Theme Park Insider

Universal closing Dragon Challenge for new Harry Potter ride

July 24, 2017, 10:34 AM · Universal Orlando announced today that it will close the Dragon Challenge roller coaster on Sept. 4 to make way for a new Harry Potter-themed "coaster experience."

Originally called "Dueling Dragons," this two-tracked Bolliger & Mabillard inverted racing coaster was one of two attractions to survive the transformation of part the Lost Continent land into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (Flight of the Hippogriff, formerly The Flying Unicorn, was the other.) As the original name implied, the two coasters used to duel, with several near miss elements throughout their run. Due to several incidents of guests being hit by possessions from riders on the other train, Universal years ago altered the train dispatch timing to stop the dueling. The incidents also eventually led to Universal's current policy of requiring guests to clear their pockets and stow all possessions in lockers before riding major coasters.

While the concept of riding a dragon fit well within the theming of the Harry Potter land — and the well-decorated queue won favorable reviews from fans — the bare roller coaster tracks looming over the village of Hogsmeade detracted from the otherwise exacting look of the land. Even the stars of the Harry Potter films — typically ebullient with their praise for Universal — took passive-aggressive shots at the coaster's look. (At the Diagon Alley event, several people lauded the second Wizarding World land by noting the lack of visible "roller coaster track.") So many observers long had marked Dragon Challenge for removal.

Universal announced that Dragon Challenge's replacement will open in 2019 and will "be unlike anything we’ve ever done before and it will be fun for the entire family."

Other clues from Universal: "The new attraction will be one of the most highly-themed coaster experiences we’ve created. It will combine a new level of storytelling with an action-packed adventure…and a few surprises along the way."

And, "This ride is going to redefine the category and transport you to thrilling places, drawing you into even more exciting adventures within the wizarding world."

Put that together, and we should be looking at a ride with a lower height restriction than Dragon Challenge's 54 inches, a better themed, if not completely hidden, coaster track, and some sort of hybrid ride experience that combines a roller coaster track with other ride, or at least decorative, elements. Universal's been filing a slew of patents for innovative tracked ride experiences, so we'll see if any of them end up becoming the new Wizarding World ride.

The new ride should help make 2019 an even wilder year in Orlando, as rival Disney opens its Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land that year. And the announcement finally provides us with our answer as to what Universal would be adding for 2019, following the openings of the Fast & Furious ride and Aventura Hotel next year.

Replies (130)

July 24, 2017 at 10:55 AM · Phenomenal news! Dragon Challenge had a terrific run, but following the Hogsmeade transformation and the end of the dueling, it is long past time to move on. Universal keeps hitting home run after home run with these E-ticket dark ride/thrill ride hybrids, and I'm psyched to see what they come up with.

Anyone know anything about the theme? The current rumor is Forbidden Forest, but that gets touched upon during Forbidden Journey.

July 24, 2017 at 11:06 AM · Cool!

But I'm also glad I've got one more trip planned to USO before September 4th.... I'll want to make the most of my last chance to ride my favorite side -- Fire :-)

July 24, 2017 at 11:12 AM · Rumor on the street is that this will be a launched cycle attraction. Instead of row of 2 cycles, there will be one cycle and a sidecar, offering two different experiences and will allow for the lower height requirement. Should be interesting!
July 24, 2017 at 11:14 AM · Is someone at the top of Universal reading Theme Park Apprentice????
July 24, 2017 at 11:32 AM · Well this is a sad day. DD is one of the best rides there. Being an annual pass holder, my family and I are always excited about news of coming attractions to US and to IOA and this is no different. But to come at the expense of DD is bitter sweet. I really hope this isn't in the direction of the Race through New York ride with Jimmy Fallon. Since its opening, we have ridden it once and that will be the only time we will. Not only did we not enjoy it, we felt it was a step back from the Transformer ride. My only hope is that it will be similar to the mummy ride where it's a sort of dark coaster rise. I guess we will soon see. Now to plan a trip to say farewell to an old friend and ride Fire one more time.
July 24, 2017 at 11:52 AM · This has been rumored for a while. Kind of hoped we would also hear they were tearing out the Atlantis also for something decent. As a coaster fan, I hate to see DD go, as it was one of the greats, but this was bound to happen. What I do NOT want to see is stand-in actors for any of the characters. That is the only thing bad about the Hogwarts Express. Go ahead and pay for the talent. I agree about the dark coaster concept, but I find Gringotts to be too short. If they are removing a great attraction, please go all out on this. An example is they should never have even made the mummy attraction in Hollywood. That is terrible. With what is being done at Disney, Universal really cannot go cheap with this.
July 24, 2017 at 12:48 PM · Noooooooooo... DD is in my top 3 for Orlando coasters. Love the fire side....

I sincerely hope that this isn't being replaced with an attraction that requires 3D glasses.

Another great bites the dust. RIP.

July 24, 2017 at 12:58 PM · Meh, it is a coaster with Hagrid's bike and sidecar. Nothing too special really. Are people really going to leave Disney and visit Universal just because of another Potter ride? Surely WWoHP has run its course. The General Public still have not forgotten the disappointment of Gringotts.
July 24, 2017 at 1:05 PM · Universal has no choice but to open something new in 2019, to have any hope of good attendance when the Star Wars juggernaut comes to town.

The new attraction sounds promising, but I wish they could also keep Dragon Challenge (yes I know, space is at a premium, especially in Hogsmeade). Not only is it two quality coasters for the price of one, but it's also smoother than Hulk and RRR. And the timing sucks; we'll be at Universal in November.

July 24, 2017 at 1:11 PM · I don't think anybody is leaving Disney for Universal, and WWoHP has certainly not run its course, although I have honestly gone to Universal and not Disney but that was purely due to the fact that we were there during a peak time and did not want the hassle of FP+. Both parks benefit each other. I say thank goodness Universal is continuing to expand. Imagine the crowds when Star Wars hits. I will need a few days at EPCOT and Universal just to be able to avoid wall to wall crowds. Universal also does not take five years or more to make a great ride, but I also agree that I hate to see Dueling Dragons go. That was a great one.
July 24, 2017 at 1:24 PM · Sounds intersting how they're branding it as a roller coaster that will "redefine the category", I predict that it's going to be awesome!
July 24, 2017 at 1:28 PM · A shame because that's a fun coaster but totally get it because of the unthemed coaster. Just very much hoping for Arthur/Dragon Gliders ride system and not for motorbike since Tron already coming.
July 24, 2017 at 1:28 PM · It should be noted, Universal Creative recommended two independent rides. The first, family friendly. The second, reworking dualing coasters to a single thrill coaster.

Internally, Universal Creative points out Comcast brass dictated the current ad campaign highlighting the Universal Orlando resort offers thrills vs Disney's kiddie fare. And now Comcast brass are following in Disney's footsteps by adding family friendly rides.

Morale at Universal Creative is running low after the ride portions of Kong and Fallon were poorly received. Knowing FandtheF was poorly received at USH and a duplicate is being built at UO. And, most of all the AMAZING buzz coming out of D23.

They are still pushing Comcast brass for more money to begin a program of plussing their poorly reviewed rides. Their using the success Disney has achieved with their plussing program as ammunition.

