Why are fans so excited about Universal's new Harry Potter ride?

January 5, 2019, 9:36 PM · Yes, we've been talking a lot about Disney's new Star Wars lands as we look ahead to the top new theme park attractions of 2019. But let's not forget another big new attraction based on a wildly popular entertainment franchise — Universal Orlando's new Harry Potter coaster.

Our readers haven't. The Potter coaster has been running neck-and-neck against Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in our recent poll asking you which new theme park attraction you are looking forward to most this year. While Disney has been cranking up the hype machine for its Star Wars lands, we haven't heard much (at least, not yet) from Universal about the new Potter coaster. So what have fans seen from this ride that's gotten them so excited?

First, there's the fact that it's a Harry Potter ride. Potter remains one of the world's top entertainment franchises — along with Marvel and Star Wars — and Potter has been nothing but money and rave reviews for Universal since its first Harry Potter land opened at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure in 2010.

J.K. Rowling mastered world building with the Potter franchise, and Universal's lands have given fans the opportunity to spend time in some of the most iconic destinations portrayed in the Potter books and movies: Hogwarts Castle, the Village of Hogsmeade, and Diagon Alley. The new coaster will take fans to what probably is the next most famous location in the Wizarding World — the Forbidden Forest.

(Just for the record, no one is clamoring to visit Privet Drive.)

I can't speak for others on this site, but Universal's new Harry Potter coaster excites me because it promises a wild ride through that forest, where we can see, in person, all sorts magical creatures from books and films. Fans want to follow the spiders, escape from dragons, ride with unicorns, fly with pixies and experience every other adventure that student witches and wizards of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry do when they stray out of bounds and into the forest.

That this is a roller coaster-based attraction provides another excuse for excitement. No theme park ride system provides the visceral thrill of a roller coaster. Other ride systems might simulate the speed of a drop or launch, or the intensity of G forces. A roller coaster delivers those thrills for real.

But Universal had a roller coaster on this site, and it tore that down in favor of this attraction. That gives Universal the opportunity to create a better experience than it had offered on Dragon Challenge — one that incorporates the speed of multiple launches with the joy of watching practical visual sets and effects as well as with unique track elements that visitors haven't experienced before in an Orlando-area theme park.

Finally, the new Harry Potter coaster will complete The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade. Yes, that land opened more than eight years ago. But ever since Universal began demolition of Dragon Challenge, the land hasn't looked right. Whether it was the wreckage of the coaster track as it came down, or the massive cranes that followed to install its replacement, views of Muggle construction have distracted from the land.

Of course, many argued that the land never looked as perfect as it could have, due to those Bolliger & Mabillard dueling coaster tracks that loomed over the village for all those years. When Harry Potter fans and even film stars gushed about the lack of those tracks in the more visually convincing Diagon Alley land on its opening in 2014, one could sense that Dragon Challenge eventually would have to go away.

Now it has... and in its place will be the Forbidden Forest that should have stood at the edge of Hogsmeade all along. This land of the Wizarding World will be complete.

And that is something to get very, very excited about.

Replies (9)

January 6, 2019 at 11:59 AM

I wonder if Universal is using Jurassic World and Hagrid’s Coaster as a way to get Star Wars fans who aren’t necessarily Disney regulars to come visit similarly popular IPs while on their vacation. Maybe that’s why hasn’t done much promotion if they want a fall opening instead of the usual summer.

Also could be cautious of another delayed Intamin opening but then why did they pick that company especially since they’ve almost disappeared from US parks in the last ten years.

January 6, 2019 at 2:40 PM

This could be a great new attraction, but..

How can we see all those supposed AAs on a fast moving coaster? And don`t we already see a lot of those creatures on Forbidden Journey (Whomping Willow, giant spiders, a dragon).

January 6, 2019 at 2:55 PM

The consensus of he speculation is that the outside animatronics will have limited movement with train moving slowly or going through a block brake. The animatronics sound like they are inside a hut with the train completely stopped.

I wouldn’t expect spiders or the Whomping Willow, which is on Hogwarts grounds and not in the Forbidden Forest.

January 6, 2019 at 4:49 PM

Universal has a ton of projects on the burners for the coming years that we should all be excited about in addition to this coaster:

Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Coaster (in progress)
Jurassic Park Coaster (in progress)
Other Jurassic Park upgrades TBA

At UO:
T2 Replacement (in progress, rumored to be Jason Borne)
Kidzone replacement (rumored to be Pokemon Interactive)
ET Upgrade including new entrance/queue features (as part of Kidzone replacement)
Fear Factor (rumored to be Ministry of Magic)

Not to mention an entirely new park and likely an entertainment complex:

Fantastic Worlds:
Nintendo Land (including Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda)
How to Train Your Dragon
Jurassic World
Fantastic Beasts

Keep your eyes are Star Wars Land kids, nothing to see here...

January 6, 2019 at 11:42 PM

Enjoy everything coming from everyone-there's plenty to pick from and not only from Disney and Universal;)

January 7, 2019 at 8:55 AM

@Still a fan - Disney has shown that you can pull off AAs on a fast moving coaster with Incredicoaster (and Everest, before Disco-Yeti). Disney also put lots of AAs into 7DMT. I think the blocking out on this new coaster will allow the AAs to be very effective. the vertical spike and drop track could be perfect spots for AA interaction as well as before/after the station. I think the trick to the effectiveness will come down to the length of the trains. If you have an AA, it has to interact effectively with the entire train, which could be difficult if the train is really long. Designers will have to strike a balance between capacity (train length) and AA interaction to create a believable experience that can also accommodate the masses that are likely to descend into Hogsmeade for this new experience.

January 7, 2019 at 10:38 AM

I was initially excited about this because I'm always excited about new coaster announcements. After seeing overhead shots of the construction, I am blown away by the scale of it.

There are already 3 very large show buildings and the size of the queue building makes me think we will see another heavily themed queue like Forbidden Journey. With the placement of the track so low to the ground and the abundance of trees moved on site, I think they have a good chance of making this feel like an actual forest.

January 7, 2019 at 1:28 PM

@Russell Meyer - Incredicoaster has a solid "A," but no "AA." Those suckers don't move at all!

January 8, 2019 at 8:47 PM

Just in case you are clamouring to visit Privet Drive, it's part of the Studio Tour at Warner Bros in London.

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