Which of These Roller Coasters Will be King of the Wing? I had a pretty busy year. Not as busy as some, but for me I got to travel a good bit. A highlight of my year was that I was able to ride both of the new B&M wing roller coasters that opened in America this year; Wild Eagle at Dollywood and X-Flight at Six Flags Great America. As I do for ever roller coaster showdown, I’ll pick a few key elements and then pick a winner for each battle. At the end, I’ll pick an overall showdown winner. I really enjoyed both of these rides and they received the same rating; 9.0 (Excellent). Even I’m not sure how this is going to turn out. Okay, I’ll stop stalling and get to the showdown. Here we go. Theme – Test Flight Facility vs Inspirational Rustic Lodge Both Dollywood and Six Flags Great America put a good bit of effort into the themes for these rides. Wild Eagle’s trains are awesome. Like I said in my review, I definitely caught myself looking to my left at one point to make eye contact with one of the eagles. They photograph great and fit the concept of a wing roller coaster perfectly. Beyond the trains, the station looks like a large, rustic lodge with great stone work, flat screens that show stats about the ride, and uplifting ‘fly-related’ music. It was pretty cool to come across a big thrill ride that took a different approach with their theme. When most go the extreme route, instead, Dollywood chose to give Wild Eagle an inspirational feel. With Wild Eagle, it’s more of an adventurous challenge than a death-defying hope-you-make-it-back-alive theme. I can appreciation the difference and I found it refreshing. X-Flight’s theme was very strong too. It would have been easy to just mail it in, but the military theme was very apparent. The trains don’t quite measure up to Wild Eagle’s but the ride’s signature flight tower structure is part of an insane roller coaster moment like no other. The top of the tower has the spinning radar device and there’s at least one mannequin in the tower monitoring test flights. I’m going to give this one to Wild Eagle mainly for originality. Slight Edge: Wild Eagle Lift Hill – The Battle Begins vs A Breath-Taking Mountain View Even the lift hills offer an interesting comparison. On Wild Eagle, you make a steep climb the side of a mountain and get an excellent view of a part of Dollywood and eventually the surrounding area. I was treated to a pretty amazing view of the Smoky Mountains at dusk that rivals any lift hill view that I’ve come across. X-Flight’s lift hill doesn’t have the view and atmosphere of Wild Eagle’s but it does get your blood pumping with some dramatic music you’d expect from an action movie. The music is definitely a nice touch, but Wild Eagle wins this one. Edge: Wild Eagle First Drop – A Dive Drop vs A Traditional Plunge Wild Eagle starts with a 135-foot first drop. It’s the typical plummet towards the Earth that you’d expect and there’s nothing particularly different about experiencing it on a wing coaster. Although I will say that if you use a tip that a ride-op gave me (see the bottom of my review) it can give you a noticeably different feel. Still, most won’t know this, so I’ll consider this hill fun, but pretty standard. X-Flight, on the other hand, integrates an inversion into the first drop. The ride’s dive drop is a very different experience. The left side of the train is slowly lifted up to the sky, while the right side of the train is slowly turned downward. It’s a unique way to get the ride started. Another tough one, but I’ll go with X-Flight here because the dive drop is so unusual. Slight Edge: X-Flight Loops – 5 Low-Flying Loops vs 4 Soaring Loops Wild Eagle’s four loops feel bigger and are taken in a more open space. X-Flight’s five loops might feel just the slightest bit slower, but it’s not very noticeable. You’re also closer to the ground and they are connected by tight turns while Wild Eagle’s transitions are more straight. I thought I’d like Wild Eagle’s loop succession better think that X-Flight. I feared that X-Flight might give me the ‘drying machine feel’ that Batman – The Ride does. But, maybe due to the rider positioning, I didn’t feel dizzy or lost during the ride. I’d call the loops on both of these rides even. By the way, I prefer the back right-side for both of them. Edge: Neither Layout & Ride Experience – Aerial Near Misses vs. Soaring Like an Eagle When these two rides were announced, I thought Wild Eagle’s terrain layout would make it the better ride. I’m a huge fan of terrain coasters. And on Wild Eagle, like on a number of Dollywood’s rides, you get the unique experience of interacting with the park’s topography. Having