July 24, 2017 at 1:59 PM · This isn't a response to Disney -- this has been planned and developed for years. Hence the quick 2019 opening date. Dragon Challenge was EOL a while back and they opted not to redo the track.

Upcoming at Universal:
- Fast and the Furious
- Nintendo Land
- New Harry Potter attraction (replacing Dragon Challenge)

The real question is -- what's next ;-D

July 24, 2017 at 2:10 PM · Didn't Theme Park Insider already redefine what a roller coaster is about a month ago?
July 24, 2017 at 2:12 PM · I am heartbroken that the roller coasters are being permanently replaced. I can't say that I didn't see it coming as many rumors have been circulating for years and the overall shape of the attraction has been falling apart, but I really really really hope that "unlike anything we've ever done before" does not include 3D glasses or screens.
July 24, 2017 at 2:13 PM · I just hope the new attraction doesn't involve 3-D glasses and screens. Universal is already depending too heavily on those.
July 24, 2017 at 2:36 PM · Good riddance. Ever since the coasters stopped dueling, I lost my interest in riding. Separately, neither one compares to Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa. Bring on the dark ride, coaster hybrid! If the new ride retains the thrills of a coaster while being set within a highly themed environment like Mummy or Rock n Roller Coaster, fans shouldn't complain.

"What I do NOT want to see is stand-in actors for any of the characters. That is the only thing bad about the Hogwarts Express. Go ahead and pay for the talent."

For some actors, it's not about money. I'm sure Universal was willing to throw a boat of cash to Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson. However, they simply may have been too busy or had no desire to do anything Potter-related anymore.

"The General Public still have not forgotten the disappointment of Gringotts."

Interesting, they must keep forgetting every time I visit and Gringotts has at least a 45 minute wait.

July 24, 2017 at 4:03 PM · This announcement is filled with hyperbole but bereft of even an ounce of detail. All we really know at this point is that another once "classic" UO attraction will bite the dust and some Harry Potter thingy is going to take up residence. Shame. At least they are saying they will replace a coaster with a coaster - there are too few coasters in Orlando already - but without any details, who knows?

Anyway, while today is not a good day for "Big Boy" coaster fans, the fact is that Dueling Dragons has been a shell of itself for a couple years now. So we look to the future, and while I am skeptical that this new family ride will redefine anything, I am hopeful it will be a fun, repeatable coaster for everyone, including people like me who aren't Harry Potter fans. We'll see.

July 24, 2017 at 2:50 PM · It's a good day for me! I get motion sickness so can't do the Dragon. I'll settle for Hagrid's bike into the Forbidden Forest.
July 24, 2017 at 2:57 PM · Interested to see what it will be. Sad about the short notice regarding Dueling Dragons. Would have like to have ridden it one more time.
July 24, 2017 at 3:21 PM · Although it is about to be gone entirely now (even the path itself) the original DD queue will always have a special place in my theme park heart. It was uniquely immersive - from the giant dragons at the entrance through the garden paths leading to the very realistic castle façade with passing looks at the coasters dueling, into and through the heavily themed castle rooms, and descending down through the long skull-filled dungeons until finally reaching the moment of choice. Great memories.
July 24, 2017 at 3:49 PM · They take up a lot of Prime space and have lost the USP of the duelling element so fair enough. However, P's Fury would be a better bet to remove if it was placed next to the other HP attractions. Good point from an earlier caller about the smoothness of DDs compared to RRR and the Hulk. Seaworld and Busch Gardens still understand rollercosters way better than Universal.
July 24, 2017 at 3:55 PM · Has HP run its course? Sure, if you're a pixie duster. But hey, those 45min and 60min wait times for Gringotts and FJ has not stopped the GP, even if, somehow, the GP sees Gringotts as a disappointment.
July 24, 2017 at 4:13 PM · Who would have predicted that the go to park for coasters in Orlando, would be Seaworld?!
July 24, 2017 at 5:27 PM · ^Agreed. My add-on for our Pandora vacation this year is SeaWorld for exactly that reason. Gotta get my thrill coaster fix somewhere in Orlando!
July 24, 2017 at 5:15 PM · Given the condition of the ride, this was bound to happen. While the coaster has only been in operation for 18 years, due to the operating schedule and location it has more wear and tear than a similarly sized coaster twice its age. From what I've heard, Dragon Challenge would only have been able to run for another year or two without a Hulk-style treatment, which Universal decided wasn't worth the investment given the ridership. The new coaster is likely to be a better fit for the area, and should give Islands of Adventure a solid family coaster, something they are currently lacking.
July 24, 2017 at 5:41 PM · Let the ride system speculation begin:

Gerslaur?

Mauer's new winged system shown at IAAPA?

Intamin launch system like Wave Rider at SWSA?

Something similar to premier rides' system used for the Mummy?

RMC's Raptor track?? (I know , I wish!=)

KUKA Generation III which is like the one (KUKA Generation II) used for HPFJ except the ride vehicles are on a roller coaster track.

In any case, I think it will a launch coaster

July 24, 2017 at 5:54 PM · And Universal is back on top again...D23 nothing!
July 24, 2017 at 5:56 PM · PLEASE NO MORE SCREENS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
July 24, 2017 at 6:29 PM · James, Are you doing universal?
July 24, 2017 at 6:30 PM · Jame,are you doing universal this trip?
July 24, 2017 at 6:52 PM · ^Nope. Can't afford the $55 upcharge to ride their train. Disney (Pandora) and SeaWorld (Mako) this year.

I am also going to stop by Six Flags New England this summer (due to a business trip), but that's it for the Rao Family in 2017.

July 24, 2017 at 6:50 PM · Wow, another Harry Potter ride. Not sure if people will go just for this new ride.
July 24, 2017 at 8:41 PM · Good, that giant junk of steel always messed up the theming

As for the ride itself, I am thinking/hoping it will be based off Fantasyic Beasts and Where to Find them, under the story of Hagrid using that book to teach us about wizarding beasts. So the loading area would be Hagrid's hut, and he'll have you ride some sort of magical creature or thingamabob, and then things go wrong on the way because of course they will. Characters from the new movie could be in portraits (as they'd be dead before this rides story takes place of course).

July 24, 2017 at 10:19 PM · The real question is, what will Universal be doing after Nintendo? Are they out of juice already? Will there be a third park? If so what will be in it?

And when will seaworld learn to fill the niche of becoming orlando's thrill park (six flags style) now that it's not cool to breed whales anymore. They only have 3 coasters, clearly need about 3 more to be called a thrill park. I believe if they do that they can save their brand and attendance from plummeting even further.

July 25, 2017 at 4:19 AM · oh no i love these coasters gutted!! im going back in october so cant even go back on them for 1 last time
July 25, 2017 at 4:54 AM · Who cares what Tom Felton thinks about roller coaster tracks?

How does the Hulk coaster fit in Marvel Land? There is an abundance of track.

I think Universal let Dragon go the crap and now taking it down like this is some grand move on their part.

In an alternate reality, Disney is celebrating its 19th year of Dueling Dragons, Disney's first true roller coaster.

July 25, 2017 at 5:16 AM · Dragon Challenge takes up a HUGE swath of land between Hogsmeade and Lost Continent. Looking at this on a map, it's nearly as big as Hogsmeade -- including the FJ show building and Hogsmeade Station.

I expect we are in for something epic.

