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Dragon Challenge at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Secrets of the queue

Dragon Challenge was a dueling chasing roller coaster that used to be located inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. While the coaster has been in place since Islands of Adventure opened – it was formerly called Dueling Dragons in The Lost Continent‘s now-defunct Merlinwood section – the ride still packs plenty of thrills.

Although the ride has been shuttered to make way for a brand-new Potter family-friendly coaster, we’ve preserved Dragon Challenge’s many secrets in our Prop Graveyard. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and up the attraction’s queue to re-discover them…

Dragon Challenge in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Dragon Challenge in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

The first secret occurs just a few steps up the outdoor queue. Unknown to many guests, midway up the pathway there is an opening that gives you an awesome view of the area where the Frog Choir and Triwizard Spirit Rally perform, and a perfect view of Hogwarts Castle.

View from Dragon Challenge queue at Universal's Islands of Adventure
View from the queue
View from Dragon Challenge queue at Universal's Islands of Adventure
View of Hogwarts from the queue

Since Dragon Challenge scares off many adults and younger children – and the rest of the people walking up the queue want to get to the ride – the viewing area is usually empty. That means when the crowd is six or seven deep for the live shows, you can come up here and easily get an excellent view of the performances.

When the show is over, get ready for some fantastic pictures in front of Hogwarts. This may very well be the single best place in the park for Hogwarts photos! With this being said, this location is now past the ride’s (recently added) metal detectors. On slow days, you may be able to ask a team member to take a picture in this location, but on moderate to busy days you will no longer be able to take a camera here.

And there’s one more surprise waiting for you. Just before you cross the bridge and enter the castle, you get to check out Ron’s wrecked car. This is one of the actual vehicles used in the movie production:

Ron's car in Dragon Challenge queue at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Ron’s car

At any time, you can leave the outdoor queue using this staircase up by the castle – it’s a shortcut to the back of Hogsmeade Village:

Dragon Challenge queue at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Shortcut to the exit

Similarly, you use the same shortcut for re-riding purposes – so you don’t have to exit into Hogsmeade and walk all the way back up the outdoor queue just to try out the other dragon. Look for this on your way out of the castle:

Dragon Challenge queue at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Shortcut back up to the queue

Once you enter the castle, you will likely be surprised by just how far you have to walk to get to the loading area. They keep the area very dark, so be sure to take your time walking through to catch all the details and artifacts.

When you reach the loading area, carefully read the directional signs; if there are lines, it often looks like the front row line is actually the regular line. But you do not want to get in the front row line unless you specifically want to ride in the front row, because the wait for it is much longer than waiting to ride in any of the other rows.

Also, there generally are no team members in the loading area queue space – they’re only up by the coasters’ vehicles. So do not wait to be directed through the queue and up to the coasters. Simply navigate through the lines and get up to the front, and get ready to ride!

Dueling vs. chasing

Please note that Dragon Challenge is dueling in the sense that the tracks wrap around each other. However, the actual coaster vehicles no longer duel or launch at the same time. Instead, they chase each other:

Dragon Challenge at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Dragon Challenge at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Dragon Challenge at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Dragon Challenge at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

About the cessation of the dueling coasters


For more than a decade, the signature thrill of Universal Orlando’s Dragon Challenge has been the ride’s three near-collisions, in which the attraction’s two intertwined roller coasters, speeding along their tracks at up to 60 mph, pass within 18 inches of each other.

Riders will never experience that again.

Universal said this week it has decided to permanently end the practice of launching the two coasters simultaneously. The resort now bills the attraction as a “high-speed chase between two coasters.”

That decision follows an internal investigation into two summer accidents in which riders were apparently struck by loose objects while aboard the attraction. One was gruesome: a 52-year-old Puerto Rico man suffered a lacerated right eye and ultimately had to have the eyeball removed, according to his lawyer.

“We believe this is the best path forward for our guests and for the attraction,” Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said of the decision to permanently alter Dragon Challenge.

Precisely what happened in the two incidents remains a mystery. Universal will not discuss the findings of its review, though the resort’s statements in the aftermath of the two incidents – in which it reminded guests of its long-standing policy to secure all loose items before boarding the coasters – suggest that they may have been caused by items falling out of guests’ hands or pockets as the coasters raced along their tracks.

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Which coaster is the best?

You will have to answer this question for yourself, because there is no consensus about which of the two coasters is more fun. The important thing to know is that the two tracks are different, so to fully experience this attraction, you need to ride both.

Dragon Challenge – HD video

Please note that this video shows the coasters dueling. As noted above, they no longer duel.

Dragon Challenge – photo gallery

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