We have been following this story for months and now it’s time to dig into the new Hagrid roller coaster headed to Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure. Today’s article is a mixture of what we know, what we can gather from the construction thus far and a smidge of whisperings from within the theme park industry. As always, nothing is official until Universal Orlando says as such. That said if you’re looking to make some friendly wagers with friends? Use this article as your “cheat sheet” to stay ahead of the game. Let’s dig in!
What We Know
Let’s start with the obvious and discuss what are already published facts about the new ride. Universal said in their own blog post that this would be “a new generation of thrill ride” in addition to being “fun for the entire family”. Technically, these two ideas are conflicting. Thrill ride and fun for the entire family don’t totally mix. At the end of the day, most thrill rides have a height restriction and this new roller coaster headed to Hogsmeade is no exception. However, a new generation of thrill ride is often over the top marketing. If you recall Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Florida was once marketed as a “psychological thrill ride” and sure, it is considered one of the best-themed coasters on the planet. “Psychological” though? Not really.
We also know that the old Dueling Dragons/Dragon Challenge red and blue tracks were completely demolished. One thing we know for sure, with a height requirement of 54-inches for the old attraction, this new height limit be much shorter in order to be “family friendly.” More on that later.
Next, we can also gather that the original queue building (and load/unload station) is sticking around as it has been left mostly untouched during the construction process thus far. This means the ride will no doubt be dispatching to and from the original building and the queue inside will most likely take a similar, if not identical, route that it did before. Will the set design and decor change? Absolutely.
What We Can Gather
First, we need to start with what kind of roller coaster this is. Late last year rumors began to circulate about two possible ride systems and vehicles this would be. To be fair, I believe there was a point where both were under consideration. The first is an inverted power coaster which would have been built by Mack. Currently, this ride system is used in Arthur: The Ride in Europa Park. That ride system can not only easily go both indoors and outdoors, it has onboard audio and can be programmed to face riders in any direction (even backward) depending on the scene.
While this ride system can do many of the things you’ll end up seeing in Hagrid’s roller coaster, it was ultimately passed on. Why? If I could take a guess, a lot of it had to do with a product differentiator between Dragon Challenge and this new coaster. Photographs of two suspended (although different looking) ride vehicles might not send home the message that this is an entirely new ride in Hogsmeade. Plus, since the new ride will be mostly outdoors, evacuating it might have been a challenge in certain sections.
On the other hand, rumors began swirling about another coaster system and manufacturer that made a lot of sense. Intamin makes a launched motorbike coaster that even has a sidecar built in. From a story perspective, this would be a perfect excuse to use Hagrid’s bike and sidecar from the film. In terms of space within Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure, his hut is directly next door in the queue for The Flying Hippogriff and you could certainly create a forest outside of Hogsmeade which fits in geographically to the story.
We can gather that the motorbike/sidecar coaster ended up being chosen thanks to the supports currently in the ground at the construction site. If they had gone with the Mack Inverted Power Coaster, we would see an entirely different set of supports in sets of two so they could support an overhead track, versus the low-to-the-ground supports we see now that will clearly have track placed just above each pylon.
As a matter of fact, we even see Hagrid flying alongside our train aboard the Hogwarts Express when we are headed to Hogsmeade from Diagon Alley. Therefore, we know this fits not only geographically at the theme park, but also within the already existing story at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Finally, if every motorbike has a sidecar this means you can lower the height restriction and make it more family friendly (as Universal promised in their original blog post). According to the height restrictions for Mick Doohan’s Motocoaster (the Intiman ride system in Australia Hagrid’s ride vehicles will be based on), if you ride sidecar the height restriction drops down by 20 centimeters. While that isn’t a huge amount, I’m betting with a few modifications you can go even lower on the height requirement.
Let’s move on to the queue building. Since the original Dueling Dragons had two trains dispatching at similar times on two completely separate tracks, it was a capacity powerhouse. While Hagrid’s new roller coaster will not have two racing or dueling tracks, it has to also bring a lot of people through the attraction since all Harry Potter rides are mega-popular. One solution would be to have dueling load and unload stations (similar to Revenge of the Mummy at Universal), but I actually believe there is another solution.
By creating a constantly moving platform, you can increase your capacity and speed up your dispatch times. This has proven to work extremely well for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Rip Ride Rockit. The moving platform would basically bring trains in back to back where there is constantly seats to be filled and loaded. The good news is, these vehicles will have to be much larger and higher capacity than Rip Ride Rockit.
Now that we have got the ride system, manufacturer, queue, and loading system down, what about the ride itself? Well first, let’s look at Hagrid’s motorbike and what it does in the Harry Potter films. It can launch itself down a street and take off very quickly take off and fly. However, it never goes too high and considering this is a family coaster, it has no real reason to go upside down. Therefore, I expect to see several launch elements and a whole lot of diving, bobbing and weaving through the forest.
