Dollywood's Wild Eagle, the first Bolliger & Mabillard wing coaster to open in the United States, premiered to invited guests on Media Day, March 23, and opened to the public the following day. Under cloudy skies, Dolly Parton welcomed the crowd with introductory words and a song she wrote for Wild Eagle.
The plaza in front of the coaster is highlighted by the massive steel sculpture of a bald eagle, created by renowned metal artist Kevin Stone of Canada. A path to the right of the sculpture leads to the station. Inside is a single queue that terminates at a short set of stairs, where the rider decides whether to ride the left or the right side of the train and climbs the stairs to the loading platform. (An elevator brings handicapped riders to the right side of the train only.)
Seating is deep and comfy on both of the seven-car trains, which carry four passengers per row (two on each side of the track) for a total of 28 per train. The soft, over-the-shoulder restraints and lap bars accommodate most people, but a test seat in front of the station allows riders to check. The train makes a left turn out of the station and takes riders 210 feet above ground level. A fantastic view of the Smoky Mountains can be seen briefly, as the train reaches the top of the lift and plummets down the 135-foot first drop.
Reaching a top speed of 61 miles per hour, Wild Eagle covers 3,128 feet of track that contain four inversions, including a giant loop, a zero-G roll and a giant flat spin. With nothing above or below the rider, there is at least one "leg chopper" spot that prompts most riders to lift their feet. The initial brake run at the end of the ride is at a steep downward angle, before taking a left turn into a second, flat brake run before the station.
ERT on Wild Eagle will be very popular during Coaster Con XXXV in June!