Universal Orlando: Dragons will never duel again

October 20, 2011, 1:47 PM · Dueling Dragons was always an odd ride to me. Taken at face value, the ride consists of two fairly average inverted coasters. But once you intertwine the coasters and get them dueling, you've created a unique and exciting attraction. The exhilaration of the near-misses, exacerbated by riding on the front row, made a ride on both Fire and Ice a requirement when visiting Islands of Adventure. It was just a cool friggin' ride. Even the entrance and queue was cool.

Dueling Dragons/Dragon Challenge

While the coasters were rethemed to Harry Potter and rebranded Dragon Challenge, the thrill of those front row rides didn't abate.

Oh well.

After two accidents this year (including riders hit by flying debris from other riders), Universal has made their final decision on this ride. After 10 years of thrilling riders, the Dragons will duel no more.

Here's the story from the Orlando Sentinel.

Thoughts? (Clarifying, if you didn't follow the link: Universal's made permanent its recent practice of not launching the coasters at the same time, meaning that there won't be a "duel" encounter between the trains during the ride.)

Replies (23)

October 20, 2011 at 1:58 PM · Nooooooooooo!

<--- shakes fist in anger

October 20, 2011 at 2:00 PM · This totally sucks! I haven't gotten to ride this yet & now won't get the full effect now, thanx in part to complete rule-breakers who choose to not empty their pockets & hands & remove their flip flops before boarding but also, the ride operators should've made sure to check pockets & hands of people too. Not fair IMO but what can ya do. Just glad it's not being dismantled so at least I can still ride them.
October 20, 2011 at 2:27 PM · I never understood the appeal of a dueling inverted coaster. Unless you were in the front row, you couldn't tell the coasters were dueling anyway, since you view was so often blocked by the seat in front of you.
October 20, 2011 at 2:33 PM · But that was the point, Robert. If you WERE in the front rows the sensation of duelling was just intense and totally unique. I'm just glad I rode it when it duelled as it was an amazing ride. Like you say it's now just two reasonably OK coasters that happen to be intertwined. It's a major shame.
What next? Enforced poncho-wearing on Jurassic Park in case you get wet....?
October 20, 2011 at 4:05 PM · when you say the dragons will duel no more, do you mean that the whole ride is being shut down or that only one coaster will go round and therefore not have the 'duelling' of the 2?
October 20, 2011 at 4:17 PM · Say whattttttttttt? Well I gotta agree with Robert. But on the bright side, think that your being chased by the dragon!
October 20, 2011 at 5:14 PM · The change blows, of that there is no doubt. But I applaud Universal for putting safety first (even if they are only doing it because they fear a huge lawsuit).
October 20, 2011 at 5:53 PM · This is a shame but in the litigation culture we now have I see why the park has done it. However it would be nice if the park balanced this change to the running of the ride with a much stricter penalty for those people who choose to ignore the loose item warnings. As it stands it looks like the few people who spoil the fun of the many still get off the hook.
October 20, 2011 at 6:38 PM · Having ridden this attraction MANY times, I must side with Robert's reply. Unless you are specifically riding in the front row, you will notice NO DIFFERENCE whatsoever. Even in the front row, there are only 2 or three "close buzzes" that are over as fast as you can blink. No biggie - the safety is obviously the more pressing concern. Slight derailment but, what I would like to see UC do is theme the outdoor track area more like the stone arena from the film, in which the actual Dragon Challenge took place. I think that would be some AMAZING detail. I think that would more than make up for not 'dueling' the coasters anymore.
October 20, 2011 at 8:06 PM · They are good coasterd Yniversal should replace the ride with something bigger and better. Shocking news indeed.
October 20, 2011 at 8:07 PM · I agree that it's overrated, but Islands of Adventure doesn't really have enough attractions to justify spending a whole day there. Harry Potter changed that, though losing the Dragons effectively eliminates 2 major attractions. There must be a way to make the ride safer without removing it completely.
October 20, 2011 at 8:09 PM · They are good coasterd Yniversal should replace the ride with something bigger and better. Shocking news indeed.
October 20, 2011 at 8:24 PM · Joshua, who said they're removing them? When we were there in June we rode both sides, never in the front, so we never saw the dueling part, but we still loved them. Saying IOA is not an all-day park surprised me also. We spent most of 2 days there, didn't do everything, and that was with the Express Pass. I suppose that if you only do each attraction once then you can do the entire park in one day, but we repeated several attractions and had a great time.
October 21, 2011 at 1:50 AM · There is one point that no one has so far made...

