The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the the popular twin-tracked rollercoaster Dragon Challenge will no longer be dueling its two coaster trains, and this time it’s permanent.
In the 10 years before The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the ride was called Dueling Dragons and featured two intertwined tracks that allowed the cars to race and give a thrilling experience to riders. While the name changed to Dragon Challenge and the themeing tweaked a bit with the re-theming of the area to fit Harry Potter, the ride system itself stayed the same. Over the summer, there were two incidents in which riders were injured by flying objects, with the proximity of the ride cars to each other being blamed as the culprit. As a precaution, Universal started dispatching trains out of sync so they would not match up along the track. It’s interesting that in over 10 years, only two recent incidents have led to this major change. The Sentinel also adds “Records show that Universal has reported five injuries involving the attraction during the past decade, including reports of chest pain, back pain and groin pain; vomiting; shortness of breath; and numbness in one arm. But none of the incidents involved a rider being struck by a loose object.” This is one of the best rollercoasters in the world and it’s sad to see this change. They have decided to stagger the launch of the trains so they will no longer have the near misses they once had. The worst part of this change is that the ride was intentionally designed by Bolliger & Mabillard to have 3 near misses throughout the run. What a lot of people are unaware of is that before the Harry Potter expansion happened, if you stood infront of the entrance to the ride at a specific spot on the ground, it gave you a perfect view of the 3 misses. The best feature of the ride was when you roll along full speed right at the other train, only to be swept upward into a loop, coming within inches of the other trains passengers feet. The chain lifts are even designed to change speed based on the weight of the ride trains so that the trains meet at the precise spots for the effect each time. At the end of the day, safety is top priority for Universal Orlando, and if this is the easiest way to prevent further incidents, so be it.