wild Eagle will fit in the park's landscape. Judging from where what looked like station work was taking place, and the now released layout, it seems you'll climb up the hill and the majority of the coaster - like so many at Dollywood - will be hidden in the trees.
Speaking of hidden in the trees, while there if you took a trip on the park's Steam Train, there were some interesting sights to see along the way.
My apologies for the blurry nature of the photo, but the train didn't seem interested in stopping so I could get nice photos! There's plenty of big, blue B&M track up on the hills, along with tan supports. It appears as though the ride has been on site for some time now.
© 2011 Dollywood
With today's announcement, and the ride just having recently gone vertical up on the hill, I'm sure we'll see a rush of updates for Wild Eagle - and I'm looking forward to it!