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Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Dragon Challenge coasters will no longer ‘duel’

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After a couple of incidents, the Dragon Challenge “dueling” coaster (formerly known as Dueling Dragons) located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park will no longer duel.

The Orlando Sentinel newspaper has been following the story of a change on the way the Dragon Challenge roller coaster is run. The ride has two separate tracks and coaster cars that run on them simultaneously. At one point in the ride, riders on each train come around a loop at the same time, providing them a thrilling moment when they come within a few feet of each other.

After a couple of incidents in which riders reported being injured by something coming off riders on the other train (one person lost an eye), Universal decided to have the coasters run staggered, eliminating the “near-miss” moment while they investigated the issue. The newspaper reported …

It’s a substantial change for an attraction specifically designed with the near-misses in mind. Dragon Challenge is even programmed to calculate the weight of the two coasters after they are loaded with riders to ensure optimal timing.

Universal Orlando 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.”

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our guests and our team members,” Schroder said. “This attraction has been through extensive safety inspections and continues to live up to our high safety standards.”

Although the ride has operated since 1999 as a dueling coaster, the recent incidents are the first to be widely reported.

What do you think? Is the ride as fun without the near-miss? Should the ride be changed because of a couple of incidents?

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8 comments

cliff October 20, 2011 - 11:38 am

i will no longer ride with it this way. the near misses are the highlight. i have ridden it when only ice was running early in the morning, and it just isn’t the same. add in the very poor queue management and it’s not worthwhile.

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OT October 21, 2011 - 6:36 am

When I wasn´t in the front seat I never experienced the near misses so it doesn´t make me ride it less. That said, the que WAS the highlight for me, but after the HP makeover it´s boring so now I skip it (for that reason).
Alsp I think safty is more important than an effect so well done USO.

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Chad October 21, 2011 - 10:12 am

My wife and I only rode DD in the front seat. I think this change will ultimately just make the line shorter.

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Gloria October 21, 2011 - 10:13 am

I agree with OT …unless you were in the front row, you hardly even realized that there was a “near miss.” It’s a great coaster and I’m sure “front-row” aficionados will find something “missing,” but the rest of the world won’t even know the difference.

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Jim October 21, 2011 - 2:11 pm

It maybe true that you get less of an effect from a non-front row seat, but it was a great part of the ride. Will it be less of an experience than it once was? yes. With it still be a great roller coaster? Of Course. I always thought the last seat was the best one since as the front car goes around a bend the last car by effect is Drawn around that corner with much more force. I’m more of an Incredible Hulk guy anyway 🙂

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Ramona October 21, 2011 - 5:57 pm

I’ve read other reports that say this was caused by a person bringing something on to the ride (someone riding on the opposite train of the people injured.) Possibly some type of ‘rocket’ stated one website, apparently one that could easily be put together after the security check and was being released at the big “near-miss”. If that is the case, then I think changing the ride is ridiculous. With the technology available now, they should be able to equip the ride with major security mechanisms, and if someone is doing something cruel and awful then they need to catch that person and arrest them. Safety is definitely the most important thing but if this truly was a person doing this, then Universal just let them win.

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CJ34747 October 23, 2011 - 1:05 am

Totally agree with Ramona. When I first read this, my first impression was some young punk probably threw something intentionally at the other coaster – now ruining the future experience for everyone.

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linds January 25, 2012 - 5:21 pm

I read somewhere that they were originally going to change the colors of these for the opening of the wizarding world….that might be what would have to happen in order to keep some kind of hype…but honestly the near miss is the best part. somebody who has ridden this a thousand times thought it would be hilarious to see if they could hit someone. moron. your going at that speed, of course it is going to INJURE someone…

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