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COASTER: HagRide


Kirmes & Park Revue English Edition - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 1/2020 vom 16.12.2019

After a ten year wait, with years of criticism, Universal Orlando Resort has opened a ride that does not rely on video screens. “Ha grid's Magical Creatures Motor bike Adventure” is a roller coast er adventure, packed with thrills, incredibly lifelike animatronics, and is perhaps the resort ’s most ambitious ride to date.


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The latest addition to the “Wizzarding World of Harry Potter” area at Islands of Adventure, “HagRide” (short form) is the first attraction to not use video screens since the Maurer Rides “Holly - wood Rip Ride Rockit” roller coaster opened at Universal Studios in 2009, and for Islands of Adventure itself it’s the first new ride since “High In The Sky Seuss Sky Trolley” opened in 2006 that doesn’t have a screen.

Fans of the resort have long been asking for a new ride to be added that relied on physical thrills and entertainment rather than looking at screens, and they surely can’t be disappointed by “Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure”. Of course this latest roller coaster does unfortunately come at the cost of “Dragons Challenge” coaster (former “Duelling Dragons”), which, in part, was removed following a number of incidents caused by in - appropriate rider behaviour. After nearly two years of demolition and construction, the new Intamin family launch coaster was unveiled to the public in June with great fanfare, with Universal Studios call - ing it the world’s first story coaster. Of course what they meant by that is that it’s part dark ride and part roller coaster.

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Upon arriving in the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter ” themed area, the first thing visitors realise is that much of the ride is hidden from sight, keeping the adventure ahead a secret. Dominating the area instead, is a large stone building, and a small section of the ride. With the queue line winding past Hagrid’s Hut, it’s time to enter the stone building. Waiting guests navigate through a series of narrow corridors and large rooms, with multiple preshow areas teasing that they might just be about to board the ride, but no, they help to break up the 4 or 5 hour wait with clever effects and humour, and there’s still more queueing to go. One can’t help but be impressed by the queue area, it really does feel like you’re venturing through the world of Harry Potter. Mina Lima, a design studio that worked on the graphics props for the Harry Potter films also worked on aspects of the theming for the queue line. There are also many Easter eggs throughout the queue line for Harry Potter fans to try and spot, such as the golden egg from the Triwizard Tournament, and there’s also graffiti on a wall suggesting Hagrid was in love with Olympe who he flirts with in a number of the books. Finally arriving at the ride station the guests are amazed when seeing the stunning trains they’re about to board. Yes, they’re about to take flight on Hagrid’s motorbike and sidecar. These are some of the most impressive coaster trains one will ever come across, the decision now is does the rider want to ride on the motorbike or be the passenger in the side car. It had been intended to offer a differ - ent height restriction between the motorbike and the side car, but Universal have decided not to operate that way. A constant moving conveyor belt, and back-to-back ride cars, means loading is quick and there appears to be a never ending train of motorbikes. Loaded in and with the lap bar firmly in place, the train, made up of seven cars, rolls smoothly out of the station. As it banks right and drops down there is a tiny kick as the first of six LSM launches send passengers off to a flying start, with on-board audio roaring up the bike engine, and Hagrid introducing them to the journey ahead.

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FAST FACTS

■ Opening: 13th June 2019

■ Track length: 1,540 m

■ Track height: 19.8 m

■ Max. speed: 80 km/h

■ Total ride time: 4 min

■ Pure ride time: 3 min (from 1st launch to brake)

■ 12 trains each with 7 cars per car 2 pass.

■ Capacity: 1,700 pph

■ Manufacturer: Intamin

■ Operator: Universal Resort Orlando, Florida, USA

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An S-bend curve brings guests to the second and longer LSM, catapulting them to the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Racing down banking under a bridge , into the view of those queueing to ride, the undulating track brings one to a slow crawl through a hut. In the hut guests come face to face with the incredibly lifelike animatronic of Hagrid, with extens - ive movement. Next to him though is the lobster like creature, the Blast-Ended Skrewt, which sadly is rather unimpressive with the rotating mechanism clearly visible with no attempt made to mask it. Al - though mentioned in the books, the Blasted-Ended Skrewt doesn’t appear in the films, so this is the first time Potter fans get to see one in real life. With the Blasted-Ended Skrewt supposedly blast ing, the bikes roll gently out of the hut to the third, even longer LSM launch with a puff of steam, which sends passengers racing high up and through the crumbling ruins of the stone building. The ride drops down through a tight 180° turn for a series of swoop ing S bends over a lake, again in full view of those eager to ride.

A fourth LSM gives the train a boost as it climbs up to a banked right hand turn, sending one out of view of park guests.

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More undulating track and tight turns through narrow tree lined paths brings the vehicle to a section of trim brakes that slow down, slightly, when rac - ing past another impressive animatronic. Fluffy, the three-headed dog, is one of the most iconic creatures in the Harry Potter films, and seeing him face to face will no doubt send a tingle of excite ment down the spine of riders. Only the middle head appears to have any movement. A right hand turn brings guests to the fifth LSM launch where they see the famous Ford Anglia Flying Car, that’s been overrun by pesky Cornish Pixies. The launch sends guests racing towards a rock face, just in time to drop down through a cloud of smoke and under the rocks. But there’s a problem, the bike loses power when heading towards the top of a forward spike, without any power there’s one option, to drop backwards down the way of coming, travelling back under the rock wall and into the LSM launch for a reverse boost. Unbeknownst to riders a switch track has slid across meaning that they’re now heading backwards along a different section of track.

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A tight left turn, taken at speed, leads the bikes into a cave where a large static Centaur stands guard. Rolling slowly backwards further into the cave, twist - ing as they go, the trains become tangled in Devils Snare. Hagrid’s voice advises everyone they must cast a magic spell if they are to stand any chance of es cape. The spell works, as out of the blue, the track drops down vertically 5.2m, much like “Thirteen” at Alton Towers. But beware, you’re now surrounded by baby Blast-ended Skrewts. Rolling off the drop track the train crawls to the final LSM launch, this time it’s the fastes t of them all and the train races into a tight left hand helix, low to the ground for the added impress ion of speed. One last climbing S turn and the train arrives in the brake run inside the castle ruins, and one final animatronic, this time a Unicorn and her baby. It has to be said that overall this is a hugely impress ive ride featuring many of Intamin’s best tricks, from the launches to the drop track to the smooth twisting layout. The theming, apart from a couple of poor animatronics, is stunning and guests truly feel like they’re immersed in the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter”. As one would imagine with a new ride at a Universal park, it’s attracting huge crowds and queue times rarely drop below four hours. What doesn’t help is that also this ride – as other coasters at the park – struggles to run in heavy rain, which Florida summers are notorious for, and as a result taking some time to reboot the ride after a shutdown. The best time to join the queue seems to be right after the rain, and before it actually reopens. Hopefully the challenges the ride is posing for Universal Studios won’t put them off building more physical experience rides. As great as their screen based rides are, a park needs a mix of the real and the virtual to cater for all tastes. The smiles on riders faces, and the cheering on the brake runs tells you all you need to know as to whether the ride is worth the wait.

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These waiting times are rediculous, but just normal


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Even the queuing line is amazing and well themed


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Artikelbild für den Artikel "COASTER: HagRide" aus der Ausgabe 1/2020 von Kirmes & Park Revue English Edition. Dieses epaper sofort kaufen oder online lesen mit der Zeitschriften-Flatrate United Kiosk NEWS.

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Photos: Wolfgang Payer Marcus Gaines Universal Studios

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