|Click here to watch the on-ride POV|
|Manufacturer||Bolliger & Mabillard|
|Designer / calculations||Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH|
|Type||Steel - Inverted - Twin|
|Riders per train||32|
|Propulsion||Chain lift hill|
Dragon Challenge was a pair of dueling inverted roller coasters located at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida, USA. The ride was the only dueling inverting roller coaster in the world, and one of only two Bolliger & Mabillard coasters to be removed completely, along with Lightning at Kuwait Entertainment City, which closed in 2016.
The ride initially opened on May 28, 1999, as Dueling Dragons. It featured a layout with two unique courses and three near-misses between the two trains, which brought riders' feet within several inches of riders on the other train. The ride was constructed by Switzerland's Bolliger & Mabillard. Both sides were two minutes and twenty-five seconds long. The tracks were named Fire and Ice. The queue line featured rectangular stained glass windows with Merlin telling a story, Merlin's spellbook, a hallway with defeated knights, and a dungeon with skeletons.
In May 2007, Universal announced plans to construct The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new section devoted to the famous Harry Potter book and film series. Dueling Dragons and the adjacent roller coaster Flying Unicorn were shown to be included in the new section. Universal later announced that Dueling Dragons would be renamed Dragon Challenge upon the re-opening of the attraction and that its two coasters would be renamed Hungarian Horntail and Chinese Fireball.
Construction on re-theming the queue began in the third quarter of 2009. In the first quarter of 2010, the ride closed to refurbish the attraction to incorporate the Harry Potter theme. In mid-March 2010, the roller coasters reopened to the public. On June 18, 2010, with the opening of the entire The Wizarding World of Harry Potter section, the ride officially became Dragon Challenge.
As thick glass cell phones became more popular, riders would begin carrying them in their pockets, and they would sometimes fly out of riders' pockets. In 2011, a 52-year-old man was struck by a flying object. His right eyeball was severely damaged, so it had to be removed. As a result, Universal permanently turned off the dueling feature, the ride's signature element, and took extensive measures to ensure the trains would not duel. Soon enough, the ride's popularity began to fade. Four years later in 2015, the queue line received metal detectors. However, the metal detectors failed to restore the dueling feature.
On July 24, 2017, Universal Studios announced that Dragon Challenge would close on September 4 and be replaced by a new Wizarding World roller coaster in 2019, which was later confirmed to be named Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, an Intamin LSM launched roller coaster that opened on June 13, 2019. The two roller coasters were subsequently scrapped. While the Incredible Hulk Coaster, also at Islands of Adventure, had its track replaced during 2015 and 2016, Dragon Challenge is the second of two B&M roller coasters to be removed and not relocated.
Chinese Fireball (Red)
After leaving the station, the train makes a slight left turn leading into the transfer track section before climbing the 125-foot tall chain lift hill. Once at the top and after going through a pre-drop, the train makes a sharp 115-foot left-hand drop back to the ground, reaching 60 mph. Then, the train goes through an immelmann followed by a slight airtime downward right turn before entering an airtime hill (this was the first of three near-miss points with the Hungarian Horntail train when the roller coasters dueled). Next, the train drops 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 near-miss point with the other train, a vertical loop. After the loop and another section of straight track, the train makes a right turn leading into the third and final near-miss element, a corkscrew. Then, the train makes a left turn followed by a slight drop leading into another section of straight track before entering the final element in the coaster layout, another corkscrew. The train then makes a left turn into the final brake run. The train returns to the station following a left turn, where riders unloaded, and the following riders load.
Hungarian Horntail (Blue)
After leaving the station, the train makes a slight right turn leading into the transfer track section before climbing the 125-foot chain lift hill. Once at the top and after going through a pre-drop, the train makes a sharp 95-foot right-hand drop back to the ground, reaching 55 mph. Then, the train goes through a 270-degree right overbanked turn before entering a zero-g roll, the first of three near-miss points with the Chinese Fireball train. Then, the train makes 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 makes a right turn into the third and final near-miss point, a corkscrew. Next, the train makes 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 unloaded and the following riders load.
8 cars per train. Riders are arranged 4 across in a single row for a total of 32 riders per train.
In 2011, Universal decided to make the Dragons stop dueling. While riding, three riders said they got hit by something, injuring them. After examining the coaster, the park stated that it could not be the coaster. Nevertheless, they thought people had cell phones, shoes, rocks, or something to throw at the riders in the other train. After this incident, Universal permanently stopped the coasters from running simultaneously. They also added metal detectors to all of their large coasters' entrances.
The layout of the two tracks
- "Harry Potter's world will come to life at Universal Orlando". https://www.travelweekly.com/Destinations2001-2007/Harry-Potter-s-world-will-come-to-life-at-Universal-Orlando.
- "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter celebrates its one-year anniversary". https://orlandoinformer.com/blog/wizarding-world-harry-potter-relive-year-one/.
- "The Legacy of Dueling Dragons - Two One of a Kind Dueling Roller Coasters". ElToroRyan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTsQvVl8tZ8.
- "Universal Studios Halts Harry Potter Roller Coaster "Duel" After Man Loses Eye". https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/universal-studios-halts-harry-potter-roller-coaster-duel-after-man-loses-eye-6560695.
- Metal detectors become permanent at 3 Universal rides
- Islands of Adventure to Retire Dragon Challenge For New Family Coaster in 2019 - NewsPlusNotes
- on the Roller Coaster DataBase.
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