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Dragon Challenge

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Dragon Challenge
DragonChallengeEntrance.JPG
Entrance to Dragon Challenge
Previously known as Dueling Dragons
Islands of Adventure
Park section The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Coordinates 28°28′25″N 81°28′24″W / 28.47361°N 81.47333°W / 28.47361; -81.47333Coordinates: 28°28′25″N 81°28′24″W / 28.47361°N 81.47333°W / 28.47361; -81.47333
Status Closed
Opening date May 28, 1999
June 18, 2010 (post-refurbishment)
Closing date September 4, 2017
Replaced by Harry Potter-themed roller coaster [1]
General Statistics
Type Steel – Inverted – Dueling
Manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard
Designer Werner Stengel
Model Inverted Coaster
Lift/launch system Chain lift hill
Chinese Fireball Hungarian Horntail
Height 125 ft (38.1 m) 125 ft (38.1 m)
Drop 115 ft (35.1 m) 95 ft (29.0 m)
Length 3,200 ft (975.4 m) 3,200 ft (975.4 m)
Speed 60 mph (96.6 km/h) 55 mph (88.5 km/h)
Inversions 5 5
Duration 2:25 2:25
Height restriction 54 in (137 cm)
Trains Several trains with 8 cars. Riders are arranged 4 across in a single row for a total of 32 riders per train.
Dragon Challenge at RCDB
Pictures of Dragon Challenge at RCDB

Dragon Challenge (known as Dueling Dragons from 1999 to 2010) was a pair of intertwined, inverted roller coasters in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter area of Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida, United States. The ride was themed to two chasing dragons, one side being Chinese Fireball and the other Hungarian Horntail, it featured a layout in which the two trains shared adjacent lift hills but traversed two unique courses. The ride was designed by Bolliger & Mabillard of Switzerland. The Chinese Fireball dragon reached a top speed of 60 mph, and the Hungarian Horntail dragon reached a top speed of 55 mph. Both versions featured five inversions and a total ride time of two minutes and 25 seconds.

When Islands of Adventure opened on May 28, 1999, the ride was called Dueling Dragons and was located in The Lost Continent area with the two sides named Fire and Ice, during much of the ride's history, the trains were dispatched simultaneously, providing three near-miss encounters along the courses. However, after two injuries related to loose objects hitting riders on the other coaster, the roller coasters were dispatched separately, after a renovation period, the attraction reopened in mid-March 2010, and was officially renamed as Dragon Challenge with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter grand opening on June 18, 2010.

On July 24, 2017, Universal Orlando officials announced that Dragon Challenge would close after September 4, 2017, to make way for a new attraction based on the Harry Potter franchise that is scheduled to open in 2019. Demolition of the ride began later that month.[2]

History[edit]

Dueling Dragons (1999–2010)[edit]

Entrance of the former Dueling Dragons coasters at Islands of Adventure

Dueling Dragons was one of Islands of Adventure's original attractions, opening with the theme park on May 28, 1999, in The Lost Continent area of the park. At the time, it was the only fully inverted dueling roller coaster in the world, the ride was themed to two dueling dragons. The queue was decorated to be a ruined castle that the two dragons destroyed, once the riders got to the station, they got to choose between which of the two coasters they would like to experience. The blue coaster was named Ice and the other Red coaster was named Fire.[3]

Dragon Challenge (2010–2017)[edit]

In May 2007, Universal announced plans to construct The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new section devoted to the popular Harry Potter book and film series.[4][5][6] Dueling Dragons, as well as the adjacent Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster, were shown to be included in the new section.[7] Universal later announced that the attraction would be renamed Dragon Challenge upon the re-opening of the attraction and that the two roller coasters would be renamed as Hungarian Horntail and Chinese Fireball.[8][9]

Construction on re-theming the queue began in the third quarter of 2009;[10] in the first quarter of 2010, the ride closed in order to refurbish the attraction to incorporate the Harry Potter theme.[11][12][13] In mid-March 2010, the roller coasters reopened to the public.[12][14][15] On June 18, 2010, with the opening of the entire The Wizarding World of Harry Potter section, the ride officially became Dragon Challenge.[9]

During the summer of 2011, there were two accidents (one serious) caused by what is believed to be loose objects hitting riders while riding the roller coaster, the most serious accident was when a man got struck with an object and had to get his eye removed due to the amount of damage. On the same day that the man got hit, Universal Studios announced that the coasters would not duel until an investigation was completed, for two months the coasters were dispatched separately and in mid-October 2011, Universal made the decision to remove the dueling aspect of the ride permanently without any explanation to what caused the injuries.[16][17] No injuries have been reported since.

