A Great American Classic
American Eagle is a dueling wooden coaster that opened at Six Flags Great America in 1981. It opened as the fastest and tallest wooden roller coaster in the world. It also had the longest drop on a roller coaster. These records have been beaten many times since then, but Eagle still stands as a reminder of a much simpler time in theme park history. Due to the overwhelming amount of rumors circulating about Eagle possibly being removed, re-tracked or RMC’d for the 2020 season, I figured it would be smart to review the ride in its current state before it’s too late.
Postponing the Race
Being that Eagle is at my home park, I’ve had the pleasure of getting plenty of rides on the coaster. I’ve had good rides, bad rides, painful rides…back breaking rides…everything. Jokes aside, Eagle has become a pretty rough ride that can be borderline unbearable at times; especially during the large helix. At the end of the day though, I can still find other positive reasons to have at least one ride on Eagle each visit. The airtime and first drop are perhaps the most alluring factors. That said, there is one other factor that used to trump those two things: the dueling. Getting a perfectly dueling ride on American Eagle was one of the best parts about visiting Great America, and by far the most important reason to ride the coaster in the first place. However, due to the ride getting older and not being as structurally sound, the park is now unable to run both trains at the same time. It is unknown if Eagle will ever duel again in its current state, which is quite upsetting and depressing. The dueling aspect of the ride was arguably the best (or at least most unique) part, and it will definitely be missed. Sadly, I can’t score Eagle nearly as high as I would if it still dueled.
Six Flags Great America is home to many roller coasters that I hold near and dear to my heart, and American Eagle is no exception. That said, it isn’t exempt from any of its flaws. If it still dueled and wasn’t extremely rough in certain spots, I would definitely consider American Eagle a Top 5 roller coaster in the park. Since it doesn’t do these things though, I’d say it barely makes Top 10. Don’t get me wrong, the drop, speed and airtime still bring a lot to the table and give riders a lot to enjoy, but that can only get a roller coaster so far. I’m not necessarily in the boat of giving Eagle the RMC treatment (and I definitely don’t believe it’ll happen in 2020), but I can see why it might be beneficial for the park its guests. Personally, I think I’d rather see Great America give the wooden coaster a GCI re-tracking in order to keep some of its classic feel. No matter what ends up happening, I’ll never forget all the fun rides I’ve had on American Eagle….even if recently it’s been a bit of a let down.
Coaster Grade: 6/10
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