July 25, 2017 at 5:16 AM · Dragon Challenge takes up a HUGE swath of land between Hogsmeade and Lost Continent. Looking at this on a map, it's nearly as big as Hogsmeade -- including the FJ show building and Hogsmeade Station.

I expect we are in for something epic.

July 25, 2017 at 5:28 AM · Dueling Dragons was something epic. A long time ago....
July 25, 2017 at 6:18 AM · I think they should replace Dueling Dragons with THREE dueling coasters. That'll really up the ante!
July 25, 2017 at 6:30 AM · Given Universals Potter track record this should be awesome. I agree though that hopefully it will not be 3D. Can't wait to see the concept art.
July 25, 2017 at 6:38 AM · @James Rao -- It was, I agree. At almost 20 years old it is in need of a refurb, and add to that it weakly fits into the theme at Hogsmeade. No longer duels.

The last time I rode Dragon Challenge about a year ago, it wasn't very enjoyable. The short line is proof that this ride has run its course.

It's time to replace it with something more modern that fits in with the theme better. After all, this is a theme park!

July 25, 2017 at 7:15 AM · As they showed with Hulk there's really not much that can be done to improve a large roller coaster to make it more engaging. Parks have been trying VR, but that may be a fad that moves the needle initially, but lacks any staying power. So, with the prospect of having a pair of coasters initially designed to "duel" that can no longer duel, that also take up a large amount of critical real estate adjacent to one of the most popular theme park lands in the world, I think it was a foregone conclusion that the Dragons would eventually be retired. Universal could have retracked them like they did Hulk and tried to improve the queue to make it more immersive, but the ride itself, aside from being allowed to duel again (and perhaps adding VR), would not have been dramatically changed without a complete tear down and reconfiguration, which is essentially what they're doing. I can also appreciate their desire to appeal to a more family friendly audience who not only cannot meet the coasters' height requirement, but simply don't have the stomach to be hurled upside down a bunch of times at high speed. Universal understands the need to attract families as much as those thrill seekers, and after appealing to coaster fans with the re-tracked Hulk, they're now addressing those families with kids who want to participate in the WWoHP, but don't consider Dragon Challenge an option.

Let's face it. Dragon Challenge has been on the chopping block since WWoHP opened, and fans of the B&M inverts should be glad they lasted this long. Universal retained the coasters as a cost control move, and now that they've got "proof of concept" in the Harry Potter theme park idea, they can go back and fix the parts of the original WWoHP where they cut a few corners. I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see Flight of the Hippogriff go one day too, and at some point the Lost Continent will be absorbed by Harry Potter theming. However, those thinking Poseidon's Fury will be the first to go, look at an aerial photo of the park. The Poseidon's Fury building is pretty far from Hogsmeade (essentially in the USF backlot, and as close to the Rip Ride Rocket track as it is to the WWoHP entrance). If anything were to go to make way for a Harry Potter expansion in IOA, the Sinbad theater (right next to the Hogsmeade Station) would be the first to go.

July 25, 2017 at 7:10 AM · I'm not sure who this "Clackers" is, but they just joined TPI Saturday, so based on the content the person has provided, he/she is here just to troll with absurd comments and thin arguments.
July 25, 2017 at 7:30 AM · DBCooper and AJ Hummel- the age of the ride equipment was not a factor. Hulk was a different situation and it had more than twice the number of ride cycles that either Dragon track had at the time of its closure. For the first 11 years of operation Dueling Dragons largely ran a single train on each track, while Hulk ran three, and no less than two.

People use Hulk as an example for their logic, but they're wrong. Every piece of ride equipment ages differently. The ride experience hasn't suffered like Hulk either. I've argued that they would keep Dragon Challenge around a little longer because they've apparently put some serious money into maintenance in the past couple of years. However, what seems like a significant investment, is in fact a small expense at Universal, in comparison to operators like Six Flags or regional parks, like Silver Dollar City or Kennywood.

I believe this decision comes down to the following…

  • Dragon Challenge lags far behind in popularity in comparison to other Harry Potter attractions.

  • The 54" height requirement is restrictive and excludes many Harry Potter attendees from riding.

  • The thrill factor is out-of-line with the demographics. It's teen friendly, not child and family friendly.

  • Dragon Challenge lost what little magic it had when they removed the dueling experience.

  • And finally this site offers Universal the opportunity to create a brand-new attraction within their very successful Wizarding World. This keeps the area fresh, encouraging repeat and return visitation.

Dragon Challenge is a leftover of the original park and was never created for The Wizarding World. It's a logical next step to remove it since Universal wants to continue to invest in this IP.

I could argue that Dragon Challenge is the biggest B&M roller coaster failure of all-time. It's never been popular.Lines were largely non-existent when it was part of the Lost Continent and while Harry Potter increased ridership, lines have remained short for an attraction of its size. The fading of the number 5 on the wait time sign reflects this fact. The majority of the year the line 5 minutes.

I'll be sorry to see Fireball go, but I will never miss Horntail. Sayonara Dragons.

July 25, 2017 at 7:33 AM · just had a look at google maps and i didn't relies how much of the park dwelling dragons took up
July 25, 2017 at 7:44 AM · I would note that neither dragon was that great of a B&M Invert on its own. Ice/Hungarian Horntail was down there with Great Bear as one of the worst B&M Inverts in the world. The super long, straight track leading up to the dueling loop was nap inducing, and while the cobra roll against the castle wall was well executed visually, the coaster has lost so much momentum by that point in the ride that the element (usually the highlight of a B&M coaster) is downright boring. Fire/Chinese Fireball was a bit better, but it uses repetitive elements (only coaster in the world with back to back Immelmans), and would not stand on its own without the visuals. Tatsu, another compact B&M Invert, blows Fire away with its pacing and intensity. The Dragons needed each other to make the ride exciting and engaging, and when the dueling element was eliminated, there was very little reason to ride.
July 25, 2017 at 7:53 AM · The back-to-back Immelmans and the camelback air-time hill make Fireball unique and a good ride. I agree with you entirely about Horntail. It's the lesser compared to Great Bear.

The dueling is what made the roller coaster, but another flaw is the fact that the dueling effect really only worked well for the front row. Riders views are so impaired in an inverted train outside the front row that they largely missed the dueling unless they were looking at their feet. A dueling B&M flying coaster would work a lot better for visuals.

July 25, 2017 at 7:54 AM · Hey Russ - I wonder if this Clackers clown is TH Creative incognito – just imaging TH Creative sitting there at his computer wearing Groucho Marx glasses and moustache….hahahahaa

The queue itself is so long at Dragon Challenge, plus all the space where the two coasters take up is a great opportunity for Universal to create a new E-ticket ride (Hopefully). Given the past great attractions FJ and Escape from Gringotts, I am sure we will all be excited for something new and hopefully different.

They already have it planned since this closes early September, therefore plans have to be in place and approved, we just need to wait a bit for the planned leaks to begin…

July 25, 2017 at 8:33 AM · "The back-to-back Immelmans and the camelback air-time hill make Fireball unique and a good ride."

I would agree with "unique and good", but in the Pantheon of B&M inverts, it's in the bottom third of their creations (granted almost half of them are BTR clones or mirror clones).

