Dragon Challenge

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Dragon Challenge
DragonChallengeEntrance.JPG
Entrance to Dragon Challenge
Previously known as Dueling Dragons (1999 - 2010)
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 Operating
Opening date May 28, 1999
June 18, 2010 (post-refurbishment)
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 (formerly known as Dueling Dragons) is a pair of intertwined inverted roller coasters in the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter area of Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure. The ride is themed to two chasing dragons, one side being Chinese Fireball and the other Hungarian Horntail. It features a layout in which the two trains share adjacent lift hills but then traverse two unique courses. The ride was designed by Bolliger & Mabillard of Switzerland. The Chinese Fireball dragon reaches a top speed of 60 mph, and the Hungarian Horntail dragon reaches a top speed of 55 mph. Both versions feature five inversions. The total ride time is about 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 people, the roller coasters are now 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.

History[edit]

Entrance of the former Dueling Dragons coasters at Islands of Adventure

Dueling Dragons (1999 - 2010)[edit]

Dueling Dragons was one of Islands of Adventure's original attractions, opening with the theme park on May 28, 1999, in the park's The Lost Continent area. At the time, it was the only fully inverted dueling roller coaster in the world. The ride was themed to two dueling dragons, with one track named Ice and the other named Fire.[1]

During construction, Superior Rigging & Erection was responsible for erecting the supports and track of the two roller coasters.[2]

Dragon Challenge (2010 - present)[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.[3][4][5] Dueling Dragons, as well as the adjacent Flying Unicorn roller coaster, were shown to be included in the new section.[6] 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.[7][8]

Construction on re-theming the queue began in the third quarter of 2009.[9] In the first quarter of 2010, the ride closed in order to refurbish the attraction to incorporate the Harry Potter theme.[10][11][12] In mid-March 2010, the roller coasters reopened to the public.[11][13][14] On June 18, 2010, with the opening of the entire The Wizarding World of Harry Potter section, the ride officially became Dragon Challenge.[8]

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.[15][16] No injuries have been reported since.

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 are 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 enter the Champions' Tent. From there guests pass 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 must 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 is a projection of the dragons.[17]

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.[18]

Track layout[edit]

Ride layout

Chinese Fireball[edit]

Upon departing from the station, the train makes 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 makes 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 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 former 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 former near-miss element which is a corkscrew. Then, the train makes 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 make a left turn into the final brake run. Following a left turn, the train returns to the station where the riders unload and the next riders load.[1][19]

Hungarian Horntail[edit]

Upon departing from the station, the train makes 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 makes 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 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 final former 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 unload and the next riders load.[1][20]

Track[edit]

The steel track is approximately 3,200 feet (980 m) in length and the height of the lift is approximately 125 feet (38 m) for both roller coasters. The first drop for Chinese Fireball is 115 feet (35 m) while Hungarian Horntail 95 feet (29 m). Chinese Fireball's track is red and Hungarian Horntail's is blue. Both coaster's supports are white.[1][21]

Trains[edit]

Dragon Challenge operates with several steel and fiberglass trains. Each train has eight cars with four seats for a total of 32 riders per train. All the Hungarian Horntail trains resemble a blue ice dragon while all the Chinese Fireball trains resemble a red fire dragon.[22][23]

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.[24] For example, if the Chinese Fireball train weighed more than the Hungarian Horntail train, the Fireball would be dispatched after the Horntail.

Reception[edit]

Inverted seating of the Chinese Fireball track

Dragon Challenge has generally been well received, with most riders preferring the Chinese Fireball track.

