UNIVERSAL ORLANDO Resort
Universal Studios Theme Parks
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (2019)
at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
By Lance Hart
After a whirlwind trip to Orlando I’m back in the saddle again and very excited after getting the opportunity to get a few rides in on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure two days ahead of the grand opening. (Thank You once again to Universal Orlando!)
Of course if you didn’t see our social media posts, the ride opened to the public on Thursday, June 13th, allowing guests to get in line for Hagrid as early as 6am. Even though the park didn’t officially open until 9am, they opened the gates early to allow guests into a special queue for Hagrid’s that stretched from the ride all the way around to the front of the park, which then exploded out into CityWalk sometime after 8:00 AM with an estimated 8.5 hour wait, and by 9:30 AM the Universal Orlando app reported that the line had reached an astonishing 600 minutes (10 HOURS!) in length.
I’m not sure I would wait 10 hours for anything, especially in Orlando’s hot weather, but then again for many theme park and Harry Potter fans, gathering together for these kind of once-in-a-lifetime events is part of the attraction, just to be able to say that they were there. Me? I was driving home to North Carolina all day, but I’m told that despite the long wait and some complications along the way, the ride remained open until at least midnight to accommodate those who waited in line all day.
As for the attraction itself? Simply put, it is a masterpiece. As much as I still miss Dueling Dragons (and it will always be Dueling Dragons to me), Hagrid’s was enough of a thrill that it did make me forget all about the beloved Fire & Ice Dragons of the past. The stats alone are very impressive with an overall track length of just under a mile at 5,053ft. Riders either sit on a motorcycle or in the sidecar next to it and get blasted off on a wild adventure at 50mph through an environment themed as castle ruins in Hogsmeade and through the densely populated (1,200 trees!) Forbidden Forest which comes alive as you encounter various species of Magical Creatures. Keeping the coaster track low to the ground most of the time, twisting and turning through the ruins and winding through the trees only helps to make the speed of the ride feel even faster, especially when you run through any one of the SEVEN magical (LSM) launch track sections. You read that part right as well… there are a total of SEVEN LSM launches during the ride experience that will move you both forward and backwards through the forest… not to mention a hidden 17 foot vertical free fall drop track.
This all comes after you journey through the ride’s epic queue which starts outside in Hogsmeade, winds through the forest, past Hagrid’s Hut before you cross the drawbridge of the castle ruins and enter the indoor portion of the queue which is full of various hints, clues and encounters with various magical creatures from the Wizarding World as part of a Care of Magical Creatures in-the-field classroom experience as taught by Hagrid himself. They have even added a pre-show experience room where you’ll learn that Hagrid and Arthur Weasley have been working to install a ‘dragonfire’ booster device into Hagrid’s motorbikes. Think of it as the Wizarding World’s equivalent of a NOS booster, only a little more... ummm… unstable?
After your long journey to the heart of the castle you’ll finally prepare to board your Motorbike and have to pick if you want to sit on the bike or in the sidecar. I heavily recommend the bike side myself, as you sit a little higher up, changing the center of gravity, and heightening many of the ride’s thrilling sensations. Of course I used be a motorcycle rider myself when I was younger and the feeling of sitting up there again, rushing through the woods, really brought that experience back to life for me. Aided by an amazing track layout where all the curves and feelings of acceleration just felt exactly right, it was as if I really was riding my old motorcycle once again. That said, there is nothing wrong with a ride in the sidecar seat, as many riders may prefer the more enclosed nature of it. For all my larger coaster and theme park loving friends know that there is a test-seat for each out at the entrance to the ride, and another test-seat inside the final room of the queue. From our experience the motorbike seat is actually a little more roomy than the more enclosed sidecar, with the lapbar only restraint system just coming down across your upper legs and front pockets. So if you have a concern about being able to ride, I suggest you try that seat first, as I found the bike to be very roomy and while I fit in the sidecar as well, it was a bit more snug.
The load and unload system is also very impressive. Similar to Harry Potter for the Forbidden Journey, Universal has opted to use a moving walkway and keep the trains in constant motion as they move through the unload area, turn a corner and enter the long loading station, giving everyone more than enough time to climb aboard their vehicle and get secure. Before you know it you are turning the corner and heading outside and immediately launch off onto a wild adventure that really is unlike anything you have ever experienced before on a coaster as you blaze a trail through a highly themed and realistic looking environment on what Universal refers to as the world’s first ‘Story Coaster’.
The pacing here is also one of the best I’ve seen, as you do slow down at points when passing certain pieces of scenery, only to accelerate out and away once again and back into the action over and over again. Much like any good story, there are emotional highs and lows. You’ll get the adrenaline rush from the speed, mixed with moments of shock or fright as you experience the strange and unexpected along the way before you go rushing back home once again with the aid of the dragonfire booster. The one thing I knew for sure by the end is that I had to get back in line and try it again.
If you get the chance, once the crowds die down a bit, I also recommend taking it for a spin during the daytime as well as again at night. Hagrid’s motorbike is fully equipped, not only with an impressive on-board sound system, but with a full assortment of headlights and brake-lights that are put to use when riding through the forest after dark. There is also a very impressive dragonfire effect that is very cool looking when riding at night. Day or night, without a doubt, this is the most impressive themed rollercoaster in Florida right now and you won't want to miss it.