I don't know about you, but when I'm riding a B&M invert outside of row 1, I'm usually looking at my feet anyway, even if I'm in an outside seat. IMHO, the only element where sitting in the front row had any advantage on Dueling Dragons was the head-on dueling loops (and the castle wall approach on Ice before the cobra roll, but that's not a dueling element). All of the other near miss elements were equally effective from the back row as they were from the front, particularly the airtime hill on Fire over Ice.

I agree Brian, that queue might be the most unnecessarily long roller coaster queue in the world. It was very cool in there, but with a line that rarely extended beyond the station, most people just zipped by, even after the HP conversion. If it didn't take 5 minutes just to walk back there, and more of the coaster was viewable, I think more people would have ridden Dragon Challenge.

July 25, 2017 at 9:20 AM · Outside of the front row I'm not a fan of inverted coasters at all.
July 25, 2017 at 9:35 AM · Yes, we knew it was coming. Yes, the coasters in and of themselves weren't that great. Yes, the queue was too long. Yes, Universal went cheap and never really did anything to make the attraction more Harry Potter friendly. And yes, the removal of the dueling aspect signaled the deathknell of the ride. While all these things are true, it is still sad to see another ride I enjoyed head to the Universal scrapheap. Their modus operandi remains constant: out with the old, in with the licensed IP. *sigh*
July 25, 2017 at 9:45 AM · I really think Universal should have spent the $$$ to licence Avatar. It would have looked amazing instead of Seuss Landing or Toon Lagoon.

Instead, we now have Disney lording it all over Florida, when 7 years ago Universal had them backed into a corner.

How times change.

July 25, 2017 at 9:54 AM · James Rao said: "out with the old, in with the licensed IP. *sigh*"

Universal is a THEME park based largely on MOVIES. What in the world makes you think they shouldn't use movie-related IP to theme their parks? You enjoyed an old ride that went well past its prime!

Clackers = troll. Don't feed the troll.

July 25, 2017 at 10:04 AM · Too many roller coasters - it's the bargain basement of attractions, that only thrill seekers love, and usually have long queus because of the low load factor. Sick of them.

Give me a nice family ride (does not translate into being boring) - because Universal does lack some family rides.

And please make an attraction without bloody screens !!!!!!

July 25, 2017 at 10:27 AM · They're also owned by a media conglomerate (Comcast) heavily invested in another studio's IP with another popular IP owned by their chief rival and applied in such a way that very little can be done to it.

As anything gets more popular, planners have to stop catering to niche markets and appeal to the lowest common denominator. Big boy roller coasters, for as much as it pains me to say, are a niche market, and Sea World's choice to double and triple down on this niche is proving to be their undoing. For as much as some of us LOVE intense, long, and highly theme roller coasters (theming being the departure from our local Six Flags, Cedar Fair parks, and independent parks), they just don't appeal to the masses (even with Marvel or Harry Potter theming, or with the ability to listen to nearly a thousand different songs along the way) in a tourist destination geared towards family attractions with wide appeal with recognizable stories and characters. There's also something to be said for attractions that have outlived their usefulness, and with Galaxy's Edge coming in 2019, Universal had to respond.

July 25, 2017 at 11:06 AM · "Their modus operandi remains constant: out with the old, in with the licensed IP. *sigh*"

James, you do realize that's true for every theme park these days?

July 25, 2017 at 11:07 AM · I can fully understand the coaster junkies disappointment at losing The Dragon ride but, regardless of my personal preferences or limitations, Universal Creative's port-folio over the past decade in Orlando tells me we are in for something amazing. Exciting times again at Universal!
July 25, 2017 at 11:55 AM · @DB, Russell, and James - I didn't say I expected anything else. I get it. I understand why they are doing these things. But to me, Potter is not a compelling IP. I liked the books fine, but that world never grabbed my attention the way it seems to have grabbed others' (probably because the movies were such poor translations of the books). So I lament the loss of a decent couple of coasters that were not dependent on Harry Potter at all (face it, that theme was barely slapped on), and the addition of yet another attraction based on an IP that doesn't move the needle for me and mine.

Don't fret, though, my opinion is irrelevant since I won't be back to Universal until they stop charging an extra $55 to ride the train.

July 25, 2017 at 12:13 PM · This is really dumb. They already HAVE a Harry Potter "family" coaster called Flight of the Hippogriff.....and it's super boring. DD was still a fun and unique ride that offered TWO attractions in the space of one. This new ride will be lame. Just look at Kong (Lame) and the new Fast & Furious will be super lame (Been on it in CA). Jimmy Fallon ride is......wait for it.......lame. Universal better wake up, because Disney is about to whomp your be-hind. Get over yourself with the HP, we are over it, and the dumb train that should be free, but costs $55 to ride....
July 25, 2017 at 12:55 PM · Um ... no "Clackers" is not me. There have been a few times where I forget to log in and dump an anonymous by mistake. But don't tie my unique brand of idiocy to Clackers' trollish brand of idiocy (see, Keith Schneider ... "D23 nothing!" Please.)

I like dark ride/coaster mash-ups. 'Revenge of the Mummy,' 'Dwarf Mine Train,' 'Big Thunder,' et al.

And there sure is a ton of space currently devoted to 'Dragon Challenge.' And it's pretty much wasted on a coaster that only lasts about 1:15.

I'm sure the the team at Universal Creative will maintain its standing as a fearless organization that consistently delivers groundbreaking work.

Still won't catch Disney ... But they will continue to attract millions of guests every year.

Also Gringott's is a masterpiece.

In unrelated news: EPCOT's 'Mission Space' will have new films added and open in August! First small step toward the 50th.

(Chuckle)

July 25, 2017 at 1:25 PM · ^I think that August date has slipped to September (or later), TH.
July 25, 2017 at 1:29 PM · Damn! Schneider was right!
July 25, 2017 at 1:30 PM · James, Stop whining about the $55 to ride a train. Get a Seasonal AP for same price as 4 day ticket and it doesn't cost any more, Plus I believe it is worth it. We grab a drink and go for a train ride every day of our 10 day vacation in Universal
July 25, 2017 at 2:06 PM · While the D23 2017 announcements will see the continuing investments in WDW dramatically increased (vs D23 2015 announcements), it's the D23 2019 announcements I'm more curious to hear! At this time, the Disney Villians boutique park project is not rumored to be announced then.
July 25, 2017 at 2:40 PM · Disney will be late for it's own anniversary :-D
July 25, 2017 at 3:52 PM · I'm commenting late into the thread and I will probably kill it off, but I wanted to write a couple of long winded things-

Back in 1999 and before, a park didn't necessarily have to "theme" a land based on an IP which is why the Lost Continent at IOA existed. It had a basic story and the rides and the architectural elements blended together well. If you ever had a chance to attend Halloween Horror Nights between 2004 and 2007, you saw how this area was incorporated well into that event as well. The Terror Mines house is still very memorable to me.

Flash forward to post 2005- people in the U.S. are finally traveling again for vacations and Universal finds an IP that will give it a shot in the arm for attendance. In fact you could almost argue that Universal set the stage for IPs being used for full lands that we see today. After HP we received Cars Land, another Harry Potter area, Avatar (meh), and the most anticipated land to arrive – Star Wars.

