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p. 734 - Lightning Rod closed for remainder of 2020 season

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There was a time in my life when I would have cared what Lightning Rod was made of.  So refreshing to give precisely zero effs. I just want to go to Dollywood and not worry about it being open! 

Yeah, the difference to the rider between I-Box track and the current track is really minimal. The only major difference would be that the ride would actually be open when you wanted to ride it and wh

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Ernie

 

Obviously I'd love to spend 3-4 days in the area to be able to do everything including a full day for Dollywood by itself but this was trying to take advantage of what I thought was an oppurtunity. I get in around noon Monday and am staying in downtown Knoxville, unless I can talk a couple of the other attendees to share a cab it's not going to be worth it. I still ache to be able to see some of PF but now I'm hearing a rumor about a "welcome dinner" Monday night which will, unfortunately, dash my last shot of this happening--thanks for the info guys!

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This is the first wing rider that actually looks thrilling and worth it to me. The others look like great GP pleasers but this one looks like it's good for everyone. I guess we really shouldn't have doubted that Dollywood would deliver anything less.

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Dollywood sent us some amazing off-ride footage to go along with the POV we posted! Check it out....

 

Off-Ride Shots and Rider Cam POV:

 

Front Seat POV:

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Well, I just got back home from the park and will say that Wild Eagle definitely doesn't disappoint. My only ride on it took place on the rear left outside seat and the first drop was INCREDIBLE. The inversions have great pacing to them. The zero-g doesn't hang as much as it looks like from off-ride, and definitely not as much as The Swarm seems to. There is a nice pop of air you get coming out of time immelman, and the flat spin is a really cool inversion especially with the way you are seated on the wing riders. The little bunny hop doesn't give as much air-time as I would like. The figure 8 has some nice forces to it, especially the last turn. Overall I would say that Dollywood and B&M did a great job creating a family friendly ride that can be enjoyed by all.

 

I will also say the retracking Dollywood did on Thunderhead is appreciated, and it was running GREAT today! Love that ride!

 

On a side note, anyone know why one of mystery mine's trains was stuck in the final inversion?

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Hey guys! I just got back from an amazing day at Dollywood! Starting with my first media event representing TPR at the Boomsday Announcement, I was anxiously awaiting for the opportunity to attend this morning's event! And now it has finally gone and past. It has been an absolute blast to bring you an inside look at Dollywood's latest creation and I am thankful to Robb and Elissa for allowing me to represent you guys. Also, a TON of thanks to Pete Owens, Brian Angello and everyone else at Dollywood for inviting us down the park and giving us this amazing coverage! Now, all you guys can head to Tennessee and see it for yourselves!

 

So, how was Wild Eagle you ask??? I was able to get two rides this morning. Once in the back right inner seat and once in the front right inner seat. The set-up for the day didn't really allow me to get a TON of rides, but I feel I got a good taste of the experience. My first ride on a Wing Rider was a lot of fun! You really fly up the lift hill and all you can see is lift hill and sky. Seriously, it is a steep lift hill! As you would expect being in the back seat you are absolutely flung over the lift hill. What a drop!!! It really took my breath away and I actually completely forgot to take a second to enjoy the views on top of the mountain! After that, it is the four loops which are all taken with decent forces and flow well together. I didn't get any air whatsoever on my first ride through the air time hill and the ride was actually a little dull during this portion. But the final twist at the end had a lot of forces comparable to Goliath's helix at SFOG. Another surprise was how fast you go from the first brake to the holding brake. You actually get some decent forces on the left turn back towards the station!

 

My second ride in the front seat was a totally different experience! While the first drop wasn't nearly as forceful, I quickly realized one of the benefits of a front seat ride on a Wing Rider was. Leg choppers! Through each loop, it feels like you are narrowly missing the track supports just below your feet. Really adds an extra dimension to the ride. Not to mention you get close to some of the trees along the outside of the ride. Will be nice to check this out when the trees start to fill in with leaves. I actually got a tad bit of floater air through the airtime hill on my second ride. Will see how this changes as the ride breaks in more.

 

I have to say I enjoyed my front seat ride more than the back seat one. The ride seemed to pack more of a punch throughout the ride rather than just the first half of the back seat ride. I have been told that the left side is a totally different experience than the right side (like you would expect and has been speculated on here before) The lateral forces are supposed to be much stronger as you are on the inside of all the inversions. I will just have to find out for myself next week!

 

To conclude, Wild Eagle is another fabulous addition to the Dollywood coaster family. You will not be disappointing so head on down here and ride it!

 

Okay, enough jibber jabber. On to video & photos!

 

Off-Ride Shots and Rider Cam POV:

 

Front Seat POV:

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After anxiously waiting for over 6 months since the Boomsday announcement, it was finally time to ride Wild Eagle! But first things first. Need to get our media credentials!

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Yup, going to need one of these!

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And with our pass we got these nifty Wild Eagle T-shirts!

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That's the goal of the day!

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Not only was the media event today, but it was also Passholder Preview Day.

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And there was a lot of season passholders here!

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But we are not here for that, we are here to eat!

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And like everything else that Dollywood makes, their breakfast was mighty tasty!

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This looks like important information. I wonder what this sign is trying to tell us.

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Ah, the sign was taking us here! How convenient!

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And there is the star of the day! The station really turned out amazing!

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A LOT of TV stations made it in for the event.

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As did a horde of other people! There was easily 300 media, VIP and other people there this morning!

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Wild Eagle's statue is looking fantastic for its big day!

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And here's DOLLY! Wild Eagle's ceremony has begun!

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Dolly made it very clear that she would not be going on her newest creation.

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Of course, there were live eagles there!

