ORLANDO, Fla. - News 6 producer Landon McReynolds was among the first to ride Universal Orlando's new roller coaster, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
Here are his review and walk-through impressions.
Thousands of people packed into Universal on Thursday as the park's immersive new roller coaster, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, opened to the public.
The new ride combines a new level of storytelling and innovative coaster technology with rich environments and sets, including 1,200 live trees that give the look of the Forbidden Forest.
On Tuesday, Universal welcomed media members into the park to experience the new ride before it had its official grand opening ceremony.
News 6 reporter Erik Sandoval and I were among the first on the ride.
As you begin your journey into Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, you may get the same feeling of what was formally there: Dragon Challenge. For fans of Universal, you may remember the thrilling sound of a coaster spinning into a double loop near the entrance. Universal's new coaster brings back that same level of excitement, but with a motorbike speeding over a hill and into the Forbidden Forest.
As guests venture up the queue, they'll see Hagrid's hut, a number of outdoor tools and a number of large pumpkins.
It appears as though some of the large orange fruits have been clawed into. Could a Hippogriff be nearby? As you venture deeper into the attraction, you'll be greeted by some of the ruins of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
This is where your Care of Magical Creatures class with Hagrid will begin. Right before you head inside for the first time, take a look at the sculpture on the wall that pays tribute to Grindylows and Selkies, the water demons that Harry Potter comes in contact with the black lake in the "Goblet of Fire" book.
As you move deeper inside, guests are split into smaller groups for a short preshow experience. Hagrid and Arthur Weasley greet guests and welcome them to their Magical Creatures class. This is also the first time guests get to see the ride vehicle, the flying motorbike.
Guests will then twist and turn through a number of rooms that will get them close to what appears to be an area where Hagrid has collected a number of large eggs.
Some of the eggs appear to have hatched, and there is evidence that one creature is long gone. Could a dragon be on the loose? If you have taken a ride on Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey, you know that Hagrid was looking for a dragon.
Keep moving deeper into the caverns of the ruins and you will make your way into what appears to be the chamber where Hagrid has developed a creature not seen in the films -- the blast-ended skrewt. Think of this creature as a cross between a giant scorpion and an elongated crab that shoots fire, and has a distinctive smell. You will come face to face with this creature later on, and the level of detail during this point of the ride is incredible.
By this point in time, guests are getting close to the end of the line. This is a good time to test the ride vehicle you're about to hop onto. Universal has a test ride vehicle to see what seat works best for you -- the motorbike or the sidecar.
As you wait in this final room, take a look up. This is a really cool area featuring a preshow that shows the motorbikes in action. At one time, fire from the back of the motorbike illuminates the entire area and someone has to use the Aguamenti spell to put the flames out.
As guests get closer to boarding the ride, giant screens show them how to board.
Each ride is different, depending on what seat you pick. I think the sidecar looks a little more intense because of the steep banks the coaster makes during its nearly 1 mile of track. If you choose the motorbike side, you will really feel the thrill for sure. Make sure you listen for Hagrid, as he gives you instructions on how to speed up the ride. No spoilers, but this part was very cool and completes the ride as it is near the end of the attraction.
From this point, it's time to take off and enjoy the ride.
I have to say that, overall, this ride was incredible. Universal has outdone itself with this immersive new coaster. The level of detail and storytelling makes the ride one of the best in Orlando.
For fans of roller coasters, this one is for you. Not only do you get to ride on a motorbike, but the ride goes at speeds of up to 50 mph.
You will hurl past challenging obstacles, get surprised after becoming entangled in a thicket of Devil’s Snare and see a number of creatures from the "Harry Potter" films. As soon as I got off, I wanted to go again.
Get ready to have your mind blown!
I can see this ride being a favorite at Universal for years to come.
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