Dragon Challenge

Dragon Challenge
Dragon Challenge
Location Islands of Adventure
Park section The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
Coordinates 28°28′25″N 81°28′24″W / 28.47361°N 81.47333°W / 28.47361; -81.47333Coordinates: 28°28′25″N 81°28′24″W / 28.47361°N 81.47333°W / 28.47361; -81.47333
Type Steel- Inverted- Dueling
Status Operating
Opened May 28, 1999
Manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard
Designer Ingenieur Büro Stengel GmbH
Model Inverted Coaster
Lift/launch system Chain lift hill
Track name Chinese Fireball Hungarian Horntail
Height 125 ft (38.1 m) 125 ft (38.1 m)
Drop 115 ft (35.1 m) 95 ft (29 m)
Length 3200 ft (975.4 m) 3200 ft (975.4 m)
Max speed 60 mph (96.6 km/h) 55 mph (88.5 km/h)
Inversions 5 5
Duration 2:25 2:25
Height restriction 4 ft 6 in (137 cm)
Previous name Dueling Dragons
(May 29, 1999 - May 5, 2010)
Dragon Challenge at RCDB
Pictures of Dragon Challenge at RCDB
Amusement Parks Portal

Dragon Challenge is a pair of intertwined inverted roller coasters in the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter area of Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure. The ride is themed to two dragons, one side being Chinese Fireball and the other Hungarian Horntail. It features a layout in which the two trains share adjacent lift hills, but then traverse two completely unique courses. The ride was constructed by Bolliger & Mabillard of Switzerland. The Chinese Fireball dragon reaches a top speed of 63 mph and the Hungarian Horntail dragon reaches a top speed of 57 mph. Both dragons have a two minute and twenty-five second ride duration and include five inversions.

When Islands of Adventure opened on May 28, 1999, the ride was called Dueling Dragons and was located in The Lost Continent area with the two sides named Fire and Ice. During much of the ride's history, the trains were normally dispatched simultaneously, providing three near-miss encounters along the courses. After a renovation period, the attraction soft-opened as Dragon Challenge on June 1, 2010 and officially opened with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter area on June 18, 2010.



Entrance of the former Dueling Dragons coasters at Islands of Adventure

Dueling Dragons era

Dueling Dragons was one of Islands of Adventure's original attractions, opening with the theme park on May 28, 1999 in the park's The Lost Continent area. At the time, it was the only fully inverted dueling roller coaster in the world. The ride was themed to two dueling dragons, with one track named Ice and the other named Fire.


Head-to-head on the former Dueling Dragons

The ride featured an extremely long, elaborately themed queue. It was themed on a ruined castle, passing through the dungeons, which included human skeletons, flaming torches, and cobwebs. The queue split in two for the different coasters. At this intersection, riders would turn right to ride on the Ice Dragon and left for Fire Dragon. Merlin would frequently taunt riders with lines which included-

"Turn right for Ice and left for Fire! Now, pick the dragon you desire"

"The left burns hot, the right turns cold, whichever you choose, you'd best be bold"

"Past this point of no return, your only choice is freeze or burn"

"Turn left for Fire, turn right for Ice! I know not which is best advice"

"Earthworms and rancid beer, why on earth are you still here?"

"You do not listen to this old magician, and so you'll need a good mortician"

"If you continue along this path, you will face the dragons wrath"


When guests reached the boarding area, The ride attendants used several quotes when dispatching the trains including-

"Battle Bravely"

"I bid thee farewell"

"Onward to thy doom"

"May the fates be with you"

"May the dragons spare you"

"Keep your hands inside the dragon"

"Ice/Fire Dragon, you are clear for battle"

"Fire is red, Ice is blue, I'd turn back if I were you"

"To ride the dragon was your wish. Now you'll be his tasty dish"

"Once beyond the castle gate, there is no turning back. It's far, far too late"

"Swords and Shields will not work, for you are headed where the dragons lurk"


The ride's distinctive interlocking corkscrews.