I believe IOA was originally conceived as a thrill park. Seaworld only had a coaster or two in the early 2000’s and Disney had a couple of tamer versions like Hannah Montana’s Rock’n Roller Coaster. IOA technically had three coasters, a high-tech advanced dark ride, and a clone of a boat ride from California. There wasn’t anything like that in Orlando in 1999. Universal also embraced the notion that it was the “older” kid’s park. Many had the idea that Disney was meant for young kids and teenagers went to Universal. I think after the Harry Potter areas were built, especially with Diagon Alley, Universal realized that it needed to go after the “family” audience in order to drive more attendance. You’re not going to be able to rely only on folks that are over four feet tall for revenue. You need to go after the shorter ones as well. Whether this was something that came from the creative division or an order driven down from the Comcast corporate overlords is anyone’s guess. The parks are driven by revenue and turnstile spins so it makes sense to go this direction now. It’s not going to be popular with a portion of their audience, but they are only driving a small percentage of the attendance to the parks.

I’m a fan of Dueling Dragons, er Dragon Challenge, or whatever it’s going by this week. I remember being incredibly dizzy and nauseous after my first ride in 2004. I would keep going back to ride and I enjoyed it. I give Universal major props for keeping it open when they were building the first HP land. You had to walk a crazy walled path to get to the entrance, but hey, the ride was still working. After HP opened though I knew that the ride wasn’t going to be around for much longer. I’m surprised it lasted this long. The wait times for it dropped significantly after HP opened and it was basically a walk-on any time of day. The ride isn’t something most families visiting Universal are inclined to ride. I remember the good times when it used to “duel” and you could trash talk the other train as you travel up the lift hill together. I wasn’t happy with the elimination of this feature or the fact I had to empty my pockets of everything (except glasses for some odd reason), but I would still ride a couple of times per a trip.

The timing of the announcement was a bit odd and it almost seemed to have a feel of, “hey guys! Don’t forget about us! You still like Harry Potter, right?” I don’t doubt that Universal could have a new ride up and running before Star Wars opens even with Disney being slightly faster with construction now.

If you want roller coasters, by all means, go to Sea World. Nobody else is. It might not be there within five years. I went last October to ride Mako. I was amazed that on a Saturday I found myself walking alone in many areas of the park. The wait times were low as well. It was nice from a crowding standpoint, but I know from a business perspective that this is incredibly bad. By the way Mako was a great ride too. It’s amazing that it’s the only hyper coaster in Florida. You would think they would build one at Busch Gardens Tampa (Williamsburg has one). Maybe coasters could be a position Sea World could take, but I think it is already too late.

Anyhoo, those are my thoughts. By the way Rao, based on the topic I knew you would mention the train once in the comments, but twice? You might want to take the “Frozen” perspective on it. :o)

July 25, 2017 at 3:52 PM · Ya know, Universal would never have built this new attraction if they had not felt pressure from WDI's success with Avatar and the 2019 arrival of Star Wars.

(Guffaw)

July 25, 2017 at 4:29 PM · Kris V- If you want roller coasters, by all means, go to Sea World. Nobody else is. It might not be there within five years.

That statement is so short sighted and ridiculous. Despite the struggles, SeaWorld Orlando is still one of the top attended theme parks in the country. Based on your statement one might wonder how parks like Holiday World, Silver Dollar City, Waldameer, and Seabreeze, who do a fraction of SeaWorld's attendance, manage to stay in business.

SeaWorld is not going to close. October is not a representative month for their business. Come back on a Saturday in December.

July 25, 2017 at 4:36 PM · TH Creative- I do not agree. Universal stands to benefit from Disney's expansion. This decision is their reaction to their own success with Harry Potter, not to what Disney has in the works down the road.

If Universal had known how successful The Wizarding World would be prior to building Hogsmeade I'd bet they would've taken Dueling Dragons out from the get go. There was hesitation whether this investment would pay off...and it did big time.

July 25, 2017 at 6:20 PM · Agree with Ultimate, SeaWorld is a top twenty park and will continue to pull in solid attendance as it transitions away from killer whales to killer coasters. I am excited for the future of SeaWorld and trust that Mr. Joel Manby is the person to lead the charge.

As for the Hogwart's Express (don't they have a salve for hogwarts yet?), I'll stop critiquing Universal's ridiculous upcharge policy when the greedy bloodsuckers institute the round trip ticket that should have been put in place as soon as the initial wave of fanatics died down to the very manageable level of crowds visiting the train today.

July 25, 2017 at 6:13 PM · The only reason Universal built Harry Potter is because they were pressured when Disney built 'Tower of Terror'
July 25, 2017 at 9:19 PM · TH- Ya know, disney would've never built swl or Pandora (or even gotten close to the level of detail they're adding) if tthey had not felt pressure from Hary Potter or the climbing success of Universals rides.
July 25, 2017 at 11:42 PM · Love Keith Schneider's utterly laughable post above (the 30th post). One ride announcement puts Universal "back on top", despite the opening of Pandora, and (soon) Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land? And despite the fact that Universal's last two new rides were poorly received, and Volcano Bay has a load of problems?
Come on, now. Get serious. I like Universal parks, but that fan boy statement is a joke. And when was Universal ever "on top" of the theme park business? Even after Potter, Disney parks still are clearly ahead in attendance.
July 26, 2017 at 12:10 AM · TH Creative you must be just trolling. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opened 16 years before The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was built at Universal, 7 years before the first Harry Potter film was released and 3 years before the first book was sold.
July 26, 2017 at 12:43 AM · RE: Ultimate Roller Coaster
"one might wonder how parks like Holiday World, Silver Dollar City, Waldameer, and Seabreeze, who do a fraction of SeaWorld's attendance, manage to stay in business."

Those parks do not have juggernauts like Disney and Universal as their immediate neighbours

RE: James Rao

If you are going to criticize Universal's ridiculous upcharge policy, then you might as well criticize all the upcharge events that keep mushrooming at Disney such as those upcharge fireworks viewing parties taking up all the prime viewing spots.

July 26, 2017 at 3:57 AM · @Yeowser The fact that both Disney and Universal charge outrageous prices at their theme parks goes without saying. And the fact that both Disney and Universal have numerous extra cost experiences at their parks is also well known. But these facts have nothing to do with the issue of Universal's great train robbery on the Hogwart's Express where even single park guests must pay a $55 upcharge to visit a headliner attraction.

Now, if Disney ever decides to upcharge for an attraction in this fashion (like has been rumored for entry into Galaxy's Edge) then they will face the same ire. However, at this time, Disney World does not have any upcharge "rides" of which I am aware. Nor does WDW have an upcharge on their monorail which provides a round trip option for those who do not have park hoppers and just want to experience the attraction.

There are plenty of reasons to criticize Disney for their pricing policies, but in this one case they are exempt (at this time).

July 26, 2017 at 6:20 AM · Once again we have to correct Mr. Rao - The $55 upcharge is for Park hopper not the Hogwarts express train ride...
But since the Train allows folks to change parks, there is a fee....

Just like Disney, they charge more for park to park tickets than a 1 park per day..

I really wish you would get the facts correct... I enjoy different view points, but the facts are relevant in this case.

We bought 2 days worth of tickets and got 2 days free in May at Universal, what a value....