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Dolly presented the auction check to the American Eagle Foundation during the ceremony. (Dollywood held an auction to be the first to ride Wild Eagle and the proceeds were all donated to the foundation)

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Dolly prepares the crowd for the first official ride of Wild Eagle.

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Kablooey! And with this mess of confetti and smoke, Wild Eagle has officially opened!

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And there goes the first train!

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And the crowd goes wild!

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How about we take Wild Eagle for a spin! Notice the awesome entrance sign. (pssst Larry ;) )

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Been waiting to see this for a long time! A Wild Eagle train full of passengers!

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This was all media. The other side looked the same!

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Operations were actually a little slow for the first day. But I am sure they will work all the kinks out and things will be moving smoothly soon! It's Dollywood. No worries.

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Have I mentioned I love the loading station?

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The completed Wild Eagle plaza. It turned out great!

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A lot of details have been added to the queue since the last time I was here last month.

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Like these handrails! There really isn't much to the line once you are inside the building. This is pretty much it and then you head upstairs to the loading station.

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Will your first ride be to the left or the right?? Such tough choices!

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We took their advice! ;-)

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Here is another look at the elevator to get to the loading platform this time from the ground level. You will be loaded into the front seat on the right side of the train. Doesn't look like there will be away to ride on the left side.

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What a view!

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Some more ride information for the Park Index!

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Noted! And parents especially take note! ;)

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Are you wondering where you can buy your Wild Eagle merchandise. Well, exit the ride and you will walk into the right place!

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And there is a lot of it!

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Plenty of Wild Eagle t-shirts!

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and haven't you always wanted Wild Eagle sandals! But you wont be able to wear them on the ride! ;)

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Who wants a Wild Eagle shot glass??? They are here waiting for you!

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And then we were magically whisked away to SFMM! :-)

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Here is a great feature included on Wild Eagle. Your on-ride photo can be uploaded directly to Facebook!

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First you pay for your photo here.

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Then you go to one of the touch screen kiosks.

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Scan the ticket they print out for you and voila!

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And without further ado, a TPR-only exclusive, I now present to you: Wild Eagle Statue Heiney!

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Love this view!

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The former SkyZip building has officially been transformed into a drink station.

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All the soda and icees you want. They also have popcorn.

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Skyview Snacks officially gets TPR stamp of approval! ;-)

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Another look at the amazing Wild Eagle statue.

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Heading out for lunch we noticed a mob of passholders anxiously awaiting their ride.

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Speaking of lunch! Dollywood was kind enough to not only serve us breakfast but they also had a lunch for us! Much appreciated!

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And this is what we had for lunch!! Seriously, the park was well prepared for all of the ACERs in attendance today. ;-)

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After asking how to eat this monster slice, Candace went with the fold and stuff technique.

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And before we end this report, let's take a look at few more details around Wild Eagle.

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Details like this are spread throughout the plaza.

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This would of been useful information BEFORE they served us those massive slices of pizza! ;-)

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I am awestruck at the mighty Wild Eagle!

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And that's it! Get down to the park and ride this ride! You will not be disappointed! Thanks to all the guys at Dollywood for having us down to the park!

Edited by ernierocker
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Thanks for the report, Eric. I'm really looking forward to riding Wild Eagle myself (and just hanging out at Dollywood).

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Wild Eagle is truly a great addition to Dollywood. And I'll agree that the back row is clearly the best for the drop, however this ride hands down is a front row ride. You still get some forces but between the open view and all the choppers it just makes the ride that much better and plays up to the wing rider aspect. Both my rides were on the left side, which was the prefered side of our group that got to ride both. Tomorrow I'll hopefully get to try out the other side for comparison.

 

Outside that the park was as amazing as always with the friendly staff of any park I've been to, and equally great operations. Cinnamon bread was heavenly, and Miss Lillian's chicken was delicious and she herself was a great entertainer a new must see on a trip to Dollywood for me. There were only two downfalls to the day, Blazin Fury only operated for about an hour, as well as Mystery Mine managed to get stuck upside down during AM testing, the car was still hanging there when we left at 7pm. Hopefully both will be up and running for tomorrows opening day. And even more so for me was the Dolly Parade was cancelled even though it stopped raining by 3pm

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I regret I was stuck in the cubicle farm all day today instead of at Dollywood riding WE. Really awesome media day report Eric! Thank you so much, and I can't wait to get there in April!

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It's not fair to judge a ride solely based on POV footage, but this looks a lot better than what I was expecting from the announcement through the construction period. It looks pretty disorienting. The time spent navigating the course from the crest of the lift to brake run also surprised me- longer than I expected. It looks like it has some forces and speed- Merlin must have forgotten to check those boxes when they ordered X-Raptor and Swarm. The initial excitement I had for X-Flight was heavily dampened by the Swarm video and reviews.

 

Despite all the complaints about the lack of originality among B&M sitdown loopers, they must be doing something right that allows them to keep building Kumba over and over again with minimal variation for the past 20 years.

 

One more thought- extra points to Dollywood for not using an Apocalypse/Disaster Zone theme. I know it would never be considered because of what Dollywood is, but it's nice to see a wingrider without that tired theme. It was overused and done with long before it ever began.

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Looks really great, especially that zero-g roll! How are the restraints on Wild Eagle? The kid with the red seat belt looks like he hasn't pulled down on the bar at all even though it's buckled and it looks pretty roomy.

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^They look almost the same as the flyer restraints (at least what comes in contact with the body.) Since I've been on two B&M flyers, I'm going to assume on the side of very comfortable.

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I meant more in terms of accommodating to larger guests since Raptor is apparently a tight squeeze. But I concur that the flyer-type restraints are very comfy.

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