Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the not only the newest attraction at Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it’s also the first major new addition since the Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley lands both opened in 2010 and 2014, respectively. Unlike other attractions like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or Escape from Gringotts, this new ride is a bona fide roller coaster with intense thrills that also combine with some tactile and highly themed dark ride elements to make for a hybrid of sorts that’s unlike anything either of Universal Orlando’s parks has done before. It is, quite simply, the best ride at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter yet.
But with news of 10-hour wait times on opening day and demand likely to be high in the coming months, you may be curious to know just what you’re in for if you make the trek to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park and journey back to Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. You’re in luck, as I got an early look at the attraction and got to speak to some of the people responsible for creating it in the first place. Here’s what you need to know.
The setup of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is that you, the guest, are a student in Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class and you’re hopping on an enchanted motorbike to tour the grounds.
- The ride takes place deep in the Forbidden Forest, behind Hagrid’s hut, and as you walk through the queue you’re immersed into ruins that have long since been abandoned. Hagrid uses the ruins to keep and care for his cadre of creatures. 1,200 actual live trees were planted throughout to make the area even more lifelike.
- You can choose to ride either on the motorbike or the sidecar, with each giving a slightly different experience. The motorbike is higher up and allows you to stretch your arms, while the sidecar is lower to the ground.
- Both the motorbike and sidecar are outfitted with speakers, so throughout the coaster’s twists, turns, and surprises, Hagrid speaks to you as his student and original music amplifies the intensity.
- Throughout the ride, you’ll encounter Fluffy, a Centaur, Cornish pixies, Devil’s Snare, and a Blast-Ended Skrewt, all brought to life via terrific practical effects and animatronics.
- The Blast-Ended Skrewt is a creature that has not yet been brought to life onscreen and first made an appearance in the book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Hagrid created these creatures by crossbreeding Fire Crabs and Manticores, and they blow out actual fire from their “blasting ends.”
- You’ll also encounter Hagrid himself on the ride, who marks the Universal creative team’s most life-like animated figure yet. He was created and designed by using a digital scan of actor Robbie Coltrane and features an extensive motion profile of 24 different body movements and facial expressions. At 7 feet 6 inches tall, he’s the exact proportion of Hagrid in the books.
A pre-show experience finds actors Coltrane and Mark Williams reprising their roles as Hagrid and Arthur Weasley, respectively, from the Harry Potter films.
- The attraction takes up seven acres and is a mile in length, with the coaster reaching speeds of 50 miles per hour and boasting a freefall of over 16 feet.
- The coaster also features the world’s first seven launches, meaning you’re propelled forward by the ride itself (and not just gravity) seven times.
- At one point in the ride, you’re suspended mid-air and then fall backwards, zooming in the opposite direction to an unexpected location.
- The creation of the ride itself and the queue were brought to life by the Universal Creative team in collaboration with the Harry Potter movies’ production designer Stuart Craig and art director Alan Gilmore.
- Gilmore says the setting was inspired by the Scottish countryside in contrast to the London influences throughout the Diagon Alley attraction.
- J.K. Rowling and her team were involved in the creation of the new attraction and gave input and notes.
- The ride is a slightly different experience at night. Pay attention to the bike’s lights when you encounter the Cornish Pixies…
There’s plenty more to explore and enjoy throughout this attraction, and I’ve been careful to not ruin a couple of great surprises that are better experienced cold. But trust me when I say Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is seriously the best ride at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter yet—especially for roller coaster enthusiasts.