Harry Potter: Everything You Need To Know About The Wizarding World's Latest Ride
Do theme park rides need spoiler warnings?
Universal Studios Orlando has added yet another iconic Harry Potter location to their Wizarding World area in the Islands of Adventure theme park: The Forbidden Forest, home to all sorts of whimsical creatures big and small, has become a part of the land, and it's brought with it a brand-new attraction. The extensively named Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is a "story coaster" thrill ride which takes visitors on a high-speed tour of the Forbidden Forest's many magical residents during a Care of Magical Creatures lesson gone totally awry.
Situated outside of Hogsmeade with a spectacular view of Hogwarts proper, the ride is the first of its kind for the Wizarding World parks--a narrative-driven roller coaster with absolutely no motion simulation or video elements on the ride itself. Of course, that doesn't mean there isn't a recorded pre-show featuring some familiar Harry Potter universe faces--but if you're worried about the potential motion sickness that comes from staring at a stationary screen on a moving ride (a la Wizarding World's other two key attractions: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Escape From Gringotts) you're in luck.
Of course, simulation elements or otherwise, that doesn't mean this ride is for the faint of heart. We took a trip to Universal Studios Orlando to experience the ride. Here's everything you need to know to make sure your trip to the Forbidden Forest is a successful one.
It's a real roller coaster
Sure, it may not have any cloud-scraping, upside-down twists or hundred-foot hills, but let us tell you, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is definitely a roller coaster--and assuming it won't actually feel like one is definitely a mistake. With a top speed of 50 miles per hour with 7 different launch points and a unique motorcycle-and-sidecar styled cart system, everything about the Wizarding World's newest attraction is designed to feel like a thrill ride, despite the fact that it combines the elements of an old school dark ride with animatronic dioramas and a story that follows the coaster's progression.
There's a free fall drop and a backward section
Consider this your official heads up if you like being aware of what you're getting yourself into--you know, before you strap yourself onto a ride you can't get off of. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure includes an extended backward section where your car will be thrown into reverse. But that's not the most thrilling part. It also includes a nearly 17-foot free fall drop that serves as an impromptu track change--a pretty shocking moment considering having the track suddenly fall out from under you is generally not something roller coasters are supposed to do.
It's in the Forbidden Forest, just outside of Hogsmeade
There are two parts to the Wizarding World in the Universal Orlando Resort: Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios. To experience the Forbidden Forest, you'll need to head to Islands of Adventure, where the new attraction sits just outside of the tiny village, in the shadow of Hogwarts castle.
Oh, and the "Forbidden Forest" moniker is literal--the team at Universal planted more than a thousand real trees to achieve the look of a dense, ancient forest right in the middle of their theme park.
The queue is amazing--and really, really long
The ride opened to the public on June 13 to massive crowds--and the lines to match. Fans were waiting upwards of 10 hours to experience the attraction, so thankfully, the design that went into the queue area is really impeccable. Not only is it filled with clever Harry Potter easter eggs, it's also really, really long. Probably not 10-hours long--but long enough so that the bulk of your time waiting in line will be spent out of the sun in the relatively cool indoors.
The story totally works
Coherent narratives and thrill rides don't usually work all that well together--after all, it's kind of tricky to keep up with a story when you're being thrown around at high speeds--but Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure somehow finds a balance between the two. The plot isn't really complicated: Hagrid wants to teach some Care of Magical Creatures students (i.e. you, the rider) about Blast-Ended Skrewts, and to do so, he's enlisted the help of Arthur Weasley to help soup-up and duplicate his iconic motorcycle and sidecar. The plan is to take students on the cloned vehicles out to a special workshop he's got set up in some old castle ruins, teach a lesson, and get out of there--but of course, that doesn't exactly go as planned. And, as it turns out, adding dragon fire as a sort of nitrous-boost to an already charmed motorbike is a recipe for all sorts of chaos.
The cars are designed as motorcycle and sidecar combinations, meaning you'll need to pick which one you want to ride. On the motorbike, you'll need to lean forward and hold onto the bike's handles, in the sidecar, you'll need to just hold on to the safety bar and hope for the best. Both give a totally unique feel to the ride.
It's got some size restrictions
Unfortunately, because of the unique shape of the cars, there are some size restrictions on this ride that aren't made completely obvious--there's the minimum height requirement of 48 inches, but there's also a less specific (and less readily obvious) maximum size. Test the fit of the bike and sidecar in the display seat before spending time in the line--there's nothing worse than getting all the way through a queue wait only to discover that you're unable to ride. It's all pretty ironic, given the fact that the ride is Hagrid themed while it definitely could not accommodate Hagrid himself.
It's better at night
While the ride totally works in daylight, it's somehow even better at night. Not only do the motorbike cars each get their own individual headlight to add some flavor to the experience, but the forest-and-ruins setting also comes to life in a brand-new way when they're half-covered in shadow. Also, there's one specific story beat where you're asked to hit a glowing purple button if you're riding on the motorbike itself--and you'll be likely to miss the moment in the sun, but you'll definitely spot it after the sun has set.
The animatronics are incredible
The ride's scenes are packed with animatronics--from Hagrid himself to various monsters from the Harry Potter universe. Some are very large--like Fluffy, the three-headed Cerberus dog--and some are easy to miss like the mischievous Cornish Pixies--but they're all incredibly well done. Keep your eyes peeled as you whirl around the ruins.