said that, aside from the lift hill and the final section heading down to the station, you don’t really notice an elevation change. So, the terrain adds to the atmosphere, but not to the actually layout as much. Then there’s X-Flight with its insane onslaught of tight turns, structures, fog, and even water cannons. The aforementioned flight tower with its keyhole cut-out are a complete showstopper! Both from an onlooker and a rider perspective, this element helps X-Flight pull out the victory on this one. Edge: X-Flight [toggle_box title=”Click to Reveal the Showdown Winner” width=”600″] Overall Showdown Winner This one looks like a tie. I’ve probably never had to rack my brain as much comparing two roller coasters. They really are very even, hence the same rating for both. The wing roller coaster design gives you an open and exposed feeling that X-Flight does a better job capitalizing on. The loops on both of these coasters do feel noticeably less forceful than they do on a sit-down or inverted coaster. But nothing really distinguishes one from the other in terms of loops. I love Wild Eagle’s theme and atmosphere, but I can definitely appreciate what Six Flags did with X-Flight. The military theme was very apparent in the music, ride op uniforms, hangar-like station, and of course the flight tower. Both X-Flight and Wild Eagle are roller coasters that you should experience as they each have their strengths and both offer world-class rides. Winner: Tie[/toggle_box] Bonus Round: The Mascot Showdown – An Overused Letter vs The World’s Greatest Bird Six Flags probably just wanted to re-use a trademark that they already owned from Geauga Lake’s X-Flight, but it’s 2012 people. Can we get beyond the “X” equals “extreme” theme already? The eagle is not only a patriotic choice, but it’s also a timeless symbol of freedom. Wild Eagle wins this point-less round easily. Mascot Winner: Wild Eagle Read my full reviews of Wild Eagle and X-Flight. Also, there are photos of both X-Flight and Wild Eagle on my Facebook page. If you’ve ridden both, which would you pick in this showdown? Vote in the polls below.[poll id=”94″][poll id=”95″] See my other roller coaster showdowns including the epic battles between Alpengeist and Montu, Millennium Force and Intimidator 305, and El Toro vs The Voyage. Do you have a showdown that you’d like to see? Suggest one below and maybe after I recover from this one, I’ll get to it. 7 Responses James November 17, 2012 I just can’t wait for Gatekeeper!!! Hope it’s a 10 rating! Or an 11, if it’s possible! I think Gatekeepers height, length, speed, and insane close calls and maneuvers will make it one of the best coasters ever built and a massively popular new coaster at Cedar Point! Reply Judy P in Pgh November 18, 2012 One of the things that really impressed me (sp. ed. teacher) with Wild Eagle was the easy accessibility in loading for those with physical disabilities. There is an elevator from the ground level to the loading area, then wheelchairs can be wheeled right up to individual seats with plenty of space between rows for easy maneuvering. I also liked the "cushy" padded flooring. I'm wondering whether X-Flight also has good accessibility. Reply BodybldrMarcus November 18, 2012 I haven't had the honor to take on either ride but your reviews are quite inspiring. I haven't even been to either of these parks. Living in DC, I pretty much stick with Six Flags America, Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and Hershey Park (which I went to about a month ago) and none of those parks has winged coasters-yet! However, with Gatekeeper coming to Cedar Point next year, I will travel to Sandusky, Ohio for the second time since 2005 and get on that winged coaster and then maybe, just maybe, I'll swing by Dollywood 🙂 Reply Roller Coaster Rider February 27, 2013 Sorry to get off topic, but I think that GateKeeper will be better than both of these guys. The track was completed today and it looks great! I think that X-Flight should have won. Reply Ryan May 23, 2013 Gatekeeer is way better than both of them. Ive been on all 3. Reply Joshua hall December 15, 2013 listen, ! X flight should have won even so I saw so of you said gate keeper should have been in it well, I think swarm from Thorpe park should have been in it and therefor should have won!!!!! Reply Ben April 4, 2015 X-Flight is awesome. Wild Eagle is really fun, but what it is really missing is the half loop drop; when I think of wing coasters, I picture a coaster like X-Flight or Gatekeeper with the huge half loop drop. Wild Eagle is still fun, but X-Flight beats it. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.