To improve the dueling aspect of the ride, the trains were weighed as they were being dispatched in order to properly time the near-miss points:[1]

  1. Fire's 1st airtime hill crosses over Ice's zero-g roll.
  2. Fire and Ice's vertical loops, creating a near impression that the riders of both trains are about to collide, pulling up into the loops at the last moment.
  3. Fire's first corkscrew and Ice's only corkscrew interlock with each other. This is one of only two cases of interlocking corkscrews on an inverted roller coaster, although in this case, there are two separate coasters (the only inverted roller coaster with interlocking corkscrews on the same track is Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park).

Dragon Challenge transformation

In May 2007, Universal announced plans to construct The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new section devoted to the popular Harry Potter book and film series. Dueling Dragons, as well as the adjacent Flying Unicorn roller coaster, were shown to be included in the new section. In September 2009, Universal confirmed the move and also announced that the attraction would be renamed Dragon Challenge upon opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on June 18, 2010.

The two sides of the attraction were announced to be renamed as Hungarian Horntail and Chinese Fireball, although it was not stated at the time which existing track (Fire or Ice) would be given which name.,[2] but the Eye on Orlando podcast team revealed that the Chinese Fireball would be the new name for the Fire Dragon, leaving the Ice Dragon to be renamed to Hungarian Horntail.[when?]

In September 2008, the entrance to Dueling Dragons was relocated to the Jurassic Park section to aid in the construction of the Wizarding World. The old entrance to the ride, featuring Fire and Ice dragons in battle was demolished one month later. The attraction soft opened on June 1, 2010 under the new name of Dragon Challenge[citation needed]. It officially opened with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on June 18, 2010.


Queue area

The queue takes guests past a number of banners for the Triwizard Tournament showing support for the four contestants. After passing the Weasley's crashed flying Ford Anglia, they enter the Champions' Tent. From there guests pass a large pedestal with the Triwizard Cup glowing at the top, a hall illuminated by floating candles, and a long system of tunnels. Guests pass a wooden wall as they hear the dragons growling and roaring behind it. Above the ride station is the shadow of a dragon flying above through tears in the tent.

Ride design


The restraints on the Chinese Fireball trains are yellow, and the Hungarian Horntail trains' restraints are blue. However, the front row restraints on both sides are pink, as they represent the dragons' mouths. Every train has two seats (rows 3 & 6) designed to fit guests with "certain larger body dimensions".

Track layout

Ride layout.

Chinese Fireball

At the top of the lift hill, Chinese Fireball drops to the left, away from Hungarian Horntail , into an Immelmann loop. Leaving the Immelmann, the ride passes over an airtime hill, crossing over Hungarian Horntail's Zero-g roll (first near miss). Chinese Fireball then proceeds into a unique element called a wrap-around Immelmann, which is like an Immelmann loop but with a sharper pull-out curve.[3] Riders on Chinese Fireball then enter a straight section of track, with front seat riders seeing the Hungarian Horntail Dragon train speeding almost right towards Chinese Fireball's train. At the last second, the Chinese Fireball train pulls up into a vertical loop (second near miss). Leaving the vertical loop, Chinese Fireball riders round a left hand turn leading into the first corkscrew, which interlocks with the only corkscrew on Hungarian Horntail Dragon (third near miss). After another turn, the track passes through the second corkscrew, before hitting the final brake run.

Hungarian Horntail

At the top of the lift hill, Hungarian Horntail drops to the right, away from Chinese Fireball. Unlike other Bolliger and Mabillard inverted roller coasters, Hungarian Horntail does not feature an inversion right away. Rather, the train then rounds a left hand spiral, which leads into the first near miss. Riders on Hungarian Horntail pass through a Zero-g roll passing underneath Chinese Fireball's first airtime hill. Almost immediately after the zero-g roll, the Hungarian Horntail trains pass through a Cobra roll, flipping riders upside down twice. Exiting the Cobra roll, the Hungarian Horntail riders speed along a straight section of track towards the oncoming Chinese Fireball train, before pulling up into a vertical loop, as part of the second near miss. After a straight segment following the vertical loop, the Hungarian Horntail track rounds a right hand turn leading to the ride's only corkscrew, which interlocks with Chinese Fireball's first corkscrew. Upon leaving the corkscrew, riders on Hungarian Horntail make a right hand turn and can see the riders on Chinese Fireball about to enter the second corkscrew, before making a left hand turn and hitting the final brake run.