If you’re familiar with the Harry Potter films, or even just the brief nod in the Hogwarts Express attraction, you know Hagrid isn’t the best of drivers. Plus, that motorbike has a tendency to stall out or not react drive/fly the way Hagrid wants it to. This means I fully suspect this ride will be filled with the usual theme park “oh no! something has gone wrong” moments scattered throughout. How do you do that on a roller coaster?
Let’s begin with what may not be so obvious, but makes 100% sense for this particular coaster. It has to have an onboard audio system. The music from the Harry Potter films is iconic and if you look at all the Forbidden Journey, Hogwarts Express and Escape From Gringotts, the musical score absolutely ties it all together. More importantly, a coaster with this speed (and launch elements) won’t be effective outdoors and will have much more impact if you have speakers hidden within your motorbike and sidecar.
Speaking of the ride, if we are correct about where Hogsmeade is in terms of the English countryside, it is just beyond the forest. Therefore, this ride has got to take place inside some sort of magical forest filled with tall pine trees, rolling hills and naturally: magic and mystery. You could certainly place the entire forest inside a massive show building, but the odds of that are slim. Taking into account the sightlines within Hogsmeade currently, it wouldn’t be easy to hide and plus, this gives you the opportunity to see portions of the coaster before you ride it. Always handy for liability purposes, but it also becomes Instagram-worthy, and who doesn’t want free marketing?
Who’s ready for the good news? This ride won’t have screens. At least, not in the sense that in the last few years, new attractions at Universal Orlando are made more (or entirely) of screens than physical show sets. In this case, Hagrid’s roller coaster is mostly outdoors where screens wouldn’t read in various lighting conditions (not to mention the speed). I suspect there could be a few screens within the indoor portions of this ride, but they won’t play a key role within those sets.
That’s right, I said indoors and outdoors. Say what you will about Dragon Challenge being a great inverted roller coaster (and it was!), by having the entire attraction outdoors, you could see literally every move it made and there was no element left for surprise. We know that Hagrid isn’t the best driver and the bike isn’t the most reliable, therefore to keep an element of surprise and to stay within the story, I believe we are going to have to go inside a few small show buildings. More on that in a second.
Thanks to a few aerial shots of the construction that has already begun on Hagrid’s roller coaster, we can gather a few things. First of all, based on how many of the foundations and supports that have already been poured, this ride will be mostly low to the ground as we stated earlier.
In addition, there could be a spike nearish the wall of the attraction that blocks Islands of Adventure from Turkey Lake Road. A spike is basically a steep hill that a coaster climbs and appears to have a dead end near the top. Meanwhile, the track behind you can switch so you can go backward for a portion of the ride. Think of Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom without the gnarled track ahead of you. Keep in mind, you aren’t “on a track” according to this story (you are absolutely on a train in Everest), but “flying on a motorbike” instead. I would bet your bike “runs out of gas” and you slowly fall back through the forest until something breaks your fall.
If I can take a guess, your bike will try and make it up over the tall pine trees and just not quite make it and you’ll “haphazardly” roll backward eventually into a small show building. Now how do you move forward again? I’ve got a guess that I’ll keep under wraps for now, but if I’m right, you’ll be falling for it every time.
What is the exact track layout? I believe the above image is pretty darn close, if not dead on accurate. Created by OrlandoParkstop.com, this progression follows the current path of where the supports lie (so far) within the construction zone for Hagrid’s roller coaster. It goes on to fill in the gaps of what isn’t there yet, but this layout completes the circuit. Bravo for putting this together! It gives you a great idea of just how well this space is utilized and how long this roller coaster will be!
Finally, now that we know what kind of coaster it is, who it revolves around (Hagrid) and what kind of elements the coaster will have, that’s it, right? Not exactly. No doubt, a ride through the forest will be cool, but you’ve got to have some special effects and appearances from other Harry Potter characters, right? No doubt, we will see the Weasley flying turquoise car again. After all, it was always parked out front of the entrance to Dragon Challenge for years anyway. I have a feeling it’s still in the forest, but still might be flying around somewhere. In addition, I do think we could run into some other mythical creatures and possibly even Hagrid himself!
And there you have it, our comprehensive coverage on Hagrid’s roller coaster headed to Islands of Adventure in 2019. There is still much construction left to be done and we are going to have to wait for official word from Universal Orlando to see how many of these predictions come true. If I could guess, we will see some news about this new attraction very soon since The Fast and The Furious: Supercharged is now open and Universal wants to throw something else out there for the media to chew on to tease next year’s offerings. Your thoughts?
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