On July 24, 2017, Universal Orlando officials announced that the coasters would be making way for a new roller coaster based on the Harry Potter franchise that has been scheduled to debut in 2019. Due to this, Dragon Challenge was officially closed on September 4, 2017.[18][19][20]

Ride experience[edit]

Head-to-head on the former Dueling Dragons
The ride's distinctive interlocking corkscrew tracks

Queue[edit]

When first entering the queue, guests were taken past a number of banners for the Triwizard Tournament showing support for the four contestants, after passing the Weasleys' crashed flying Ford Anglia, they entered the Champions' Tent. From there, guests passed a large pedestal with the Triwizard Cup glowing at the top, and several dark "tunnels" which lead to both coaster's stations. Just before entering the station, guests had to choose which coaster they want to ride: Chinese Fireball to the left or Hungarian Horntail to the right. Once in the station, on the ceiling, there was a projection of the dragons.[21]

The queue before the Harry Potter refurbishment was set as a ruined castle where the Fire and Ice dragons lived, the queue passed through dungeons and included human skeletons, torches, and cobwebs. Just like the present queue, to ride Fire, guests would go left while riders wanting to ride Ice would go right at the intersection point.[22]

In April 2015, metal detectors were installed as a permanent fixture to the entrance, the attraction officially had metal detectors, security with metal detecting wands, and a zero tolerance policy for cell phones, wallets, coins, watches, cameras, anything that could be placed in one's pockets; all pockets were to be absolutely empty prior to boarding. Persons in violation would be sent to the lockers or possibly ejected from the park without a refund.[23]

Track layout[edit]

Ride layout

Chinese Fireball[edit]

Upon departing from the station, the train made a slight left turn leading into the transfer track section before beginning to climb the 125-foot (38 m) lift hill. Once at the top and after going through a pre-drop, the train made a sharp 115-foot (35 m) left-hand drop back to the ground. Then, the train goes back up, through an Immelmann followed by a slight downward right turn before entering an air-time hill (this was the first of three near-miss points with the Hungarian Horntail train when the roller coasters duelled). Next, the train dropped back down turning left slightly leading into a second Immelmann, after a downward right helix and a short section of straight track, the train goes through the second former near-miss point with the other train, a vertical loop. After the loop and another section of straight track, the train made a right turn leading into the third and final former near-miss element which was a corkscrew. Then, the train made a left turn followed by a small drop leading into another section of straight track before entering the final element in the coaster layout, another corkscrew, the train then made a left turn into the final brake run. Following a left turn, the train returned to the station where riders unloaded and the next riders load.[3][24]

Hungarian Horntail[edit]

Upon departing from the station, the train made a slight right turn leading into the transfer track section before beginning to climb the 125-foot (38 m) lift hill. Once at the top and after going through a pre-drop, the train made a sharp 95-foot (29 m) right-hand drop back to the ground. Then, the train goes through a 270 degree right overbanked turn before entering a Zero-gravity roll which was the first of three former near-miss points with the Chinese Fireball train. Then, the train made a slight right turn heading straight into a wall before entering a Cobra roll, after a straight section of track, the train enters the second former near-miss point with the other train, a vertical loop. The train then made a right turn into the final former near-miss point, a corkscrew. Next, the train made a right turn followed by a left turn leading into the final brake run. Following a right turn, the train returns to the station where the riders unload and the next riders load.[3][25]

Track[edit]

The steel track was approximately 3,200 feet (980 m) in length and the height of the lift was approximately 125 feet (38 m) for both roller coasters. The first drop for Chinese Fireball was 115 feet (35 m) while Hungarian Horntail 95 feet (29 m). Chinese Fireball's track was red and Hungarian Horntail's was blue. Both coaster's supports are white.[3][26]

Trains[edit]

Dragon Challenge operated with several steel and fiberglass trains, each train had eight cars with four seats for a total of 32 riders per train. The trains front seat gave a mouth resemblance while the rest gave off resemblance to hands. All the Hungarian Horntail trains resembled a blue ice dragon while all the Chinese Fireball trains resembled a red fire dragon.[27][28]

When the coaster cars duelled, in order to make the trains meet at each of the three near-miss points along the layout, the trains would be weighed once they were loaded at the station to adjust the dispatch times. (For example, if the Chinese Fireball train weighed more than the Hungarian Horntail train, the Fireball would be dispatched after the Horntail.)[29]

Reception[edit]

Inverted seating of the Chinese Fireball track

Dragon Challenge has generally been well received since its opening in 1999 and up until its closing in 2017. Guests typically preferred one of the coasters over the other.

In the annual Amusement Today Golden Ticket Awards for the Top Steel Roller Coasters, Dragon Challenge ranked in the top 50 every year between 2000 and 2012, it peaked at position 11 in 2002.