Noise level

The tracks are filled with sand to reduce noise, because of the proximity of the coaster to Dr. Phillips High School. Shortly after the park opened, huge walls behind the ride were put up after local residents complained about the screaming.[citation needed]


After a pair of incidents in July and August 2011 in which riders were hit by flying objects during the course of the ride, Universal officials announced plans to operate the two roller coasters separately, pending the completion of an investigation. This is the first major change to the ride's operation since its opening in 1999.[4] In October 2011, Universal officials announced that the dueling aspect of the ride was to be removed permanently, with the ride instead becoming "a high-speed chase between two coasters."[1]

Poll Results

Best Steel Roller Coaster Poll

Mitch Hawker's Best Roller Coaster Poll: Best Steel-Tracked Roller Coaster
Year 1999[5] 2000 2001[6] 2002[7] 2003[8] 2004[9] 2005[10] 2006[11] 2007[12] 2008[13] 2009[14] 2010[15]
Chinese Fireball
Hungarian Horntail
  1. ^ No Steel Roller Coaster Poll was held in 2000.

Other Results

In 2010 this roller coaster was awarded FireballWorld's coaster of the year award.[16]


  1. ^ a b Jason Garcia (2011-10-19). "Universal Orlando's twin dragon coasters will never 'duel' again". Orlando Sentinel (Tribune Newspapers). http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-universal-dragon-challenge-20111018,0,371498.story. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  2. ^ Dewayne Bevil (September 15, 2009). "Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open in spring 2010 at Universal Orlando". Orlando Sentinel. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/travel/attractions/orl-bk-wizarding-world-of-harry-potter-open-spring,0,399138.story. Retrieved September 16, 2009. 
  3. ^ Rogers, Joel (2009). "Islands of Adventure (Universal Studios)". Coaster Gallery. http://www.coastergallery.com/2000/IOA03.html. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  4. ^ WESH 2, News (17 August 2011). "Changes at Universal". http://www.wesh.com/themeparks/28896160/detail.html. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  5. ^ "1999 Internet Steel Tracked Roller Coaster Poll". Best Roller Coaster Poll. 1999. http://www.ushsho.com/scprst99.txt. 
  6. ^ "2001 Internet Steel Tracked Roller Coaster Poll". Best Roller Coaster Poll. 2001. http://www.ushsho.com/scprs01.htm. 
  7. ^ "2002 Internet Steel Tracked Roller Coaster Poll". Best Roller Coaster Poll. 2002. http://www.ushsho.com/scprs02.htm. 
  8. ^ "2003 Internet Steel Tracked Roller Coaster Poll". Best Roller Coaster Poll. 2003. http://www.ushsho.com/scprs03.htm. 
  9. ^ "2004 Internet Steel Tracked Roller Coaster Poll". Best Roller Coaster Poll. 2004. http://www.ushsho.com/steelrollercoasterpollresults2004.htm. 
  10. ^ "2005 Internet Steel Tracked Roller Coaster Poll". Best Roller Coaster Poll. 2005. http://www.ushsho.com/steelrollercoasterpollresults2005.htm. 
  11. ^ "Steel Roller Coaster Poll 2006". Best Roller Coaster Poll. 2006. http://www.ushsho.com/steelrollercoasterpollresults2006.htm. 
  12. ^ "Steel Roller Coaster Poll 2007". Best Roller Coaster Poll. 2007. http://www.ushsho.com/steelrollercoasterpollresults2007.htm. 
  13. ^ "Steel Roller Coaster Poll 2008". Best Roller Coaster Poll. 2008. http://www.ushsho.com/steelrollercoasterpollresults2008.htm. 
  14. ^ "Steel Roller Coaster Poll 2009". Best Roller Coaster Poll. 2009. http://www.ushsho.com/steelrollercoasterpollresults2009.htm. 
  15. ^ "Steel Roller Coaster Poll 2010". Best Roller Coaster Poll. 2010. http://www.ushsho.com/steelrollercoasterpollresults2010.htm. 
  16. ^ "FireballWorld Coaster". FireballWorld. http://fireballworld.com/no_limits.html. Retrieved August 23, 2010. 

External links

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