On Friday May 23rd News Plus Notes provided our readers overage from Dollywood's Wild Eagle media event. However, due to the inclement weather we were unable to capture Wild Eagle photos without dark & gloomy skies. At NPN we are dedicated to bringing you the very best quality news and photos, so we made the ultimate sacrifice and returned to Dollywood on Saturday May 24th, with hope the weather would improve. While it was overcast part of the day and eventually rained, we were rewarded with a brief window of sunshine!
Another trainload of excited riders rolls out of the station towards the lift hill.
The width of the cars makes the train appear shorted as it climbs the lift hill. It moves very fast and this feature helps keep the lines of guest constantly in motion. The crew is rapidly gaining experience and many times the train slowly rolls into the station instead of being stuck in the ready position.
Here you can see the crest of the hill above the trees. The whole ride is on top of the mountain and the low parts are hidden from view to guests on the midway. This is the tallest ride in the park.
Here the skies started getting cloudy again but you can see how much of the coaster is near to the ground which increases the perception of speed. There are lots of foot draggers, that result in yelps as riders jerk their feet away from perceived danger.
This perspective from the side of the first drop shows that the train is really a long one, thus making the ride sensation noticeably different from the from front to the back.
While eagles are not commonly observed performing loops, unless during pairing rituals, if they knew how much fun they were, they would probably do them more often!
Guests won't be able to see this view for long, because the trees are already beginning to bud and soon will hide more of the bottom of the loop from the people on the midway.
This zero-G roll is actually located a ways behind Mystery Mine, but it might soon become the signature feature of the ride, because riders float weightlessly as they roll clockwise and dive down into the trees.
Heading back towards the station, the trains swoop around the trees. The difference from either side of the trains is striking, but there are many "close encounters" along the way no matter where you ride.
A nice pop of airtime, again heading towards the station on the camel back. You can see the pullout from the first drop into the loop on the left, with the entry and exit to the inclined Immelmann.
This view of the Giant Flat Spin demonstrates how different the ride will be on either side of the trains. Down below on the left side as you face the front, riders will see less sky and more earth, with the opposite on the other side.
As you can see Wild Eagle towering above River Battle, it is hard to imagine that the height requirement is only 50" for this new ride, one of the lowest for any of Bolliger and Mabillard's creations. This is an important feature for Dollywood, which has the mission statement of "Creating family memories worth repeating." Installing a state of the art roller coaster inclusive of more family members lives up to that mission.
Here is a shot of Challenger, who flew at the media day on Friday. Named in honor of the lost space shuttle crew, he has been bringing the awareness and pride to Americans everywhere since 1991. He is the eagle you see flying at the Super Bowl, and many other patriotic events. The crowd fell silent as he circled above the station. One has to wonder what he thought of that giant Bald Eagle statue by the entrance.
Many thanks to Pete Owens, who arranged the opportunity for us to bring you some better pictures of Wild Eagle.