For the Love of Wing Coasters

While certainly a crowd pleaser, enthusiasts don’t seem to talk about these coaster as much as I’d like. What was once a product I had lukewarm interest in has turned into one of my favorite coaster types out there: the B&M Wing Coaster. Today, I am putting the Wing Coaster in the spotlight.

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I think most readers could agree that back in 2011, when the first B&M Wing Coaster opened, the general consensus was that it was a static version of the way more impressive X2/ Eejanaika. Even I didn’t think much of the new shiny B&M product at the time. Fast forward a decade and now I plan trips around Wing Coasters. Somewhere along the way I just really got into them, and their diversity is why.

I realized that perhaps my favorite thing about the Wing Coaster is the variety of elements that B&M has been able to create. Sure, all of them feature some sort of Zero-G-Roll, but besides that they’re all quite different. Turns out, the B&M Wing Coaster isn’t one of those “if you’ve ridden one, you’ve ridden them all” coasters. We’ve got sprawling layouts, a launched Wing Coaster, inversion-heavy Wing Coasters, compact Wing Coasters, and an array of different themes and themed elements. – Compared to B&M’s Inverted Coasters, Hyper Coasters, and looping coasters (mostly the Floorless Coaster, of course), the B&M Wing Coaster is the company’s first product that vastly differs between installations.

And not only do Wing Coasters have vastly differing ride experiences between installations, their winged seating makes it so each Wing Coaster itself has different ride experiences based on which side of the tracks you’re seated on. An overall very diverse product.

To highlight the unique differences between B&M Wing Coasters, let’s take a look at some of the installations I have experienced. While some famous ones may be missing from the list, I like to believe the collection of Wing Coasters on three continents that I am lucky to have ridden gives me a good bit to talk about.

Wild Eagle – Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA)

Dollywood’s 2012 addition was certainly impressive. Located on the highest plot of land within the park, Wild Eagle became the staple family looper that has a mighty presence. Years later it’s still one of the most popular rides at the park. What makes Wild Eagle so unique? It’s one of only three Wing Coasters with a straight drop, its layout is far elevated over the station down the hill, providing a steep and scenic lift hill, and the ride has a unique figure-eight double helix towards the end before rapidly making its way back down the hill-side on its unique brake run. While Wild Eagle is one of the milder Wing Coasters, it’s very scenic.

Thunderbird – Holiday World (Santa Claus, Indiana, USA)

Thunderbird is legendary, mostly for its short trains, grand layout, and the can’t-miss magnetic launch. In fact, it’s B&M’s only magnetic launch coaster! The most unique elements on Thunderbird (besides the launch) is the giant double-winged figure-eight towards the beginning of the ride, which are quite forceful and provide stunning views of the park’s famous The Voyage wooden coaster. The layout also features an Immelman following the launch, a Vertical Loop, Zero-G-Roll, and a signature In-Line Twist finale.

X-Flight – Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, Illinois, USA)

X-Flight is the Wing Coaster layout that I can’t believe hasn’t been cloned yet. Masterfully crafted, this layout takes advantage of little space and packs it with inversions and near-miss elements. X-Flight is on the more intense side of the Wing Coaster spectrum with several low-to the ground directional changes, a variety of inversions including the infamous Dive Drop, and a high-speed helix finale. One of the most surprising things about this layout is how nicely the Fan Turn rolls into the In-Line Twist and then continues into the final helix. This constant roll is one of the most satisfying moments on any Wing Coaster.

GateKeeper – Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio, USA)

GateKeeper doesn’t get as much love from the Cedar Point fans as the park’s Big-4 (Maverick, Steel Vengeance, Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster), but it’s a Top 5 Cedar Point coaster for us. Not only are the views of Lake Erie stunning, the ride’s massive elements and variety of inversions have a nice forcefulness to them. This layout makes GateKeeper one of the few true out-and-back Wing Coasters with a clear turning point halfway thru the layout, and a long stretched out set of elements that truly take you somewhere.

Fenix – Toverland (Sevenum, Limburg, The Netherlands)

Perhaps the most forceful of them all, Toverland’s Fenix does things a little differently (don’t all Wing Coasters? Yes.) – Fenix starts with a pre-lift that’s heavily themed and features an animatronic, it then climbs the lift and makes a scenic 90-degree turn to show off the flat farmland of Southeast The Netherlands. Where it gets really interesting is the Dive Drop into a speed hill, followed by an Immelmann straight into a high-speed helix hugging the terrain (perhaps the most intense moment on any Wing Coaster). Fenix then features a beautiful Zero-G-Roll and finishes off with some more airtime and laterals. The approach to Fenix, woven in with the area “Avalon” as part of an expansion also featuring an indoor/outdoor water darkride, made for an extremely peculiar and snappy B&M Wing Coaster. While short, sometimes less is more.

Falcon – Wuxi Sunac Land (Wuxi, Jiangsu, People’s Republic of China)

Falcon starts off with the more typical B&M elements, such as the Dive Drop, Zero-G-Roll and Immelmann. The biggest difference? This is the World’s tallest Wing Coaster and the 60m drop and 118 km/h top speed really make this ride quite forceful. Where does the coaster layout really shine? The second half of the ride where riders are thrown over, around, and through rockwork with a variety of airtime centric elements and loads of positive G forces. Perhaps my favorite element on this coaster is the high-speed S-turn through the rockwork! Falcon‘s presence is one of the most notable.

Wings of Glory – HB World (Suzhou, Jiangsu, People’s Republic of China)

Wings of Glory may be the one on this list that you haven’t heard of, which is sad. This compact Wing Coaster is an absolute gem and was probably the most surprising Wing Coaster we’ve ridden. This tight layout features 8-car trains that are beautifully themed to ancient flying machines and navigate this 6-inversion layout. All 6 inversions pack a punch and are quite different. The ride features your occasional Dive Drop, Vertical Loop, and Zero-G-Roll, but also a stretched out Immelmann, a unique roll that starts off as a shallow Zero-G-Roll, then turns into an In-Line Twist followed by a high-speed turn, and the most unique of all: a Floorless Coaster-sized Corkscrew. While these elements alone are overwhelming enough in the tiny space they occupy, the 450-degree upward helix finale seals the deal and makes this one of the best Wing Coasters out there.

Parrot Coaster – Chimelong Ocean Kingdom (Zhuhai, Guangdong, People’s Republic of China)

Likely my favorite of them all is Parrot Coaster. Parrot Coaster does all things right and is incredibly well balanced. From gorgeous integration and landscaping to a great combination of just three inversions (on the longest Wing Coaster in the World) and a variety of lateral movements. The ride is also home to a selection of special effects and tunnels. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also located in one of the World’s most stunning landscapes close to Macau and Hong Kong on the South China Sea.

Thank you for joining me in this quick look at the B&M Wing Coasters I’ve ridden and my unexpected love for the product!

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