July 26, 2017 at 7:52 AM · Please don't shill the company line and expect to be taken seriously. You're not talking to the GP. I know better.
July 26, 2017 at 7:50 AM · Thank you Brian!! The upcharge is for park hopper which every Disney fan boy seem to forget they have been charging for ever! Just because Universal copied and have park hopper now doesn't mean its $55 to ride the train. If Disney built a direct monorail or other type of ride from inside one park to the inside of another park you would need park hopper there too to use it.

As much as I love Universal over Disney I am realistic that they will never catch up to Disney. I highly doubt that anything Disney does comes into the equation when Universal decides on new rides. Both parks however benefit from each others expansions since a lot of people visit both.

The new rides at Universal were also not failures and if anyone doubts this simply visit tripadvisor reviews and you'll see nothing but good from the general public. Theme park enthusiasts like us I find are a bit too critical when it comes to new rides.

For the Star Wars area I doubt they will charge extra for it but since its Disney I'm sure they'll start taking reservations in 2018 so make sure everything is planned out to the minute.

July 26, 2017 at 7:57 AM · Yeowser you totally missed my point. The competition is irrelevant in my statement.

James get over it! You come across like a disgruntled fan boy. Universal is better enjoyed over multiple days and with a park hopping ticket. The train is a transportation ride, not a major attraction. What they've done is priced the Harry Potter experience at a premium, which fans have proved they'll pay if they're only visiting for a single day.

I thought splitting Harry Potter across two parks would cause problems- creating comparisons of which one is better and confusion over ticketing options. I was wrong. It's been a huge success for Universal affording them one of the largest single-day ticket price increases in history and people are shelling out for it. Genius move.

The park hopping option gives the guest much more than a train ride. You're also wrong about the lines for Hogwarts Express. They remain long, so Universal shouldn't include it for cheap one-day, one park visitors.

July 26, 2017 at 7:55 AM · Thank you for telling me how to better enjoy my vacation. But to be honest, I don't enjoy being forced to spend an extra $275 ($55 x 5) just to ride a train.
July 26, 2017 at 8:01 AM · Not forced, Option...
Just as the park hopper is an Option...

You can buy 1 park per day as I do when in Orlando..
Just the facts...


July 26, 2017 at 8:13 AM · Oh…so you totally ignore the rest of the attractions that you gain from paying the $55? I get it.

Universal is not interested in your one-day visit. They want you for multiple days and to stay on-property in one of their resorts. That's the goal. Disney's pitching the same stuff.

Universal Orlando is an exceptional park hopping experience, just like the Disneyland Resort.

July 26, 2017 at 8:49 AM · So, if it is optional, Brian, what option is there to ride the train that doesn't cost $55?

And, Ultimaterollercoaster, exactly what attractions do I gain with my $55 besides the train? Can I not buy a multi-day single park pass and have access to every attraction except the train? You are the one extolling the virtue of enjoying the Universal resort over multiple days. Are you saying there are not enough things to do in one Universal park to occupy your time? That you must buy a park to park pass to have a good vacation? I disagree. I think there is plenty to do at either Universal park and therefore visitors should NOT have to jump from park to park to have a good time - unless they want to ride the train, of course.

Also, you really need to stop comparing Universal and Disney in this instance. The last time I checked, Disney does not force you to buy a park hopper to ride any of their attractions. Even the monorail is included with your single park admission.

July 26, 2017 at 9:07 AM · James - Disney dose not have an attraction that goes from Park to Park...

But try to go to MK in the AM then AK in the afternoon without the upcharge for the park and let me know if you gain access..
Thx...

July 26, 2017 at 9:22 AM · I understand paying for park to park access. Makes sense. I don't understand paying $55 to ride a train - especially one that could and should have a round trip option.

And Disney has all kinds of transportation between their parks - most of it free (except for the Minnie Van stuff).

July 26, 2017 at 9:38 AM · The thing you don't understand is that you are not paying for the train. You are praying that extra 55 dollars for the ability to go from park to park. The train is just an extra amenity.
July 26, 2017 at 9:52 AM · The thing you don't seem to understand is that I don't want or need to park hop. Therefore, the upcharge cost to ride the train for a non-park-hopping individual is $55.
July 26, 2017 at 11:44 AM · No James, the train should NOT have a round-trip option. It doesn't fit the storyline and from a capacity perspective it doesn't make sense with the demand. It's very obvious you've never ridden the train. What I love about The Wizarding World is the attention to details in almost every aspect. No one in the stories takes a round-trip train ride.

You're mistaken…Disney does charge you extra to take advantage of park-to-park express transportation. It's priced at $19 per person. So they're doing the same thing as Universal, but I have to ask what's the point of using Disney transportation between their parks if you haven't paid the premium for a Park Hopper ticket? I'm sorry, you fell into your own trap.

Finally, you state I think there is plenty to do at either Universal park and therefore visitors should NOT have to jump from park to park to have a good time which implies that in your opinion you need more than one-day to visit both parks. Well… if you need more than one day then a two day visit would be expected.

The two-day ticket price with the park-to-park option is only an additional $3.50 per day over the single day, one park price. So basically that wipes out that premium you're trying to pitch as so negative. The train ride is then a measly $3.50 per day and you can ride it round-trip, all-day long..

There is nothing wrong with Universal having an up-charge, premium experience and for the price conscious few they give you generous options to avoid the park-to-park premium with multi-day tickets. Disney's two-day Park Hopper isn't priced with any generous discount.

Parks all over the country have experiences that require you to pay extra, like Skycoasters, zip lines, slingshots, go-karts tracks, shooting galleries and arcades. You don't have to like it, but Universal isn't doing anything new.

July 26, 2017 at 10:07 AM · TH Creative, the reason Universal built WWoHP was because JK Rowling opted for them over Disney as she had greater creative control. The reason Universal and Disney both fought over Potter is because it is the IP with the largest and most fanatical fan base, across generations and genders, in the world.

The attendance growth for USF & IoA speak for themselves and cannot be argued. In this instance, Universal conclusively won driving Disney to spend $billions in response.

July 26, 2017 at 8:49 PM · @Ultimate Your information is erroneous at best and a total misrepresentation of my point at worst. I would urge you to reread my posts.

"The train should not have a RT option." Your opinion. I disagree. I don't have a problem with a round trip ticket at all. Especially since it would save me $55. Further, Universal toyed with the notion of a round trip option in the beginning but greed took over. And since there are plenty of suckers willing to pay the upcharge - why not?

"Disney does charge you extra to take advantage of park-to-park express transportation." Never said they didn't. In fact I specifically mentioned that they did. However, Disney does not charge extra to ride their monorail, buses, or boats, all free methods of transportation available to any visitor regardless of their ticket type. And, as far as I know, Disney does not have any attractions that are exclusive to park hopping guests.

"The two-day ticket price with the park-to-park option is only an additional $3.50 per day over the single day, one park price." The two day ticket price on Universal's web site is $199.99. Whether you want to park hop or not, if you desire to ride the train you have to pay $254.99 (for the upcharge). $254.99 - $199.99 = $55.00 * 5 people in my party means, whether I want to park hop or not, I would have to pay an extra $275 to ride the train. Please explain where my math is incorrect.

"There is nothing wrong with Universal having an up-charge, premium experience". I agree. Never said they shouldn't. Just said I didn't like it and won't support it. The good news is that at least we now agree the Hogwarts Train is an upcharge experience. Whether is is "premium" or not, well, that's debatable.