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 [25] 13[26] 12[27] 11[28] 14[29] 16[30] 15[31] 18[32] 23[33] 14[34] 17[35] 31[36] 28[37] 35[38] [39]

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.[40]

Mitch Hawker's Best Roller Coaster Poll: Best Steel-Tracked Roller Coaster[40]
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

These poll results are supported by a review by Jeremy Thompson of Roller Coaster Philosophy. Thompson ranks the Chinese Fireball a B- and the Hungarian Horntail a C+; only The Incredible Hulk and Jurassic Park River Adventure are ranked higher. Thompson also made comparisons between the ride in its generic-themed state versus the Harry Potter theme added in 2010 stating the "roller coaster has also lost a certain poetic quality that made the original so pleasurable". The loss of the dueling function also contributed to the lower ranking.[41]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d No Steel Roller Coaster Poll was held in 2000 or 2011.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Marden, Duane. "Dragon Challenge  (Universal Studios Islands of Adventure)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Services". Superior Rigging & Erection Company. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Harry Potter theme park planned". BBC News. May 31, 2007. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  4. ^ Sturcke, James (May 31, 2007). "Harry Potter theme park to open in Florida". The Guardian. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  5. ^ Powers, Scott (May 31, 2007). "Wizarding World of Harry Potter coming to Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  6. ^ Sciretta, Peter (September 15, 2009). "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Details, Concept Art, Videos Revealed". Slash Film. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ 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 29, 2012. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  9. ^ Sim, Nick (October 14, 2009). "Dueling Dragons queue changes, but no closure date yet". Theme Park Tourist. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  10. ^ Sim, Nick (March 1, 2010). "Dueling Dragons closes at Islands of Adventure to undergo Dragon Challenge transformation". Theme Park Tourist. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Niles, Robert (February 19, 2010). "Vote of the week: When will the Wizarding World of Harry Potter open?". Theme Park Insider. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  12. ^ "Dueling Dragons closes today". Orlando Theme Park News. February 27, 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  13. ^ Sim, Nick (March 15, 2010). "Dueling Dragons set to reopen on March 18 at Universal's Islands of Adventure". Theme Park Tourist. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Progress in the Wizarding World – Butterbeer cart, moving owl, sneak peek at new ride". Orlando Attractions Magazine. March 18, 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "Universal Announces Changes To Coaster". wesh.com. August 17, 2011. Archived from the original on December 28, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  16. ^ "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. 
  17. ^ "Dragon Challenge roller coaster queue at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter". InisdeTheMagic (YouTube). May 29, 2010. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Dueling Dragon,Ice,Fire,Preshow,and Que-line". THEMEPARKGEEK63 (YouTube). December 30, 2007. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Dragon Challenge: Chinese Fireball Front Seat on-ride HD POV Universal Studios Islands of Adventure". wwwCOASTERFORCEcom (YouTube). November 15, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Dragon Challenge: Hungarian Horntail Front Seat on-ride HD POV Universal Islands of Adventure". wwwCOASTERFORCEcom (YouTube). November 15, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  21. ^ Marden, Duane. "Dragon Challenge Layout Photo  (Universal Studios Islands of Adventure)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  22. ^ Marden, Duane. "Dragon Challenge Chinese Fireball Car Photo  (Universal Studios Islands of Adventure)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  23. ^ Marden, Duane. "Dragon Challenge Hungarian Horntain Car Photo  (Universal Studios Islands of Adventure)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  24. ^ Jason Garcia (October 19, 2011). "Universal Orlando's twin dragon coasters will never 'duel' again". Orlando Sentinel (Tribune Newspapers). Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Top 25 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 7B. August 1999. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Top 25 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. August 2000. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Top 25 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 7B. August 2001. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Top 25 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 7B. September 2002. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 14–15B. September 2003. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 18–19B. September 2004. Archived from the original on April 3, 2007. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 26–27B. September 2005. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 26–27B. September 2006. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 11 (6.2): 36–37. September 2007. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 12 (6.2): 36–37. September 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 13 (6.2): 32–33. September 2009. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 14 (6.2): 34–35. September 2010. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 15 (6.2): 38–39. September 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 16 (6.2): 36–37. September 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  39. ^ "2013 Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 17 (6.2): 34–35. September 2013. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  40. ^ a b Hawker, Mitch. "Best Steel Roller Coaster Poll 13 year results table". Best Roller Coaster Poll. Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  41. ^ Thompson, Jeremy (March 1, 2012). "Universal's Islands of Adventure". Roller Coaster Philosophy. Retrieved April 14, 2013. 

External links[edit]