On the heels of Disney’s grand list of resort-wide announcements at this year’s D23 expo, Universal Orlando has officially confirmed that their iconic Dragon Challenge dual coaster will permanently close. In their place, a new roller coaster will rise, further expanding the ever-popular Wizarding World at Islands of Adventure.
The rumors of Dragon Challenge leaving have been building up since last year, and as time progressed, it seemed like more and more of an inevitability. Now that we know a brand new experience is coming, it is time to speculate on what exactly will make its way to the park (as early as 2019). In this article, we will review the three most likely options for a type of coaster that can be built on the plot of land Dragon Challenge occupies.
What We Know
Based on the official Universal press release, we were given several details that seem to hint at what kind of attraction we are receiving. For starters, Universal claims this ride will be both thrilling and “fun for the whole family.” Upon hearing this, one can immediately assume a ride as large as Dragon Challenge—or a coaster in close comparison; however, this is probably out of the question as coasters of this kind tend to be geared to thrill seekers and a different demographic. Universal goes on to say that this new attraction “will be one of the most highly-themed coaster experiences we’ve created. It will combine a new level of storytelling with an action-packed adventure…and a few surprises along the way.” This starts to sound more and more like an indoor coaster, as the setting is very strongly rumored to be set in the Forbidden Forest from the series. To achieve this rumored setting, an all-indoor coaster like Revenge of the Mummy or Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts would best achieve high levels of theming. Throw in the mention of creatures in the ride and we have our concept: a thrilling, family fun, highly themed roller coaster. Now that we have these details in order, let’s go through the three most rumored options that meet these criteria.
Intamin Bike Coaster
Bike coasters are a kind of roller coaster where riders sit on themed seats made to look like motorbikes, ATVs, Jet Skis, etc. They offer a unique seating arrangement, unlike most coasters, and tend to be very fast-paced. The most recent two examples of these rides are the Tron Lightcycle Power Run ride at Disneyland Shanghai and the Wave Breaker coaster that opened this year at Seaworld San Antonio. The Tron version, while built by Vekoma, has similar elements to Wave Breaker (Intamin version) in terms of a launch and tight banking turns, but is far superior in theming and execution. Something akin to this would be perfect for a flight through the forest. Rumors as recent as last week (at the time of this article) have stated Universal would partner again with Intamin (who helped create Escape from Gringotts) and develop a bike coaster with multiple launches, forwards/backwards sections, and detailed show sequences. The icing on the cake is that the ride vehicles will be themed to Hagrid’s motorbike from the films and books, complete with a sidecar for multiple seating arrangements. This option is rather intriguing when you factor in that the Magic Kingdom is adding the Tron coaster to their park about two years after Universal’s coaster.
The wildest coaster by far on this list is the SFX coaster by Dynamic Attraction, which is truly one of the most innovative in the industry. Parks can pick and choose ride elements that range from a track that can drop vertically straight down at high speeds, a tilt track facing a screen that can send the coaster cars sliding backward, turntable elements for 4D effects, and a track that can simulate a landslide. While this is certainly more intense than the bike coaster, it can provide an immersive experience, unlike the typical indoor coaster can. Depending on what Universal would want out of this type of ride, they can create a thrilling voyage through the Forbidden Forest with very unexpected elements while still progressing the story of the ride with screen/show scene moments with the turntables. Escape From Gringotts is certainly Universal’s attempt at the SFX coaster, albeit much less intense.
Inverted Power Coaster
We come to the last and most tame option on our list: the Powered Inverted Coaster by Mack Rides. Unlike regular roller coasters that require the use of gravity to take riders through the course, this ride has special motors built into the vehicles themselves, allowing it to stop, speed up or slow down no matter where it is on the track. The seats hang from below the track like Dragon Challenge and can rotate 360 degrees to face screens or animatronics. This ride is geared towards families as it doesn’t contain any drops or overly fast sections. Plus, this fits the criteria that Universal stated in their announcement. This kind of coaster has a greater emphasis on storytelling and is perfect for a Potter-related ride. Only two of its kind exist in the world—How to Train Your Dragon and Arthur: The Ride—none of which are located in the U.S., so it would be a rather unique ride to have.
No matter what comes of this new exciting announcement, what we do know is that a roller coaster unlike any other will be coming soon. The Wizarding World keeps growing both physically and with its global fandom. Hopefully, this is the start of a plethora of attractions making their way to Universal parks all over the globe. Visit Attraction Insight for the latest on this and much more news around the universe.
DISCLAIMER: This article is tagged as a rumor. Please be aware that the information in this report can change or may not have been planned at all. Attraction Insight shall not be held accountable for the accuracy of any rumors.