July 26, 2017 at 10:32 AM · ProfPlum is right "on the money" here. You disfans are lucky that Universal upped the game, as we Universal fans will benefit from increased competition with Star Wars.

I get it though -- you're excited that Disney is finally investing in some new lands/rides, and you have every right to be excited.

Will Universal "catch" Disney? For some of us who have decided to no longer go to Disney on a regular basis, they already have.

July 26, 2017 at 11:09 AM · My goodness, so much back and forth over a bloody train ride.

James, missing out on the train shouldn't kill your enjoyment of the Universal parks. There are plenty of attractions to satisfy one per park per day. Why skip the rest of the good stuff because you can't do one ride (which is decent at best)?

Brian, it's James' right to pass on the train ride if he feels the price is unacceptable. The fact remains that Disney currently does not require guests with single-day tickets to miss out on any rides within said park (despite also charging a ridiculous amount for a variety of other offerings).

Can we move discussion back to the Dragon Challenge replacement, a move all of us should be happy about.

July 26, 2017 at 11:23 AM · What else is there to say about DD/DC? Until we get some details on the replacement, all we know is Dueling Dragons will never duel again. For some reason, that statement makes me sad.
July 26, 2017 at 12:12 PM · Greed took over? I think the reality about ride capacity and demand took over. Providing a good guest experience to your highest paying customer is not greed.

Price is determined based on supply and demand, not greed. As a Viacom shareholder I want the company to operate as a business, not a charity. Greed is such a misused and wrongly applied term!

Why should we all be happy about the Dragon Challenge replacement James? I don't think all need to be happy about the closure and replacement.

July 26, 2017 at 1:47 PM · There is plenty of room to operate a company between GREED and CHARITY. Upcharging, in general, leans heavily on the GREED side, and may be great for stock holders, but not for the head of a family of five enthusiasts who just want to have some fun on a responsible budget, at a theme park. However, I would gladly except charity to help pay for the Hogwarts Upcharge if you are offering, Mr. Warbucks.

July 26, 2017 at 1:48 PM · 100 comments..... wow. Roller coasters still rule!
July 26, 2017 at 2:58 PM · HI James I was wondering were you got your prices, I was just on the Universal site and a 2 Park - 1 day ticket, allows riding the train to your hearts content, is $179/ adult and $174/ child. I realize that taxes need to be added but still seems to be reasonable.
July 26, 2017 at 3:40 PM · I pulled the 2 day 1 park pass off the Universal Orlando site. I can send you a link if you need.

BTW, that $179 price you quoted is exactly $55 more than the one day one park ticket, and for $20 more than your ticket I could have two full days at the resort - an even better deal unless the upcharge train is a priority.

July 26, 2017 at 7:03 PM · My son is convinced that the new Wizarding World ride will be something themed to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - if Universal is allowed to step around the idea that the WW park only has content from the first 4 or 5 Potter books. I could certainly see a ride themed to a tour through Newt's suitcase.
July 26, 2017 at 7:10 PM · So the closing of DD has turned into another Disney vs Universal topic again
July 26, 2017 at 10:49 PM · I agree with James. Park-to-park access has little use at Universal, unless you plan to do both parks in one day (which I did once). So the train ride is the only real reason to buy a park-to-park multi-day ticket.

At WDW, park hoppers are very useful because of all the nighttime events, and to take advantage of fast passes booked in another park. Also, the extra cost for the park hopper is spread out over a greater number of days (since it takes a week or more to do WDW) making it much cheaper on a per-day basis.

We will be going to Universal for three days on our upcoming trip, but (again) skipping the train ride because we just can't justify the extra cost. I hate to miss out on a quality ride, but I won't let Universal force me into buying a park-to-park ticket for an upcharge when I just don't need it.

July 27, 2017 at 1:46 AM · I cannot believe this upcharge silliness is still being whined about.

Park-to-park tickets existed for more than a decade already at Universal. You had to walk from park to park until they added the Hogwarts Express. The idea that HE exists so you have to buy p2p tickets is nonsensical. They existed long before the HE was built. HE is a beautiful bonus feature for those who already wanted to do two parks a day. We don't have to walk in the heat or to the front gates anymore to switch parks.

Complaining about it makes as much sense to me as complaining about early admission to a park for staying onsite.

July 27, 2017 at 5:21 AM · It's not a bonus feature if you don't want or need to park hop. It's just a $55 extra charge per admission. The only silliness is the fact people who don't normally park hop are so willing to defend the policy and pay the price.
July 27, 2017 at 5:56 AM · James,

I'll send you a check for $55 if you'll quit whining.

July 27, 2017 at 6:29 AM · Guys, I've got to agree with James here, and I think some of you are missing his point.

Let's say you're on a business trip to Orlando and you have an afternoon to visit just one of the parks so you purchase a one park pass and enjoy IOA or US. Several months later you're back in Orlando and you have the same opportunity, so you purchase a one-day pass and enjoy the other park. But you're confronted with a situation. Unless you purchase the park to park pass for $55 more, you won't have the opportunity to ride all of the rides in the parks. If you want to ride HE, you have to pay $55 more - just to ride 1 more attraction.(or 2 attractions depending on how you look at it)

This exact scenario has happened to me, and unless Universal allows the single park pass holders to do a round trip, the $55 is an upcharge plain and simple. In my case, I didn't mind because I used the park to park feature to catch some extra rides on my favorites, but if I hadn't wanted to go to the second park, I would have been really irritated.

Until Universal offers a round trip option on the single park tickets or they do away with the façade and get rid of the single park tickets and offer what I suspect is the majority of tickets purchased by consumers - a park to park ticket, Hogwarts Express is a $55 upcharge ride.

July 27, 2017 at 6:43 AM · I'm behind James here. He has a great point that he's made numerous times that others continuously seem to simply dismiss out of hand. I personally feel that the ability to park hop on its own is worth the $55 upcharge for nothing more than being able to maximize a multi-day trip to the resort. However, it's an absolute FACT that if you have ZERO desire to hop between parks, the fee to ride the Hogwart's Express is one of the most obscene charges in theme park history. Honestly I think it's brilliant that UO has swindled who knows how many guests into buying park hoppers they don't need for a 6-minute train ride. I definitely don't think that it's something that we should be celebrating, and is a pricing tactic that UO should be constantly criticized for, as much as Disney's absurd dessert party prices and other obscene scams.

Yes, the Hogwart's Express is a pretty cool experience, but would any single person that's criticized or slighted James' argument here and elsewhere over the past 3+ years actually pay $55 for this single attraction (be honest now)? There's not a single theme park or carnival attraction on earth that costs this much, yet guests regularly walk up to Kings Cross or Hogsmead Stations and fork over the $55 to ride in a claustrophobic cabin with some TV screens, even if they had absolutely ZERO intention to hop between parks. I can ride a 550' tall ferris wheel in Las Vegas with all the alcohol I can consume during the ride for less than this silly train that doesn't even include a chocolate frog. This is easily the biggest ripoff in the theme park industry today. While I don't fight it with the vigor and vitriol that James does, nor do I boycott UO because of their $55 train, but it does irk me that I'm forced to buy something I may not want or need so I can experience a single ride that cannot be experienced any other way than paying the P2P ticket upcharge.

