In 2010, Universal changed the game in theme parks forever by opening The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure. The crowds it drew were insane. It singlehandedly took Universal from “that other resort in Orlando” to a serious player in the Orlando tourism industry; and Disney got caught with their pants down. For the first time ever they would be having to play catch up. This is what led to the development of Pandora – The World of Avatar and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the Walt Disney World resort. With these lands opening up, it was time for Universal to build upon their success at Hogsmeade. This meant taking down the legendary B&M Invert “Dragon Challenge” (formerly known as Dueling Dragons) for a more state of the art attraction. The main complaint with new Universal attractions is the reliance on screens to tell their story. That wouldn’t happen this time though. Universal creative promised us that the new attraction would be a thrilling roller coaster that would use real sets and animatronics to tell the story of a journey into the Forbidden Forrest.
Before I get into the actual review I’m going to make it known that I am not a Harry Potter fan. I’ve never read any of the books, only seen parts of some of the movies, and that’s about it. I won’t be able to tell you every single detail and exactly what it’s from, like I could with my Star Wars articles. I also never got to ride Dragon Challenge or Dueling Dragons, so I have no nostalgia for it. I will be judging Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure solely as a theme park attraction. However, I am a massive fan of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley at the Universal Orlando Resort, so for Hagrid’s to be considered “good”, it has to measure up to what Universal has already done with the Harry Potter franchise in their parks.
I’ll start off with the queue experience on Hagrid’s, which given the popularity of the attraction, is sure to be a long one. Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and the limited capacity at the parks, Motorbike Adventure is currently operating with a virtual queue that requires you to reserve a time. Be sure to do this as soon as you get to the park if you want to ride. If you’re unlucky or are getting to the park later in the day, they do drop more times occasionally throughout the day so there is some hope (albeit not much). The queue itself is beautiful and incredibly detailed. There is plenty to look at, from Hagrid’s Hut to the old castle from Dragon Challenge. Thankfully much of it is shaded, which is always a blessing in the Florida sun. Another bonus is the ride has a moving loading platform, which means the line almost never stops as long as the coaster is working properly. Therefore, waiting an hour or so for Hagrid’s isn’t that bad of an experience. After going through the queue you’ll eventually enter the main preshow room, which basically just explains what’s going to happen in today’s lesson. Truthfully, the pre-show is just okay and not that memorable in my opinion. It gets the job done though. After this, you’ll go through a few more rooms, and then you’ll be ready to board the ride.
The trains on Hargrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure are unique to pretty much any other coaster I’ve ever ridden, since both rows have entirely different seats. The one on the right is the motorbike seat and the left is the sidecar. It’s worth noting that given the way Hagrid’s loads, it is almost a guarantee that if you’re using the single ridieer line, you’ll be seated in the sidecar. I can’t tell you exactly what the sidecar is like, because I’ve been fortunate to be seated on the motorbike side every time I’ve ridden Hagrid’s. That’s where you want to be if we’re being honest.
Normally at this point in the review you would expect a breakdown of the ride experience element by element. I will talk about the ride experience, but I don’t think the traditional element by element breakdown makes a lot of sense for Motorbike Adventure. The coaster is made up of a lot of tight twists and turns with a bunch of launches mixed in throughout the ride. This allows the coaster to keep its speed while staying low to the ground. There really aren’t very many drops on this ride, however it does have the only drop track on a coaster in Orlando. This was my first drop track and I absolutley loved it. It still caught me a little off guard even though I knew exactly when it was coming. It might be my favorite moment on the coaster. The launch towards the end of the ride experience would probably be my second favorite, as it’s the most forceful and really get you up to a pretty decent speed for a family coaster. Overall the coaster portion of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure delivers on all fronts. It’s thrilling enough for even the most hardcore coaster enthusiast but still approachable enough for younger kids who may just be transitioning to the bigger thrill rides. Most of the launches are fairly forceful and glossy smooth. It’s a fairly long ride course as well, and it maintains good pacing throughout, except when the ride slows down for certain story elements.
Now let’s talk about those story elements. At the top of this review I mentioned how Universal promised a coaster that would not only be fun to ride, but have a narrative as well. So how well did they do it? Well, thankfully Hagrid’s contains no screens of any kind during the ride. Even Rise of the Resistance can’t say that. The only screens you’ll find are in the preshow and another room in the queue, which is fine since while you’re on the ride you’ll be treated to some of the best animatronics Universal has done in a long time. They’re not perfect, but since this is a coaster and you’re almost always moving they’re fairly convincing. The sets themselves are very well done, especially the Forbidden Forest where the drop track is located. Throughout the coaster the iconic Harry Potter music is used, which is always welcome. Overall, Universal has done a really good job bringing fans of the franchise back into the world of Harry Potter, in fact I’ll say it’s easily the most immersive Harry Potter attraction they’ve ever done. Gringotts and Forbidden Journey are a lot of fun, but really the most immersive part of those attractions are their respective queues. They both have their cracks and Forbidden Journey’s have become even more noticeable in recent years unfortunately, but Hagrid’s really puts you in that world from start to finish.
To sum it all up, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the smash hit Universal really needed. It delivers on all fronts and puts you back in the world of Harry Potter. My only real critiques are that 1.) one of the animatronics at the beginning isn’t the best (you can see the stand it sits on) and 2.) the ride wasn’t very reliable when it opened. Nowadays it sees very little downtime, so I can’t really complain about that anymore. While Rise of the Resistance is my favorite attraction in Orlando, Motorbike Adventure is punching in the same weight class in my opinion. It’s the first new Universal attraction in a few years that I believe warrants planning a whole trip for. It comes with a high recommendation from me.
Final Score: 9.5/10
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