The duelling effect might not have been overly noticeable to those riding the coasters, with the exception of the front seats, but it was VERY apparent to anyone watching the coasters. Theme Parks are not only about the experience of riding the attractions. Much of their appeal lies in the visuals - after all you spend a far greater part of your day watching other people ride than you do actually riding yourself. Duelling dragons produced several iconic images and it did so every couple of minutes all day every day. I am merely one of thousands of visitors who waited to catch the two coasters on the loops, the riders' feet inches apart. It was an amazing sight and the value to the park of such iconic imagery cannot be underestimated.
Universal have lost something that is far more important than it might appear on the surface...

October 21, 2011 at 10:20 AM · Good point David! Just the imagery that comes with seeing two coasters "nearly" hit each other adds so much to the ambiance of a park. I totally understand why the change was made though. Maybe if the coasters were launched at different times, but close enough that they follow each other within a span of 10 seconds or something like that... I'm not a physicist by any means! Where there's enough time that the trains will never "duel", enough time that if something did fall out that it wouldn't hit another train, but enough time that they will "follow" one another.
October 21, 2011 at 12:42 PM · Ah. I misunderstood the article. My bad.

To answer your question, Islands is the only park in Orlando that I can finish in half a day, and that's largely due to the absence of live and nighttime entertainment.

October 21, 2011 at 5:58 PM · Robert is right, the front row is the only one that gives you the feeling of a hed on collssion....

I have rode this dozens of times and I don't mind which row I'm in, so not a huge let down. I'm glad they changed the name before the fiasco.

I think it is still the only dual inverted coaster in the country, but I could be wrong. I would imagine they stagger them so the later train arrives at the first straight away a couple seconds after the first has passed.

October 22, 2011 at 8:18 PM · This kinda bums me out. While Rob is right and you can't always feel the added rush of dueling, I will never forget my first ride on this as a teenager and my brother laughing at me as when I was pale as a ghost coming off. Great coaster, and yes safety is most important... but it still bites.
October 23, 2011 at 4:32 AM · Just returned from Universal IOA ... And while in WWHP I watched the Dragons Challange... Correct they are not doing the head on thru the loops...But they still manage to cross paths ..at a few points on the ride system...
October 23, 2011 at 5:58 PM · You have to be in the front seat to enjoy the one unique aspect of this ride - the near misses. Otherwise it's like most other coasters of its type. Now with this one unique aspect being taken away, why ride it? I bet the number of riders will drop way down. Having them chase each other just will not work. It will become a boring ride. Too bad.
October 24, 2011 at 5:51 AM · Why don't they just put some form of netting up to catch the clumsy oaf's loose articles, flip flops, loose change, wigs etc. They do that on rides over here in the UK to catch our fish and chips and pics of the queen etc!
October 24, 2011 at 6:55 AM · Well that was misleading, they aren't shutting it down or anything, it's just not going to have both coasters released at the same time, but one after another making a "chase" not a "duel", so unless you're an avid front seat rider you won't notice a difference.

Way to scare the bejesus out of me.

October 24, 2011 at 4:55 PM · This makes me sad. Sea World San Antonio appeared to have this problem with their Great White coaster (which is Awesome) and put up saftey tarps for possible flying debris. Dueling was a fun coaster with a really cool cue line which gave the choice of either or. Not many coasters give you a choice in which path-of-destination you might ride. If they just run one coaster at a time, it will still be a fun ride, but it will also be a big let-down. IOA has a great coaster in The Incredible Hulk...I hope they work their magic again...that leaves just two attractions in the Wizarding World and only one is new. You know how long it took them to get Harry's World opened. Sad! Perhaps they could cover the ride Disney-style and have the dragon inside a cave...like the last movie. No more flying debris...scales.

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