Dragon Challenge, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s high speed roller coaster, marks a permanent change this week. The ride consists of two separate tracks that intertwine — part of the thrill of this attraction is the near miss experienced when ride vehicles are released and hit the intersection at the same time.
Due to concerns about flying objects (at least two riders were hit with flying debris this summer), Universal Orlando had temporarily changed the timing for this ride. This week, the change became permanent; while both coasters will continue to run, the cars will be released at different times, so they do not cross paths during the ride experience.
Originally released as Dueling Dragons, the coaster features a pair of inverted cars; each track offers riders a different experience. The ride was given a makeover and included in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter area, though the vehicles and themeing look different,the ride remains the same.
In recent months, the ride, renamed Dragon Challenge has sparked safety concerns as at least two park guests have been injured by falling debris. The primary concern surrounds items that fall from rider’s hands and pockets while the coasters intersect. At high rates of speed, even pocket change can pose a risk to guests aboard one of the Dragon Challenge vehicles.
Failure to secure loose items presents a safety challenge shared by other coasters, including Disney’s Rock N Roller Coaster and Sea World’s Manta. The risk is magnified by Dragon Challenge’s interlinked tracks and deliberate close calls. By modifying the timing of the Dragon Challenge cars, Universal can eliminate the risk caused by the “close calls” without modifying the track or detracting from the ride.
The change to Dragon Challenge went into effect in mid-summer, and became permanent this week.