Golden Ticket Awards: Top steel Roller Coasters
Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Ranking [30] 13[31] 12[32] 11[33] 14[34] 16[35] 15[36] 18[37] 23[38] 14[39] 17[40] 31[41] 28[42] 35[43] [44]

In Mitch Hawker's worldwide Best Roller Coaster Poll, the two tracks are ranked separately; in every year that the steel roller coaster poll has been held, Chinese Fireball has ranked higher than the Hungarian Horntail. In 1999, Chinese Fireball and Hungarian Horntail peaked at positions 9 and 18, respectively.[45]

Mitch Hawker's Best Roller Coaster Poll: Best Steel-Tracked Roller Coaster[45]
Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Chinese Fireball 9 [nb 1] 10 11 18 15 19 17 19 31 32 40 [nb 1] 52 57
Hungarian Horntail 18 [nb 1] 25 26 29 30 26 23 26 37 40 46 [nb 1] 60 71

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://orlandoinformer.com/blog/dragon-challenge-closing-new-harry-potter-ride
  2. ^ White, Tharin (September 24, 2017). "Photo Update: Disney and Universal construction from above". Attractions Magazine. Retrieved November 9, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d Marden, Duane. "Dragon Challenge  (Universal Studios Islands of Adventure)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Harry Potter theme park planned". BBC News. May 31, 2007. Archived from the original on May 12, 2014. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  5. ^ Sturcke, James (May 31, 2007). "Harry Potter theme park to open in Florida". The Guardian. Archived from the original on August 31, 2013. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  6. ^ Powers, Scott (May 31, 2007). "Wizarding World of Harry Potter coming to Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  7. ^ Sciretta, Peter (September 15, 2009). "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Details, Concept Art, Videos Revealed". Slash Film. Archived from the original on June 6, 2014. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  8. ^ Dewayne Bevil (September 15, 2009). "Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open in spring 2010 at Universal Orlando". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on November 16, 2009. Retrieved September 16, 2009. 
  9. ^ a b Bevil, Dewayne (June 18, 2010). "Fans stream into Harry Potter theme park for grand opening". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on December 30, 2012. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  10. ^ Sim, Nick (October 14, 2009). "Dueling Dragons queue changes, but no closure date yet". Theme Park Tourist. Archived from the original on September 15, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
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  14. ^ Sim, Nick (March 15, 2010). "Dueling Dragons set to reopen on March 18 at Universal's Islands of Adventure". Theme Park Tourist. Archived from the original on September 15, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Progress in the Wizarding World – Butterbeer cart, moving owl, sneak peek at new ride". Orlando Attractions Magazine. March 18, 2010. Archived from the original on September 15, 2014. Retrieved September 14, 2014. 
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  17. ^ "Universal Orlando's twin dragon coasters will never 'duel' again". Orlando Sentinel. October 19, 2011. Archived from the original on December 28, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  18. ^ Bevil, Dewayne (July 24, 2017). "Universal: Dragon Challenge to be replaced with new Harry Potter ride". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 27, 2017. 
  19. ^ Kubersky, Seth (July 24, 2017). "Universal Orlando announces new Harry Potter coaster replacing Dragon Challenge". Attractions Magazine. Retrieved July 27, 2017. 
  20. ^ James, Kristin (July 24, 2017). "Universal will replace Dragon Challenge with new Harry Potter coaster". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved July 27, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Dragon Challenge roller coaster queue at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter". InisdeTheMagic (YouTube). May 29, 2010. Archived from the original on October 30, 2014. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Dueling Dragon,Ice,Fire,Preshow,and Que-line". THEMEPARKGEEK63 (YouTube). December 30, 2007. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Using Metal Detectors To Screen Riders On Roller Coasters: Why It's Good & How It Will Keep You Safer At Theme Parks | The Travel Guide". Travel Guide. May 1, 2015. Archived from the original on September 23, 2016. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Dragon Challenge: Chinese Fireball Front Seat on-ride HD POV Universal Studios Islands of Adventure". wwwCOASTERFORCEcom (YouTube). November 15, 2012. Archived from the original on December 10, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Dragon Challenge: Hungarian Horntail Front Seat on-ride HD POV Universal Islands of Adventure". wwwCOASTERFORCEcom (YouTube). November 15, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  26. ^ Marden, Duane. "Dragon Challenge Layout Photo  (Universal Studios Islands of Adventure)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  27. ^ {{cite RCDB|coaster_name=Dragon Challenge Chinese Fireball Car Photo|location=Universal Studios Islands of Adventure|accessdate=December 27, 2012|url=http://rcdb.com/558.htm?p=2150}}
  28. ^ Marden, Duane. "Dragon Challenge Hungarian Horntain Car Photo  (Universal Studios Islands of Adventure)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  29. ^ Jason Garcia (October 19, 2011). "Universal Orlando's twin dragon coasters will never 'duel' again". Orlando Sentinel. Tribune Newspapers. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
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  1. ^ a b c d No Steel Roller Coaster Poll was held in 2000 or 2011.

External links[edit]