July 27, 2017 at 7:13 AM · I would honestly pay $55 for this single attraction, if for no other reason than to support the Harry Potter projects Universal has dedicated so many resources to and continues to plan on doing.
July 27, 2017 at 10:16 AM · "I would honestly pay $55 for this single attraction"

Do you really think your $55 P2P upcharge goes straight into the HP budget? Just showing up and visiting on a 1 day 1 park pass and riding MIB all day puts the same percentage of internal UO finances towards Harry Potter as the most expensive pass with Universal Express. While UO undoubtedly keeps track of guests that ride HE and almost certainly knows how many guests get swindled into buying a P2P pass at the in-park stations, they probably don't have good data as to how many guests weigh the costs of a P2P pass over single park passes based solely on the appeal of HE. The dozens of guests they swindle every single day at the stations' gates outweigh any lost revenue to those who enter the parks with single park passes and full knowledge that those ticket media don't include a "major" HP attraction (while the ticketing website clearly shows that HE can only be experienced with a P2P ticket, there's no clear attraction description provided there, which may lead some to think HE really is just a simple train connecting the 2 parks like Disney's Monorail).

If I had never been to a Universal park in my life, I would immediately think that HE is just a lightly themed mode of transportation, not an intricately themed airport shuttle with 2 distinctly different shows. If I were visiting during a busy time of year and only had 2 days to to visit, I'd be likely inclined to forego a P2P pass knowing that there was more than enough to fill a day in each park, and that a $55/person surcharge would be wasted, especially for a simple train ride between the parks.

Let's not forget this surcharge was conceived by the same theme park operator that made 90% of America thinking the original WWoHP was its own theme park with a separate admission, which is probably why they felt they could charge $55 for a single HP attraction (and people, like Cole, seem to be happy to fork over every penny in their pocket, just like the Disney drones).

July 27, 2017 at 7:49 AM · Lol. No. I don't think the $55 goes straight into the HP budget. But it doesn't matter to me. I'm happy to support Universal as long as they keep adding Harry Potter rides and areas. ... And thanks for the edited personal attack there at the end Russell. Very classy.
July 27, 2017 at 9:11 AM · @Tim and Russell, you guys said it way better than me! I pass the torch to you for further threads. Bravo!

@DB I need $275 (there are five in the Rao Family), but I would seriously consider your bribe!

July 27, 2017 at 10:44 AM · @ James -- I didn't realize I'd have to pay for the entire Rao family. Don't you want the park-to-park pass anyway?

The way I see this, the HE is a bonus that comes along with a P2P pass. It's not an up-charge for a single ride -- it's an up-charge for an entire second park. No one wants to ride the HE and not get off at the HP world on the other side. If they do, they will be disappointed -- I consider it more of a integration of the two HP lands rather than a stand-alone attraction.

HE is the link that allows you to complete your HP journey. Go to Diagon, go to Gringotts, get your wand, have a meal, shop, take the HE to Hogsmeade, go to Hogwarts, play quddich, etc. I don't view it as a standalone attraction at all, nor as something that needs to be done for each park-to-park hop. We often skip it and do the walk instead.

July 27, 2017 at 11:45 AM · Honestly, when I heard they were building the HE to connect the new Diagon Alley to the original WWoHP, I was figuring they were going to turn the WWoHP into its own, separate gate (3rd park), since that's how they were advertising the original WWoHP anyway.

I agree that HE is an extension of the WWoHP, and in some ways integral to getting full enjoyment of the two lands as a singular Harry Potter experience (despite some duplication). However, having to buy a $55 ticket to experience it is a complete ripoff. No ifs and or buts about it. You're paying extra for Universal not making HP it's own individual theme park from the get go. If WWoHP was marketed by itself, they would have plenty of guests that would just pay for those lands, and not want to pay for a P2P pass to experience the rest of IOA or USF. So Universal essentially has HP fans over a barrel, even if they don't care a darn about MIB, Transformers, Kong, Hulk, Spiderman, or anything else outside the Wizarding World. Universal is not selling a park hopper, they're selling a Harry Potter pass, and no matter how you slice it, they're gouging guests $55 for a 6-minute train ride. I can take Amtrak from DC to NYC for that, and watch 2 Harry Potter movies on my tablet along the way.

July 27, 2017 at 12:09 PM · The problem is that the park-to-park ticket is pretty useless at Universal. Why on earth would you need to park hop when the parks close early and the only nighttime even is the badly reviewed Universal water show (whatever it's called).

I suspect that Universal management wanted to sell more park-to-park tickets and this is what they came up with. It's pretty clever, and it worked, given how many people are drinking the kool aid. I wonder, how many of them would just get a one park per day ticket, if it wasn't for the $55 train ride? My guess is almost all of them. Honestly, I can't even figure out what you would do with a park-to-park ticket, unless you're switching to Volcano Bay in the afternoon because it's too hot in the theme park. But, of course, adding VB to your ticket comes at a premium, too.

P.S.: Cole Short, if you're happy to support Universal without getting value for your money, why not just write them a cheque right now, just cuz you love 'em?

July 27, 2017 at 12:12 PM · OK. Done.
July 27, 2017 at 12:38 PM · DB, you're just going back to old arguments that have been soundly defeated already. Just pony up the $275 and let's call it a day.
July 27, 2017 at 1:24 PM · Still a fan - I use P2P all the time, mostly because we've been to the park so many times (we always buy WDW hoppers even if we're not necessarily planning on hopping every day of a trip), and it's nice to have the flexibility. There are too many variables that can ruin a trip (attractions down, overcrowded park, weather, etc...) that we look at the P2P privileges (or hopping at WDW) as a hedge against the unknown. There's too many times when we've walked into a theme park and found it way busier than the crowd calendar predicted, our favorite attraction broken, or we rather visit a park with predominantly indoor attractions because of unexpected weather.

I'd also note that we typically travel to Orlando in the fall, so HHN at UO is always a consideration, and having the ability to go between the parks on the same ticket (not only for me to be in USF before HHN starts, but for my wife and son, who don't like HHN, USF closes early on HHN nights, so it's nice to be able to get another couple hours of rides in at IOA). There's also something to be said to be able to go to Mythos if it was booked solid on the one day we had planned for IOA. So we view the P2P passes for more than just the HE. However, we are not "average" guests, and the P2P upcharge for the average guest would essentially be just to ride the train.

July 28, 2017 at 3:44 AM · TH CREATIVE wrote: "In unrelated news: EPCOT's 'Mission Space' will have new films added and open in August! First small step toward the 50th."

After which I noted the date had slipped to September. However, Disney announced yesterday that the opening date for the new missions (Mars and Earth) will be August 13th.

I gleefully stand corrected, Mr. Creative, since now I will be able to visit this revamped attraction as part of my upcoming Pandora trip!

Pardon the interruption...carry on.

July 28, 2017 at 7:04 AM · Huh Universal and the Magic Kingdom usually closed the same time this month? You haven't noticed the cutting of park hours at Disney?
July 30, 2017 at 10:21 AM · Dueling Dragon's was spared as part of the original Harry Potter area because it would've cost too much money to take out and replace with something else at the time. Each area got 1 major ride which was enough to draw in the big crowds, now that something else is needed at UO to up the attendance it makes sense to take it out for a new Potter ride (because let's be honest it really has nothing to do with Potter and doesn't fit the theming of the area at all).
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